Your guide to the IHG Rewards Club program

Here's your guide to earning and maximising points in IHG Rewards Club, at hotels like InterContinental and Crowne Plaza.

By Brandon Loo, June 18 2020
Your guide to the IHG Rewards Club program

Whether you stay for a few nights or spend the better part of a year at hotels like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza or even Holiday Inn, it pays to know the ins and outs of IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels Group.

Across the globe, 5,600 hotels in nearly 100 countries are part of IHG, which makes it easy to earn and redeem points whether travelling for business or leisure. Want to learn more? Here's everything you need to know about the IHG Rewards Club program.

What is IHG Rewards Club?

Previously known as Priority Club Rewards, IHG Rewards Club allows members to earn points on eligible stays at its participating hotels, and then redeem those points for free nights or other rewards.

Membership is complimentary, and those who stay at IHG properties have the opportunity to climb through the program's elite tiers, unlocking extra benefits such as complimentary room upgrades.

Which hotels are linked with IHG Rewards Club?

Most hotel brands under the IHG umbrella recognise IHG Rewards Club membership.

You can earn and redeem IHG rewards points on stays at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Regent, Hotel Indigo, Hualuxe, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Holiday Inn Express, Voco, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Avid and Even Hotels.

Pictured: The ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort and Spa, Japan.
Pictured: The ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort and Spa, Japan.

Many of these are region-specific chains only found within the USA or China. The most common hotel brands within Australia are InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.

IHG Rewards Club membership tiers

The IHG Rewards Club program has four standard membership tiers.

  • Club membership is the free entry-level tier, with member discounted rates and complimentary Internet as base benefits.
  • Gold Elite membership is earned after 10 Qualifying Nights or 10,000 Qualifying Points, giving priority check-in, extended check-out, a welcome amenity and 10% bonus points earnings.
  • Platinum Elite membership is earned after 40 Qualifying Nights or 40,000 Qualifying Points, adding complimentary room upgrades and 50% bonus earnings to the mix.
  • Spire Elite membership is earned after 75 Qualifying Nights or 75,000 Qualifying Points. Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status is offered for free, plus early check-in, 100% bonus points earnings and numerous other small perks and amenities.

The requirements to reach each status normally apply per calendar year. However, during 2020 only, the number of Qualifying Nights or Qualifying Points is reduced by around 25-30% for all tiers, down from the figures above.

For example, in 2020 only, Gold Elite membership can be reached after just 7 Qualifying Nights or 7,000 Qualifying Points.

A separate paid membership called InterContinental Ambassador allows more specific benefits when staying at InterContinental hotels, as not all IHG Rewards Club perks are recognised at InterContinental properties.

What is IHG InterContinental Ambassador membership?

InterContinental Ambassador membership comes at a cost of US$200 (A$291) and is designed for travellers who frequently visit the InterContinental brand of hotels.

The package includes a guaranteed one-category room upgrade, extended 4pm checkout, Platinum Elite status with IHG and enticingly, a complimentary weekend night stay certificate which must be used on the second night of a weekend stay. However, Club InterContinental access is not automatically included.

Ambassador membership doesn't guarantee entry into Club InterContinental, unfortunately.
Ambassador membership doesn't guarantee entry into Club InterContinental, unfortunately.

Its value really depends on how often you stay at InterContinental properties, compared to the other hotel brands within IHG. However, the complimentary Platinum Elite status that comes with Ambassador membership makes it worthwhile if you want to pick up mid-tier IHG Rewards Club perks instantly and use them across the whole network.

Learn more: Is InterContinental Ambassador membership worth it?

How do I earn IHG Rewards points?

Earning IHG Rewards points at hotels is fairly straightforward. You will earn a certain number of IHG Rewards points per US$1 or equivalent local currency spent on eligible room rates and charges on your hotel bill.

Hotel Brand IHG Points/Miles earned
Most IHG properties except those below 10 points per US$1 or equivalent
Staybridge Suites
Candlewood Suites
5 points per US$1 or equivalent
InterContinental Alliance Resorts  2,000 points per stay (The Venetian Resort Las Vegas)
10 points per US$1 or equivalent (The Venetian Macao and The Parisian Macao)
IHG Residence properties 2.5 points per US$1 or equivalent
IHG Army Hotels 3 points per US$1, regardless of earning preference

For example, this A$471 stay at the InterContinental Sydney is worth approximately US$313.9 at the time of writing, so around 3,139 base IHG points would be awarded.

It's also possible to buy IHG points, at a 'sliding scale' rate where the cost per point gets cheaper as you buy more. Currently, the annual limit on purchasing points is 250,000 points per account, but there may be promotions that double what you can buy as well.

At the time of writing, you could secure 500,000 IHG Rewards points for US$2,500...
At the time of writing, you could secure 500,000 IHG Rewards points for US$2,500...

However, the strategy of buying points to use towards future hotel stays is normally one for more advanced travellers, and usually only makes sense when you have a specific stay in mind, and the cost of buying points is lower than the paid room rate for the same stay.

Read: Here's why you shouldn't buy hotel loyalty points right now

How do I use IHG Rewards points?

IHG Rewards points can be used in a variety of ways, all of which you can check out here.

That said, the most popular options are Reward Nights (free hotel stays) and Points to Miles, where your IHG Points can be converted into points or miles in many frequent flyer programs.

IHG Reward Nights

As of June 2020, IHG has introduced dynamic pricing for reward nights. This means it will be harder to predict how many points you will need for a stay.

IHG promises that rates for stays up to June 2021 will either be the same or lower compared to 'pre-dynamic' days, but stays after that time may go up or down, depending on demand.

The InterContinental Perth is going for an attractive rate using points compared to the Holiday Inn.
The InterContinental Perth is going for an attractive rate using points compared to the Holiday Inn.

Don't have enough points? There are also Points + Pay options available when you select the points rate.

In general, you will need to pay around US$50 (A$72) for every 5,000 points taken off the room rate. For example, the Holiday Inn example above would require 7,500 IHG points + US$50 to book the room using a mix of points and cash.

IHG PointsBreak

Although not currently available, IHG Rewards historically offered up a number of deeply-discounted stays under the recurring PointsBreak promotion.

This popular offer makes rooms available for as little 5,000 IHG Rewards points per night. Check the IHG Rewards Offers page periodically to see if the offer returns.

IHG Points to Miles

Want to convert your IHG Rewards points into airline miles, or to simply earn airline miles direct from stays rather than IHG points? You can choose which works best for you.

There are 46 airline partners which you can earn miles with at IHG hotels – see the full list here. Most popular frequent flyer programs are included, such as Qantas, Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and more.

There are different earning and conversion rates, depending on what you want to do. Click on your desired airline partner to learn more.

The first section shows how many airline points/miles you can earn with an eligible hotel stay, in lieu of IHG Rewards points. If you already have a stash of IHG Rewards points, then the bottom paragraph explains how you can convert them to airline miles at request.

It's usually better value to earn airline frequent flyer points directly through hotel stays, rather than converting them from IHG Rewards points afterwards.

Take the A$471 InterContinental Sydney example from earlier above: that rate would earn 3,139 IHG Points (not even close to the 10,000 IHG Points needed to convert to 2,000 Qantas Points), or you could earn 2,355 Qantas Points directly, being 5 Qantas Points per A$1 spent on IHG hotels in Australia.

How is COVID-19 affecting IHG Rewards Club?

The lack of travel in 2020 means many members of IHG Rewards Club will have difficulty earning points and keeping their membership tier.

Luckily, IHG is extending all elite membership earned in 2019 through to January 2022. It's also 25-30% easier to attain a new membership tier if you are still travelling.

While points never expire for Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite members – a key published benefit of the program – base-level Club members will have points expiry delayed until 31 December 2020 at the earliest.

Read more: IHG Rewards Club extends elite status to 2022

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

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