As we wrote on Friday, IHG Rewards Club has reduced the qualification threshold for its top tier Spire Elite status.
Spire Elite usually requires you to earn 75,000 base points in a calendar year. For 2020, this is reduced to 55,000 base points. Alternatively, you can qualify with 55 nights vs the usual 75 nights.
This table confirms the reduction, and you can see the original on the IHG website here:
Before I go on, remember these two points:
when you qualify or requalify for Spire Elite, you receive a bonus of 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points
points earned for spending on the IHG credit cards – except for sign-up bonuses – count towards status
The IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard is now a good deal for chasing status
I think the £99 IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard is a fantastic product. That’s why we gave it an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in the Head for Points 2019 Travel & Loyalty Awards. Here is the IHG and Creation team collecting it at our winner’s dinner:
The application page for the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard is here.
The headline features of this card are:
£99 annual fee
20,000 IHG Rewards Club points for joining and spending £200 in the first three months – these are worth about £80 of free hotel rooms or transferable to 4,000 Avios points or other airline miles
Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club for as long as you hold the card. This is mid-tier, with Spire Elite being the top level. However, if you do a few Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza or Indigo stays then it is worth having. It is occasionally enough for a Club room upgrade at a Crowne Plaza.
2 IHG Rewards Club point per £1 spent. I value IHG points at 0.4p so this is a 0.8% return.
4 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you pay at IHG hotels. This would be roughly a 1.6% return which is very good.
4 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you use the card abroad. As the card has a 2.99% FX fee you would be better off using a card without FX fees instead. The only reason to use the card abroad would be to work towards your free night voucher or earn additional IHG elite status points.
A free night voucher for any IHG hotel for spending £10,000. Use it at the InterContinental Paris, London, New York etc and you could be looking at £250 of value.
Representative APR is 45.1% variable including the £99 fee, based on a notional £1200 credit limit
Note that the free night voucher only appears at the end of your card year, irrespective of how quickly you spend £10,000. If you want to cancel the card without paying for a 2nd year, you need to ensure that NO transactions are made on the card between your anniversary date and the date the voucher appears. You can then call Creation to cancel and the £99 fee will be waived.
There are two minor restrictions on the free night voucher – it can’t be used at the handful of Regent hotels and it can’t be used at the Las Vegas or Macau casino InterContinental Alliance properties.
Let’s look at how you can get Spire Elite status
Let’s assume that you are keen to get Spire Elite status in IHG Rewards Club. In the most extreme scenario, you won’t do a single IHG cash stay this year and will earn all of your base points from the Premium Mastercard.
You spend £27,500 on the Premium Mastercard before the end of 2020
This gets you 55,000 IHG Rewards Club points
This triggers Spire Elite status
This triggers the bonus of 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points
£27,500 of spending has earned you 80,000 IHG Rewards Club points.
I value an IHG point at a conservative 0.4p. This means 80,000 points are worth £320.
You are getting a return of (£320 / £27,500) 1.16% on your £27,500. This is very good for a Mastercard or Visa.
That’s not all, of course.
Because you have spent over £10,000, you will also receive a free night voucher at the end of the year. Let’s assume you redeem this at an InterContinental on a peak night and get £250 of value. This is an extra 2.5% return on the first £10,000 of spending.
If you blend the two rewards together, you are getting £320 of points plus £250 of free room, total £570, for spending £27,500. This is an overall return of 2.1%.
This ignores the value of having Spire Elite status for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021.
Note that the points must hit your IHG Rewards Club account in 2020 to trigger your status upgrade. This means that you need to be aware of when your final statement of the year is generated.
There is, of course, the £99 annual fee to consider. However, you receive a sign-up bonus of 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points (which do not count towards status) which virtually offsets the fee.
This isn’t a strategy for everyone. However:
if you can easily spend £27,500 on a Mastercard by the end of 2020 and
you fancy the idea of having top-tier IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite status
….. then this is something you should think about.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – February 2023 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.