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IHG reduces the Spire Elite qualifying points target – making the Premium credit card interesting

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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:

IHG reduction in status requirements

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

Why 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:

IHG CC HFP Awards 2019

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.

Which is the best IHG Rewards Club Mastercard?

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.

Conclusion

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.

You can apply for the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.

Comments (46)

  • AndyW says:

    Work well with curve? NSI for example?

    • Sam says:

      Yes for this combination. It was seemingly capped to £700 a day but seems to be more flexible this week

  • Nick M says:

    I misread this for a moment and got excited… I have spent considerably more on my card in this card year (since June) – I think it was around £22k when I last looked, so thought it would be a reachable target… going forwards that is considerably less likely though!!

  • Tim W says:

    I’ve got well over 55k qualifying points this year, which should trigger the reduced Spire requalification. However my account still shows 75k required. Has anyone managed to trigger Spire with 55k points?