What is IHG One Rewards elite status worth in 2022?
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In January, IHG Hotels and Resorts announced changes to its elite status tiers, including requirements and bonus earnings. Last month, those changes went live, with IHG also unveiling its new IHG One Rewards program.
I’ve written about my plan for IHG elite status and nights in 2022. But, whether you currently hold IHG elite status or are debating whether to earn status under the new IHG One Rewards program, you may be wondering just how much IHG One Rewards elite status is worth.
Just to be clear, this post will discuss the value of IHG One Rewards status as it will be once the program fully launches in early June. So, let’s get started.
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The analysis in this post represents just one way to decide how much IHG One Rewards elite status is worth. You may value specific benefits in the IHG One Rewards program differently than I do. Or you may be loyal to just one brand in the IHG portfolio, such as Kimpton, Six Senses or InterContinental.
Different TPG staffers are writing similar guides for each hotel loyalty program. For consistency, we’re making the following key assumptions in each of our guides:
- You complete 20% more nights than the minimum required for the given level.
- You spend an average of $150 per night on eligible purchases.
- You qualify for status based on qualifying nights.
- Your average stay is two nights.
- You split your stays equally between full-service properties (like Kimpton and InterContinental) and limited-service properties (like Holiday Inn Express and Avid).
- You already have the given status level (see the section on starting from scratch if you’re looking to earn a new status tier).
All IHG members earn 10 points per dollar spent on qualifying stays at most IHG-branded hotels. There are several exceptions, though. For example, you’ll only earn 5 points per dollar spent at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties, 3 points per dollar spent at IHG Army Hotels, 2.5 points per dollar spent at IHG-branded Residence properties (excluding Voco Residences) and 2,000 points per qualifying stay at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and The Palazzo at The Venetian Resort. But for simplicity, I’ll assume you stay at properties where you’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent.
If you value IHG points differently or have significantly different stay patterns or costs, feel free to adjust these assumptions. After all, this post is just a starting point to help you decide whether it’s worth striving to earn IHG elite status. Finally, we decided to round all valuations in our guides to the nearest $5 for simplicity.
IHG One Rewards elite status tiers
All IHG One Rewards members start as Club members. Then, there are four elite status tiers that you can earn in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program. Each tier offers different perks; here’s a quick overview:
|Silver Elite||Gold Elite||Platinum Elite||Diamond Elite|
|Qualifications||10 qualified nights.||20 qualified nights or 40,000 qualified points.||40 qualified nights or 60,000 qualified points.||70 qualified nights or 120,000 qualified points.|
|Elite points bonus||20%.||40%.||60%.||100%.|
|Rollover elite nights for next year’s status
|Welcome amenity||Points or drink/snack.||Free breakfast at full-service brands, points or drink/snack.|
|Milestone rewards||Starting at 20 qualified nights.||Starting at 20 qualified nights.||Starting at 20 qualified nights.|
|Reward night discounts
|Points don’t expire
|Guaranteed room availability
|Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star upgrade
|Dedicated Diamond support||✓|
Some benefits, such as free standard internet access and 2 p.m. late checkout (upon request and subject to hotel availability), are offered to all IHG One Rewards members, including those without any elite status. So, I didn’t include these perks in the above table and won’t consider these perks in my valuations.
Additionally, keep in mind that:
- Benefits may vary by hotel, country and geographical region.
- Most benefits aren’t available at Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels.
- You’ll typically need to book your hotel reservation directly through an approved IHG channel to get the above benefits.
Now, let’s take a closer look at these elite status tiers and how much they’re worth when booking directly with IHG.
IHG One Rewards Silver Elite: $30
The lowest elite tier in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program is Silver Elite. You can earn Silver Elite status by staying 10 qualified nights each calendar year. But, you can get automatic Silver Elite status as a cardholder of the IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card (which has no annual fee).
I’ll assume that you complete 12 nights with IHG Hotels and Resorts per year for this analysis.
|Bonus points||A 20% points bonus when staying at IHG properties results in an additional 2 points per dollar spent.
With 12 nights at $150 per night, you’d spend $1,800, earning you 3,600 extra IHG points.
|Priority check-in||A dedicated check-in area at participating hotels for IHG One Rewards elite members.||$10.|
IHG One Rewards Gold Elite: $130
The second-lowest elite tier in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program is Gold Elite. You can earn Gold Elite status by staying 20 qualified nights or earning 40,000 qualified points each calendar year. Additionally, you can earn Gold Elite status through Dec. 31 of the following year if you make purchases totaling $20,000 or more during a calendar year on your IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card.
I’ll assume that you complete 24 nights with IHG Hotels and Resorts per year for this analysis.
|Bonus points||A 40% points bonus when staying at IHG properties results in an additional 4 points per dollar spent.
With 24 nights at $150 per night, you’d spend $3,600, earning you 14,400 extra IHG points.
|Milestone rewards||Starting at 20 qualified nights in a calendar year, choose a reward for every 10 nights you stay. After 20 qualified nights, you can choose 5,000 bonus points, two $20 food and beverage rewards or one confirmable suite upgrade. I’ll value this at $40, which is the value you’d get if you chose the two food and beverage rewards.||$40.|
|Priority check-in||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$20.|
IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite: $1,245
The second-highest elite tier in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program is Platinum Elite. You can earn Platinum Elite status by staying 40 qualified nights or earning 60,000 qualified points each calendar year. But, you can get automatic Platinum Elite status as a cardholder of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.
I’ll assume that you complete 48 nights with IHG Hotels and Resorts per year for this analysis.
|Bonus points||A 60% points bonus when staying at IHG properties results in an additional 6 points per dollar spent.
With 48 nights at $150 per night, you’d spend $7,200, earning you 43,200 extra IHG points.
|Complimentary upgrades||Get an upgrade for your guest room at participating brands based on availability. Upgrades might be to a suite, but hotels could also just upgrade you to a higher floor or better view. It’s unclear how valuable this benefit will be, as hotels are allowed to determine availability. But, I’ll assume a valuation of $15 per night at the full-service locations and a $5 valuation per night at limited-service locations.||$480.|
|Welcome amenity||Points or drink/snack, which I’ll value at $2 per stay.||$50.|
|Milestone rewards||Same benefit, more rewards:
Assuming you choose the $20 food and beverage rewards each time, that’s $280 in rewards.
|Early check-in||Get early check-in upon request, subject to availability at all IHG brands. However, the specific time is up to the hotel.||$30.|
|Reward night discounts||Get exclusive access to discounts on reward nights at participating hotels. The value of this perk will vary greatly. But, assuming a $150 night would usually cost around 30,000 points and you book five nights discounted by 20% each year, you’d save 30,000 points.||$150.|
|Priority check-in||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$40.|
IHG One Rewards Diamond Elite: $3,600
The highest elite tier in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program is Diamond Elite. You can earn Diamond Elite status by staying 70 qualified nights or earning 120,000 qualified points in a calendar year. Additionally, you can earn Diamond Elite status through Dec. 31 of the following year if you make purchases totaling $40,000 or more during a calendar year on your IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.
I’ll assume that you complete 84 nights with IHG Hotels and Resorts per year for this analysis.
|Bonus points||A 100% points bonus when staying at IHG properties results in an additional 10 points per dollar spent.
With 84 nights at $150 per night, you’d spend $12,600, earning you 126,000 extra IHG points.
|Complimentary upgrades||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$840.
|Welcome amenity||Free breakfast for up to two guests at full-service brands (I’ll value at $20 per night) and points or drink/snack at limited-service brands (I’ll value at $2 per stay).||$925.|
|Milestone rewards||Same benefit, more rewards:
Assuming you choose the $20 food and beverage rewards each time, that’s $780 in rewards.
|Early check-in||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$55.|
|Reward night discounts||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$240.|
|Priority check-in||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$70.|
|Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star upgrade||Get Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status.||$50.|
|Dedicated Diamond support||Unclear how IHG will provide this benefit.||$10.|
What if I’m starting from scratch?
All the numbers above represent values if you’ve already earned a particular elite status tier. But if you’re starting from scratch with the IHG One Rewards program and don’t have an IHG credit card, you won’t see any elite perks until you stay 10 qualified nights in a calendar year and earn Silver Elite status.
IHG One Rewards perks are relatively minimal until you stay 40 qualified nights or earn 60,000 qualified points in a calendar year and earn Platinum Elite status. This is one of the many reasons I think the IHG Premier Card (or IHG Premier Business Card) is worth it for even infrequent IHG guests.
But if you don’t want to (or can’t) get an IHG credit card, I’ve converted the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
- Silver Elite: $30 / 12 nights = $2.50 per night.
- Gold Elite (minus $40 of milestone rewards): $90 / 24 nights = $3.75 per night.
- Platinum Elite (minus $280 of milestone rewards): $965 / 48 nights = $20.10 per night.
- Diamond Elite (minus $780 of milestone rewards): $2,820 / 84 nights = $33.57 per night.
I removed the value of milestone rewards for Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite since you earn these rewards when you reach certain thresholds (as opposed to variable perks that become more valuable as you complete more nights). You can use these numbers to calculate the value you’d get from the program as you move up the elite status ladder.
For example, say you expect to stay 75 nights. You’d get:
- No benefits for the first 10 nights.
- Silver Elite benefits for the next 10 nights (at $2.50 per night).
- Gold Elite benefits for the next 20 nights (at $3.75 per night).
- Platinum Elite benefits for the next 30 nights (at $20.10 per night).
- Diamond Elite benefits for the remaining five nights (at $33.57 per night).
In addition, you’d earn milestone rewards as you move up the ladder, which should be worth at least $680 (if you choose food and beverage rewards each time). As a result, if you’re starting with no status and plan to complete 75 nights in 2022, you’d get about $1,550 in value from the IHG One Rewards program in 2022.
Of course, this calculation will be a bit off if you’re spending nights — especially as a Platinum Elite or Diamond Elite — before the new perks begin in early June. And it ignores the value you’d get in future years with your status.
But, as I mentioned above, you can boost the value you get while climbing the status ladder if you add the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card to your wallet first. If you did so, you’d get Platinum Elite befits for the first 70 nights and then Diamond Elite benefits for the remaining five nights. After accounting for the milestone rewards you’d earn after 70 nights and the credit card’s annual fee, you’d get about $2,250 in value from the IHG One Rewards program in 2022.
Is it worth pursuing elite status with IHG One Rewards?
In short, the answer to whether to chase elite status with IHG One Rewards depends entirely on your situation. But here are a few questions to consider when deciding.
How frequently do you plan to stay with IHG hotels and resorts?
As this guide showed, Silver Elite and Gold Elite status don’t provide many perks. So, earning IHG status through stays will usually only make sense if you plan to stay with IHG enough to accrue 40 qualified nights or 60,000 qualified points each year.
If you stay with IHG hotels and resorts less frequently, you may prefer to get an IHG credit card or rely on the perks available to all IHG One Rewards members.
What types of IHG hotels and resorts do you plan to stay at?
Many of the milestone rewards and perks that come into play once you earn Platinum Elite or Diamond Elite status will be most valuable if you mostly stay at full-service IHG hotels and resorts that offer lounges, impressive breakfast options and ample suites. If you mostly stay at limited-service properties, you’ll likely get less value from having Platinum Elite or Diamond Elite status.
If you often stay at expensive IHG hotels and resorts, you may qualify for elite status based on qualifying points instead of nights. However, IHG significantly increased the qualifying points needed for its elite status levels earlier this year and then changed its terms and conditions to make “purchases on IHG One Rewards credit cards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers to IHG One Rewards” provide non-elite qualifying points. So, earning IHG elite status based on qualifying points is now more difficult than ever.
How often do you redeem IHG points?
One limitation of the above calculations is the assumption that you’ll book paid rates for all of the nights you need to qualify for your desired elite status. I can usually get significantly higher than TPG’s valuation of IHG points (and higher than the lowest cost at which I can typically buy IHG points during a sale).
So, I usually redeem IHG points for my stays. I rarely benefit from the elite points bonus, but I’ll likely get significant value from the reward night discounts offered to Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite members.
Related: 13 ways to stock up on IHG points
What’s the incremental value of one tier over another?
As the end of 2022 grows closer, you may find yourself close to the next elite tier. In this case, you should consider whether it’s worth staying a few extra nights with IHG to reach the next tier.
I wouldn’t stay extra to earn Silver Elite or Gold Elite status, as the perks aren’t that significant at these tiers. But, I’d stay a few extra nights to reach Platinum Elite, Diamond Elite or one of the milestone tiers that offer a lounge membership or confirmed suite upgrade.
In short, compare your additional cash or points outlay to the value of the additional perks you’ll get.
Can you get an IHG credit card?
Finally, if you’re below Chase’s 5/24 rule and a U.S. resident with good or excellent credit, you may want to consider adding an IHG credit card to your wallet. My choice would be the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, as both of these cards provide Platinum Elite status as a cardmember perk for as long as you have the card.
Although both cards carry a $99 annual fee, the anniversary free night you’ll get each account anniversary year has a redemption cap of 40,000 points. You can also use points from your IHG account to redeem your anniversary night at hotels above the 40,000-point redemption level. This anniversary night is worth around $200 based on TPG’s valuations. Plus, cardholders get access to IHG’s valuable fourth-night-reward perk.
So, it should be easy to get enough value from the IHG Premier each year to justify its annual fee.
As I described in my plan for IHG elite status and nights in 2022, I think the sweet spot is to get the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and then strive for any milestone rewards that will provide value to you. For example, I want to earn at least one confirmed suite upgrade award and a lounge membership. But infrequent travelers may prefer to simply keep the IHG Premier and benefit from Platinum Elite perks.
Another option is to spend $40,000 on your IHG Premier card every two years. After all, by hitting the spending threshold early in a calendar year, you’d earn Diamond Elite status through the end of the following calendar year.
Of course, if you can’t get (or don’t want to get) an IHG credit card, you’re left to decide whether earning IHG One Rewards elite status organically is worthwhile. And, as this guide showed, answering that question is both difficult and subjective.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh, Benji Stawski and Nick Ewen.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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