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Travel 6 ways IHG Rewards Club should improve its loyalty program

09:50  10 october  2020
09:50  10 october  2020 Source:   thepointsguy.com

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  8 perks of Kimpton’s Inner Circle – and how to get an invite Kimpton Karma Rewards was folded into the IHG Rewards Club program in early 2018. Initially, Kimpton loyalists were concerned about the program being replaced by the IHG Rewards Club program. To the delight of Kimpton loyalists, Kimpton’s top-tier Inner Circle program survives as within IHG Rewards. Here’s what you should know about Kimpton’s Inner Circle …Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

The IHG Rewards Club program has a solid credit card offering as well as good value points. But, the program should improve in a few areas, such as So, today I’ll begin with what I love about the IHG Rewards Club program . And, then I’ll describe six ways IHG should improve its loyalty offering.

Our review of the IHG Rewards Club Loyalty Program . We discuss elite status levels, rewards IHG offers 8 different ways to redeem Rewards Club points that include Reward Nights, Shopping The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial, tax or

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A lot of TPG staffers love Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt. And, I can see the value in these hotel loyalty programs. But, I spend most of my hotel nights with IHG Rewards Club.

After all, many IHG hotels provide an attractive combination of consistency, quality and modest pricing. And, even with the recent switch to dynamic pricing, my IHG Rewards Club points still offer a lot of value.

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But since multiple other hotel loyalty programs provide a better overall offering, I’m far from loyal to Some Choice hotels don’t fully take part in the Choice Privileges program . But, there’s not a list of Fourth or fifth night free on award stays benefit (similar to the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit

IHG Rewards Club is one of the world’s largest hotel loyalty programs , with over a dozen brands covering thousands of As you’d expect, you can use your IHG Rewards Club points at nearly all of IHG ’s different hotel brands. IHG Rewards Club award nights are priced by category, so the higher

But, I do have a wish list of program improvements. So, today I’ll begin with what I love about the IHG Rewards Club program. And, then I’ll describe six ways IHG should improve its loyalty offering.

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In This Post

What I love about IHG Rewards Club

a house with a body of water with Bora Bora in the background: The InterContinental Bora Bora is perhaps the best value points redemption you’ll find on Bora Bora. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy The InterContinental Bora Bora is perhaps the best value points redemption you’ll find on Bora Bora. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Three main things keep me staying with IHG. First off, I’m generally able to get higher than TPG’s valuation of 0.5 cents per point when redeeming IHG points. And, even with the switch to dynamic pricing, IHG points have continued to provide high-value redemptions domestically and internationally.

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  Choosing the best American Express credit card for you Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Choosing the best credit card for your needs is a tricky proposition, especially with so many great options from multiple issuers. Some of the best cards on the market are offered by American Express and its partners. Amex has a card available for pretty …Choosing the best credit card for your needs is a tricky proposition, especially with so many great options from multiple issuers. Some of the best cards on the market are offered by American Express and its partners. Amex has a card available for pretty much anyone, from credit card beginners to casual travelers to road warriors.

The top tier in the IHG Rewards Club is Spire Elite status, which is typically earned after 75 If the Marriott issues or any other reason has gotten you thinking about shifting your loyalties to another This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about IHG Rewards Club elite status, so you can bookmark

Join the IHG ® Rewards Club loyalty program to enjoy the best hotel rewards & exclusive member offers. No need to ignore the call of the mountains. We’ve made some updates to the way you redeem Reward Nights, so go ahead and discover thousands of hotels for fewer points.

Second, many IHG brands provide a consistent experience worldwide at a reasonable price. As I’ll note later in this article, some IHG brands are more consistent than others. But, IHG has been my go-to program while living as a digital nomad. This is primarily because I can expect a basic level of quality worldwide without paying a high price.

Finally, Chase and IHG offer some excellent cobranded credit cards. For just an $89 annual fee, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card provides some great perks. For example, these perks include:

  • 10x points at IHG hotels and resorts (5% return based on TPG’s valuations)
  • 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (1% return)
  • 1x points on everything else (0.5% return)
  • Platinum Elite status
  • Fourth reward night when you redeem for any stay of four nights or longer
  • Anniversary night each account anniversary year valid for a night costing 40,000 points or less
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit every four years (up to $100)
  • No foreign transaction fees

But, although I love the IHG Rewards Club program, it can certainly improve. So, now I’ll describe some improvements the program could make to enhance traveler loyalty.

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The IHG Rewards Club program has its quirks to be sure. Here's what to know about earning and We’ll take a deep dive into the program in this IHG Rewards review to help you decide whether it In our IHG Rewards review, we’ll show you how IHG points can help you score free nights at hundreds

There are several ways IHG Rewards Club members can earn some extra points, including capitalizing on dining. Plus, if you pair your IHG Rewards Club program membership with a credit card that earns a category We take your comments very seriously as they really help us to improve the site.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier

Competitive elite perks

a bedroom with a bed and desk in a room: A nice suite upgrade at the Hotel Indigo Birmingham Five Points South (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy A nice suite upgrade at the Hotel Indigo Birmingham Five Points South (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Let’s be honest: IHG Rewards Club elite status isn’t all that valuable. Sure, it’s easy to earn the second-highest status, Platinum Elite status, when you do one of the following:

  • Stay 40 qualifying nights per calendar year (30 nights in 2020)
  • Earn 40,000 elite-qualifying points per calendar year (30,000 points in 2020)
  • Have the IHG Premier
  • Join the InterContinental Ambassador program

But, Platinum Elite status only offers modest perks. In particular, the most valuable perks are 50% bonus earnings and space-available upgrades. And, IHG doesn’t require hotels to upgrade elites to suites and specialty rooms. So, as a Platinum Elite, IHG hotels usually don’t upgrade me unless I inquire about an upgrade at check-in.

Unfortunately, top-tier Spire Elite status doesn’t yield many additional perks. Specifically, IHG hotels don’t provide free breakfast, lounge access or guaranteed late check-out even to Spire Elite members. Plus, Spire Elite status is more difficult to earn. To earn Spire Elite status, you must do one of the following:

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  Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others? There is an abundance of valuable hotel credit cards on the market right now. Unfortunately, some of the top hotel credit cards come with expensive annual fees that cost cardholders upwards of $550 per year. While frequent travelers who fully utilize the earning rates and benefits that come with those cards, it’s just not always …The good news is that there are also a number of great mid-level hotel cards (some co-branded and some earning transferable points) out there for you to choose from. Of course, if you’re already loyal to a specific hotel brand, it may not make sense to add a cobranded card to your wallet.

IHG Rewards Club is very lax with promotions and some may get carried away. It would be great if you can give me some advise on the best way to deal with them regarding the issue and future code You should not contact IHG Rewards Club or any other loyalty program if you have signed up for a

IHG Rewards Club used to advertise that their points never expire until they changed this. Now, you need to have activity every 12 months to keep your points alive. Easiest way to extend your points is obviously to stay at any IHG affiliated property and earn points in the process or redeem for an award

  • Stay 75 qualifying nights per calendar year (55 nights in 2020)
  • Earn 75,000 elite-qualifying points per calendar year (55,000 points in 2020)
  • Join Kimpton’s invite-only Inner Circle

So, I’d like to see IHG Rewards Club provide better perks for Platinum Elite and Spire Elite members. For example, the following changes would improve my loyalty:

  • Guaranteed late check-out until a set time
  • Better-defined upgrade benefits, ideally to the best available room with restrictions based on elite tier
  • Free breakfast and/or lounge access for Spire Elite members

Related: Best top-tier hotel elite status for your family — from free breakfast to confirmed suites


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Instill confidence in the value of points

a living room with a wooden floor: With dynamic pricing, award night costs at the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University vary greatly. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy). © The Points Guy With dynamic pricing, award night costs at the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University vary greatly. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy).

Until earlier this year, IHG used standard pricing. This meant you could plan how many points you’d need to stay at a hotel regardless of your dates. But, we’d known dynamic pricing was coming since early 2019. And, in early 2020, IHG slowly moved its hotels to dynamic award pricing.

Frankly, I’d expected my point value to plummet when dynamic pricing began. But, this wasn’t the case. Soon after dynamic pricing started, I was able to snag some truly great deals. And, even now that IHG has fixed several bugs, it’s still easy to find redemptions that provide good value. So, IHG’s move to dynamic pricing has been positive for me for far.

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But, I don’t expect this to last. The problem with dynamic pricing is that you can’t know how much a stay will cost until you book it. And, it’s difficult to detect devaluations without an award chart or standard pricing. As such, I’d love to see IHG find a way to assure travelers that their points won’t lose a lot of value overnight. But, in the absence of this assurance, I plan to avoid hoarding IHG points.

Related: How to earn and redeem points with IHG Rewards Club partners

Bring back PointBreaks

a large building with a pond in front of a house: The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort was my favorite PointBreaks redemption. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort was my favorite PointBreaks redemption. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

PointBreaks is what initially made me care about the IHG Rewards Club program. The PointBreaks promotion initially allowed travelers to book rooms at select hotels each quarter for just 5,000 points per night. And, according to TPG’s valuations, 5,000 IHG points are worth only $25. To make this worthwhile, the PointBreaks list usually included a few InterContinential and Crowne Plaza hotels.

Until January 2018, this list included over 100 hotels that you could book for just 5,000 IHG points per night. Then, in January 2018, IHG devalued PointBreaks. In particular, IHG added 10,000-point and 15,000-point PointBreaks hotels and decreased the number of hotels bookable for 5,000 points per night. And, in January 2020 IHG failed to release a new PointBreaks list.

For years, I eagerly awaited the new PointBreaks list each quarter. And, I made travel plans specifically to visit hotels on this list multiple times. So, it’s an understatement to say I miss PointBreaks.

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IHG hasn’t released a PointBreaks list since October 2019. But, the IHG Rewards Club membership terms and conditions still discuss PointBreaks. So, perhaps it’s not an unreasonable request for IHG to restart PointBreaks. Even with dynamic pricing in the mix now, PointBreaks still has a place. After all, PointBreaks could get travelers excited about new hotels and fill rooms that wouldn’t otherwise be sold.

Related: Here’s what hotel loyalty programs might look like after coronavirus

Revive Accelerate promotions

a close up of a street in front of a building: Accelerate promotion tasks took me to the Crowne Plaza Beijing Wangfujing once. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Accelerate promotion tasks took me to the Crowne Plaza Beijing Wangfujing once. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Until 2020, IHG offered Accelerate promotions that nudged travelers toward particular behaviors. For example, Accelerate would often encourage me to stay with specific brands, book a Points & Cash rate or stay longer. And, similar to PointBreaks, Accelerate encouraged me to include IHG hotels in my travel plans.

Sure, IHG still offers promotions. But, these promotions aren’t all that exciting or lucrative. For example, up to 4x bonus points on stays sounds good. But, this promotion hasn’t encouraged me to stay with IHG instead of another hotel program for any stays. So, I’d like to see IHG revive the Accelerate promotion once the coronavirus pandemic ends. Doing so could encourage travelers to get back on the road with IHG.

Related: 23 promotions that will make your next hotel stay more rewarding

Full inclusion of all brands

an island in the middle of a body of water: Only a few of the overwater bungalows at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso are bookable with IHG points. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Only a few of the overwater bungalows at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso are bookable with IHG points. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

IHG acquired Six Senses in February 2019. And, in September 2019, IHG partnered with Mr and Mrs Smith. However, the two Six Senses hotels in Singapore that were bookable with IHG points are no longer in the program. So, it seems that currently, no Six Senses or Mr & Mrs Smith hotels are bookable with IHG points.

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The award night costs will likely be high for Six Senses and Mr & Mrs Smith hotels. But, I’d like to see IHG add these hotels as redemption options. Especially if these hotels are bookable for close to 0.5 cents per point, luxury travelers may become more loyal to IHG.

It’s also worth noting that a few of the most aspirational hotels have minimal availability when booking with points. This is particularly a problem at hotels that only offer a few of the lowest room category. For example, as of writing, I only found nine nights bookable with points at InterContinental Hotels Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa. And, no IHG Army Hotels are bookable using points. So, I’d like to see IHG require its hotels to offer a minimum percentage of rooms on points.

Related: You’ll want to save your IHG points for these Six Senses properties

Improve select brands

a store inside of a building: The Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport isn’t one of the best hotels for a layover at LAX . (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy The Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport isn’t one of the best hotels for a layover at LAX . (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Hotels across most IHG brands are surprisingly consistent. Whether I stay in a Holiday Inn Express in Germany, Los Angeles or Japan, my stay is relatively similar. I’ve noticed this same consistency in some other IHG brands, including Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites.

But, some IHG brands could use improvement. For example, some Candlewood Suites hotels are modern, while others feel run down. And, although IHG describes Crowne Plaza as an upscale brand, I’ve often found the service and room quality lacking. Finally, some Holiday Inn hotels need to be renovated.

So, I’d like to see IHG improve quality and consistency across these brands in particular. I’d be more loyal to IHG — and more likely to stay at these brands — if my stays were more consistent.

Related: How to pick the right hotel chain for you

Bottom line

IHG Rewards Club points can provide a lot of value, especially if you have the IHG Premier Card and mainly redeem points for stays of four nights or longer. And, I’ve found that most IHG hotels provide a good baseline of quality. This is important because I don’t have to worry about Wi-Fi quality or cleanliness when staying with IHG.

But, I’ve been shifting some of my loyalty to Marriott recently. After all, mid-tier Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status offers many of the perks that are missing in IHG’s loyalty program. So, depending on how hotel loyalty programs evolve during the coronavirus pandemic, my hotel loyalty may change.

Featured image of the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. American Express issues several dozen different credit cards, including cobranded hotel and airline cards, as well as two editions (personal and business) of the invite-only Centurion card. That’s a dizzying array to choose from, but there are only a handful of publicly available Amex …American Express issues several dozen different credit cards, including cobranded hotel and airline cards, as well as two editions (personal and business) of the invite-only Centurion card.

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