IHG Elite Status: Complete Guide | NerdWallet

Jul 29, 2022

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You may know the InterContinental Hotels Group from its popular hotel brands like Holiday Inn, Kimpton and Crowne Plaza. If you stay at IHG properties frequently or have the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, you may be interested in their elite status benefits, which can be earned through the hotel company's IHG One Rewards loyalty program.

Here, we break down how the IHG elite status program works, how to earn the four different elite status tiers and how this program compares to other hotel elite programs. IHG’s program is fairly simple compared to some others, but there’s still plenty to cover.

Note that if you held IHG elite status as of Nov. 3, 2021, that status will extend through February 2023 without having to take any action.

How to earn IHG elite status

You can earn IHG elite status in one of three ways:

  1. Complete enough elite qualifying nights within a calendar year.

  2. Accumulate enough elite qualifying points within a calendar year.

  3. Have the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, which comes with IHG Platinum Elite status, or the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card, which comes with Silver elite status.

  4. Purchase InterContinental Ambassador membership ($200 annually), which comes with automatic IHG Platinum Elite status.

In general, option 1 is the best route for those who spend a lot of nights in low-cost rooms, and option 2 applies to those who stay at high-end properties. If you mostly stay at InterContinental hotels, option 4 — while pricey — could even turn out to be a major money-maker.

And if you're in the market for a new credit card anyway, then the relatively-low annual fee of $99 on the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card might be a small price to pay to automatically get Platinum Elite status.

That said, if you're planning to earn IHG elite status through qualifying nights or points, here's how much you need to get to each status tier:

How to earn status

Points earned per stay

Some of the best perks

Club

Just sign up.

10 base points per dollar spent on qualifying hotel rates at most IHG hotels (5 points at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites)

Complimentary internet, exclusive member rates, no blackout dates for reward nights.

Silver Elite

10 elite qualifying nights, or hold the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card.

20% bonus earnings on top of base points.

Points no longer expire for as long as status is held.

Gold Elite

20 elite qualifying nights or 40,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year. Or, spend $20,000 in a calendar year on the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card.

40% bonus earnings on top of base points.

The above plus rollover nights for next year's status.

Platinum Elite

40 elite qualifying nights or 60,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year, or hold the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card.

60% bonus earnings on top of base points.

The above plus complimentary room upgrades and guaranteed room availability.

Diamond Elite

70 elite qualifying nights or 120,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year, or spend $40,000 on the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card in a calendar year.

100% bonus earnings on top of base points

The above plus dedicated Diamond support and free breakfast.

What are IHG elite qualifying nights?

Elite qualifying nights are generally non-discounted or corporate rates booked directly through IHG. Award nights (booked with points), nights booked through a third party like Hotels.com and other promotional nights do not count toward elite status.

What are IHG elite qualifying points?

Elite qualifying points are a little more complicated. They include:

  • Points earned through qualifying nights (per the criteria above).

  • Points earned through spending on IHG-branded credit cards.

  • Bonus point packages.

  • Spending through IHG Business Rewards.

Examples of activity that doesn’t earn elite qualifying points include the following:

  • Elite status bonus points (explained below).

  • Co-branded credit card welcome bonuses.

  • Points that were purchased or transferred.

  • Points earned through IHG promotions.

How does IHG credit card holder elite status work?

Becoming an IHG credit card holder is generally the simplest (and lowest-cost) method of obtaining IHG elite status. The IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card comes with Silver elite status, while the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers Platinum elite status. That’s all there is to it.

Unfortunately, status earned in this way does not get you any closer to the higher tier levels. That is, if you want to get to Diamond Elite status from the Platinum status earned through the Premier card, you have to start from the bottom.

Considering the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card has an annual fee of $99, that's a cheaper route versus paying $200 annually for InterContinental Ambassador membership, which is another straightforward route to getting status (though Ambassador benefits like free room night certificates might actually make it a better route to elite status.

Benefits of each IHG elite status tier

Each tier offers its own benefits, with Platinum offering all the benefits of Gold, plus more, and Diamond offering all the benefits of Platinum, plus more. Here are the most important benefits from each status level:

Silver Elite

  • 20% bonus on base points.

  • Points don’t expire.

  • Late checkout of 2 p.m., when available.

Gold Elite

  • 40% bonus on base points.

  • Rollover nights for next year's status

Platinum Elite

  • 60% bonus on base points.

  • Reward night discounts.

  • Guaranteed room availability (up to 72 hours in advance).

  • Free room upgrades when available.

  • Welcome amenity (either bonus points or a drink/snack).

Diamond Elite

  • 100% bonus on base points.

  • Dedicated Diamond support.

  • Free breakfast.

The spa at Six Senses Ibiza. Photo courtesy of IHG.

The InterContinental Ambassador program

IHG offers a unique membership level for those who stay frequently at InterContinental properties, called the InterContinental Ambassador program. It’s really more of a paid membership program with elite status perks. Membership costs $200, and benefits of the InterContinental Ambassador program include:

  • Guaranteed room upgrade.

  • Guaranteed late checkout.

  • IHG Platinum elite status.

  • $20 restaurant and bar credit per stay.

  • Complimentary weekend night when booking a paid weekend night.

The InterContinental Ambassador program is especially worth it for stays at Six Senses properties. Additional Ambassador benefits exclusive to stays at those properties include:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two in the main restaurant each day.

  • Signature amenity of either a complimentary 50-minute Six Senses Spa massage for two or a local experience, redeemable once per stay.

  • Early check-in of 10 a.m., though this benefit is subject to availability for Ambassador members.

This status tier is unique because it's something you pay for, rather than something you can earn through extreme loyalty. If you really want elite status, but don't want to spend the many nights and hundreds of dollars to get there, joining the InterContinental Ambassador program is an intriguing option to quickly buy your way into VIP status.

The InterContinental Marine Drive-Mumbai. Photo courtesy of IHG.

Earning IHG One Rewards milestone bonuses

If you have IHG elite status, then it's likely you're frequently staying in IHG hotels. And happily for frequent hotel guests, there are even more rewards on the table. IHG in April 2022 launched a milestone bonuses program where — for every 10 nights you stay (starting at 20 qualified nights) — you'll get to choose from one of the available milestone rewards. When you hit the 40 and 70-night milestones, you get to choose two milestone rewards (one of which is the potentially, highly-lucrative IHG Executive Club Lounge membership).

The IHG One Rewards milestone bonuses are:

  • 20 nights: Choice of 5,000 bonus points, two food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each) or a confirmable suite upgrade.

  • 30 nights: Choice of 5,000 bonus points or two food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

  • 40 nights: Choice of two of the following: 10,000 bonus points, five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each), a confirmable suite upgrade or an annual lounge membership.

  • 50 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

  • 60 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

  • 70 nights: Choice of two of the following: 10,000 bonus points, five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each), two confirmable suite upgrades or an annual lounge membership.

  • 80 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

  • 90 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

  • 100 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).

You have 90 days from the time you reach the milestone to make your bonus selection. Your reward is valid from one year from the point of selection (so you can save your room upgrade for a fancy hotel), except lounge membership, which is valid through the end of the year it was earned, plus another full year.

As far as the food and beverage rewards go, they cannot be used in partial increments, so if you spend $18 at an IHG restaurant, you sacrifice $2 of value. If you spend $22 at an IHG restaurant, you'll owe $2 of your own dollars.

Cocktails from Manhattan, the lounge inside the Regent Singapore. Photo courtesy of IHG.

IHG elite status: is it worth pursuing?

Is IHG elite status worth it? IHG generally isn’t known for high-end properties aside from InterContinental, and its elite status program certainly isn’t the most luxurious out there. The highest tier, Diamond, can be super valuable in terms of benefits like club access and free breakfast, but you'll need to stay often to actually earn it.

Here's how much we value each tier of IHG elite status at:

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

Gold

$13

$1,000

1.3%

Platinum

$260

$4,000

7%

Diamond

$1,088

$7,500

15%

Clearly Diamond Elite status can be highly valuable, especially if you'll eat all those free breakfasts and get lucky on the room upgrades. Then again, it's a lot of work to earn, so it might not necessarily be worth going out of your way to get Diamond Elite to your name.

Luckily for most IHG loyalists, the Platinum status provided by the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers enough perks without the hassle of tracking elite qualifying nights and stays. Or, if you anticipate staying mostly at InterContinental hotels, you'll likely find that joining the InterContinental Ambassador program is worth the cost given not just the automatic Platinum status, but additional perks like that free weekend night certificate.

Then again, if you even occasionally stay at IHG hotels (after all, Holiday Inn can be pretty affordable, while Kimpton is far away the best hotel brand for pets), then don't overlook at least trying to earn elite status. IHG elite status can afford you even more bonus points so you can book more free rooms faster, plus other delightful benefits like late checkout and space-available room upgrades.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner programs

IHG® One Rewards
Get exclusive benefits and earn points faster
World of Hyatt
Enjoy free nights, member rates and more
Alaska Mileage Plan
Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
IHG® Rewards Program

IHG® One Rewards

Wherever you go, however you stay, IHG One Rewards offers rewards for every one.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

Highlights:
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
Highlights
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt

With the World of Hyatt loyalty program, enjoy a world of rewards designed to revolve around you.

on Hyatt's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
Highlights
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.

on Hyatt's website

logo image

Alaska Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan is Alaska's loyalty program for anyone who loves to travel and is free to join!

on Alaska's website

Highlights:
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend
Highlights
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend

on Alaska's website

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