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IHG Rewards Club - Ultimate Guide

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Immanuel Debeer | 29/01/2020

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IHG Rewards Club Guide 2020

As one of the largest hotel chains in the world, IHG’s (Intercontinental Hotels Group) rewards program called “IHG Rewards Club” is undoubtedly one you should know about. Just like you can use frequent flyer miles for flights, you can save IHG Reward points for hotel stays.

It’s free to become an IHG Rewards Club member, so if for some reason you haven’t registered, you can do so via this page. Club members will save $$ on bookings — it pays to sign up!

IHG Rewards Members now also have access to luxury hotels such as the Six Senses brand, and soon the Mr & Mrs Smith portfolio of boutique luxury hotels will also be bookable through IHG. Of course, if you have IHG status, this will be recognised at these hotels as well.

How To Earn IHG Rewards

Earning IHG points is very straight forward, and for most people, points will be earned by staying at IHG properties around the world – they have more than 5000 hotels!

If hotel membership points aren’t your thing, IHG also allows you to earn directly into your favourite airline’s frequent flyer program. However, in terms of value; you’re much better off earning IHG Rewards Points (which you can still convert to airline miles at a later date).

Points can be earned through a variety of other partnerships IHG has such as Hertz car rental, shopping online with Apple and a few other options such as credit cards and dining.

When you earn points per stay, these will be calculated based on the total dollar value of your booking, plus any other incidentals that are added to your bill such as dining, spa etc. Your points are then multiplied based on your IHG Rewards Club Status tier which starts at “Club Member”, “Gold Elite”, “Platinum Elite”, and tops out at “Spire Elite Member”.

Buying IHG Points

Just like many other big hotel groups, IHG sells its points, and from time to time there’s a bonus when you buy. Generally speaking, I would only recommend buying points if you have a specific redemption in mind and when a 100% bonus sale (the highest offer) is running. To check if there’s a 100% bonus sale on, click here.

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Buying IHG points can make sense, especially for very expensive high-end hotels or when your hotel is part of Points Break (more on this later!). However, always do the math and see if you will actually save money by buying points vs paying cash.

If you’re planning to buy IHG Rewards points, keep in mind you are limited to 100,000 points per calendar year. On top of that, you can also receive an additional 100,000 points as a gift from family or friends.

Purchased points usually take 24-48 hours to get credited to your account so be prepared, especially when the PointsBreaks lists gets released.

IHG Status & Benefits

IHG has a total of 4 status tiers (Club, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite), which cover all the IHG hotels in the portfolio but are not valid when you stay at an InterContinental hotel.

The only way to get status benefits at InterContinental hotels is by purchasing the InterContinental Ambassador Status (more on this later!).

To qualify for IHG status, you will need to meet the following criteria: 

  • Gold Elite Qualifying Nights Needed: 10
  • Gold Elite Elite Qualifying Points Needed: 10,000
  • Platinum Qualifying Nights Needed: 40 Platinum Elite
  • Platinum Elite Elite Qualifying Points Needed: 40,000
  • Spire Elite Qualifying Nights Needed: 75
  • Spire Elite Qualifying Points Needed: 75,000

IHG Club Member Benefits

IHG Rewards Club members enjoy a different range of benefits depending on what level of status they hold. The table below shows what benefits you can expect to receive depending on your tier level.

IHG Club

As a Club member, enjoy exclusive benefits from day one.

  • Collect points or miles
  • Exclusive rates (Your Rate)
  • Dedicated customer service phone assistance
  • No blackout dates for Reward Nights
  • Reward Nights count toward Elite status
  • Free Internet

IHG Gold Elite

As a Gold Elite member, you’ll enjoy more benefits.

  • Extended check-out
  • Elite members’ points don’t expire
  • Priority check-in
  • Bonus earnings on top of base points: 10%

In addition to all of the Club member benefits:

  • Collect points or miles
  • Exclusive rates (Your Rate)
  • Dedicated customer service phone assistance
  • No blackout dates for Reward Nights
  • Reward Nights count toward Elite status
  • Free Internet

IHG Platinum Elite

As a Platinum Elite member, you’ll enjoy even more benefits.

  • Bonus earnings on top of base points: 50%
  • Elite Rollover Nights
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability

In addition to all of the Gold Elite member benefits:

  • Elite members’ points don’t expire
  • Priority check-in
  • Extended check-out
  • Collect points or miles
  • Exclusive rates (Your Rate)
  • Dedicated customer service phone assistance
  • No blackout dates for Reward Nights
  • Reward Nights count toward Elite status
  • Free Internet

IHG Spire Elite

As a Spire Elite member, you’ll enjoy the most benefits:

  • Bonus earnings on top of base points: 100%
  • Exclusive Choice Benefit upon receiving status
  • Exclusive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star upgrade upon receiving status

In addition to all of the Platinum Elite member benefits:

  • Elite Rollover Nights
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability
  • Elite members’ points don’t expire
  • Priority check-in
  • Extended check-out
  • Collect points or miles
  • Exclusive rates (Your Rate)
  • Dedicated customer service phone assistance
  • No blackout dates for Reward Nights
  • Reward Nights count toward Elite status
  • Free Internet

InterContinental Ambassador

As an Ambassador member, you’ll enjoy an array of elevated benefits at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts:

  • Guaranteed one category room upgrade
  • Extended 4 pm check-out
  • Complimentary weekend night
  • Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club
  • Restaurants & bars credit of up to USD 20 for every stay
  • Complimentary mineral water
  • Complimentary Internet
  • Dedicated check-in area

Benefits applicable only for stays in Greater China:

  • Complimentary breakfast for one each night you stay
  • 15% discount at restaurants and bars
  • RMB 120 credit for restaurants and bars for Spire Elite members only
  • Welcome fruit platter for Platinum Elite & Spire Elite members

InterContinental Ambassador

The only way to gain status and benefits with InterContinental hotels is by purchasing InterContinental Ambassador. I’ve written a full guide on the InterContinental Ambassador program, and why I think it’s worth the US$200 price tag. However, here’s a quick overview of some unique benefits. InterContinental Ambassador is a paid status tier which costs US$200 to sign up. For your $200 you get a few pretty cool perks, these are:

  • 1 complimentary night (weekend) certificate when you book minimum 2 nights (that’s easily worth $200)
  • Guaranteed upgrade
  • Guaranteed 4 PM check out
  • IHG Platinum Status
  • US$20 F&B credit per stay

It’s important to note that Ambassador status is only valid at InterContinental hotels. Still, you also get IHG Platinum which you can then use for extra benefits at other IHG brands.

What About Upgrades?

At InterContinental hotels, Ambassadors are guaranteed a 1 category upgrade. For other IHG properties, it’s all dependant on availability with priority given to guests with the highest status level. Room upgrades are only available for those with Platinum Elite or Spire Elite status (Platinum Elite comes included with your InterContinental Ambassador membership).

IHG Accelerate

IHG Rewards sends out individualised offers to members which is called Accelerate. The promotion varies each time, but it’s usually a set of milestone requirements you need to complete in a specific time frame to get the bonus points. Below is an Accelerate promotion example for your reference. If you do need to stay at the required hotels in the time frame specified, IHG Accelerate can be pretty lucrative.

Redeeming IHG Rewards Club Points

Redeeming your hard-earned IHG Rewards Club points is pretty straight forward. When you’re logged in as a member, IHG will show you the points price for whichever hotel you might be interested in. Unlike other programs, IHG does not have blackout dates or limitations on the number of rooms that are available for redemption.

However, before you use your points, it’s always worth checking how much the room rates are in cash as often it makes more sense to save your points for peak periods when nightly rates are high.

Usually, rooms available for redemption are the base room types, if you’re after a suite, you will be out of luck. Another caveat is that if you’re using points to book, it’s up to the hotel if they will honour your status benefits. InterContinental Ambassadors, for example, are not eligible for the guaranteed benefits when staying on points.

Here’s an example of the Hayman Island resort which costs 70,000 points per night or Au$618.30 if you’re paying cash.

IHG Rewards PointsBreaks

For those in the know, IHG PointsBreaks can offer incredible value. Every 3 months, IHG releases a new PointsBreaks list which is a selection of hotels around the world that are discounted for points redemptions. The points per night range go from 5,000 to 15,000 points depending on the category of the hotel.

The current PointsBreaks list is on until January 31, 2020, so we expect a new one in February.

The key thing to keep in mind with PointsBreaks is that there are only a limited amount of rooms on offer. This means the best hotels usually get booked out pretty fast.

It’s easy to book PointsBreaks hotels, and best of all, it’s free to cancel them, so if your plans change later, you can cancel your booking and get the points refunded.

IHG Rewards Guide – Conclusion

IHG Rewards Club is definitely worth your attention. Considering the size of the portfolio, it’s very likely you will have the opportunity of staying at an IHG hotel wherever your travels may be.  By saving points, you will help to offset your overall travel expenses, and IHG Rewards add up fast!

Save Up To 35% On Your Next Stay

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) is kicking off the new year with a sale across selected properties in the Asia Pacific region. IHG Rewards Club members can save up to 35% on hotels across the region and non-members will enjoy up to 25% off. However, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be an IHG Rewards Club members so go sign up here because it’s free! The IHG sale runs from now until February 19, 2020.

Full disclosure: this post was produced in proud partnership with IHG Australia.

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Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it’s 100% free and will give you additional member benefits. You can prevent your points from expiring by staying, earning or redeeming points once every 12 months. IHG guarantees that you will always get the best price. If you happen to find a better price IHG will match it and give you five times the IHG Rewards Club Points, up to a 40,000-point maximum. For more info visit: https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/customer-care/best-price-guarantee
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Is it free to join IHG Rewards Club?

Yes, it’s 100% free and will give you additional member benefits.

How do I keep IHG points from expiring?

You can prevent your points from expiring by staying, earning or redeeming points once every 12 months.

What’s the IHG Best Price Guarantee?

IHG guarantees that you will always get the best price. If you happen to find a better price IHG will match it and give you five times the IHG Rewards Club Points, up to a 40,000-point maximum. For more info visit: https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/customer-care/best-price-guarantee

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