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IHG One Rewards is here – what do we think? (Part 1 – earning points and status)

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IHG, the hotel chain behind InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc, has launched IHG One Rewards.

This is the long awaited relaunch of IHG Rewards (nee IHG Rewards Club, nee Priority Club etc).

Quick summary – it’s hugely impressive compared to what I was expecting. In one swoop, IHG has gone from bottom of the pile, by a long way, to level pegging with Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. In some ways, IHG One Rewards is better than those programmes.

IHG has also been very clever. The benefits you get from simply having status (which is free from a credit card in some countries, or from buying Ambassador status) are modest. You need to do the equivalent number of ‘heads in beds’ nights to get real value.

If you do enough nights, the benefits include:

  • guaranteed lounge access
  • free breakfast at all brands which currently charge for it
  • suite upgrades which are confirmed 14 days before arrival and are guaranteed if a standard suite is being sold for cash (valid on ‘pay on departure’ cash stays)

The lounge and suite upgrade benefits are ONLY available if you earn your status via stays, not via getting comped status.

One piece of good news is that you CAN continue to earn status points via the UK IHG credit cards, albeit these are now closed to new applicants. This benefit has been ended for US credit card holders, so if you see any online comments to the contrary then this is why.

If you want top tier Diamond status, you are going to need to fully commit to IHG, whether that be through $12,000 of annual pre-tax spend or 70 nights.

IHG Rewards planning a major relaunch in March

How do you earn status in IHG One Rewards?

The programme has gained an additional tier – Silver.

The confusing Spire name for the top tier has been retired, in favour of Diamond.

The new status levels, from 17th April, are:

  • 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

At most IHG brands, you earn 10 base points per $1 of pre-tax spending.

For comparison, here are the old 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

Reward nights will continue to count towards status and also count towards the new Milestone Rewards (see Part 3).

How many bonus points will I earn per stay?

These are the new base point bonuses earned on paid stays, which kick in from 17th April:

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

Here are the old rates:

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

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

New IHG One 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 old programme.

A few thoughts about qualifying for status ….

The base point requirement increases sharply

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

This is reflected in the new benefits, however, as Part 2 of this article will show.

IHG Rewards is planning a major relaunch in March

Credit card points will no longer count towards status

Historically IHG Rewards was very liberal in the type of points which counted towards status.

I used to earn Spire Elite status by transferring points from Virgin Flying Club to IHG Rewards. It was a good deal, especially as one of the benefits of earning Spire Elite status was 25,000 bonus points.

At one time, credit card sign-up bonuses also counted towards status. This was removed a few years ago.

From early June, points from credit card spend will no longer count towards status.

Earning top tier status via spend is going to be difficult

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.

You don’t want to be earning status via spend

As we will show in Part 3, the real benefits in IHG One Rewards come from the number of nights you do each year and not your elite status.

Someone who earns Diamond status via $12,000 of spending over a couple of weeks at InterContinental Maldives will be a lot worse off than someone who earns it via 70 nights at a Holiday Inn Express.

Intriguingly, the nights requirement has come 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.

This may be reflection of the fact that, post the pandemic, the number of people doing 70 nights per year in hotels – in total, let alone at IHG – is going to be smaller than it was.

IHG Rewards is planning a major relaunch in March

The top tier 25,000 points achievement bonus is going

Under IHG Rewards, you received a 25,000 point bonus when you achieved or renewed Spire Elite status.

(You had to request this online, it was not automatic. There was a Plan B alternative of giving Platinum status to a friend.)

This benefit has now been dropped. However, as you will see in Part 3, it has been replaced by Milestone Rewards – click here.

Click here for Part 2, which looks at the new status benefits of IHG One Rewards.

Learn more

The IHG website for IHG One Rewards is here.

The terms and conditions for the various member benefits are here. You need to scroll down to the IHG One Rewards section.

IHG One Rewards update – May 2023:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global bonus points promotion.

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.

IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 7th June.

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 (152)

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

  • Scallder says:

    Checked in somewhere yesterday and was welcomed as a Diamond Elite! Won’t last long given Creation played their games last year…

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    My first thought is that the benefits and milestones LOOK impressive, but the number of nights needed is crippling. As you say, you’ll have to fully commit to IHG to reap serious benefit. This will mean not getting best value a lot of the time vs what was available elsewhere. If someone else is paying it still means committing to stays at less convenient locations or in less pleasant hotels than would have been available in the broader chain market. This, of course, is value destruction. Does the value created by the benefits more than offset the value destroyed by the change in behaviour? Intuitively I’d suggest the answer is no for almost everyone. The commitment required (and therefore also the opportunities lost elsewhere) is just too great.

    • Josh says:

      As a road warrior I agree 100%. Perfect analysis. I can’t imagine why anyone would spend 70 nights without any tangible benefits just to get status which is similar to Marriott. With credit cards and other promotions you can get marriot status relatively easy. Hilton status also very easily with a card To get breakfast and usually lounge access. My work colleagues and I Would never consider IHG . But Accor is still the worst of all. Their program is totally useless And they are very difficult to deal with.

      • MT says:

        The issue with Marriott and Hilton is the status is to easy to get, thus there are to many Elites and the hotels don’t care anymore and Benifits get watered down. A program where it takes some work to achieve status and the term elite actually still means something to me appeals and is worth the effort.

    • Rob says:

      Isn’t that the point of the loyalty programme? To change behaviour? To make you drive past a new Hampton to a crumbling HIX?

      I did a Marriott stay this week purely to burn a suite upgrade and get 2 elite nights. I would usually have chosen a different hotel.

      • Stuart says:

        It will change my behaviour. I’ll be rewarding myself elsewhere.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Indeed it is. I’m just suggesting here that on analysis most people should avoid the behaviour change they are being tempted to make.

        • Jeff77 says:

          No loyalty scheme changes my behaviour. I just see it as a free benefit for something I was going to do anyway.

          I tend to use whatever airline or hotel works best for me at the time

          • Rob says:

            It probably does impact you at the margins. If you were one BA flight short of Silver then you’d ensure you did that flight, even if was an inconvenient time or slighly pricier than the competition. If you had free breakfast via Hilton Gold you’d probably choose a Hilton if it was next to a Marriott and the prices were the same. I think, for a lot of people, they don’t even realise it how their choices are distorted.

            I mean …. I’m in Berlin at the moment. It never crossed my mind, even for a second, to go onto TripAdvisor and look up a recommended luxury independent hotel. The thought process (admittedly I know most of the big Berlin hotels) was churning through the ones where I have status or where there is an attractive promo. I have absolutely not made a second tier choice – I’m too old to stay in crappy hotels purely for points or benefits – but the short list rarely includes places where I get nothing extra.

          • Jeff77 says:

            “If you were one BA flight short of Silver then you’d ensure you did that flight, even if was an inconvenient time or slighly pricier than the competition. If you had free breakfast via Hilton Gold you’d probably choose a Hilton if it was next to a Marriott and the prices were the same. I think, for a lot of people, they don’t even realise it how their choices are distorted.”

            I’ve never got close to getting bronze with BA let alone silver and I’ve never stayed enough nights with any hotel chain to get status so that’s really not relevant for me.

          • Jeff77 says:

            That’s not because of a lack of travel by the way, more due to a lack of loyalty. I’ve got loads of avios/nectar points from my day to day spending

  • ChrisC says:

    Thanks for the great write up via all three articles.

    Looks to me to be an improvement with the top rewards being based on stays rather than spend.

    The suite upgrade would work on some of my trips just needs some judicious bookings and selections of when I would use it, 3 nights at the HI in Manchester not so much but a 4/5 night stay at the de Witt in Amsterdam would be a yes.

    But does the booking need to be a single one for the entire stay? A good fee of us here book stays (cash and miles) on a night by night basis to allow some judicious rebooking if rates fall. I guess we’d have to decide whether to book it as a block for the upgrade or as nights to get the bast cash / points deal.

    And would they toss you out if you had a longer stay or just deny you the upgrade from the get go.

    Looking forward to see what sort of points discounts will be available as well

    I wonder if the railcard corporate rate is one of the allowable booking rates to use the suite upgrade on?

    Lounge access also depends on which IHG hotels actually have them. Is there a list somewhere? I see people making the wrong decision on this benefit and then being disappointed.

    • John says:

      If you don’t book 14 days in advance, is the upgrade not available at all, or just up to the hotel? (But if you have to call a central number they can’t apply discretion)

      • ChrisC says:

        Although you can only call IHG within 14 days of the stay to apply the suite voucher I don’t think they restrict you to booking the room to that period.

      • Rob says:

        You can call from 14 days. The hotel cannot handle a suite upgrade – it must be processed centrally I believe.

  • YC says:

    Platinum has improved (upgrades depending on enforcement and reward night discount). As a result, ambassador becomes better too.

  • Andrew says:

    I would have done over 40 nights before June so I assume that I can select from each milestone and not only the 40 nights milestone? Ie lounge access plus two suite upgrades plus several food vouchers? The new milestone benefits suit me perfectly as I already concentrated on IHG stays since 2013.

  • Travel Strong says:

    Well that explains why I was welcomed as a ‘Diamond’ guest (rather than Spire) last night on arrival at a Staybridge Suites! I did find it odd at the time but breezed over it.

    • John says:

      When I was Spire I was occasionally welcomed as Gold…. (not just in the teething problem stage where Spire would show as no status).

  • Rob H says:

    Rob in article 2 you mention that current Diamond status expires in Feb 23, although according to the app mine says 31/12/22.

    Have I misread something?

  • Rob H says:

    One more thing, do you keep any status for having a black or white IHG credit card as in the past ?

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