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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.

  • Acersaccharum says:

    One word, ‘Pathetic’!

    The highest tier is, unbelievably, now worse off!

    I’ve been a IHG Spire member since inception and I’ve always favoured my HH Diamond status well above IHG Spire for clearly obvious reasons.

    I don’t know if anyone else remembers, but, when IHG Spire was first introduced, we were promised many more benefits, over & above the IHG offers and Hertz Gold Plus membership.

    What did we get? Absolutely nothing!

    Actually, ‘Pathetic’, is being generous, and they’ll surely come to regret it!

    • the_real_a says:

      I remember this. In fact it was the reason i switched stays (and CC spend) to IHG, made Spire – staff had no idea what it was, or what to do with it. In fact i often got “oh what’s that… i don’t think we do that here”. In fact the biggest benefit was I got to pick 2 mint club biscuit from a Tupperware container occasionally. Absolute joke.

  • JAST says:

    IHG reward nights are not family friendly , they offers disappear once you add children to your search in Europe

    • alig4th says:

      Seconded!

    • HAM76 says:

      I usually book with just two adults and then send a mail to the hotel asking to add my son to the booking. Often that isn‘t a problem, because as a spire I would had been upgraded to a larger room anyway. The kids eat free program is a nice touch, too.

      That doesn‘t mean I‘d love to see more consistency. Even the drink and snack vouchers vary in the same hotel with just a few weeks in between. Some hotels are great with upgrades, some are really bad. Benefits often even depend on the person checking you in and what you know about what your benefits should be.

  • Ben says:

    Even with Spire there are few if any benefits- often it isn’t even acknowledged. And upgrades invariably are declined as ‘it is subject to availability ‘. Now that the IHG credit card has been scrapped and many cards have been terminated I don’t really see the point.

    • Acersaccharum says:

      Agreed Ben. There is no doubt, in my experience, that any status upgrade is much more regularly recognised within Hilton Honors, than IHG. The latter definitely needs more of your input at reception, because it’s often not recognised online, prior to arrival, and you then need to ask for any benefit!

  • ChrisC says:

    So will AMB still give you Plat?

    Ridiculous to allow credit card spend to count when you’ve closed off credit cards to new people meaning the scheme is less attractive from that aspect.

    And harder for those without cards to earn top tier based on stays / spend alone.

    Hopefully these new benefits will be worth it.

  • StillintheSun says:

    Bring back PointBreaks! Then IHG might succeed in hooking the punters back in again!

    • Rob says:

      To be fair, unless had a lot of flexibility or enjoyed esoteric holiday destinations then it wasn’t great. I don’t think I ever stayed on one.

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        Indeed, it suited those seeking an impromptu weekend away in rural Alabama’s finest Holiday Inn.

      • Mr. AC says:

        I stayed in the Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront in 2018 on PointBreak (thx Rob!). Good value nominally, but it was a bit of a dump…
        But the “esoteric” part was at least a bit fun and highlighted the different hotels in the network. I never had the chance, but I could see myself organizing a short break around a good hotel. It’s what attracted me to IHG’s loyalty program in the first place.

      • StillintheSun says:

        True. But I liked the fantasy that I could disappear off to El Salvador’s finest Intercontinental hotel in a mall for 10k of points a night. Points are hope and dreams, kill that and there is no point. A revenue based system is a corporate fool who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    • the_real_a says:

      It was an introduction to the brands. Plenty of people from my office stayed somewhere for “cheap” but then continued to stay there over the years at the full rate. Plus bar and restaurant spend add ons.

      • the_real_a says:

        Admittedly “Happy Mondays” from Accor did a better job of this with more variety. Pointsbreak did scrape the barrel towards the end.

    • Rachel Robinson says:

      Towards the end PBs were rubbish. But I had some amazing trips using them.

  • RogerC says:

    When does the 25000 point bonus for reaching Spire get generated? If they scrap it, and it’s awarded at the end of the customer year we might never get it….

    • Rob says:

      Fair point – not clear if you’d still get it if you requalified before these changes went live.

  • Dace says:

    Personally, I had already decided to give up Spire this year as my Hilton Diamond provides such a better experience.

    For me the whole point of IHG was the points earning which allowed easy redemptions but this has been completely stripped away in the past 18-36 months with the use of ‘dynamic pricing’ and the loss of pointbreaks/into the nights/accelerate etc.

    IHG, imo, has now joined Club Carlson (withdrawal of 241/442) and Accor (loss of Happy Monday) where nothing they provide can switch me from the benefits/consistency Hilton provides.

    Obviously, they could spring a surprise and match the Hilton offerings and each level but after everything that was promised when Spire was introduced, I suspect that the benefits will deteriote across the board rather than become more attractive.

    • QFFlyer says:

      Agree on all counts, with the exception of Accor (hear me out) – being in Australia and having a limited supply of IHG/Hilton properties anyway, the international travel ban saw me go from nothing to Platinum with them last year, now extended into next year – so lounge access, very consistent welcome amenities (generally a bottle of wine or something) and a huge selection of properties. Also rates have been insanely cheap, though I’m sure that’ll come to an end.

      Whether this will continue going forward I don’t know, but I’ve been pretty happy with Accor throughout the pandemic, just wish there was more room for arbitrage rather than the fixed points value thing (and some better ways to earn them outside of stays).

  • Dubious says:

    “iconic brand partnerships and extensions, tailored experiences for our customers”
    I don’t rate iconic brands particularly highly…this could be a KFC bargin bucket instead of a continental breakfast, but I wonder what the “tailored experiences” will turn out to mean.

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