IHG Drops 2021 Elite Status Requirements, Offers New Global Promotion

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Update 2/17/2021: IHG Rewards has now rolled over elite nights for 2021 elite status earning.

IHG has announced that it's making some adjustments to the IHG Rewards program for 2021. First, it's extending the 25% lower elite-qualification criteria from 2020. Second, elite members will have all 2020 nights rolled over into this year. Lastly, IHG will continue to put a pause on point and free night expirations.

Moreover, the brand has debuted its next global promotion—though I wouldn't get too excited. IHG Rewards members can earn 2,000 bonus points after every two-night stay at participating hotels.

New Year—Same IHG. Thankfully, in some ways, that's a good thing.

InterContinental Boston

Lowered Elite Qualifying Criteria

In response to the lowered travel demand in 2020, IHG lowered 2020 elite status thresholds 25% across the board. Now that 2021 has arrived with similarly reduced travel demand, the program will keep the same requirements as 2020 for 2021.

Although this chart hasn't been updated for 2021, the same metrics apply for 2021:

IHG 2021 elite status requirements will match the thresholds for 2020

Rollover Elite Nights

In addition to lowering the goalposts for 2021 elite status, IHG is also giving 2020 elite members a head start—sort of.

IHG Rewards members with elite status in 2020 will automatically have all elite-qualifying nights earned in 2020 rolled over for 2021. For example, if you registered 35 elite nights in 2020, you'll see 35 nights appear in your account for 2021.

This is a pretty generous development, as it makes earning IHG elite status in 2021 even easier than in 2020. Now, whether IHG status is worth pursuing in the first place—that's another story. (Spoiler alert: it's probably not.)

Paused Point and Free Night Expiration

To give IHG Rewards members more time to use their points and certificates, IHG is pausing their expiration a bit longer.

This update gives loyalty members more peace of mind that they'll be able to use their points/free-nights before they expire.

InterContinental Presidente Cozumel Resort & Spa

[EXPIRED] 2,000 Bonus Points For 2-Night Stays

IHG's first global promotion of 2021 offers 2,000 bonus points for every two-night stay. While that may not sound like much, there's an unexpected twist that could make it a bit more valuable for some.

But first, here are the key terms:

  • Members must first register for the promotion before completing any stays.
  • The promotion lasts from January 20, 2021 through March 31, 2021.
  • Stays can begin before or finish after these dates, but members can only receive a bonus for stays within the promotion period.
  • The maximum number of bonus points that can be earned through this promotion is 70,000.
  • You can find the complete terms and conditions here.

The unexpected twist is that all bonus IHG points earned with this promotion count towards 2021 elite status qualification. So, not only do you get extra points towards that next redemption, but you also get closer to earning that next elite tier.

Quick Thoughts

Overall, this is all welcome news—if not somewhat uninspired.

For one, extending 2020's lowered qualification thresholds and rolling over 2020 elite nights certainly makes securing elite status the traditional way (via actual stays) easier.

However, occasional IHG travelers can earn Platinum Elite status simply by holding the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. If you value IHG status, you're probably better off getting it through the card instead — especially as it currently offers an amazing bonus of 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$89
Welcome Bonus Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 2X points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning for spending at IHG hotels breaks down as follows:
  • Earn 10X points for being a IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember
  • Earn 5X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of having this card
  • Earn 10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member (Being a cardholder is not required to earn this bonus for participating in the IHG® loyalty program)

Next up is IHG's extension to point and free night expirations. I'm happy (but not surprised) to see the continued extension of free night certificates. These can be wonderfully valuable (I just used three of mine last month), so having extra time to use them is great.

However, the point extension does not impress me. My first thought is that points should never expire anyway. My second thought: the least IHG could do is give members through the end of the year. Thankfully, if you have elite status, your points never expire anyway.

As for IHG's new global promotion, I don't think it's generous enough to be competitive with Marriott and Hyatt's current promotions. I value IHG points around 0.5¢ each (based on the minimum price that IHG typically sells them). That means that a 2,000-point bonus is worth around $10—hardly a return worth getting worked up about.

Bottom Line

IHG has announced several temporary updates to the IHG Rewards program in 2021—including lowered elite qualification requirements, rolled-over nights from 2020, and paused point/free-night expirations. At the same time, its latest global promotion offers 2,000 bonus points for every two-night stay.

While I wouldn't go out of my way to chase IHG elite status or a 2,000-point bonus, if you have IHG stays planned anyway, you may as well register.

Do you value IHG elite status?

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Has anyone gotten rollover nights? I had a long long stay due to covid and was far over the Spire nights, but so far nothing a month into 2021. I think I will cancel my upcoming reservations until they arrive, go with another chain. They don’t have great perks at hotels, but points earning is good for nights. But they seem so disorganized. Feb 1 and no rollover nothing. 🙁

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    IHG has been very reactive and behind other chains during the entirety of COVID thus far. My ambassador status expires on Feb 1, I wonder if they will extend it at no cost or offer some bonus for doing so.

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    Does IHG even have elite status? (That’s a joke though so is their elite status) IHG has hotels everywhere and it is easy to earn points and nights through the credit card, but they can’t even give a free breakfast to Spire…No wonder people migrate elsewhere (Including me.)

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    Not extremely good promo.
    Moreover, I think that the pause of the points expiration should cover at least all the year 2021.

  • Avatar

    On the app and in the website, my account doesn’t show one of the anniversary nights that should have been extended through next year, despite the fact that the phone reps have said that is the case. That makes me nervous; has anyone else had a similar experience?

  • Avatar

    Nice to ear that extend some extra months the expiration date for my rewards points.

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    Nice option – securing the IHG credit card, so occasional travelers can earn & keep Platinum status. This is a win.

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    All welcome changes as should be done in the pandemic. The only way to try to maintain loyalt.

  • Avatar

    Agree that getting the top status in IHG provides little in the way of direct benefits. However it’s great to see that they’ve extended expiration dates.

  • Avatar

    There is really no point in getting the top level in IHG, the benefits are not that great. You can also get the platinum status with just the IHG credit card from Chase. Its new promo is also a sleeper. Finally they are just following the crowd on the extention of certificates and the extension of the expiration of points.

    • Avatar

      And, because they followed rather than led, some folks like myself made decisions and moves away from them before they made these late announcements.

  • Avatar

    Except double point for SPIRE member they don’t have any benefits .

  • Avatar

    It is great to see that the companies make a genuine effort to extend the waivers. Business were unrealistic to expect a speedy recovery a year ago.

  • Avatar

    Now that both IHG and Hyatt have extended their free night expiration until 12/31/21 let’s hope Marriott does the same