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IHG Rewards Club has announced some changes to their program. Naturally I’m skeptical when I hear about loyalty program changes, since they’re rarely positive nowadays.
Here’s how IHG Rewards Club describes the changes:
It’s time to enjoy a loyalty programme that’s more centred on you and everything you love about travel. Take a fresh look at an even better IHG® Rewards Club — we think you’ll like what you see.
While I was initially pessimistic, and while the above sounds exciting, the reality is somewhere in the middle. Here are the changes:
The introduction of a new elite tier
IHG Rewards Club will be introducing a new top tier status level in July 2015. The level will be above the current Gold and Platinum levels. In order to qualify you’ll need to stay 75 nights or earn 75,000 points in a year.
How good are the benefits? Well, if you achieve this new status you’ll receive a 100% bonus on the points you earn, and you’ll be able to gift Platinum status to a friend or family member, or receive 25,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points.
Not that IHG Rewards Club has ever been especially rewarding in terms of elite benefits, but that’s all they’re announcing as of now. Apparently there will be more benefits, though they’re keeping them hush-hush. Here’s how the new tier is described in the FAQs:
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”.
Lowering qualification requirements for existing elite tiers
Not only is IHG Rewards Club adding a new top tier elite status, but they’re also lowering the qualification requirements for their existing elite tiers:
- Gold status will require just 10 nights or 10,000 base points (previously 15 nights or 20,000 base points)
- Platinum status will require just 40 nights or 40,000 base points (previously 50 nights or 60,000 base points)
As a reminder, you earn 10 base points per dollar spent at most IHG properties, while you earn 5 base points per dollar spent at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties.
That means for stays at full service properties:
- Gold can be achieved when spending $1,000
- Platinum can be achieved when spending $4,000
- The new top tier elite status can be achieved by spending $7,500
IHG Rewards Club points will expire after 12 months of inactivity
Hardly surprising given that this is the trend nowadays, but as of May 2016, IHG Rewards Club points will expire after 12 months of inactivity. Of course points expire for our own good “to enable IHG to reward [their] guests who stay with [them] most often.”
As far as the changes themselves go, of course points now expiring after inactivity is a negative change, though also hardly surprising.
As far as the new elite tier goes, I find it a bit odd that they’d publish the tier is coming, but not publish all the benefits. Historically IHG Rewards Club hasn’t been very rich in terms of in-hotel elite benefits, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the benefits shared so far are the only real benefits of the new tier. I wouldn’t expect much else in the way of elite recognition.
The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers Platinum status for as long as you have the card, so presumably the only downside is that you’re now getting mid-tier status rather than top tier status. Then again, that doesn’t really change the value proposition of the card, especially with the annual free night certificate.
What do you make of the IHG Rewards Club program changes?