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How often are hotel award program changes terrible? When I saw the tweet below from IHG about upcoming Rewards Club changes, I immediately thought “oh no”.
Thankfully, IHG’s changes appear to be mostly positive! Here’s the full details of what IHG is going to be changing. You can go here to find out more on the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts site.
Current premium levels are easier to attain
- IHG Rewards Club currently has 2 premium tiers, Gold and Platinum. Currently, Gold access requires 15 nights/20,000 points, while Platinum requires 50 nights/60,000 points. These thresholds are being lowered to 10 nights/10,000 points and 40 nights/40,000 points respectively.
New higher membership level introduced in July 2015
- In addition to the Gold and Platinum levels, IHG Rewards Club is adding an unnamed higher tier. Customers who stay 75 nights or 75,000 points will join this new tier and receive the following benefits:
- Enjoy 100% bonus points on top of your base points
- Receive 25,000 annual points bonus or Gift Platinum to a friend or family member
IHG Rewards Club points will now expire without activity in past 12 months
- According to the press release, “To enable IHG to reward our guests who stay with us most often, starting from May 2016, IHG will expire all points for IHG Rewards Club Members if they have not earned or redeemed any points at all in the previous 12 months. IHG Rewards Club members will continue to maintain their point balances simply by completing a qualifying stay at one of IHG’s 4,800 hotels or redeeming some of their existing points during a membership year”
Some IHG Rewards Club redemptions are changing in price
- According to IHG, “On 1 May 2015, we’ll be changing the point requirements for Reward Nights at approximately 450 hotels. Less than 300 will be increasing by 5-10,000 points and 150 will be decreasing by 5,000 points.”
While expiration dates suck, most loyalty rewards programs have them. One immediate question I had for IHG sprang to mind: Will points earned on the IHG Chase credit card keep an account active? I would be surprised if they didn’t, but the 2nd sentence above mentions qualifying stays and redemptions – nothing else. Assuming earning points via the card is fine, then keeping an account active should be very easy to for those who keep the card for the annual free night. Edit: IHG has confirmed to me via Twitter that this is indeed the case.
Unfortunately, the list of hotels that are changing in redemption price is not available yet. Considering IHG referenced 4,800 hotels above, only 6.25% will see an increase, which isn’t unreasonable. Keep checking back to find out what hotels are impacted, since you might want to get bookings in by May 1st, 2015 or book after that date if your desired hotel is decreasing in value.
Overall, these IHG Rewards Club changes seem mostly positive for loyal IHG travelers. The lowered tier thresholds and new award tier are far more valuable to their loyal customers, who won’t be impacted by expiration dates at all. That said, their perks for elite members could be better, especially when compared with some of the other programs out there. For those who aren’t staying with IHG very often, there will be an incentive for travelers to stay active. I will update this post if and when the hotel point requirements changes are provided by IHG, since that’s the open question at this point.