IHG, the hotel chain behind InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc, is currently rolling out its new loyalty scheme, IHG One Rewards.
This is the long awaited relaunch of IHG Rewards (nee IHG Rewards Club, nee Priority Club etc).
In summary, I am very impressed and it moves IHG alongside Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. In some ways, IHG One Rewards is better than those programmes.
Our main article on how to earn points and status in IHG One Rewards is here. Part 2, looking at IHG One Rewards and its status benefits, is here.
‘Milestone Rewards’ – real value for those who do ‘heads in beds’
‘Milestone Rewards’ are where the real magic in IHG One Rewards is happening.
If you have done 20 or more IHG nights this year (rollover nights are NOT included), you can now select your first or multiple ‘Milestone Rewards’ at the IHG website.
What I like about IHG’s new Milestone Rewards is that it is a way of bringing together their disparate brands.
Do 20 nights in a Holiday Inn Express and you get a guaranteed (see the small print below) suite upgrade for a 5-night stay at any hotel, including top InterContinental properties. You can’t argue with that.
How do IHG’s ‘Milestone Rewards’ work?
Before you read this, remember that IHG One Rewards has to cater for disparate groups of people:
- those who exclusively use the ‘select service’ brands (Holiday Inn Express etc)
- those who exclusively use the full service brands (InterContinental etc)
- those who switch between the two, either through choice or because they behave differently on business vs leisure trips or long vs short stays
This is what you get:
Let’s explain how these elements work. You have 90 days from hitting each milestone to make your selection and, if you’ve already hit 20 nights this year, you can now make your first choices.
- Bonus points – this is relatively clear. We value IHG One Rewards points at 0.4p each so 10,000 points are worth £40. On this basis, the food and drink vouchers are more valuable, unless all your stays are for work and your employer pays.
- Food and beverage rewards – these are worth £15 or equivalent. They are valid for 12 months. You can use multiple vouchers against the same restaurant or bar bill. You cannot use them against ‘market place’ charges where the hotel has a mini mart. They are non-transferable.
- Annual lounge membership – this is very valuable if you stay at full service hotels with lounges. It is valid for the current AND following calendar year, so you could get 20+ months out of it if you did 40 nights early in the calendar year. It is valid for you and a guest. IHG has confirmed that reward stays will be included in this benefit.
- Confirmable suite upgrades – see below
How do the confirmable suite upgrades work?
You can trigger these at 20 nights, 40 nights and 70 nights (x2) for a maximum of four per calendar year.
They are valid for 12 months once selected.
One suite upgrade award is good for one stay of up to five nights.
You can confirm your suite upgrade by ringing IHG One Rewards 14 days before arrival. If a suite is available for cash, it will be made available for your suite upgrade award. Some hotels are allowed to substitute selected ‘premium rooms’ to be offered instead of suites, which is fair enough if the room is large.
Reward nights are not eligible for suite upgrades. There is a hope at IHG that this can be changed in the future.
‘Advance Payment’ bookings are excluded from suite upgrades. There is no element of misinterpretation here – it is made very clear in the terms. This means that, if you normally book Advance Purchase rates, you will need to pay a little more for the opportunity to upgrade.
Suite upgrades cannot be used at Mr & Mrs Smith and other niche operations where IHG does not have full control. Six Senses is excluded because it is still not part of IHG One Rewards, in the main.
Suite upgrade awards will be returned if a room booking is cancelled.
Are IHG’s suite upgrades better than Marriott’s Suite Night Awards?
Yes, I think so.
- The Marriott upgrade process is opaque – a hotels can refuse to release a suite for upgrade if it thinks it can sell it. IHG says that if a ‘regular’ suite is available for cash, you can have it.
- 50 nights at Marriott gets you 5 x one-night Suite Night Awards. 40 nights at IHG get you 2 x ‘up to five night’ suite upgrades – and you only need 20 nights to earn your first one.
- However, Marriott will let you upgrade a reward stay to a suite, or indeed any cash rate including pre-paid rooms
A lot will come down to your personal stay patterns – using a suite award for a one night IHG stay is a bit of a waste.
What are the best Milestone Rewards options?
If you have multiple stays across the entire IHG portfolio, I would list the value of the options in this order:
1# Annual lounge pass
1# Confirmed suite upgrade
3 F&B voucher (unless your employer reimburses all your stays)
The ‘sweet spot’, I think, is doing 20 nights to trigger the first Confirmable Suite Upgrade. If you can use this for a long stay (it is good for a stay of up to five nights) at a high-end hotel you could have a very pleasant time.
At 40 nights, I’d probably lock in the lounge pass rather than take another suite upgrade, especially as the lounge pass is valid for the rest of the current year AND all of the following calendar year.
Learn more and select your first ‘Milestone Rewards’
The terms and conditions for the various member benefits are here.
IHG One Rewards update – March 2024:
Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not running a global promotion at the moment, but some members were sent targeted offers for their stays in February and March
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 March 2024. Click here to buy.
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.