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      IHG Rewards Loyalty Program Benefits & Review 2021

      Josh Patoka
      IHG Rewards Club Loyalty Program Review

      The IHG Rewards Club includes popular hotel brands such as Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, and Kimpton. You will find over 6,000 locations at many destinations across the United States and the world plus a multi-tier rewards program. 

      This IHG benefits guide can help you learn more about this comprehensive hotel loyalty program popular for leisure, luxury, and business travel.

      IHG Rewards Club At A Glance
      Loyalty ProgramIHG Rewards
      Cost to JoinFree
      Membership TiersClub, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Spire Elite
      Total Destinations6,000+
      Number of Brands16
      Popular BrandsHoliday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, avid, InterContinental, Kimpton
      Average Point Value0.6 cents
      Point Expiration PolicyClub Members: 12 months of inactivity
      Elite Members: Never
      Points Needed for Reward Nights10,000-70,000
      Point Redemption OptionsReward Nights, Gift Cards, Digital Rewards, Airline Miles
      Number of Co-Brand Credit Cards (Accepting New Applications)1

      Here is everything you need to know about the IHG Hotels & Resorts loyalty program.

      IHG Hotels is easy to join online as you only need to provide your name and address to receive a membership number.

      It’s also possible to join at a local hotel or resort when you check-in.

      As an IHG Club member, you can start enjoying these benefits:

      • Member-only rates
      • Earn points on each paid stay
      • No blackout dates when redeeming points for reward nights
      • Free on-property WiFi

      You can also begin enrolling in limited-time offers to earn bonus points on qualifying stays.

      After joining the program, you can check your points balance, see member-only rates, and change your stay preferences through the IHG website or mobile app.

      IHG Rewards Club Loyalty Tiers

      There are four different status tiers in the IHG loyalty program:

      • Club
      • Gold Elite 
      • Platinum Elite 
      • Spire Elite 

      Unless you have a co-brand IHG Rewards Club Credit Card, you must meet the qualifying night or qualifying points requirement each calendar year to have Elite status for the current year and all of next year.

      For example, getting Platinum Elite status in July 2021 means retaining this tier through December 31, 2022.

      New members start at the Club level and start climbing the ladder by earning qualifying points and nights during the calendar year.

      As the table below indicates, these elite status requirements are relaxed from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021.

      Elite TierQualifying Nights
      (in 2021 only)
      Qualifying Points
      (in 2021 only)
      Standard Requirements
      Gold Elite77,00010 nights or 10,000 points
      Platinum Elite3030,00040 nights or 40,000 points
      Spire Elite5555,00075 nights or 75,000 points

      Note: The night and points requirements are reduced in 2021 for each Elite tier. For example, you only need to earn 7,000 points or log 7 nights to get Gold Elite status for 2022 instead of 10 nights or 10,000 points. IHG hasn’t published the point requirements to earn elite status in 2022 for 2023 yet.

      Learn more about the loyalty tiers here.

      Here is a closer look at the benefits for each reward tier along with the points and night requirements.

      Club

      Once you open an IHG Rewards Club account, you automatically have entry-level Club status.

      If you don’t maintain your Elite status when the calendar year ends, you revert back to Club.

      Benefits include:

      • Exclusive rates
      • No blackout dates for rewards nights
      • Reward nights count toward Elite status
      • Free internet

      As a basic member, your points expire after 12 months of account inactivity. Earning or redeeming points renews your balance.

      Points for Elite members do not expire.

      Gold Elite

      You can upgrade to IHG Gold Elite status after 10 qualifying nights or earning 10,000 points in a calendar year (7 nights or 7,000 points in 2021 only).  

      Additional benefits include:

      • Earn 10% bonus points
      • Welcome amenity
      • Extended checkout
      • Points don’t expire

      Platinum Elite

      Platinum Elite is the second-highest loyalty tier and requires 40 nights or 40,000 points (30 nights or 30,000 points in 2021 only)

      Loyalty perks include:

      • Earn 50% bonus points
      • Elite rollover nights
      • Space-available room upgrades
      • Guaranteed room availability

      The rollover nights benefit applies any excess nights from this year to next year’s qualifying nights credit. 

      For example, you may have 53 qualifying nights which is enough to be a Platinum Elite member but not enough for Spire Elite. Your first 40 night credits renew your Platinum Elite status and the remaining 13 credits roll into next year’s requirement. As a result, you only need to stay 37 additional nights.


      Tip: You can get instant IHG Platinum Elite status with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

      Spire Elite

      Spire Elite is the highest tier and requires 75 nights or 75,000 points. 

      Additional benefits include:

      • 100% bonus points
      • Early check-in
      • Exclusive choice benefit

      The annual choice benefit lets you either receive bonus IHG points or gift Platinum Elite status to a friend.

      InterContinental Ambassador

      InterContinental Ambassador is an optional loyalty program open to all IHG members. Consider this program if you stay at the 200+ InterContinental Hotels and Resorts across the globe.

      You pay $200 per year or 40,000 IHG points for a 12-month membership.

      Benefits at the InterContinental properties include:

      • IHG Platinum Elite status
      • Guaranteed one category room upgrade
      • 4pm extended checkout
      • Up to $20 in restaurant and bar credits per stay
      • Complimentary mineral water and internet
      • Single room rate for double occupancy

      You may also be able to receive free weekend night awards by completing limited-time offers.

      The above perks don’t apply to IHG portfolio stays, but you get automatic IHG Platinum Elite loyalty benefits.

      IHG Status Match

      Periodically, IHG offers status match challenges if you have elite status with competing programs. You can check their status match page and current offers to search for opportunities.

      IHG Brands

      IHG Holiday Inn Express Honolulu

      Photo: ihg.com

      The IHG portfolio consists of 16 brands and over 6,000 mid-tier and luxury properties across the world. 

      Many hotels and resorts are in the United States but you can find them on most continents.

      The loyalty program divides its portfolio into four different mid-tier and luxury categories.

      Essentials

      These mid-tier properties include:

      • Holiday Inn Express
      • Holiday Inn
      • Avid

      Suites

      For an extended stay, you might consider these brands:

      • Atwell Suites
      • Candlewood Suites
      • Staybridge Suites
      • Holiday Inn Club Vacations

      Check this out: Compare these chains with the best mid-tier hotel brands.

      Premium

      These hotels are good for high-class leisure and business travel:

      • Crowne Plaza
      • Even Hotels
      • Hualuxe
      • Voco

      Luxury and Lifestyle

      The swankiest IHG hotels and resorts:

      • Six Senses
      • Regent
      • InterContinental
      • Kimpton
      • Hotel Indigo

      Earning IHG Points

      You will earn up to 10 base points per $1 on most IHG stays:

      • 10x at most IHG hotels and resorts
      • 5x at Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites

      If you’re an Elite member, you will also earn 10% (Gold Elite), 50% (Platinum Elite), 100% (Spire Elite) on paid stays.

      There are several other ways to earn bonus IHG points:

      • Bonus points packages: Book specials to earn bonus points instead of a base stay. These offers can be the cheapest way to buy IHG points.
      • Point promotions: Enroll in limited-time IHG promotions to earn bonus points at participating hotel brands and on multiple stays.
      • Travel credit cards: A co-brand IHG credit card earns IHG points on every purchase. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your IHG account with participating credit cards.
      • IHG Rewards Dine & Earn: You can earn up to 8 points per $1 at participating restaurants. It’s free to join this loyalty program and 1,000 bonus points on your first $30 purchase.
      • Partner benefits: Receive bonus points through travel and dining partners like Grubhub, OpenTable, Mr & Mrs Smith, and Hertz.
      • Purchase IHG points: You can also buy up to 150,000 IHG points each year. This can be a good move when the loyalty club runs sales that match your purchase amount.

      In addition to earning points each time you pay cash for a stay or support an IHG partner, you can also transfer points and earn frequent flyer miles.

      Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG

      In addition to earning IHG points through the hotel loyalty program, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your IHG account in 1,000-point increments and without transaction fees.

      Currently, three credit cards earning Chase Ultimate Rewards let you transfer credit card points to IHG.

      Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

      The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns up to 5x rewards on purchases and gives you a 10% anniversary gift of the total points you earned in the prior year.

      Other benefits include a 25% travel redemption bonus for booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and an annual $50 hotel statement credit.

      The annual fee is $95 for the first card and $0 for secondary cards.

      Chase Sapphire Reserve 

      The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel rewards card that’s best for frequent flyers. Purchases earn up to 10x Ultimate Rewards and each point is worth 50% more when booking award travel through Chase.

      Premium benefits include a $300 annual travel statement credit, Priority Pass Select lounge access, and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credits.

      The annual fee is $550 plus $75 per authorized user.

      Chase Ink Business Preferred  

      Small business owners carrying the Chase Ink Business Preferred can get a 25% travel redemption bonus. You can also earn up to 3x on business purchases like online advertising, shipping purchases, and travel.

      The annual fee is $95 for the first card and $0 for additional employee cards.

      Unfortunately, the other Ink Business credit cards with no annual fee don’t support point transfers. Neither does the Freedom family of cash back rewards cards.

      Earning Airline Miles Instead of IHG Points

      You may decide to join IHG to earn frequent flyer miles on your hotel stays.

      As airline miles can be more valuable than hotel points, this earning strategy may not be as farfetched as you think. In addition, you can easily change your earning preference in your IHG member profile.

      Most IHG stays earn 2x airline miles except for Staybridge and Candlewood Suites stays only earning 1x.

      Some carriers may only award 1x miles on Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express stays too.

      Most domestic and international airlines participate, including:

      • American Airlines
      • Delta Air Lines
      • United Airlines
      • Avianca
      • British Airways
      • Singapore Airlines
      • Virgin Atlantic

      If you believe you’re going to redeem your IHG points for flights, it’s better to earn miles from the beginning. If you decide to transfer your hotel points, the conversion ratio is 10,000 IHG points for 2,000 air miles.


      You can see the complete list of the 40+ airline partners here at the IHG website.

      Redeeming IHG Points

      IHG Holiday Inn Orlando

      Photo: ihg.com

      You can redeem your points for IHG rewards nights and a couple of other non-travel rewards.

      IHG Reward Nights

      The easiest and most valuable redemption option can be rewards nights within the IHG portfolio.

      Some of the highlights include:

      • Your points are usually worth 0.6 cents for IHG nights. This rate is competitive with most hotel programs. Periodically, you can find deals where each point is worth between 1.0 and 1.6 cents.
      • Most mid-tier brands require 15,000 to 35,000 points per night. Relevant brands include Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites.
      • Luxury brands usually cost between 30,000 and 50,000 points. These brands include InterContental, Hotel Indigo, and Crowne Plaza.
      • Can book award nights up to 50 weeks in advance. Reward night rates start appearing 50 weeks before check-in. Prices are variable and will fluctuate so you may check prices on several days to wait for the best deal.

      IHG no longer publishes an award chart. Instead, they tie the number of points needed to the nightly cash rate. 

      Some of the reward night pricing factors include:

      • Brand
      • Demand
      • Location
      • Day of the week 

      Rewards nights require between 10,000 and 70,000 points per night. In general, you can expect to pay between 11,000 and 45,000 points.

      While there are no blackout dates, hotels may sell out of award nights for your desired travel dates. Thankfully, most destinations have multiple IHG hotels but you may need to either pay more points or pick a less desirable property if you don’t want to pay cash.

      Points and Cash

      If you don’t have enough points to book a night, you can also pay with points and cash. You will redeem as few as 5,000 points and pay cash for the rest. 

      While you can conserve points, the cash requirements can be more than you’re willing to spend.

      Transfer IHG Points to Airlines

      You can transfer your points to the IHG Rewards partner airlines. In most programs, every 10,000 IHG points convert to 2,000 frequent flyer miles. That’s a mediocre 5:1 transfer ratio.

      A better alternative can be earning frequent flyer miles instead of IHG points on paid stays by switching your earning preference.

      Transfer IHG Points to another IHG Member

      You can also transfer your points to another member. in 1,000-point increments. 

      While you pay $5 per 1,000 points, it can be cheaper than buying points ($13.50 per 1,000 points) when you need just a few more to book a reward night.

      Gift Cards

      Gift card redemptions start at 5,500 points for a $10 reward. Your points are only worth $0.002 for these retail and restaurant rewards which may not be worth it.

      As you may receive a physical gift card, it can take up to four weeks to arrive by mail.

      Digital Rewards

      Digital rewards are another easy way to redeem a small points balance.

      Some of your options include:

      • eBooks
      • eMagazines
      • eNewspapers
      • Movies
      • Games

      The cheapest redemptions start at roughly 1,000 points for single issues of digital magazines. Movie rentals start at 1,700 points.

      IHG Credit Card

      There is currently one IHG Rewards Club credit card available for consumers. A small business version is unavailable.

      IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

      The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers several exclusive perks and additional ways to earn bonus points.

      Featured benefits include:

      • Earn 10x points on IHG purchases: You will earn up to 25x on IHG purchases including the standard IHG Rewards Club member benefits. Your other card purchases either earn 2x or 1x per $1, depending on the purchase category.
      • Platinum Elite status: You have automatic Platinum Elite status as long as your card remains active.
      • Free night award: Each card anniversary, you receive one free night reward. You can redeem it at properties requiring 40,000 points or less.
      • 4th night is free: Your fourth night is complimentary when redeeming points for 4+ night award stays. This perk isn’t available to non-cardholders with IHG elite status.
      • Signup bonus: You can earn a new cardmember spending bonus of 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus can be worth up to 15 free nights.
      • Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: You receive an application fee credit worth up to $100 every 4 years.

      The annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $89 for each card anniversary. There is no foreign transaction fee.

      If you stay at an IHG property at least one night a year, the anniversary night award is easily worth more than the $89 annual fee at most properties. Most IHG nights cost between $100 and $200 if you pay cash.

      FAQ

      Is it free to join IHG Rewards Club?

      Yes, it’s free to join the IHG Rewards Club online. It’s also possible to enroll at check-in and earn 1,000 bonus points.

      An optional InternContinental Ambassador program costs $200 per year or 40,000 IHG points.

      What are the IHG Rewards Club loyalty program tiers?

      The IHG status levels are Club, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, and Spire Elite in ascending order.

      New members start at the Club tier and must earn qualifying points or nights to earn elite status.

      How do you qualify for IHG elite status?

      To have elite status, you will need to earn a minimum number of qualifying points or nights each calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

      The tier requirements are:
      Gold Elite: 10 nights or 10,000 points (7 nights or 7,000 points in 2021)
      Platinum Elite: 40 nights or 40,000 points (30 nights or 30,000 points in 2021)
      Spire Elite: 75 nights or 75,000 points (55 nights or 55,000 points in 2021)

      How can you get IHG Elite status quickly?

      Getting approved for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card gives you automatic Platinum Elite status.

      IHG occasionally offers status matches if you have elite status with Hilton Honors, Marriot Bonvoy, or similar programs.

      What are IHG Elite Qualifying Points?

      Points you earn from IHG-related purchases or travel and dining partners count toward Gold, Platinum, or Spire Elite status.

      What are IHG Elite Qualifying Nights?

      Qualifying nights include are for leisure or business trips at IHG hotels and resorts. Many discounted rates are eligible too.

      Reward nights that you pay for with points or points and cash can also apply toward elite status for next year.

      How do you earn IHG points?

      You can earn IHG points by paying cash for IHG hotel nights, making travel and dining partners purchases, and using a co-brand IHG credit card.

      How much are IHG reward nights?

      IHG reward nights require between 10,000 and 70,000 points per night. So, on average, you can expect to pay between 10,000 and 45,000 points.

      Most properties also offer a points and cash payment option that only requires 5,000 points.

      What are IHG points worth?

      Points are usually worth between 0.4 and 0.7 cents for reward nights.

      Do IHG points expire?

      IHG points for Club members expire after 12 months of earning or redemption inactivity. 
      Points don’t expire for Elite members.

      The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

      The point redemption values are competitive with most domestic hotel programs. However, the variable pricing model can make it challenging to predict the number of points you may need.

      While the program only offers one co-brand credit card, it has many attractive perks like an anniversary night award and automatic Platinum Elite status. With a reasonable annual fee ($0 for the first 12 months and then $89), this card is worth holding if you want fast-track elite status to maximize your IHG benefits easily.

      Josh Patoka The Vacationer Bio

      By Josh Patoka

      Josh Patoka writes about maximizing travel rewards for The Vacationer. As well, he contributes to several personal finance sites specializing in making money, paying off debt, and investing.