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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.

  • John says:

    The only good use of IHG spire for me was to status match to Hilton. OK I got lounge a few times in CPs but could never be guaranteed so always had to have alternate plans in case they didn’t grant access.

    Now that there are no more “exciting” promos where you can earn huge amounts of points (for me, these amounted to 50 free nights for 50 paid nights over the years) my next IHG stay will probably be my last to use up my remaining points.

    Then if IHG was the best option I would book with hotels.com – though that’s changing for the worse too

  • Phillip says:

    Interesting to read the communication email… targets are officially reduced until March but little use that is unless you can hit it early.

    Interesting night that reward nights are now also counting as qualifying? Or did I misread that?

    • John says:

      Reward nights have been counting as qualifying for years.

      But the easiest way to qualify for Spire was by booking bonus point packages. With an extra 3k qualifying points per night (midscale properties) and an extra 5k qualifying points per night (Intercontinental brand), you could hit Spire with as little as 10-20 nights p.a.

      So Spire was always a great secondary status. Of course, requalifying for Spire was even easier (just renew Ambassador which will also renew Spire).

      With a new point requirement of 120k, status becomes a lot harder, especially if you can’t use the Amb trick. (And, ofc, the Amb trick is not guaranteed; they may withdraw it at any time.)

  • Lady London says:

    Oh dear. IHG have lost the plot haven’t they.

    Without a programme that inspires loyalty I can see IHG hotels having to compete with their own pricing on expedia and hotels.com. If they have the same number of hotels and rooms still available with this kind of no-stay-benefit-unpredictable-reward-pricing programme then they’ve just commoditized rooms in all their midrange hotels. So those will have to compete on price through all channels including direct.

    Oops.

    • Andrew J says:

      Why doesn’t the programme inspire loyalty? We don’t even know what the new programme benefits will be yet!

      • Lady London says:

        Nothing so far inspires, @Andrew J !!

        When benefits are announced IHG is going to have to find a very big lipstick to dress this one up.

        And they’ve already said their aim is to have hotels spend [even] less servicing programme members.

        So I can’t see how they’ve left themselves any room to create an attractive programme here.

  • planeconcorde says:

    So what’s going to happen to those people who still have a Free Creation card?
    Retain GOLD or downgrade to SILVER? Cos SILVER will be the new reward level for staying at least 10 nights, which was the current GOLD level.

    • Chris K says:

      Surely they can’t downgrade/“redefine” the status you started the year with? In terms of what they do in 2023, I’d be surprised if Creation cards even exist by then.

      • planeconcorde says:

        Of course, for 2022 GOLD will be retained as that’s the current status level. I was thinking ahead to what will happen at the start of 2023. But I agree, probably a moot point as more likely Creation will withdraw the free white card from all holders by then.

        • RussellH says:

          Why would Creation do that?
          They have not withdrawn the Marriott card which was closed to new applicants quite a few years ago now. But that card has been redesigned and last autumn they redesigned the statement too. No business would do that sort of thing if they were planning to withdraw the service.
          And if the Marriott card is staying, then the iHG one will too.

  • chrism20 says:

    Have received the email and am trying not to laugh as it’s pretty much a copy and paste job from when they launched Spire but with different tier names.

    They gave us all the waffle about exciting new added feature benefits coming soon when Spire was launched and now they are spouting the same nonsense again. They fooled us once, do they think it will work again?

    No surprises about it changing midway through the year as thats exactly the same as they done last time.

    My honest opinion unless they pull something out the hat I think they have ran out of ideas.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen says:

    It looks like “Exciting improvements to our loyalty program” is the hotel sector’s “I thought it was a work event”

    • greggrant says:

      Love it!

      • Rob says:

        Having spoken to head of IHG Rewards in Atlanta today, I did get the impression that it will be a bit like Hilton – eg breakfast OR bonus points OR late check-out OR ….?

        Don’t underestimate how tough this is for IHG. They have 6,000 hotels who all signed contracts to offer certain benefits, and they are not going to start handing out free breakfast or anything which loses them real money without compensation.

        Hilton is SO far ahead though – pre-arrival upgrades which Hilton now controls, guaranteed connecting rooms, capped redemption costs, mid-tier breakfast benefit etc etc.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          At what point do they realise they aren’t getting customers because they’d rather go to chains with tangible benefits for their leisure stays …

          • Nick says:

            Indeed TGL, but, more likely now, actually losing loyal customers! However, if what Rob states above actually come to fruition (IHG promised many more benefits when Spire was first introduced, but nothing extra was ever added!), then, if breakfast does become an option, it may swing it back to only just below ‘par’!

        • Dirtyneedlebluesky says:

          Can only hope.

          This looks like a pr nightmare for now releasing this news without any evidence of the new benefits.

          There was a post a couple of days ago about how somebody was given a free breakfast and they wondered if it was around new benefits coming!

          As for my status I’m currently Platinum Elite. I have no idea how i retain this as stays are nowhere near enough for even Silver as put my stays mainly through Hilton. I’ve not seen a 25k bonus for this year though.

  • Tim W. says:

    Any news on what will happen to the status that comes with Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum?

  • Dave says:

    Meh, I’ve been Spire for a few years now but won’t be renewing this year. I did get good value from my IHG points in my recent Thailand holiday, ironically the dynamic pricing changes actually benefitted me so I was able to pick up the Holiday Inn Sukhumvit for 6000 points and the Indigo for 13000. Upgraded to best room at the indigo so that was nice and had a 5pm check out on my last day.

    But in general I’ve been fairly underwhelmed by status benefits. Still, they have some good options in Asia so i’ll still stay at certain hotels and brands, just the days of chasing status are over for me.

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