I didn’t think I’d ever see IHG Rewards Club points expire, or new elite benefits get introduced, but it looks like both will be happening soon.
IHG Rewards Club, which used to be known as Priority Club, is a huge program covering Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and related brands.
It’s historically been a strong earning program, with little in the way of elite benefits. Recently they’ve gotten tougher on the earning side, making it much harder to earn points from a variety of promotions at once.
Nonetheless, they’ve had interesting – and fun – promotions. It’s a program for the points-obsessed, but not the status-obsessed.
Interestingly, they have a separate elite program for Intercontinental properties – Ambassador – while using the basic program for points-earning and redemption. Things get confusing.
Where the Program Needs Work Now
The big gaping holes in the IHG Rewards Club program, in my view, are:
- Most elite benefits aren’t promised on award stays
- Very few real elite benefits — some hotels are generous on their own, but there’s no club lounge promise, no suite upgrade promise, no guaranteed late check-out even.
- No awards for premium rooms — you can use your points for a basic room only, which is doubly-bad when elite upgrades (such as they are) aren’t promised when using points.
They’re making some big changes to the program, and so far we only know a few of them.
Points Will Expire
IHG Rewards Club points don’t expire. But they soon will.
Starting in May 2016, accounts without earning or redemption activity in the previous 12 months will have all of their points expire.
Points do not expire for elite members, so an elite who goes inactive has a longer time to expiration — they must first lose their status, and then the 12 month clock begins.
It’s sad to see IHG Rewards Club points expire.
Elite Status Restructuring
In July they’re introducing a new top tier elite level requiring 75 nights or 75,000 points earned during the year. They haven’t released most of the benefits of this top level yet. We do know that they will include:
- 100% points bonus on paid stays
- 25,000 bonus points for qualifying, or gifting Platinum status to another member
Existing elite tiers will require fewer stays or points — Gold at 10,000 points or 10 nights, Platinum at 40,000 points or 40 nights.
The real question — to be determined — is what the new top tier offering will include. If it’s meaningful upgrades, lounge or breakfast, guaranteed late check-out then it will be a passable competitive level. I’m hopeful they do something interesting, novel, and rich here but that remains to be seen. No matter what they do, the bulk of benefits need to apply just as well on award nights as on paid nights.