The IHG One Rewards loyalty program is incredibly popular and our personal favorite. While the program is already quite generous in terms of points, promotions, and elite perks, understanding it better can help you make the most of your rewards.
Let’s start by quickly going through the various elite status levels offered by IHG.
IHG Status Levels
There are five primary elite status levels in the IHG One Rewards program, each with its own eligibility requirements based on the number of nights stayed at IHG hotels or points earned.
|Club or Base Level
|As soon as you join.
|20 nights or 40,000 qualifying points.
|40 nights or 60,000 qualifying points or Instant Platinum.
|70 nights or 120,000 qualifying points.
It’s important to note that “nights” includes all eligible qualifying nights, including award nights. Typically, if you earn points during a night’s stay, it counts towards your elite status. “Qualifying points” only refers to base points earned and does not include bonus points.
Both point and night calculations are based on a calendar year. This means you must meet the eligibility criteria within a single calendar year to achieve a certain status level.
Instant IHG Platinum Status
IHG also offers an excellent opportunity to instantly achieve Platinum status through their IHG Ambassador Membership.
For $200, you can purchase this membership, which comes with several benefits, including Platinum status. The cost of membership can often be recovered within just a few stays due to the extra points earned as a Platinum member and increased chances of room upgrades.
This membership is particularly worthwhile if one of your stays includes an InterContinental property.
Validity of IHG Status
Once you have been upgraded to a specific IHG One Rewards elite status, it remains valid for the remainder of the current calendar year and the following full year.
Therefore, it is advantageous to achieve elite status early in the year so that you can enjoy the benefits for a longer period of time.
IHG status benefits at various levels.
Here’s an overview of the elite status benefits you can expect at various IHG levels.
Higher Status = Higher Points earning.
At most IHG hotels, you earn 10 reward points for every USD spent. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
- At Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, you earn 5 reward points per USD. At IHG Army hotels, you earn 3 points per USD.
- If you stay at InterContinental Alliance Resorts, Venetian Resort Las Vegas, or the Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, you will receive 2000 points per qualifying stay.
- IHG Branded Residence properties (excluding voco Residences) offer 2.5 points per US dollar.
At 10 points per USD, this equates to approximately 7-8% of the pre-tax spending at an IHG hotel. As an elite member, your point earnings are even higher. Diamond members can earn up to a 15-16% value back on their spending.
If you take advantage of frequent IHG promotions, your point earnings could be even greater.
In my opinion, the best benefit of having a higher elite status with IHG is the ability to earn more points. For frequent travelers, earning close to 15% value back can significantly reduce future travel costs.
Breakfast for Diamonds.
IHG now provides complimentary breakfast for two as a welcome amenity option for diamond members. If you have already reserved a room with breakfast, you should select other amenities such as bonus points or drink vouchers instead.
Note that some hotels may not remind you of the option. You should remember to ask for it while checking-in. The breakfast choice option may not be available if checking-in via the mobile app (not recommended).
The option of enjoying free breakfast is applicable for stays at REGENT, InterContinental, Vignette, Hualuxe, Hotel Indigo, voco, Crowne Plaza, Even, Holiday Inn, and Kimpton. Certain brands such as Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites already include breakfast for all guests.
Points don’t expire for elites.
This is not a major benefit, but can still be useful in certain cases. IHG One Rewards points never expire for members with a silver elite or higher status. For Club members, points will expire after 12 months if there’s no account activity.
Free points transfer benefit
IHG Diamond elite members can transfer IHG points to other members for free. This is a great benefit to help consolidate your points or to help your family members book a stay when you are not traveling. You can read more about IHG points transfer here.
Complimentary room upgrades.
Room upgrades are a major perk of achieving a higher elite status with a hotel loyalty program. Sometimes, the upgrades can be underwhelming, but other times they can be absolutely amazing.
It’s important to note that upgrades are not guaranteed every time, and they are becoming increasingly rare.
However, IHG One Rewards stands out as a program that offers complimentary room upgrades more frequently than most other loyalty programs.
As a Diamond member of IHG for almost 10 years, I have been fortunate enough to receive some fantastic upgrades, particularly in Asia Pacific and Europe.
For more on hotel upgrades, read our guide to complimentary room upgrades.
Members of IHG One Rewards who hold Gold, Platinum, or Diamond status have the privilege of carrying over any additional nights they accumulate in a given year to maintain their status for the following year.
For example, if you spend a total of 50 nights at IHG hotels within a year, you will qualify for platinum status with 40 nights. The remaining 10 nights that were not included in your elite status calculation this year will be rolled over to the next year.
As a result, you will only need to stay an additional 30 nights in the following year to maintain your platinum status.
Exclusive Promotions for Elite Members.
IHG occasionally provides exclusive promotions for its elite members, including discounted award nights. These special offers allow Platinum and Diamond members to book nights for fewer points.
We cover these promotions in our dedicated IHG Offers section.
IHG Diamond Elite members are provided with a dedicated support helpline, which proves to be valuable for a variety of purposes, such as locating suitable hotels, making trip reservations, and addressing any concerns related to hotels, uncredited points, or missing elite nights.
Getting upgraded to an IHG elite status offers several advantages, such as faster point accumulation and perks like complimentary breakfast for Diamond members, occasional room upgrades, and elite points that never expire. However, the majority of IHG One Rewards loyalty benefits and the excitement of the program are included in IHG Milestone Rewards.
You can read more about IHG Milestone Rewards here.
Milestone Rewards are granted based on the number of nights you spend at IHG hotels within a calendar year. The more you stay, the better rewards you will receive.
IHG fast-track to Platinum or Diamond status
IHG periodically offers the opportunity to quickly achieve Platinum or Diamond elite status. While some promotions are open to all, most are intended for corporate customers.
Typically, participants would need to register for the promotion and immediately receive gold status. They would then be required to stay a certain number of nights in order to upgrade to Platinum.
These promotions from IHG are the closest they come to offering status match or status match challenge opportunities.
The Fastest way to IHG Diamond
To achieve IHG Diamond status, you have two options: accumulate 70 nights or earn 120,000 qualifying points.
If you stay at IHG properties with an average nightly rate of $60 (common in non-metro areas), you would need to spend at least $4,200 in a year to reach 70 nights.
Alternatively, at a rate of 10 qualifying points per USD spent, you would need to spend $12,000 in a year to accumulate 120,000 points. It’s important to note that bonus points do not count towards status upgrade eligibility.
However, there is a lesser-known third option: booking stays with elite qualifying Bonus points packages. IHG offers these packages on their website and app when available for booking.
While they may be slightly pricier than regular stays, these packages offer up to 5,000 bonus points per night. Many people overlook this option due to the additional cost for the extra points.
What most people don’t realize is that these bonus points earned through the package are actually considered elite qualifying. This means that it’s possible to achieve Diamond Elite status with just 20 nights if you manage to find and book stays offering 5,000 bonus points per night.
Our suggestion is to always check for bonus points packages when booking your stays. Every so often they are available for just a few extra dollars per night and can significantly expedite your path to Diamond Elite status.
The Credit Card Factor
If you happen to be eligible for IHG Credit Cards, they can be an excellent option to earn lots of points (=more free nights) and faster elite status.
Although, the official IHG credit cards are available in the US only, IHG has partnered with several credit cards across the world as a points-transfer partner.
In fact, more and more people are funding their entire stays with their credit card points. It’s much easier to earn hotel points with credit cards on day-to-day spends.