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Update 5/19/2021: IHG Rewards has further extended the pause on points expiration (until 12/31/2021) and free night certificates issued in 2020 (until 12/31/2021). This post has been updated to reflect this change.
Update 2/17/2021: IHG rolled over elite nights for 2021 elite status earning.
Note: This post was originally published on January 14, 2021
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.
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:
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.
- Any IHG Rewards points set to expire in early 2021 will be extended through December 31, 2021 (originally June 30, 2021).
- All IHG Free Night Certificates issued in the U.S. or U.K. with an original expiration date in 2020 or 2021 will be extended for use through December 31, 2021.
This update gives loyalty members more peace of mind that they'll be able to use their points/free-nights before they expire.
[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.
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 150,000 bonus points after meeting the minimum spending requirement.
- Earn 150,000 bonus points 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.
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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