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IHG Rewards is relaunching in March with new tiers – what will change?

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IHG Rewards is planning major changes to go live in March.

It will be a two stage process. Part 2 will be about adding new benefits, but there is no word yet on what these may be.

Part 1, announced today, is about changes to status levels.

You can find out more on this page of the IHG website here.

IHG Rewards planning a major relaunch in March

Aside from the official announcement, we have seen some internal IHG documents which add extra detail. It seems that welcome drinks and amenities are disappearing in China, and could arguably also disappear in Europe too. The 25,000 points bonus for reaching Spire Elite status will also be scrapped, it seems.

How will IHG Rewards change?

The programme will gain an additional tier – Silver.

The confusing Spire name will be retired, in favour of Diamond.

The new status levels will be:

  • Silver – requires 10 nights
  • Gold – requires 20 nights or 40,000 base points
  • Platinum – requires 40 nights or 60,000 base points
  • Diamond – requires 70 nights or 120,000 base points

For comparison, here are current levels, albeit these numbers were lower in 2021 due to covid mitigation measures:

  • Gold – requires 10 nights or 10,000 base points
  • Platinum – requires 40 nights or 40,000 base points
  • Spire – requires 75 nights or 75,000 base points
IHG Rewards is planning a major relaunch in March

The base point requirement increases sharply

As you can see, qualifying via base points will become substantially more difficult.

I am guessing that IHG has done this because IHG credit cards earn base points, and so it was relatively easy to earn status purely from credit card spending.

(A few years ago, I earned Spire Elite with a heavy contribution from spend on an IHG Rewards Premium credit card. This card earned 2 points per £1 spent, so £37,500 of spending got you top tier status even if you never went near a hotel. Legacy holders of this card – which is no longer available to new applicants – would now need to spend £60,000 to do the same.)

However, there are few countries in the world with IHG credit cards. The UK cards are now closed to new applicants. For everyone else, the only way to earn base points is by staying in a hotel.

Take Diamond. Based on 10 base points per $1, you’d need to spend $12,000 to earn status via spend. The alternative is completing 70 nights. You’d need to average more than $171 per night excluding taxes before you’d earn Diamond based on spend rather than nights.

Intriguingly, the nights requirement comes down

The new top-tier Diamond status will ‘only’ require 70 nights per year. This is a drop of five nights on the old threshold for Spire, albeit that for 2020 and 2021 this was reduced to 55 nights as a covid measure.

IHG Rewards is planning a major relaunch in March

How many bonus points will I earn per stay?

These are the new base point bonuses earned on paid stays:

  • Silver – 20%
  • Gold – 40%
  • Platinum – 60%
  • Diamond – 100%

Here are the current rates:

  • Gold – 10%
  • Platinum – 50%
  • Spire – 100%

Here is a graphic provided by IHG summarising the new structure – note that the top tier will now be designated by black imagery and not red:

New IHG Rewards chart

In general, bonus levels at the bottom end are increasing. The biggest difference comes for people who do 20 nights per year, who will now be getting a 40% Gold bonus rather than a 10% bonus under the current programme.

What is interesting is that this is the total opposite of what Hilton Honors did in its last shake-up. Those changes involved taking benefits away from lower tier members and boosting rewards for the heaviest stayers, on the logic that occasional guests were less motivated by points.

Top-tier members will actually end up worse off if, as reported, the bonus of 25,000 points for achieving or renewing Spire status is removed.

What other benefits will we see?

Good question.

In truth, IHG Rewards benefits are, at present, a joke. Nothing is guaranteed.

Hilton gives mid-tier Gold members free breakfast, some kind of upgrade and a (not guaranteed) late check-out. Marriott gives Platinum members and higher a guaranteed 4pm check-out. Hilton gives Diamond members free lounge access – Marriott offers this to both Titanium and Platinum members.

IHG Rewards guarantees you nothing. A top tier member isn’t guaranteed free breakfast, an upgrade, late check-out or lounge access.

Whilst IHG Rewards is telling hotels – as per the internal document we saw today – that it will cost them less to service IHG Rewards members in the future, it is difficult to imagine how this could be possible. If the welcome drink and snack are removed – which are only given in certain parts of the world anyway – there is literally nothing left that the hotel is obliged to provide.

If Diamond / Spire benefits do not improve, these changes will see top tier members being worse off. They lose the 25,000 points annual bonus – which I’d value at £100 given our valuation of IHG Rewards points – and do not seen any increase in their 100% status bonus.

IHG Rewards is planning a major relaunch in March

How are these benefits being phased in?

Your status will switch in March.

Members will retain their existing status for the rest of 2022, with Spire members seeing a name change to Diamond.

You will need to hit the new status requirements to keep your status for 2023. I can see a very thin Diamond tier next year on this basis, given the 70 night requirement.

Is anything changing with Ambassador, Royal Ambassador or Kimpton Inner Circle?

It seems not. These ‘pay to join’ or ‘invite only’ membership levels will not be changing.

Conclusion

It is impossible, at this stage, to draw any real conclusions about the changes to IHG Rewards, except to say that there seems little logic to hiking up the spend requirements for earning status.

I will withhold final judgement until we see what benefits are provided alongside the new status levels, but this will not happen for a few months.

What none of this addresses, of course, is the shift to revenue based redemptions. If IHG feels that members are losing faith with the programme, I suggest it is more to do with seeing Holiday Inn Express hotels priced at 100,000+ points on peak dates.

Having points requirements changing daily doesn’t help either, making advance planning impossible. People want to know that if they spend £x they can redeem for y, and that is no longer possible. Fiddling with the names of the status tiers won’t fix that.

For clarity, there is nothing wrong with running a programme which focuses heavily on earning points rather than giving out benefits. If you go down this road, however, you need to have an attractive redemption policy.

You can find out more about the changes on this page of ihg.com.


IHG One Rewards update – May 2022:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is offering bonus base points on all cash stays between 18th May and 31st August.  You earn double points on your 2nd to 5th nights, triple points on your 6th to 14th nights and quadruple base points from your 15th night. Our full article is here. Click here to register.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive an 80% bonus when you buy IHG One Rewards points by 10th June 2022.

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

Comments (115)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Paul says:

    Like Rob I aquired Spire via CC spend. It seems to have stuck by renewing my associated IHG amabassdor. Spire benefits a joke and my effort will continue in keeping my Hilton status which in some places in Europe and Asia has seen us well looked after!

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Just another nail in the ihg coffin then. Eroding any slim benefits that are currently in place.

  • Sam says:

    Perhaps you can give credit to Verylvke rather than just linking their article – their Chinese version is quite well known within the Chinese-speaking frequent flyer community.

    • Rob says:

      Done, but a backlink – which they’d already got – from a site with such a high Google rank as HfP is worth substantially more than a name-check!

  • Paul says:

    I really like Intercontinental Hotels but Hilton has had almost all my business for around 3 years now as the Diamond benefits are superb and I have been very well looked after. Their proactive and meaningful reaction to Covid was world beating.

    I have two nights in the IC Park lane, 2 nights in the IC Vienna and hopefully 14 nights in an Asian resort in August, so not a hope I will retain my Spire. I think the Vienna and Asia stays will be switched now as there are perfectly good Hilton alternatives in both places.

    • BJ says:

      You might want to reconsider, there is an absolute gem of an IC coming to Khao Yai National Park in Thailand incluring accommodations in an old refurbished train. So if you’re happy to pass on tne beach for a few nights it might be worth the effort.

  • StillintheSun says:

    Like Paul above I acquired Spire and kept it in the same manner. Having “enjoyed” the benefits of Spire for a few years now, I have not chosen a hotel on the basis that I would get my Spire “perks if I did in that period and I certainly wouldn’t move bookings on the basis that I might reach such a “lofty” height in the future. Frankly, the scheme is pants and my disloyalty is in part related to that 🙂
    Still love the Kimpton Russel Square though!

  • John says:

    So it’s aligning with Hilton except 70 instead of 60 nights for top tier, lower earn bonus for 2nd level, still no option for stays to earn status, and still no benefits.

  • ankomonkey says:

    There will literally be nothing rewarding about hotel chain loyalty schemes soon. What’s left – Wyndham Rewards and the Hilton Gold/Diamond breakfast (voucher in North America)?

  • NorthernLass says:

    There’s very little appeal to IHG while award nights are priced insanely. I’ve just booked a 15 night stay in the Florida Keys over Xmas and New Year entirely on HH and Bonvoy points and got stupendous value as managed to book studios and suites which will accommodate 3 of us. The cash price would be into 5 figures easily, but has cost us 560k HH points and 620k Bonvoy. Meanwhile, as Rob pointed out, Holiday Inns are priced at 100k IHG points pn for the same dates!

    It’s a shame as we get a lot out of Spire – the amount of free cocktails and room snacks we always get given well outweighs the cost of breakfast and we’ve always had really good upgrades.

    • Doommonger says:

      How’s the HI in Preston Anna?

      • NorthernLass says:

        I’ve only ever driven past it, Doomy, it’s not exactly in an attractive location! No idea how many points it is lol.

      • Supergers49 says:

        I stayed in it 18 years ago. Okay then. Rubbish now would be my guess if it hasn’t been refurbed.

        • BJ says:

          My thoughts too as I have not stayed there since the 90s. Location’s good for the centre, don’t recall much competition but that may have changed.

        • RussellH says:

          Stayed there about 3/4 years ago, manager told me it was due for refurbishment ‘very soon’, but never needed to go back.

          • tomkharrison says:

            I stayed there over New Year just gone. It did receive a basic refurbishment in late 2018/19 but it’s nothing to write about. It still somehow looks dated. I only stayed there as it was a good location to get buses out of Preston.

    • BJ says:

      When putting together our USA trip this summer I found IHG were generally providing much better value than either Hilton or Marriott despite the hated amenity charges. Took Marriott in Miami and Hilton in NYC but IHG everywhere else. For exampke, Ki,phone Fisherman’s Wharf was only 30k/night at time of booking and still good in low 40ks.

      • BJ says:

        *Kimpton

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        Kimpton Fishermans Wharf has been reported here as pants though and unworthy of the Kimpton branding.

        • NorthernLass says:

          There are 5 Kimptons in Key West, all vastly overpriced and none looks like much more than a pleasant guest house with a very small pool!

        • BJ says:

          Ouch, too bad, I’m stuck with it as HIX is now over 50k and everything in the city is astronomical so something big must be going on at Mosconi.

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