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Last-minute strategies for earning IHG One Rewards elite status

Oct. 27, 2022
10 min read
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As the end of the year approaches, you may be wondering how you'll earn your desired level of elite status with IHG One Rewards this year.

Several promotions this year have helped some IHG loyalists snag status quickly. For example, IHG's lucrative status challenge this summer let members earn Diamond Elite status through the end of 2023 after just 15 nights.

Unfortunately, that status challenge is over now. But this guide will discuss how to earn IHG elite status before the end of the year, including ways to earn more qualifying nights or qualifying points.

IHG One Rewards elite status overview

Breakfast buffet at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Vietnam. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

IHG overhauled its loyalty program this year, including adding new elite perks and an entire new elite tier. Here are the IHG One Rewards elite tiers and the current requirements for each:

  • Silver Elite: 10 qualifying nights.
  • Gold Elite: 20 qualifying nights or 40,000 qualifying points.
  • Platinum Elite: 40 qualifying nights or 60,000 qualifying points.
  • Diamond Elite: 70 qualifying nights or 120,000 qualifying points.

As you can see, you can earn IHG elite status by accruing qualifying nights or qualifying points. IHG uses a calendar year as its qualification period, so you have from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 each year to qualify for your desired elite tier. Then, you'll keep your status through the end of the following calendar year.

Additionally, you can earn milestone rewards based on your qualifying nights each calendar year. You'll earn milestone rewards after just 20 qualifying nights, which can be another reason to earn more qualifying nights.

Related: What is IHG One Rewards elite status worth?

Strategies for earning more qualifying nights

Holiday Inn Johannesburg Airport in South Africa. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Unfortunately, there isn't a shortcut to accruing qualifying nights with IHG One Rewards. You'll earn an elite-qualifying night for every night of a qualifying stay, including reward stays.

The IHG terms and conditions explicitly note that you won't earn any qualifying nights for a stay if you no-show or cancel after the hotel cancellation time (even if you've paid the room in full and it's nonrefundable). Additionally, if you book two rooms for the same day, only one night will count as a qualifying night.

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In other words: you'll need to show up to the hotel and stay on a qualifying paid rate or award stay to earn qualifying nights.

Take a look at your plans for the rest of the year and see when you could stay at an IHG hotel. Even if an IHG hotel is more expensive than your other options, it may be worthwhile if it will help you earn a higher elite tier or a milestone reward. Alternatively, consider doing a staycation or mattress run near your house.

If you need to pick up more than just a few qualifying nights, you might want to take a vacation to a destination where you can book an inexpensive IHG stay. For example, you could book a four-night stay from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland for $253.76 or 40,000 points (or 30,000 points if you have an IHG card that provides access to the fourth-night reward perk).

IHG.COM

Or, you could visit Mexico and stay inexpensively at a property such as the Holiday Inn Tuxtla Gutierrez. At this property, you can get a four-night stay from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 for just $159.83 or 34,000 points (or 25,000 points if you have an IHG card that provides access to the fourth night reward perk).

IHG.COM

There are also inexpensive IHG properties in many other international destinations; I noticed some particularly inexpensive options in Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia. Of course, for our U.S.-based readers, it's easier to plan a last-minute trip to Maryland or Mexico than to Indonesia.

Related: Choose how you earn bonus points with IHG One Rewards’ current promotion

Strategies for earning more qualifying points

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Based on IHG's terms and conditions, only the following activities earn elite-qualifying points:

  • Qualifying rates paid for hotel stays.
  • Spending on Hertz car rentals, OpenTable reservations, Grubhub orders and Viator experiences.
  • Purchasing an IHG One Rewards bonus points package.
  • Qualifying spending through IHG Business Rewards.
  • Purchases on IHG One Rewards credit cards issued in the U.K. and Greater China.

If you want to earn more qualifying points to reach a specific elite status tier by the end of the year, you might opt to take part in one or more of these activities. Earning through partner activities like Hertz car rentals, OpenTable reservations, Grubhub orders and Viator experiences may help if you only need to earn a small number of additional qualifying points.

If you can add an IHG card issued in the U.K. or Greater China to your wallet, you can earn more qualifying points on your purchases. But most TPG readers in the U.S. likely aren't eligible for these cards.

For many U.S.-based IHG loyalists, the best way to earn more qualifying points is to add bonus points packages to upcoming stays. For example, here's an offer I saw on a stay at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland:

IHG.COM

If you added 5,000 points per night at $32 per night, you'd be buying points at 0.64 cents each. This purchase rate is higher than TPG's valuation of IHG points (0.5 cents each) but still lower than I can typically get when redeeming IHG points. Plus, the points you'd be adding to your stay are elite-qualifying points.

Related: 7 ways to earn more IHG One Rewards points for your next redemption

Other strategies for earning IHG elite status quickly

Hotel Indigo London Paddington in the United Kingdom. SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

As you might have noticed, there aren't many shortcuts to earning more qualifying nights or points. But that doesn't mean there aren't any shortcuts for earning IHG elite status.

Here are some ways you can earn IHG elite status quickly.

Get an IHG credit card

Several IHG credit cards provide automatic elite status as a cardholder perk. In particular, the following cobranded IHG credit cards offer automatic elite status as a perk:

Your spending on these cards can also help you earn higher elite status as follows:

It's likely only worth spending to reach Diamond Elite status, though. Diamond Elite status provides valuable perks, including the ability to choose breakfast for yourself and a guest as a welcome amenity at most properties that don't provide breakfast to all guests.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

Pay for InterContinental Ambassador membership

InterContinental New York Times Square. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Another way to quickly get Platinum Elite status is to purchase an InterContinental Ambassador membership. A 12-month Ambassador membership costs $200 or 40,000 points. But, membership provides Platinum Elite status in the IHG One Rewards program as well as the following perks when staying at InterContinental properties:

  • Guaranteed one-category room upgrade.
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check out.
  • Complimentary weekend night.
  • Restaurants and bars credit of up to $20 per stay.
  • Complimentary mineral water.
  • Complimentary internet.
  • Dedicated check-in area.
  • Single room rate for double occupancy.

If you want Platinum Elite status and don't want to get the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, maintaining an InterContinental Ambassador membership may be a good choice even if you rarely (or never) stay at InterContinental properties.

Related: I paid $200 for Ambassador even though I rarely stay with InterContinental: Here's why

Look for a status match or challenge

Finally, you could keep an eye out for a status match or challenge. IHG periodically offers status matches or challenges, but there weren't any open to all members when we published this story.

Bottom line

As you can see, there's no easy shortcut to earning elite-qualifying nights and points in the new IHG One Rewards program. But you can buy IHG Platinum Elite status via an InterContinental Ambassador membership or with a status match if one becomes available.

Of course, you can also easily get IHG elite status as a perk of IHG credit cards like the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

You can earn top-tier Diamond elite status through the end of the following year by spending $40,000 or more on either of these cards in a calendar year. If you have your sights set on a particular IHG elite status, getting an IHG credit card might be the easiest and least expensive way to reach your goal.

Featured image by KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023