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IHG Hotels and Resorts—which includes familiar brands like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza—is revamping their program for the better. For once, the descriptor “new and improved” isn’t just a marketing ploy. The debut of IHG One Rewards truly brings improved benefits to the table. To reflect their fully reimagined program, the new name IHG One Rewards connects the dots between “one you, one world and one future.”
Although there’s a long list of program changes, they all deliver on what travelers want: Faster free nights, more on-site benefits for elite members and the flexibility to choose from amenities and awards that are meaningful to you. Let’s take a look at some of the changes.
Earn More Points Faster
Starting April 13, 2022, IHG One Rewards is rolling out a new earning structure for guests booking eligible stays. Like before, all members earn 10 points per dollar spent at most IHG brands (the extended-stay brands Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites earn 5 points per dollar). However, members with elite status—including those with automatic status from a co-branded credit card—will earn more bonus points on every qualifying stay.
Silver Elite members will earn 20% bonus points, which is an improvement from the 10% bonus that the lowest-tier of status previously earned. That’s a healthy premium for a status level that only requires 10 nights to qualify. Gold Elite members will earn 40% more points, Platinum Elite 60% and Diamond Elite will earn a full 100% bonus. That’s good news for Platinums who previously only earned a 50% bonus, though top-tier Diamonds (formerly Spire Elite) won’t see a change.
Earning additional points with every stay means you’ll see your points balance grow more quickly than you’re acccustomed to. However, IHG does not have a fixed award chart so over time, there’s a distinct possibility that free night prices will rise accordingly. There’s no guarantee that more points will turn into more tangible rewards. For now, though, redemptions are expected to stay the same.
Elite Qualification Requirements Change Immediately
IHG previously announced several changes to their elite status tiers, which are officially rolling out now. The new program includes four tiers instead of three. Their lowest tier, Silver Elite, will require members to complete ten qualifying stays to earn. Gold, Platinum and Diamond will require 20, 40 and 70 nights, respectively. The top three tiers will alternatively allow you to earn status through points qualification: You’ll need 40,000 points for Gold, 60,000 for Platinum and 120,000 for Diamond Elite
Though this structure is new, any stays you have starting from Jan. 1, 2022 will count toward status. Current status levels will be honored through the end of Feb. 2023.
Major Elite Benefits Are on the Way
For years, IHG Rewards focused on the awards side of the equation. Loyal members could earn points for future free stays but actual elite benefits were lacking. Industry standard perks, like early check-in or late check-out, were only begrudgingly offered on request or never “available”. More valuable benefits, like free breakfast or suite upgrades, were never published or guaranteed benefits, though some properties chose to offer them anyway.
That’s about to change. IHG One Rewards is finally recognizing its most loyal customers. Platinum and Diamond Elite members will now have exclusive access to reward night discount promotions and room upgrades. Additionally, Diamond Elite members will be able to choose free breakfast as their welcome amenity choice.
Top-tier members typically expect complimentary room upgrades and free breakfast, which are two benefits widely seen at other brands. While the exact terms of these new benefits will vary by brand, this isn’t smoke and mirrors. Suites are included in the room upgrade options (if available) and you can expect a free hot breakfast for you and a guest. Unfortunately, property benefits for Silver and Gold Elite members still remain basic at best.
Despite announcing these benefits now, they won’t be fully rolled out until June 2022, according to IHG. Stays this spring won’t be able to take advantage of complimentary breakfast or room upgrades but it’s a step in the right direction.
IHG Introduces Milestone Rewards
Noting that not all members prioritize the same rewards, IHG is introducing new Milestone Rewards for frequent guests. Starting at stays of 20 nights, members will be eligible to choose a reward from a list of Milestone Rewards. Guests can choose another reward every 10 nights thereafter, up to 100 nights maximum per year.
Milestone Rewards won’t be available until June, but you can start booking nights toward the 20-night threshold now. Options for your rewards will include bonus points, flexible food and beverage credits, confirmable suite upgrades and annual club lounge memberships. You’ll have 90 days to review and select an option and then a full 12 months to redeem your reward. Best of all: Higher thresholds will come with more valuable rewards in recognition of your loyalty.
Being able to select rewards you can actually use is a great way to provide genuine value through the program and ensure IHG One Rewards works for your specific preferences. These rewards are expected to launch beginning in June 2022.
All Three IHG Credit Cards Were Refreshed in March
There are currently three co-branded IHG credit cards issued by Chase:
All three cards were strengthened last month. They now earn more points on every purchase and come with solid benefits for a mid-priced hotel card. Now that enhanced status benefits have been announced, the two premier cards are even more compelling.
Both the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card* and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Card* automatically include Platinum Elite status, which will offer complimentary room upgrades when available—a perk just about anyone can get behind. These two cards also come with an annual free night certificate for eligible stays, the ability to get the fourth night free when redeeming award nights, up to $50 in United TravelBank cash each year after registering your
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card with your MileagePlus® account and the opportunity to earn Diamond Elite status through credit card spending, among other benefits.
Bonus points are obviously another selling feature of these cards. With the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card*, you can earn a welcome bonus of 120,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You’ll also earn points for ongoing spending: 10 points per dollar at IHG® Hotels and Resorts as an IHG® Rewards member, 5 points per dollar spent at IHG Hotels and Resorts with the card, plus 2 points per dollar spent from IHG with Silver Elite Status (a benefit of this card), 3 points per dollar spent at gas stations, on utilities; internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming services and restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
The IHG® Rewards Premier Business Card* is also a great card and has a welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. The ongoing earning rates are 10 points per dollar at IHG® Hotels and Resorts as an IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember, 5 points per dollar on travel, dining, select business, and at gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
The no-annual-fee IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card* may be a good fit for some, but comes with far fewer benefits and reduced earning rates. As such, it’s worth considering the one of the Premier cards instead as long as you qualify for approval. The $0 is worthwhile for itself through the free night certificate alone.
Related: Which IHG Card Is Better?
For years, IHG Rewards focused only on earning and redeeming points, without doing much to reward members on-site at any of their properties. Now, the new IHG One Rewards is putting more emphasis on offering benefits to loyal guests in addition to raising earning rates on every stay.
Milestone Rewards can be earned after staying 20 nights in a year, the same number required for Gold Elite status. Those progressing to Platinum will also be eligible for room upgrades and Diamond Elite members may also choose breakfast as their welcome amenity on any or all stays. While none of these are groundbreaking compared to the competition, it’s a welcome change and one that makes us more optimism about staying loyal to IHG One Rewards.