IHG Rewards will change its elite status tiers, including requirements and bonus earnings, this March

Jan 19, 2022

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Editor’s note: An IHG spokesperson told TPG on March 18, 2022, that the new tiers and earning structure will go live in accounts in April. This is a slight delay from the March launch IHG originally announced and we reported below.

Some travelers have long believed that IHG Rewards needs to improve its loyalty program. Although it’s possible to get excellent value when redeeming IHG Rewards points, the elite benefits aren’t competitive with other top hotel loyalty programs.

Well, IHG has told TPG it will announce several changes to its loyalty program later today. In particular, IHG Rewards members will see four primary changes to elite status this March:

  • A new mid-frequency elite status tier
  • Changes to elite status tier names
  • Increased bonus on top of base points for some elite tiers
  • Higher elite status qualification requirements, especially for members who qualify on points

Besides improved earning rates for some tiers, IHG isn’t announcing any other changes to elite benefits at this time. However, IHG says these changes are just the “first in a series of enhancements.” Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming changes to the IHG Rewards program.

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Changes to IHG Rewards elite status

Here’s the new elite tier structure that IHG will use starting in March 2022:

  • Club: Requires 0 nights
  • Silver Elite: Requires 10 nights, gives 20% bonus on top of base points
  • Gold Elite: Requires 20 nights or 40,000 points, gives 40% bonus on top of base points
  • Platinum Elite: Requires 40 nights or 60,000 points, gives 60% bonus on top of base points
  • Diamond Elite: Requires 70 nights or 120,000 points, gives 100% bonus on top of base points

IHG extended elite status through Feb. 2023 in late 2021. If you currently hold Gold Elite or Platinum Elite status (or earn it before the new tier structure begins in March 2022), you’ll keep your current tier name through its expiration. Meanwhile, if you have Spire Elite status, you’ll see your status change to Diamond Elite.

However, for members hoping to qualify or requalify once the new program goes live in March 2022, IHG will consider stays beginning Jan. 1, 2022, when calculating your elite status tier using the new requirements.

TPG confirmed with an IHG spokesperson that the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card will continue to offer Platinum Elite status as a cardmember benefit. This spokesperson also confirmed that IHG elites can expect their benefits to continue as usual for now. However, the spokesperson noted that IHG will provide an update regarding benefits in the “coming months.”

Additionally, the spokesperson noted that IHG has no updates to announce at this time for Kimpton Inner Circle or InterContinental Ambassador.

You might notice that new elite status tiers have qualifying night requirements that correspond to pre-pandemic levels. On the other hand, qualifying point requirements are significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. As a reminder, here are the elite status requirements that IHG members needed to meet in 2019 and 2021.

IHG elite requirements
(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

An IHG spokesperson had previously confirmed to TPG that IHG would offer the same reduced elite qualification requirements in 2022 as it did in 2020 and 2021. However, IHG has now told TPG that, although members can qualify for elite status under the reduced requirements until the March tier changes, members who qualify after the changes take effect will need to do so at the higher thresholds.

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards should improve its loyalty program

Analysis of these changes

IHG’s Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives
IHG’s Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

A few aspects of this IHG Rewards news stick out to me. First off, these changes are positive for IHG loyalists who get their status from the IHG Premier Card. After all, IHG confirmed that the IHG Premier would continue to offer Platinum Elite status. So, Platinum Elites will soon earn a 60% bonus on top of base points as opposed to the current 50% bonus. That said, since IHG uses dynamic pricing, the program could change its calculations to decrease the value IHG members get when redeeming IHG points.

Additionally, there will be a new status level and boosted bonuses on top of base points for lower-tier elites. As such, IHG will soon break up the gap between the lowest elite tier (currently Gold Elite, soon to be called Silver Elite) and Platinum Elite. This new intermediate level may be helpful for less-frequent travelers who are loyal to IHG but don’t have the IHG Premier card.

If you’re looking to earn Platinum Elite status before the new qualification requirements begin in March and can’t get the IHG Premier Card, consider using IHG’s fast track to Platinum offer. With this offer, you’ll earn Platinum Elite status through Dec. 2023 if you stay five nights within 90 days of registering for the offer.

Finally, there’s the topic of IHG increasing elite status requirements — by more than double if you planned to earn Spire Elite status this year through qualifying points — after showing members decreased requirements in their accounts since the beginning of 2022. Considering IHG hasn’t announced any improvements to its top-tier status that would make it comparable to other high-level hotel elite statuses, this news may cause some members who’d planned to strive for top-tier IHG status to reconsider.

Related: Here’s your chance to earn 125,000 points and a reward night certificate with the IHG Premier card

Bottom line

This news is a net positive if you get your IHG elite status from the IHG Premier Card. After all, you’ll start earning more bonus points once the new tier structure begins in March. And if you don’t have the IHG Premier Card, you may benefit from the program introducing a new status tier.

But, if you planned to earn Platinum Elite or Spire Elite status (soon to be called Diamond Elite status) in 2022 through nights or points, the news of increased qualification thresholds from what you’ve seen in your account is likely disappointing. And members may find the tiered roll-out of the program enhancements frustrating. After all, it’s difficult to put in the nights or spending to strive for Diamond Elite status without knowing what improved benefits IHG might introduce for the status later this year.

Featured image of IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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