Big let down: IHG moves elite status goal posts after showing reduced requirements for weeks

Jan 19, 2022

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During the first week of each year, I log into all my hotel loyalty accounts. I do this to check whether I have any rollover nights and confirm the program’s elite status requirements for the year. Then, once I’ve done so for all of the programs I care about, I make an elite status plan for the year.

When I logged into my IHG Rewards account this year, I saw the following:

IHG reduced elite status requirements
(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

The “2022 Track to Elite Status” clearly notes that I can reach Spire Elite status with 55,000 qualifying points or 55 qualifying nights in 2022.

So, I assumed IHG Rewards planned to keep the reduced elite status requirements it had used in 2020 and 2021. An IHG spokesperson even confirmed my hunch for a story I wrote about how IHG Rewards would continue offering reduced elite status requirements in 2022. Even as I write this article on Jan. 19, 2022, IHG still shows these reduced elite qualification requirements in my account.

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But, IHG Rewards has now announced the first of several program changes. Part of these changes is an adjustment to elite requirements. In particular, IHG will restructure the elite status tiers and requirements as follows:

  • Club: 0 nights
  • Silver Elite: 10 nights
  • Gold Elite: 20 nights or 40,000 points
  • Platinum Elite: 40 nights or 60,000 points
  • Diamond Elite: 70 nights or 120,000 points

These new requirements will begin in March 2022, although IHG hasn’t announced the exact date. But IHG has told TPG that only members who qualify for their desired tier before the new requirements begin in March 2022 can qualify using the decreased requirements currently showing in members’ accounts. Otherwise, members will need to meet the new elite status requirements.

Frankly, this is frustrating. At this point, members have already begun completing stays based on striving to earn a particular status under the requirements visible in their accounts. So it’s poor practice to tell members now that the requirements they’ve seen in their accounts since the beginning of the year won’t be honored once the new program launches in March 2022.

Related: What is IHG Rewards elite status worth?

Comparing the requirements

Although the current Gold Elite status is most comparable to the new Silver Elite status, an IHG spokesperson told TPG that members who currently have Gold Elite or Platinum Elite status (or who earn these statuses in 2022 before the program change in March) will maintain status with the same name until their status expiration date. Meanwhile, if you have Spire Elite status, you’ll see your status change to Diamond Elite in March.

Here’s how the elite status requirements stack up across the last few years:

2019 2020, 2021 and 2022 (until the changes in March) 2022 (after the changes in March)
Qualifying nights required Gold Elite: 10

 

Platinum Elite: 40

Spire Elite: 75

Gold Elite: 7

 

Platinum Elite: 30

Spire Elite: 55

Silver Elite: 10

Gold Elite: 20

Platinum Elite: 40

Diamond Elite: 70

Qualifying points required Gold Elite: 10,000

 

Platinum Elite: 40,000

Spire Elite: 75,000

Gold Elite: 7,000

 

Platinum Elite: 30,000

Spire Elite: 55,000

Silver Elite: n/a

Gold Elite: 40,000

Platinum Elite: 60,000

Diamond Elite: 120,000

When you look at the elite requirements side-by-side, you’ll notice that IHG has essentially returned the qualifying night requirements to pre-pandemic levels — even decreasing the night requirement by five for top-tier status. But, IHG has simultaneously increased the qualifying points significantly. As such, if you typically qualify for IHG Rewards status on points, qualification will soon become much more expensive.

Only some IHG points are elite-qualifying. In particular, while qualifying rates paid for hotel stays are elite-qualifying, elite status bonuses aren’t elite-qualifying. So, since you’ll earn 10 elite-qualifying points per dollar spent at most IHG brands, here’s a comparison of what you’d need to spend to qualify for high-tier IHG status based on qualifying points from stays:

  • Platinum Elite: $4,000 under the 2019 requirements, $3,000 under the current requirements and $6,000 under the new requirements
  • Diamond Elite: $7,500 under the 2019 requirements, $5,500 under the current requirements and $12,000 under the new requirements

Of course, you can also earn elite-qualifying points through other activities, such as buying bonus points packages when you book paid stays, spending on IHG Rewards Club credit cards and transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards. But, it’s shocking for IHG members who’d planned to qualify for Spire Elite this year with 55,000 qualifying points to now need 120,000 points for Diamond Elite if they aren’t able to reach the 55,000-point threshold before the new program launches in March.

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards should improve its loyalty program

How this change affects my elite status plans

IHG’s Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives
After an excellent stay at IHG’s Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives, I’m still excited to try out another Six Senses property. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

My husband and I spend a significant number of nights in hotels each year while living on the road as digital nomads. We bought an RV during the coronavirus pandemic to use as a base and spent some time RVing full-time. But, we’re shifting more of our nights back to hotels in 2022 as our international travel increases.

So, during the first week of 2022, we made a hotel elite status plan. Our plan included IHG Rewards Spire Elite status, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Titanium Elite (for him) and Marriott Platinum Elite (for me). To obtain all these statuses though stays, we’d need to spend at least 175 nights with IHG, Hyatt and Marriott. Although this was a stretch, we decided it would be possible given our 2022 plans.

But with IHG setting the requirements for Diamond Elite at 70 nights or 120,000 points, we’d now need to spend more nights with IHG (or significantly more cash, if we were to qualify based on points). And trying to fit in these extra nights doesn’t seem worthwhile for us without knowing whether IHG will introduce any impressive perks for Diamond Elite later this year.

Instead, I’d rather make sure we qualify for the statuses we want with Marriott and Hyatt — and use the Hilton Diamond status we have as a perk of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. As it currently stands, IHG hasn’t said whether Diamond Elite will offer any of the perks I love about high-tier status with other programs, including guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, breakfast and lounge access.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

We’ll still keep IHG Rewards elite status, though. An IHG spokesperson confirmed to TPG that the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card would continue to offer Platinum Elite status as a cardholder perk even once the new elite tiers begin in March. And we’ll still stay with IHG when we can get good value redeeming IHG points. Of course, if IHG subsequently announces competitive benefits for Diamond Elite status, we’ll reconsider our elite status plans again.

Related: 13 ways to stock up on IHG Rewards points

Bottom line

I’m surprised that IHG has decided to change the elite status goal posts weeks into 2022, especially after showing decreased elite status requirements since the beginning of 2022. This isn’t a member-friendly move, but IHG has confirmed to TPG that the lower status requirements will only be honored until the new program launches in March.

IHG has said that it will announce additional program enhancements in the coming months. But, it’s difficult to commit to earning high-level IHG elite status this year without knowing what these enhancements might entail.

Featured image of IHG’s Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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