IHG, the company behind Intercontinental Hotels and Holiday Inn, has announced that they’re adding a new top tier loyalty level that will be the next step above Platinum. Platinum has been fantastically easy to achieve because you can “earn” it just by holding the Chase IHG MasterCard, although you can also earn it the hard way, by staying 50 nights or earning 60,000 points via hotel stays. The IHG MasterCard has possibly the lowest annual fee of any status-earning credit card at only $49 per year. Paying the annual fee also entitles the card holder to a free night at any IHG hotel.
If you get Platinum status the hard way, the good news is that it’ll be easier to attain, requiring only 40 nights or 40,000 points through hotel stays. The new level requires 75 nights or 75,000 points earned at an IHG hotel. Platinum members get a 50% bonus on points for paid stays while the new level members will get a 100% bonus on points earned. They’ll also receive an annual 25,000 point bonus or they can choose to gift Platinum status to a friend or family member.
Another change is that points will now expire after 12 months of inactivity in your account. To get around that you can transfer in points from Ultimate Rewards. As a general rule I’d transfer as few UR points as allowed as URs are much more valuable than IHG points.
And on May 1st IHG will be reclassifying some 450 properties, though they claim that less than 300 will be increasing by 5000 – 10,000 points per night while 150 properties will decrease by 5000 points.
I typically don’t stay at IHG properties though in the last four months I have stayed at two different hotels. My Platinum status didn’t help at all at a Candlewood Suites but it got me an excellent free breakfast buffet at a Crowne Plaza.
The IHG website does state that all stays in 2015 will count towards the new level, so if you often stay at IHG properties, maybe this will be a benefit to you. As long as I still get breakfast and wifi I’ll hang on to the credit card just for the free night. Once any of those benefits goes away I’ll have to re-evaluate.
HT: Frequent Miler