IHG Rewards Club Changes: New Elite Level Requiring 75 Nights & Points Now Expire

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IHG Rewards Club made an announcement today about upcoming changes coming to their loyalty program this year.

IHG Rewards Club Membership Changes 2015 2016

IHG Rewards Club will make qualifying for Gold and Platinum status easier, but at the same time launched a new tier requiring 75 nights or 75,000 points.

You can access IHG Rewards Club web page for these changes here and their frequently asked questions here.

READ MORE: IHG Rewards Club Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

IHG Rewards Club Membership Changes 2015 2016 New Levels

Here are the changes:

– Gold status requires 10 nights or 10,000 qualifying points

– Platinum status requires 40 nights or 40,000 qualifying points

– New yet unnamed level (looks like BLACK) requiring 75 nights or 75,000 qualifying points. New members will get 25,000 bonus points for reaching the status or the ability to gift Platinum status to a family member or friend. This new status level launches on July 1.

– IHG Rewards Club points will now expire after 12 months of no activity starting April 14, 2015. The first points will expire under this police starting May 2016. Any activity that increases or decreases the points count will extend the validity by 12 months (this per the FAQ – no need to stay).

Here’s the press release by IHG:

ATLANTA (April 14, 2015) – InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) today announces exciting new enhancements to its award winning loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club, focused on building more personalized relationships with its 84 million members worldwide.

IHG’s 2015 Trends Report showed that consumers are looking for more than an effortless transaction with their chosen brands.  They want a rewarding relationship built on trust and respond best to efforts focused on building real brand loyalty over a sustained period of time.

Following extensive research into what members want from their loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club will introduce a new membership level, to better reward its most loyal members with the most relevant benefits. The research also revealed the importance of ‘recognition’ to members who want to feel rewarded for loyalty. In response, IHG will enhance its ability to deliver a personalized experience for members, before, during and after their stay. Through personalizing this experience, the member will feel valued, understood and this in turn builds trust.

Susanna Freer Epstein, SVP Customer Loyalty Marketing, IHG, said: “Our research shows us that members are looking for a personalized experience when they choose one of our family of brands – before, during and after their stay.  We want to thank our members for their loyalty by responding to this at every stage of the guest journey, offering experiences that are personally relevant. And we want to say a special thank you to our most loyal members through the introduction of a new top membership level. These enhancements are just the start of a number of exciting new improvements we will be making to the program in the coming months.”

IHG Rewards Club will evolve over 2015 and 2016 initially in the following ways:

  • Introducing a new top membership level in July 2015. This new membership level can be reached by earning 75,000 qualifying points or staying at IHG hotels for 75 qualifying nights, over the course of a year.
  • An industry first: IHG Rewards Club will offer its most loyal members in this new membership level 100 percent extra bonus points on qualifying stays. Members of this newest level will also be able to choose between receiving 25,000 points or upgrading a friend or family member to Platinum.
  • The qualification requirements for all membership levels have been restructured to make it easier for members to be rewarded for their loyalty. Club members will need to earn just 10,000 qualifying points or stay for ten qualifying nights to be eligible for Gold membership. Gold members will need to earn 40,000 qualifying points or stay for 40 qualifying nights to reach Platinum membership.
  • IHG is enhancing its ability to learn about members and then utilize this information through a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This system will enable hotels to respond to members’ preferences at every stage of the guest journey and offer services and experiences that are personally relevant to them. From recognizing stay preferences such as room location or pillow type and tailoring their booking options, to relevant post stay offers.
  • 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.
  • IHG Rewards Club offers countless great opportunities to earn points and redeem rewards – from Reward Nights at IHG hotels worldwide to flights, music downloads, electronics, gift cards and more, via its online global redemption catalog.

All members will continue to have access to the industry leading benefits that make IHG Rewards Club the world’s favorite hotel loyalty program. These include free guest Internet, value-priced Reward Nights with no blackout dates, no cancellation penalties, access to the wide breadth of offerings in the global reward redemption catalog and digital innovations such as mobile check-in.

Conclusion

There are no mentions of the rollover nights. Do they stay or do they go? Do they count towards this new status level?

The yearly award category change is taking place on May 1st (hidden in the small print). I will have a separate post about it.

Does IHG Rewards Club really need a new status level when the implementation of previous ones have been so weak? Does this mean that the new status level members are guaranteed lounge access and/or breakfast at properties and suite upgrades? I see no reason to launch yet another level when there are no guaranteed “hard” benefits beyond bonus points for Gold and Platinum members.

Are Royal Ambassador members now going to get both the Royal Ambassador bonus of 50% and this new bonus of 100% (if they hit the yet unnamed level)? Do the Royal Ambassador members get this new level automatically or do they need to qualify by doing the 75 nights as well? I have sent an email to an IHG spokesperson and hopefully will hear back tomorrow.

IHG Rewards Club has been marketing that their points never expire until today when they start expiring after 12 months of inactivity. This is one way for the program to lower the liability of unredeemed points on its book by just expiring them.

IHG Rewards Club is also teasing about new benefits introduced in 2016: “New benefits, bigger rewards and an enhanced in-hotel experience will continue to be rolled out beginning in 2016”. Let’s see what those are……

Here are the frequently asked question by these changes:

What are you announcing today?
IHG® Rewards Club is announcing a change to the way we recognise and reward our most loyal travellers, by introducing a new membership level above Platinum and lowering the thresholds to qualify for Gold and Platinum.  In addition, IHG is enhancing its ability to deliver the personalised experience members want, before, during and after their stay. We’re also changing our point expiration policy so that now all points will expire after 12 months of inactivity. IHG® Rewards Club members will continue to maintain their point balances simply by staying at one of over 4,800 IHG hotels or by redeeming points at least once every 12 months.

What are the new membership levels and what are the qualifications to earn status?

IHG® Rewards Club will now have four levels:

  • Club
  • Gold: earn with 10 Qualifying Nights or 10,000 Qualifying Points
  • Platinum: earn with 40 Qualifying Nights or 40,000 Qualifying Points
  • Our newest membership level: earn with 75 Qualifying Nights or 75,000 Qualifying Points

What additional benefits will members of this new tier receive?
IHG® Rewards Club will be the first in the industry to offer its most loyal members in this new membership level 100% extra bonus points on qualifying stays. New tier members will also be able to choose between receiving 25,000 points or upgrading a friend or family member to Platinum status, as part of the Choice Benefit. This is just the start of the benefits we will be offering and more will be revealed over the coming months.

Will you be announcing additional changes to your newest membership level? What will the new membership level be called?
Yes, we are working on even more ways to recognise and reward all of our members, including for our newest membership level. We will communicate more details when the new membership level launches on 1st July, including its name. To ensure you’re among the first to know, be sure you’re opted in to receive email communications by logging in to your account on ihgrewardsclub.com and updating your subscriptions under “Communications Preferences”.

If I qualify for the newest membership level, how long will I be able to access my Choice Benefit?

Once you qualify for our newest membership level, you’ll be able to access and choose your Choice Benefit until the end of the programme year (usually the end of the following calendar year). For example, if you earn our newest membership level in August 2015, you’ll have until 31 December 2016 to select your Choice Benefit.

I would like to upgrade my friend to Platinum, but my friend is not an IHG® Rewards Club member. Is this possible?

Yes, you can nominate to upgrade someone to Platinum status but your friend will need to enrol in IHG® Rewards Club first, by simply logging on to ihgrewardsclub.com and selecting “Join now”.

If I choose 25,000 bonus points this year for my Choice Benefit and I maintain my status next year, will I get to make another choice next year?
Yes, each year that you earn or maintain the newest membership level, you’ll earn another Choice Benefit. And each year you can make a different choice.

Can I switch my choice if I change my mind?

No, as both choices are processed instantly, we are unable to reverse your choice once selected.

I’m ready to choose my Choice Benefit! How do I make my selection and how long will it take to see the points or for my friend to be upgraded?

Simply log in to your account on ihgrewardsclub.com and you’ll be able to make your selection in your account. If you choose points, we’ll deposit the points into your account immediately. If you choose to upgrade a friend to Platinum, all you’ll need is your friend’s IHG® Rewards Club member number (or have them sign up at ihgrewardsclub.com if not already a member), and we’ll instantly upgrade your friend to Platinum.

Is there a Fast Track to the newest membership level?

The way we have restructured the membership tiers means we’ve made it easier than ever to earn Gold and Platinum status. So, all Fast Track to Elite status offers will be discontinued as of 30 June 2015. Fast Track to Gold Elite required 10 Qualifying Nights at 3 IHG Brands; the new Gold threshold is 10 Qualifying Nights with no brand requirement. Similarly, Fast Track to Platinum Elite required 40 Qualifying Nights at 4 IHG Brands; the new Platinum threshold is 40 Qualifying Nights, again with no brand requirement.

Did you announce a change to your point expiration policy?

Following extensive research with members, IHG is evolving its award-winning programme to focus on building more personalised relationships, delivering the most relevant benefits and choice to global travellers. We have decided to expire points after 12 months for only members who neither earn nor redeem at all during this time, so that we can focus on rewarding our most loyal members.

Why are you announcing this policy change?

Following extensive research with members, IHG is evolving its award-winning programme to focus on building more personalised relationships, delivering the most relevant benefits and choice to global travellers. We have decided to expire points after 12 months for only members who neither earn nor redeem at all during this time, so that we can focus on rewarding our most loyal members.

Will points expire for elite members?

No, points won’t expire for current elite members. Elite members who do not earn enough qualifying nights or points to maintain their status will become a Club level member. Points will expire 12 months after becoming a Club level member for those who neither earn nor redeem at all during this time.

Will points expire for Holiday Inn Club Vacations® owners?

No, if you are an owner in Holiday Inn Club Vacations® you are an IHG® Rewards Club Gold member, and your points won’t expire as long as you continue to be a Holiday Inn Club Vacations® owner.

What is the new policy?

To reward our guests who choose to stay with us more often, we focus more programme benefits towards members who earn and redeem on a regular basis. All points will expire after 12 months if there’s no account activity. But it’s easy to maintain your points balance. Just earn or redeem once a year through any of our IHG hotels or partners.

It’s very simple to extend your point balance period – any activity that earns additional points or uses your existing points will extend your 12 month window. Examples of qualifying earn activities include: a qualifying stay at any IHG hotel or resort, purchases on your IHG credit card, earning points via a promotional offer, or earning points with any IHG® Rewards Club partner. Examples of qualifying redemption activities include booking a Reward Night stay, donating points to charity, redeeming points for travel via our Flights Anywhere or Cars Anywhere products, or making a purchase from the IHG online redemption catalogue.

When does this new policy start?

The policy is effective immediately, from 14 April 2015 – every member has 12 months from the announcement to earn or redeem points to extend their point balance. The first expiration won’t occur until May 2016. From May 2016, we will continue to review activity on a monthly basis for all accounts and expire points from inactive accounts. We will keep you informed about your points and all the ways you can earn or redeem your points, as long as you opt in to our communications by logging in to your account on ihgrewardsclub.com and updating your subscriptions under “Communications Preferences”.

Will points expire for InterContinental® Ambassador members?

No, if you are an InterContinental® Ambassador member you are an IHG® Rewards Club Gold or Platinum member, and your points won’t expire as long as you continue to be an InterContinental® Ambassador member.

Will points expire for IHG Dining Rewards members?

No, if you are an IHG Dining Rewards member you are an IHG® Rewards Club Gold or Platinum member, and your points won’t expire as long as you continue to be an IHG Dining Rewards member.

Will points expire for IHG® Business Rewards members?

IHG® Business Rewards members are subject to the same 12-month expiration policy, only for accounts with neither any earn or redemption activity, as all IHG® Rewards Club members.

Will points expire for IHG® Rewards Club credit card holders?
IHG® Rewards Club credit card holders are subject to the same policy as all IHG® Rewards Club members. Please note, all points that you earn from spend on your IHG® Rewards Club credit card will extend your point expiration period. Also, if your IHG® Rewards Club credit card benefits include IHG® Rewards Club Gold or Platinum status, then your points won’t expire as long as you continue to be an IHG® Rewards Club credit card holder.

What can I do to extend my point balance period?

It’s easy – simply perform any activity where you will earn points or redeem points in your account. Your point balance period automatically extends for another 12 months every time you do.

IHG® Rewards Club offers more opportunities to earn points and redeem rewards than any other hospitality or travel loyalty brand, from free nights at IHG’s hotels worldwide to flights, music downloads, electronics, gift cards and more, via our newly expanded online redemption catalogue.

What are examples of activities that will extend my point balance period?

It’s very simple to extend your point balance period – any activity that earns additional points or uses your existing points will extend your 12 month window. Examples of qualifying earn activities include: a qualifying stay at any IHG hotel or resort, purchases on your IHG credit card, earning points via a promotional offer, or earning points with any IHG® Rewards Club partner. Examples of qualifying redemption activities include booking a Reward Night stay, donating points to charity, redeeming points for travel via our Flights Anywhere or Cars Anywhere products, or making a purchase from the IHG online redemption catalogue.

What activity doesn’t count towards keeping my point balance active?

Any activity that doesn’t change your point balance does not keep your point balance active. These activities include non-qualifying stays, logging into your account, or registering for promotions. Only activity that changes your point balance by either earning or redeeming points will count towards keeping your account balance active.

I believe my points were expired in error. What can I do?

Please contact us Link will open in new browser window. so that we can validate and correct any errors.

Will I be informed by IHG® Rewards Club if I’m nearing my point expiration date?

If you’re signed up to receive regular IHG® Rewards Club email communications, we’ll notify you in advance of your points expiring. You can also log in to your account on ihgrewardsclub.com to view your activity. And remember, it’s simple to keep your point balance active, simply earn or redeem points in your account once to reset your window for another 12 months.

If my points have expired, is my account closed too?

No, your account is not closed if your points have expired. You can earn new points and then redeem those points out of your account even if you’ve previously had points expire.

If my points have expired and then I earn new points, will that restore my expired points?

No, if your points have expired they cannot be reinstated unless they’ve been expired in error. You can earn new points and then redeem those points out of your account even if you’ve previously had points expire.

Are the point requirements for Reward Nights changing?

Our point requirements are changing slightly for 2015, effective 1 May 2015. We’ll be raising less than 300 hotels by 5,000 or 10,000 points and we’re lowering about 150 hotels by 5,000 points. The overall point requirement of 10,000 to 50,000 points for all Reward Nights is not changing.

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