Which sort of IHG Rewards Club points count towards elite status, and which don’t?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

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 Premium Mastercard (review here)

The Ambassador loyalty programme, which covers InterContinental hotels, also gives 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 2020, 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 most 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

IHG Trip Extras lets you book Hertz car rentals.  The points from these count towards status.

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

I wrote about Travelling Connect here and you can register 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.

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.  Four 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

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

(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.)

Time running out to pay your HMRC Inland Revenue tax bill with your Curve Card
Aer Lingus unveils its new pilot, cabin crew and support staff uniforms

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
EXCLUSIVE HFP READER OFFER FOR SME's!
Get points worth 15,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus!
OFFER ENDS 13th JULY
15,000 Avios with Capital on Tap Mastercard
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    Also transfers from Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.

  2. BrightonReader says:

    The only issue that confuses me is do I earn status points if I use the points with cash option or do they only count in the number of nights way to get Status?

    I’ve always booked – direct – the cheapest rate for a room and always got the points for it.

    • Points with cash just means you are purchasing points. It counts as a points stay and is non-qualifying. Therefore it also doesn’t count towards any Accelerate/other promotion targets (unless a points + cash stay is one of your targets).

      • I think it counts as a stay towards elite status, although you should be hitting 75,000 points way before reaching 75 nights. It’s ridiculously easy to achieve Spire, which is another reason not to expect too much in the way of benefits.

        • Not everyone pays £250 for a hotel room

          • What’s your point, John? I’ve never paid more than £80 for an IHG night, but with the credit card and a few cheap bonus point packages I get Spire with about 20 nights.a

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        So Points + Cash Definetly earns status and satisfies requirements of any bonus offers?

  3. Have Spire Elite for this year but mostly rubbish hotels and zero benefits means that I would rather stay at a Hilton.

    Although will need to spend the 100k points I have

    Shame as it could be a good scheme.

    BTW I assume that I will drop to zero status if I don’t stay..

    • NigelthePensioner says:

      Youve hit the nail on the head Tom……you have achieved top status for a brand that you never like to use …… 🤔🤔🤔 Hmmm.
      There seems to be a lot of this around.
      Choose 2 airline and 2 hotel groups that suit you and drive for those points. Having said that, it seems these days that 50% of the worlds hotels within a loyalty scheme are Bonvoy positive!
      Anyone remember the THF mastercard that gave free nights at the lower end branded hotels – Post House? Had many free nights at the PH Hampstead (with free parking!!) 30 years ago and on until the whole loyalty thing took off (ptp)!!

    • Looking at London in August and Hotel Indigo points value working out at about 0.8-1p per point so some definite value to be had!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      That’s quite harsh on IHG, in the UK For example, the indigo properties are probably some of the best in those towns/cities that have them and they’ve added a few nicer options with the Principal deal.

      London and Edinburgh are IHG hot spots for sure.

  4. Colin Denny says:

    Do you know the “churning rules” for the Creation IHG credit card, please?

    Is it 6 months (like Amex used to be) or something more demanding.
    I’m wondering what to do during a 2 year “Amex free” period 😉

    • I have seen comments on here which indicate that getting accepted for the card a second time can be difficult.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        @Simon: Does that include having black IHG (£99 @ year), cancelling and waiting 6x months then applying form the free IHG card?

      • Bentoni says:

        It is also very difficult to get them to up the limit as well. Well, at least in my case.

        I have made around £20k worth of transactions in 8 months, but they can still only offer me £1000 limit. I had to consistently making overpayments over the month. It is getting really annoying.

        Also, if I cancel my card before the renewal, will Creation still issue the free night certificate? If not, then when would be the best time to cancel the card?

    • The Urbanite says:

      If you close the card, assume you won’t be getting another one again.

      £99 is a very reasonable fee for the annual free night benefit alone, not factoring in opportunity cost. But you need to put enough spend through it otherwise it might not be worth it.

  5. When is the next Accelerate offer due?

  6. does anyone know when the next pointsbreak promotion starts, last round wasnt great

    • Usually last Monday of the month.

    • I managed to get the Staybridge Suites at Heathrow for 10k points in the last points break promo. Also got an upgrade due to being Spire. Add in the free booze and snacks at the “evening social” and it was an absolute bargain!

  7. Joe Green says:

    The free night 10k target seems to not have reset even though I’m sure its been a year now since I took out the card is it only reset at the end of the billing month?

  8. IHG’s Allure branded resort in Orlando has some eyecatching points offers, not so sure if the hotel is quite so appealing though. It does make me wonder when the highlight picture is a rather grubby pair of automatic doors from the car park and a reception desk that needs a good clean.

    An “IHG RC 3000 PTS NT” rate costs $16 a night more. That’s 0.4p per point.

    It’s odd though, they only show on the hotel’s IHG page under bonus packages, but don’t appear when you click through to book using the normal method so not sure if they’d count towards status.

  9. As somebody retired, who likes to travel I find the programme works well for me.
    I can achieve my Spire status via my credit card spend (I have both) & stays. Last year I ‘earned’ just about 100,000 Spire points plus all the other points not counting for Spire.
    Over Christmas and the New Year my wife and I went to Jordan for 11 nights and stayed at a mixture of Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental Hotels getting upgraded rooms and other benefits plus still have well over 100,000 points to spend.
    My view is for somebody like me, retired and does Hotel stays, the IHG rewards scheme offers fair value.

    • Neil Donoghue says:

      Hit the nail on the head here! Far too many folks have their fingers in too many pies. I keep the model simple by collecting Avios points from my Amex, IHG points from my Mastercard spend and sequentially I stay 30 – 40 nights a year in Hilton’s from work. It’s very easy to get side tracked with a Miles & More card and a Virgin card but I don’t have the spend to keep several accounts alive. For a cheap hotel night, the IHG card is perfect. Of course many folks here are still lucky enough to hold Hilton cards which I deeply regret churning now.

  10. Getting IHG points through OpenTable. Booking this way prevents you from collecting OpenTable points – most bookings will give you 100 points (worth 50p), but at quieter times lots of restaurants offer 1000 point bookings (£5 worth). Collect 2000 and you get a voucher for £10 off a meal.

    Also, booking through the IHG portal prevents you from seeing and booking any other special deals that you can see when booking direct (3 courses and a drink for £25 and similar)

  11. Mark Phillips says:

    Please can someone explain how one receives IHG points for Reward bookings? Thanks

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.