Which sorts of IHG Rewards Club points count for status, and which don’t?

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It’s January, and your hotel status points will have reset to zero.  Qualification, or requalification, for a higher status tier feels a long way away.  Luckily, for IHG Rewards Club members there are ways of earning status points without staying in their hotels.

(There are not, before you ask, any ways of earning Hilton or Marriott status credits without staying or holding a meeting in one of their hotels.  American Express Platinum does give you free Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Rewards Gold status, however.)

IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty scheme for InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Indigo etc, status is not hugely rewarding.

The benefits are very modest – almost nothing is guaranteed – and you certainly won’t get anything as crazy as free breakfast or guaranteed club lounge access.  The programme is for people who like earning lots of points because, with their regular promos, earning and spending IHG Rewards Club points is very easy.  The trade off is that the hotels do not invest much in status benefits.

That said, most European hotels now offer status members some bonus points (500-600 at the mid and upper scale hotels) or a free drink or some other benefit.  Taking the free drink, assuming that you are not on an expense account, does get you a few £ of value.

The good news is that it is possible to get IHG Rewards Club status for free:

Gold status comes as a benefit with the free IHG Rewards Club Mastercard (review here)

Platinum status comes as a benefit with the £99 fee IHG Rewards Club Premier Mastercard (review here)

From Spring 2019 the Ambassador loyalty programme, which covers InterContinental hotels, will also give Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club.  See this HFP article for details.  There is a $200 fee for Ambassador.

If you want top tier Spire Elite status, however, you need to earn it.  Spire Elite will require you to earn 75,000 base points or stay 75 nights in a calendar year.

Spire Elite doesn’t have a lot of benefits over Platinum.  What you do get, though, is 25,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points as soon as you reach or requalify for Spire Elite.  If you are close to the threshold to qualify, the lure of these 25,000 points should make you put some effort into making it.  You will also get a 100% points bonus on every stay compared to a 50% bonus as a Platinum member.

IHG has been making various changes over the last couple of years as to what counts as a ‘base point’.  The biggest recent change was stopping transfers of Virgin Flying Club miles from counting.  If you are interested in pushing for Spire Elite in 2019, this is what you need to know:

Spire Elite card

Let’s look at the various scenarios you have for earning points, and see if they do or do not count as ‘base points’ towards the 75,000 you need:

IHG Rewards Club transactions which DO count towards status:

ROOM SPEND – yes, it counts

You earn 10 base points per $1 on your bill at IHG hotels, as long as your room was booked directly (not via Expedia etc) and was not heavily discounted (a rule of thumb is more than 30% from the Best Available Rate).

POINTS FROM A ‘BONUS POINTS’ PACKAGE – yes, they count

Some hotels offer room rates which offer bonus points if you are prepared to spend more.  These bonuses can be as high as 5,000 points per night or more.  Sometimes it works out cheaper than buying points directly, sometimes it doesn’t.  However, as these points DO count as base points, these rates are now more attractive if you are chasing status.  You can find hotels which offer these rates here.

Note that this must be advertised on ihg.com as a ‘Bonus Points’ package.  If you book any other package which just happens to come with additional points, these will not count for status.

CREDIT CARD POINTS FOR SPENDING – yes, they count

Whilst sign up bonuses no longer count, points from your day to day spend DO qualify.  A heavy credit card spender could achieve the new top tier by spending £37,500 on the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard without setting foot in a hotel.  I managed to retain my Spire Elite status for 2018 primarily through credit card spend.

CREDITING A CAR RENTAL – yes, they count (if they still exist)

IHG appears to have dropped its car rental partners.  I can’t be 100% sure about this, because – whilst the relevant pages are no longer available via the IHG website – you can still bring them up via a Google search.  If they are still going, previous feedback from HFP readers is that they do count for status.

TRAVELLING CONNECT (points from mobile calls) – yes, they count (I think)

I wrote about Travelling Connect here.  You earn points in various airline and hotel programmes when your mobile phone is used on specific networks outside the UK.  It is no-brainer to register your mobile for this if you travel.  Travelling Connect would prefer you to manually change your mobile network when abroad in order to pick one that earns points – I don’t do this, but if my phone just happens to connect to a TC partner then I get some points for absolutely no work whatsoever.  I’d be grateful to hear from any readers who can confirm, or not, that recent transactions from Travelling Connect counted for status.

RESTAURANT BOOKINGS – yes, they count

IHG has a partnership with OpenTable for restaurant bookings which I wrote about here.  In the majority of cases, you earn 150 points per booking, boosted to 500 on your first booking.  These points count for elite status.  Note that, in my experience, the IHG booking page has less availability than the main OpenTable site.

IHG Rewards Club transactions which DO NOT count towards status:

STATUS BONUSES – no, they don’t count

Gold members receive a 10% bonus on base points.  Platinum members receive a 50% bonus.  The top tier Spire Elite members receive a 100% bonus.  These are not treated as base points.

AMENITY BONUSES – no, they don’t count

Gold, Platinum and Spire members in Europe and some other regions are offered a choice of a free drink or snack or a few hundred points (500 at a Holiday Inn) at check-in.  If you take the points, they do not count for status.

CREDIT CARD SIGN-UP BONUSES – no, they don’t count

Any bonus you get for signing up to the IHG Rewards Club credit card will no longer be treated as base points.  This is a shame as the UK Premium card offers 20,000 points for signing up, whilst the free card offers 10,000 points.  Your points from day-to-spending DO count, however, which means that putting £37,500 through the £99 credit card gets you Spire Elite without having to go near a hotel.

BONUS POINTS RECEIVED FROM AN IHG PROMOTION – no, they don’t count

If IHG sends you a code for 1,000 bonus points on your next stay, or if they offer a global points promotion, those points are not treated as base points.

BUYING POINTS – no, they don’t count

These definitely don’t count towards status.  That would be too easy!

TRANSFERS FROM VIRGIN ATLANTIC – no, they don’t count as of mid-2018

As you can see from this page of the Virgin Atlantic website, you can transfer your Flying Club miles – minimum 10,000 – into IHG Rewards Club on a 1:1 basis.   Now that the points no longer count towards status, this is a bad deal as I only value an IHG point at 0.4p.

TRANSFERS FROM FINNAIR – no, they don’t count

You can also transfer points from Finnair into IHG Rewards Club – see here.  There are very few reports from people who have done this, but the last one I saw said that it did not count for status.

POINTS.COM CONVERSIONS – no, they don’t count

I wrote about points.com here.  It is a website which allows you to transfer points from some airline and hotel programmes into some other airline and hotel programmes.  I don’t mention it much because neither Avios or Virgin Atlantic are partners.  IHG is a partner.  Two years ago I converted some unwanted Virgin America miles into 7,500 IHG points.  These did not count as base points.

E-REWARDS – no, they don’t count

As of February 2017, transfers from the e-rewards market research scheme (invitation only, you need to be opted in to marketing email from IHG partners to get an invite) no longer count towards status.

Conclusion

I hope you found this useful.  In summary:

For UK residents who want Gold or Platinum status, I would focus on getting the relevant IHG credit cards with their free status

For UK residents who want Spire Elite, look at moving spend to the IHG Rewards Club credit cards (2 points per £1 on the Premium Mastercard is generous) or booking ‘Bonus Point’ packages when you stay – both methods will make it easier to get to 75,000 points

For non-UK residents who want Gold, Platinum or Spire Elite status, you should focus on booking ‘Bonus Point’ packages or, for Platinum status, joining InterContinental Ambassador once the new benefits package is launched (March/April 2019)

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. My assessment of the value of the elite status is different.

    For one, I think the actual benefits at the Spire level are a lot better than at the Plat level. I do get more substantial upgrades (e.g., recently got upgraded on a 4-night stay from a standard room booked on points to a suite in an Intercontinental resort in SEA).

    Other benefits are better, too (e.g., some hotels in SEA allow you to choose between the 600 points and a free dinner at one of their restaurants–an easy decision).

    Then there’s the free club access for Spires at a bunch of Crowne Plaza properties.

    In difference to late checkout, which is a benefit for both Platinum and Spire, early checkin is a Spire-only benefits.

    Lastly, as that is another frequent criticism of yours, the early checkin and late checkout work like 95% of the time for me. If you are a rational person with smooth preferences, you should value something you get 95% of the time almost the same as something you get 100% of the time (i.e., a guaranteed benefit).

    • You’ve done well getting all those benefits and I applaud you! My experience though is not that. If I’d actually stayed the full 75 nights (rather than earned via cc spend) I don’t think I’d be too pleased with my experience as a spire. I’d say Hilton Gold is more rewarding let alone diamond.

      • Obviously, it depends on the brands you stay at as well as the locations.

        Holiday Inn Express -> hardly any benefits other than welcome points.
        USA -> fewer benefits than elsewhere.

        • Well John, sharing a name hasn’t helped me get any worthwhile benefits from being Spire. The only CP I’ve been given lounge access was Copenhagen, but since they raised the price to 40000 points it’s become too expensive for me, and as for late checkout I think that when I did get it, even a non-IHG member would have received it too.

        • I believe selecting the right hotel is key. Heading for the best hotel right in the centre of major cities does usually work well because they are generally busier, people book all sorts of rooms and rates and you are likely in competition with more spires for benefits. By contrast choose a quieter hotel away from centre but not too far or with good transport and there is less competition for benefits and a greater chance hotel may want to encourage you back. Generally though I found spire recognition very weak in comparison even to Hilton Gold. I am currently IHG platinum but only stay IHG these days when accelerate makes sense.

        • Lady London says:

          Status does mean they will choose someone else to put in the room next to the lift or next to the external zircon outlet. Every hotel has rooms that are worse than others at same price level. Any level of status, even basic membership, will help avoid you getting the sh***iest room. Higher status helps even more.

        • Lady London says:

          *zircon=aircon

  2. OT SPG
    With launch of marriott Bonvoy any further update on whether SPG card will survive in current form?

    Also, Amex MR -> Is SPG/Marriott still a better option, will it remain so after February 13?

    • If you want Marriott points the SPG card is by far the best option as it’s £1 spend = 3 Marriott points. Amex Membership rewards is £2 = 3 Marriott points. The SPG card is more favourable in rounding as well as rounds down to a full point, so a 34p transaction will earn 1 point. This makes a bit of a difference if you put through a lot of small transactions like bus/ train/ tube fares, coffee and lunches.

      Optimal strategy might be churn Gold or Platinum and transfer to SPG but hold SPG card long term.

      • Does anyone know points-earning for rounding down or rounding up scenarios across cards ?
        Maybe people checking their statements and updating in comments and we can consolidate ?

        • The Membership Rewards cards round down so £1.00 to £1.99 will earn 1 MR
          SPG rounds down to nearest Marriott points. £1.00-£1.33 = 3 points, £1.34 to £1.66 = 4 points etc.
          BA Premium card does strict rounding (up or down) to nearest Avios; for example £2.25 x 1.5 = 3.375 so is rounded down to 3. £2.45 x 1.5 = 3.675 so rounded up to 4.

      • RussellH says:

        Remeber SPG card carries an annual fee of £75 which you must take into consideration.

  3. Brighton Belle says:

    I have Spire at IHG from just the credit card spend which I used for a status match into Hilton Diamond. After numerous London stays through many IHG properties I never found IHG status worth much beyond a bag of crisps and a mini bottle of plonk. It’s a pathetic loyalty token. Hilton Gold via Amex Platinum is much more useful for the free breakfast but stepping up to Diamond was a disappointment. Free access to lounges is nice but you need to be sure where your stay has one. I was looking at Hilton’s in NYC to pick a Hilton with a lounge. The reviews on Flyertak suggested not to bother. So far stretching to Diamond doesn’t seem to be worth the effort. Since I won’t get another status match for years my Hilton stays will fall back to Gold and then it will be time to try Marriot out.

    • Lady London says:

      When does the Hilton status year start? Is it each 1st April? If Hilton is worth getting a status match off my IHG status then I’ll need to work out when to contact Hilton about a match so that is they will only give a challenge at least I would land status early in the status year.

      I now have quite a few hotel stays feb-apr in a city where I can choose which chain/hotels so this seems to be the best way to get an improvement for my stays for awhile ongoing.

  4. Slightly OT but my last 2 stays on points at IC Park Lane, I’ve had nothing in terms of points for hotel spend, eg drinks at bar, paying for Club access.

    Is that right?

    • You should earn points for those. Get in touch with CS.

    • 1nfrequent says:

      If you charged them to your room then you should get points for them but if you paid in cash or by card at the time, then you don’t get anything.

  5. Do you get the 25k points each year that you re-qualify for Spire or is it just a one-off bonus for the first time that you achieve Spire?

  6. AMBASSADOR RENEWAL WARNING:
    Paid for the renewal with the 10% rebate to benefit from so stays I had already booked for future that would be during the 12 months after renewal, no rebate, was told to wait 6-8 weeks. Then after waiting was told as I had booked the stays before renewal and even though they were after the renewal they are not going to count. Quite sure this was not mentioned in any terms and rather annoying to be done over on a small technicality when I if known I could have just rebooked the rooms and got the rebate…

    • Only renewed because of this site so please note this for future articles so that nobody else is done over!

    • The terms were silent in this AFAIK so I think they should give them. I’m now at 6 weeks following a stay in Dec that I had rebooked after renewal and still nothing showing. Need to give it until then end of Jan then will be replying to their initial email asking me to wait.

    • Lady London says:

      Do you really have to accept this if it’s not in the it’s and c’s? Personally I would refuse to accept this and would make a point of telling them those stays will now be moved elsewhere, and defo putting them elsewhere.

      • I can tell them future stays yes but nothing I will be able to do about the previous ones, annoying as they were 70k redemptions :/

        • Lady London says:

          hmmmm the point is to mention that the t’s and c’s were silent, if they are going to impose such a restriction should have been in the t’s and c’s in advance, you require credit on those past stays otherwise you will feel so bad you will move the future stays. and let them see which and how many those future stays are, that are soon to become “were” stays if they are unable to get this resolved fairly even on a one off basis.

          They don’t care about past stays, your leverage is to use the future stays. Those, they do care about. Whilst simply and politely requesting a fair resolution for the stays that have already taken place.

          If you do politely say you will have to move the future stays then, in the absence of a fair resoluton on the past stays concerned, then make sure you do.

        • Will try thanks

  7. Ian Gleave says:

    I was interested in the comment that IHG now sometimes offers points or a welcome drink. Last week I stayed at the new Crowne Plaza Heathrow T4 (very impressive!) and as well as a room upgrade was offered points or a drink. I accepted the 600 points but wish I’d gone for the drink – a pint of lager was £6.75, outrageous even by London hotel standards!

    • I stayed at the other CP with my wife and daughter last summer and I was given 3 x drinks vouchers.
      Also got a complimentary upgrade from a 1 bed with sofa bed to a 2 bed room. I have Platinum status via the IHG black card

    • Some hotels seem to auto-credit the points (they’ve shown up in my account before I arrive). At which point you ask for the drink voucher (+ one for your partner)!

    • Yes I’d normally opt for the drink – sometimes you get the points too (as happened when I stayed at their sister property the HIX T4!), so I find normally better doing it that way round!

      • CP St Petersburg Ligovsky where I stay every summer used to give both a welcome gift (sweet treat), a drink voucher and points! But last year I didn’t get the drink, just two other things (I’m Platinum thanks to a top-up by Virgin transfer when it still counted towards status!)

    • Yes, take the drink – I always do!

    • guesswho2000 says:

      I got offered the choice at IC ANA Tokyo last month, took the two drink vouchers, just as well as they were the equivalent of AU$30 in the bar!

      Anyway, on checking it seems they also gave me 600 IHG points per day as a welcome bonus, which was a nice touch!

    • RussellH says:

      Just home from an HI (not saying where for reasons that will become obvious). I am IHG Gold. Room only rate.

      300 points credited at 08:03 yesterday – we checked in around 1745. Immediately given 2 McVities Club biscuits (completely new thing to me!). Then told that the points had already been credited. Then given the room key, and finally 2 drink + snack vouchers, labelled for spire Elite.
      Not allowed the draught beer that I wanted, though (“any of the other beers OK” – except one was cider…) And strictly just “House wine”, 175ml only. (Some places have been happy to hand over 250ml of something rather fancier). 2 packets of crisps (only permiotted snack).
      Drinks, crisps, biscuits and points – total face value ~£14.
      We went to the bar for coffee at about 10:20 this morning – after breakfast serving had finsished and asked at the bar for two coffeees. I was asked if we wanted breakfast – I said no. Then asked if we were on a room only rate – I said yes. We were then each handed a coffee mug and told to help ourselves from the breakfast coffee machine… Coffee not great, but could hardly complain!
      Overall discount on room rate for all the freebies, official and otherwise approaching 40%!
      This should set me up nicely for getting double points (Rewards Nights, Faster) on my next IHG stay, which should amount to an extra11 000 points.

      • johnny_c-l says:

        Think I know which hotel you mean by the mention of giving away club biscuits!

  8. TRAVELLING CONNECT WARNING

    Wanting to find out whether TC and my territories overlap yet (they largely don’t), I came across this message: ‘This site may be hacked’/. Google explanation:
    QUOTE
    Google SearchHelp forum
    “This site may be hacked” message
    You’ll see the message “This site may be hacked” when we believe a hacker might have changed some of the existing pages on the site or added new spam pages. If you visit the site, you could be redirected to spam or malware.

    What to do when you see this message
    We recommend that you don’t visit the website until this message disappears from the search result.
    UNQUOTE

    Be aware.

  9. What about points from using their “Opinion Check-in” surveys. Do they count for status?

  10. David Coldridge says:

    Rob.

    IHG car rental partners appears on the trip extra part of the website. Hertz is still being promoted.

    • Interesting, thanks. It used to be under ‘Partners’ but disappeared.

    • Lady London says:

      Never got any car rental quote from those pages that was any better than 10% off standard rates though. Despite IHG heading saying ‘up to 35% off’. I’d like to see when they do come up with the 35%.

      Can get 10% off anywhere so have never booked with IHG yet.

      Lufthansa Miles&More often has particularly lucrative car hire offers. They don’t send emails about them but always worth going onto their website to check.

  11. So I’m platinum elite thanks to the IHG credit card. I have a 3 night stay at The Willard Intercontinental Washington DC on points/free night vouchers. Would it be prudent to join Ambassador for the added benefits or leave as is?

    I’ve checked through https://www.headforpoints.com/2018/12/20/changes-to-intercontinental-ambassador/ and can’t quite convince myself to do it.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      I’d say yes, if you can definitely use the free night voucher on a future stay (bear in mind that’ll possibly take up to three months to arrive, although they’re going electronic finally this year). If you can’t use the free night, I wouldn’t personally, as that’s the bulk of the value for me.

      The room upgrade and welcome amenity are a nice touch, but not life changing. The free in-room move I don’t normally bother with (although actually did this year on Xmas Day!).

      The benefits aren’t guaranteed on non-paid stays, but are usually given. Since you’ve already booked, you may need to contact the hotel to discuss.

      • And there’s the rub – we don’t normally do Intercon stays as we’re Hilton diamond, so would entail more expenditure just to use the free weekend night voucher where I’d likely get better value sticking with a Hilton stay.

        • Jill (Kinkell) says:

          Same here. Have decded t book Hilton in DC. Much as The Willard looks great etc, Hilton is better value and I’m not in DC to languish in a hotel all the time!

  12. I’ve been Platinum Elite for years. I keep on waiting for my status to drop down every January, but it doesn’t. I have no idea. I’m lucky if I spend 1 or 2 nights in an IHG property a year, I don’t hold the credit card (haven’t since it changed from the previous provider, was that Barclaycard?) and certainly don’t earn enough points. Not sure what is going on really, it’s like I’ve fallen off the radar somehow!

    • My hubby is Platinum Elite also which he got when he held the black credit card – we cancelled this in Nov 2017 but the status never dropped back down.

  13. where2travel says:

    Hertz points do post as qualifying. They are my only points so far this year. I didn’t go through any special IHG link to get to Hertz, I just added my number at the end (replacing my usual VS one).

  14. Re IC Ambassador changes coming – will current holder’s status (Gold) be automatically upgraded to Platinum in April?

    • Which then begs the question… is Platinum worth the £200 (all other things being equal)

      • You can get it via the credit card for £99 remember ….

        • Or you can purchase Amb for roughly GBP 150 which, from Feb 1, includes Platinum.

          It’s arguably better value as you get benefits for IC properties as well as a 2nd weekend night free at IC hotels.

    • pommy ray says:

      yes think you become plat, which is interesting as the ihg rewards year is jan to dec. if you cancel ambassador say next feb 2020 would the plat end in feb 2020 or at the end of the year 2020!

  15. For those of us retired I have to say being Spire has given me several upgrades this year, free breakfast over a five night stay at Christmas in a Holiday Inn and several times points and a free drink in different hotels.
    To me the early check in and late check out works well when flying in or out of the UK.

    • Hi Toni, would you be generous enough to help me to become a platinum member by getting the points for booker from your booking?
      We can do private message through my email [email protected] if you are willing,
      I was halfway to become platinum member last year but the points was reset in Jan 2019 🙁

      Thank you
      Jimmy

  16. TGLoyalty says:

    Have to say while Spire might not be worth much the better selection of drinks on the two drinks vouchers I normally get is usually a good rebate on the cost of a single night. Also always get the voucher as sometimes you’ll get the points anyway.

    Crowne plazas also offer lounge access for spire members as well though free breakfast would be nice as it must be the only top tier status to not offer this.

    • *some Crowne Plazas 😉 Wish it was a universal benefit, I might book to stay at them more in that case!

  17. OT. Just looked at the price for Hilton hotel in Tokyo for May. I thought stay for 5 nights will only pay for 4 nights. However the total cost for 5 nights is work out exactly the same cost per night, for 4 nights. Am I missing anything?

  18. Related:

    Yet another IHG devaluation 🙁

    https://awardwallet.com/blog/ihg-to-devalue-over-500-properties-worldwide/

    They come thicker & faster than I do now 🙁

    • Genghis says:

      The same deval announced at the start of the month and then delayed slightly?

    • Ah. Rob has pointed out to me that he covered this some weeks ago and that the devaluation is not really that bad.

      Ooops !

    • This is just delayed coverage of what we already knew about – see FT thread confirming this too. Award Wallet always quite slow in covering these sort of things.

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