IHG extends all elite status and award night certificates
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information
The novel COVID-19 outbreak has brought the travel industry to a near standstill. Between major event cancellations and travel restrictions, hotel occupancy rates and flight loads are hitting record lows. There's no doubt that earning elite status is going to be a challenge this year, so to alleviate some of that worry and maintain customer loyalty once travel picks up again, many airlines and hotels have been adjusting the validity of elite status, upgrade certificates and other expiring perks.
On the hotel front, Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have all announced extensions of their elite status programs. And today, IHG has followed suit.
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IHG has just announced that it is automatically extending all elite statuses through January 2022 — regardless of how many nights you complete in 2020. This is similar to the previously-announced moves of Hilton and Hyatt, and is slightly more generous than Marriott's announcement in that it includes extensions for members who earned status via a status match. This means elite members will have a full additional year to enjoy benefits like complimentary room upgrades and late checkout. For Spire Elite members, this includes the choice benefit of 25,000 bonus points or gifting of Platinum Elite status to someone each year. InterContinental Royal Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle members will maintain their memberships in the invite-only programs.
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Today's announcement is in addition to IHG's previous announcement that it will extend the validity of anniversary award night certificates earned with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. Existing certificates set to expire March 1, 2020, or later will have their validity extended through Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, all new certificates issued in 2020 will be valid for 18 months, six months longer than the usual 12 months of validity.
For those worried about their IHG points expiring, there's also good news. IHG is extending the points expiration date to June 30, 2021.
In addition, IHG has extended its cancellation fee waiver. Now, you'll be able to cancel existing bookings made through April 6, 2020 for stays through June 30, 2020 without penalty, although the waiver for hotels in Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and the Taiwan region is only good for stays through April 30, 2020.
The chain has also stated that bookings made through third-party sites such as online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia must be canceled directly through the OTA.
IHG had also already extended a helping hand for existing elite members by reducing required stays by 25% or more, whether measured by nights or by points. If you are concerned about retaining your IHG status, do note that having the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card conveys IHG Platinum elite status without any stay requirements. IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card holders can earn IHG Gold Elite status by spending $10,000 or more each calendar year.
Related: These are the hotels and airlines offering elite status extensions for travelers impacted by coronavirus
An email distributed to IHG elite members stated, "With more constrained travel plans and a shorter time period during which members can earn Elite tier status, we are reducing the Elite membership criteria required (nights or points) this year by 25% or more.
IHG issued an accompanying statement with these two announcements, saying that, "We continue to monitor the situation and will be keeping this policy under review."
Hotel reservations booked beyond June 30 (with the exceptions noted above) are currently subject to IHG's current cancellation policy. "Our Best Flexible Rate allows our guests to change or cancel their reservation one to two days prior to arrival," IHG stated in its notification email. "Changing the date on any reservations may result in different pricing, but there is no fee for making changes. To ask about any booking, contact the hotel or our reservation team.
Related: What happens to your airline companion fare or hotel award night certificate now?
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh and Katherine Fan.