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

47 Comments

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.

If you enjoyed this article, get our blog updates for free!

SHARE
Previous articleENDING SOON: Hilton Dream Resorts 30% Off Sale For Stays Until December 31, 2015 (Book Now By April 30)
Next articleCNN: “Hidden cameras reveal airport workers stealing from luggage”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  • Patrick Chua

    I have been busy trying to reach the royal ambassador level as it qualifies stays for the last 365 days. I hope they don’t change that requirement.

  • Ry Wong

    Their intention is obvious – they try to get more people upgraded to at least “gold” level, hoping to improve the customer loyalty as they become “elite” members, and then the relaxed Platinum requirements could encourage Gold members to upgrade for more benefits by staying less than before. Eventually the Platinum tier would be overcrowded so IHG has to add the Black level which has a higher barrier than even the original Platinum level to keep the real top customers while pushing the already spent-a-lot members to spend even more on IHG properties.

    Then I think again – 75 nights for the black tier means spending around 2.5 months per year, which is around 20% of time annually. IHG should really think about if their properties are all so good that it worth people to pay and spend that amount of time dealing with various issues happened during/after the stays.

    • SoloFlyer

      They do have Kimpton coming to IHG so hopefully they will be incorporated into IHG Rewards soon (I hope)

    • 75 nights is really a high requirement, although Marriott Rewards has the same for their Platinum that you can always get with a fast track for much less. If I wouldn’t be Royal Ambassador and mostly stay at InterContinental hotels, there is no way that I would stay 75 nights at other IHG brands.

  • Pingback: Änderungen beim IHG Rewards Club()

  • Pete

    They had to do something as Platinum Status in a lot of countries is pretty much hit and miss.

    Although the hotels that do can be excellent.

    Will have to see how it plays out, hopefully they integrate it without too many hiccups.

    A better incentive would have been to give top tier members say 24hour advanced notice on Reward Nights. Or maybe 1-2 bookings guaranteed from the properties released.

    Another incentive would be to bring back the 2 for1 for top tier members like say another chain does.

    • They really should have had more uniform status benefits for current Gold and Platinum members the way Ambassadors and Royal Ambassadors are treated at InterContinental hotels. For me benefits that are based on the availability and up to the hotels, are not good at all.

      I do agree with you that some hotels have treated Platinum members really well. Do they continue to do the same or only for this new tier ones?

      • Pete

        I agree it should be uniform and you should not need to discuss with each hotel about upgrades and benefits. From the moment you book the room they have the tech to recognoise status and ensure all customers get what they sell in the brochure.

        I think it’s fair to say IHG could have been far more consistent and innovative.

        Let’s see if this is the start of them remedying some of these past problems. .

  • Ian smith

    Any one know if reward nights will continue to qualify as elite qualifying nights?

    • There have been no announcements that they wouldn’t. Of course we don’t know yet what other changes are coming to our way in 2016.

  • Will S

    More “into the chaos.” So telling that they announce a new, super duper member level, but don’t have a name for it. And what pray tell are the exact benefits of this new status — stay 75 nights, get a paltry 25k in bonus points? Can this company get any more clueless? Oh, but wait, they promise more “personal relationships” with an IHG relationship manager. (sounds like something Walkallovia Bank came up with — before they were swallowed up by we’llgofar bank) I can’t wait for those “personal” calls from Manilla. (all sarcasm intended) Is this what IHG rewards club has been reduced to, a standing punch line? “into the chaos”

    • jason

      If its more calls from those monkeys in manilla I decline the “upgrade” In fact the upgrade should be service from outside Manilla

  • Ry Wong

    Also I think John has not highlighted here – in the quoted faq:
    “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.”

    This should be the immediate impact to the readers….

    • I decided to do a separate post about it because it is not related to this change. Better visibility to the award changes that way.

  • Varun

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

    What an apt question.

    • jason

      Yes it is in the new terms.

      • Varun

        “But my friend is not an IHG rewards member”

  • Jeff R

    John,
    As usual, I enjoy your blog, insights and timely news. It’s the only way I get news about IHG Rewards.
    I’ve been an IHG Rewards member for a couple of years and have NEVER received an email from IHG (other than reservations). Checked my profile time & time again to ensure email communications are turned on, but nothing. My wife recently joined and has the same problem. Is this common, or just us?

    • thatsthatmattressman

      Hi Jeff ..I am in a similar situation to you. I do get emails about offers from around the world IHG chains like free breakfast offer or stay longer and save promo s but rarely official releases like this…and rarely ever get emails with Promotion Codes. I learned about this change via the IHG Android app which pushed a notification to me via the phone!

    • SydneySwan

      I never receive emails either and yet I have all the options ticked under my profile. I have been a member for a number of years and used to receive regular offers / updates but none in the last 2 years and possibly longer.

    • I actually just received an email to my IHG Rewards Club account about these changes, so they are probably emailing them to all.

      There are many changes to the loyalty programs that programs just don’t announce at all (quietly change program T&C’s), but I cover them all here on LoyaltyLobby.

    • thatsthatmattressman

      Okay @jr4604:disqus I eat my hat.

      Just got the email 4pm Australia EDT time per John’s note that he got it too.

  • Pingback: Hotelprogramme allgemein: Übersicht Punkteverfallsregeln Hotelketten()

  • LRazzon

    I think that all the points earned as of change of policy should never expire unless used. That was IHG’s commitment to us. Wonder if anyone will take this to court.

    • See. It is too easy for a program to clean its books and significantly lower the outstanding liability of unredeemed points. They can take a one time accounting gain by doing this. I do agree that doing this retroactively is not ok, but other programs have done the same.

  • Pete

    So the jist is, if any of us have 75 nights/75k that was used for platinum status at the start of 2015 we will be upgraded to this new tier and given 25k or this choice.

    This will last until the end of 2015 when they will look at the nights/points for 2015 to decide status. I hope so and they don’t try and do some weighted nonsense.

    • I believe that they count the nights earned this year + any possible rollover nights from 2014. The status should then be valid until the end of 2016.

      • Pete

        Thanks, John. That seems quite fair and reasonable.

  • Pingback: IHG Rewards Club Award Category Changes May 1, 2015 | LoyaltyLobby()

  • romain

    A welcome change. Platinum is pretty much worthless as it is and I guess improving it substantially would be difficult if they have many platinum members through partnerships (e.g. credit cards). As it seems the new level will only be achievable through loyalty, I expect there will finally be meaningful perks. The increase from 60k to 75k a year means it it should remain within reach for most existing qualifying Platinum.
    The points expiry isn’t actually going to impact most people since even spending points extends them. So it’s really just writing off points for people that have mostly forgotten about IHG.

  • Pingback: IHG Rewards Club, Aadvantage Award Space, Yellowstone, Finland, Baroque Churches, Dachau, Myanmar()

  • Erik

    Just to let you know, in the IHG APP my status is already showing “Platinum Ambassador” name. I have never had before Intercontinental Ambassador status just plain Platinum for few years now but it is showing already with that name. Also I already have over 75 night for this year, 50 coming from roll over nights from 2014. So roll-over nights might qualify for that level and maybe they will merge Ambassador benefits with that new level ??? maybe …

    • thatsthatmattressman

      It started doing this a few weeks ago I noticed the same. The bigger issue is why does the Ambassador program still hang around …just roll it in to the Black level already and be done with it!

  • Danny

    Should at least throw in free breakfast for the top tier members.

  • Przemek

    I wonder if they would change Point Breaks rules? It would be so negative consequenses for them…

  • notasleanbutstillgreen

    I’ve been an IHG Rewards club member for several years, currently have the IHG Rewards Club MasterCard, a perk of which is automatic Platinum Elite Status. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of this perk in the changes which establish a new membership level. Curious as to whether the cardmember benefit will remain Platinum Elite or will that now be an automatic “new membership level” perk?

    • romain

      I think the whole point of adding a new level with a different name than platinum is that they don’t have to give benefits to all those qualified by default thanks to external programs.

    • jason

      No

  • Pingback: UPDATE: IHG Rewards Club Changes (Clarifications) | LoyaltyLobby()

  • jason

    Better upgrades big suites and for IC maybe large discounts for transfers or meals

  • sernada

    I read somewhere that SPENDING on the IHG credit card counts as qualifying points for the “black level,” what about getting points from making a reservation like the points & cash option?

  • Pingback: IHG Rewards Club Award Category Changes May 1, 2015 (Official List) | LoyaltyLobby()

  • Hello John did IHG reply to your email about ambassadors from the IHG spokesperson?

  • Pingback: Have You Hit The 75 Elite Qualifying Nights For The New IHG Rewards Club Status Level? | LoyaltyLobby()

  • Alastair Mcphee

    As a loyal member, platinum for 10 years in a row, this must be one of the most poorly communicated change to any loyalty programme.

  • M_in_Texas

    I called IHG yesterday and was told that the new membership level should be announced this week via email. Will see.