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Whether you stay only a few nights or much of the year at hotels, it pays to know the ins and outs of the IHG One Rewards loyalty program.
After all, there are more than 6,000 hotels within its regularly-expanding stable, meaning there’s a property just about anywhere you’re travelling. And if not, one will probably be sprouting in the near future.
Globally, IHG Hotels and Resorts encompasses 18 brands including InterContinental, Six Senses and Kimpton Hotels, together with Crowne Plaza, Voco, Hotel Indigo and more.
On the table for IHG One members is an increasing array of benefits and status as your nights tally grows, not to mention access to discount reward nights, upgrades and some other rather-tasty perks. There are new additions too, which we’ll touch on later.
- What is IHG One Rewards?
- Which hotels are part of IHG One Rewards?
- What are the IHG One Rewards membership tiers?
- What are Milestone Rewards in the IHG One Rewards program?
- What are Non-Elite Qualifying Points in IHG One Rewards?
- How do I earn IHG One Rewards points?
- Can I buy IHG One Rewards points in bulk?
- How do I use IHG One Rewards points?
- How do IHG InterContinental Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle fit into IHG One Rewards?
What is IHG One Rewards?
The IHG One Rewards loyalty program is an evolution of the former IHG Rewards but at its core, it remains largely the same. Members earn qualifying nights and points on eligible stays and in-house purchases at participating hotels, and then redeem those points for free nights or other rewards.
Those qualifying nights help you climb through the program’s elite tiers, unlocking a suite of benefits to make future stays more comfortable, such as room upgrades or lounge membership.
It’s free to join IHG One Rewards and membership is based on the calendar year, not the point at which you signed up.
Which hotels are part of IHG One Rewards?
Most hotel brands under the IHG umbrella recognise IHG One Rewards membership.
Rewards members can earn and redeem points on stays at IHG hotel brands including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Voco, Regent, Hotel Indigo, Hualuxe, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Six Senses, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan, Avid Hotels and Even Hotels.
Some of these are region-specific chains only found in the United States or China. The most common IHG brands found within Australia are InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, while Voco, Hotel Indigo and Kimpton will expand their local networks in coming years.
What are the IHG One Rewards membership tiers?
The IHG One Rewards program has a dual ladder structure, depending on whether you stay overnight or earn your points by spending on hotel restaurants and other services.
In-house guests climb both ladders simultaneously and will do so much faster than a regular restaurant patron or meeting planner – with many of the benefits available only usable during an overnight stay.
Overall, there are five membership tiers, of which Silver is the latest addition. These tiers are coupled with a ‘Milestone Rewards’ ladder, which provides a reward for every 10 nights stayed, starting at 20 and closing at 100. More on that below.
Club membership: This is the entry-level tier awarded to each new member, with discounted rates, complimentary internet and free 2pm late check-out instantly available as base benefits.
Silver Elite: Silver Elite can only be achieved after staying 10 nights – spending alone won’t help. Silver Elite members receive perks such as no expiry on points earned. But apart from that, benefits are the same as Club level.
However, there’s a twist. If dining is your preferred method of earning points, keep it up. Because once you reach 40,000 points, you’ll skip Silver entirely and land straight at Gold.
Gold Elite: Attainable after 20 nights, for those choosing to progress through stays and not just dining. This is where the secondary Milestone Rewards system kicks in.
Unfortunately, the perks of Gold Elite status really aren’t any more exciting than Silver or Club. You’ll earn a 40% bonus on top of base points through spending and extra nights will roll over to help you maintain Gold for the next year, but that’s about it.
Platinum Elite: The lofty heights of Platinum Elite are achieved once your stay tally hits 40 nights. At this level, perks include guaranteed room availability, early check-in and complimentary room upgrades (subject to availability), along with exclusive access to book your reward nights at discounted rates.
Diamond Elite: Once you clear 70 qualifying nights, all the perks of the lower tiers are joined by the option to add free breakfast for the duration of your stay.
Upgrades are usually to the next best available room or suite. However, it's worth noting upgrades to Club Level rooms sadly do not entitle you to any of the Club Level benefits, such as lounge access or free pressing.
What are Milestone Rewards in the IHG One Rewards program?
Operating in tandem with the main status tiers, IHG’s Milestone Rewards ladder is another collection of benefits enjoyed as you progress up the Elite status ladder in ten-night increments.
20 nights: At the turn of your status to Gold Elite, the rewards begin with a choice of 5,000 bonus non-elite qualifying points, two Food & Beverage Reward vouchers (worth US$20 a piece) or a confirmed upgrade to an entry-level suite for a stay of up to five nights.
40 nights: At the mark of Platinum Elite, choices grow to 10,000 non-elite qualifying points, a US$100 F&B credit, a second confirmed free suite upgrade or an annual lounge membership, handy if you’re a frequent guest of a hotel with such a facility.
70 nights: When your status firms to Diamond Elite, a third confirmed suite upgrade will be among the rewards at your disposal.
Confusingly though, at these specific 40 and 70-night milestones, you can select two of the rewards on offer. Opt to double your bonus points or dining credits or mix these with a suite upgrade, but unfortunately, you cannot choose two suite upgrades or two lounge memberships.
Guests can select their reward of choice through their online IHG One Rewards account or via the IHG One Rewards app.
Members who select Food & Beverage Rewards vouchers will see the credits appear in a digital wallet in the app. Simply charge dining to your room and these credits are applied to your guest folio prior to check-out. There is no limit on how many F&B Rewards can be used.
For the ultra-loyal and frequent IHG guest who might spend more than 100 nights in a year, unfortunately IHG has confirmed that Milestone Rewards cease once you pass this mark. By this point though, you will have comfortably cleared Diamond Elite status, which in itself carries plenty of perks including free breakfast.
What are Non-Elite Qualifying Points in IHG One Rewards?
It seems easy to simply buy your way to an Elite status, but IHG One Rewards has closed these loopholes by classifying certain accrual methods as ‘Non-Elite Qualifying Points’.
These include the bonus points gifted on top of regular earn rates in line with your position on the status ladder. So, while these extra points can be used for redeeming rewards, they don’t count towards elevating your status.
Purchases with IHG partners, unless specified otherwise, will also not accrue points to contribute towards a higher Elite status. The same applies to points transferred from other loyalty programs or outright points purchases.
How do I earn IHG One Rewards points?
Earning IHG One Rewards points is straightforward. You will earn a certain number of IHG One Rewards points per US$1 or equivalent local currency spent on eligible room rates and charges on your hotel bill.
IHG properties (excluding Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites): 10 points per US$1 or equivalent.
Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites: 5 points per US$1 or equivalent.
InterContinental Alliance Resorts: 2,000 points per qualifying stay (The Venetian Resort and Palazzo Las Vegas) and 10 points per US$1 or equivalent (The Venetian Macao, the Londoner Macao and The Parisian Macao).
IHG Residence properties (excluding Voco): 2.5 points per US$1 or equivalent.
IHG Army Hotels: 3 points per US$1, regardless of earning preference.
Purchases of IHG One Rewards points can be made in two price brackets. Smaller purchases see points priced at $0.0115 per point up to 25,000 points before the rate levels out at the much more even $0.01 for purchases of 26,000 points or higher.
Can I buy IHG One Rewards points in bulk?
This means it’s actually cheaper to buy 26,000 points for $260 than buying 25,000 points for $287.50. Currently, you can buy up to 250,000 points per calendar year and receive up to another 150,000 as a gift in that same year, but there’s no limit to the number of transactions that can be made to reach that limit.
IHG One Rewards assesses a member’s performance at the end of the calendar year but each new tier reached will see you stay there until the end of the following year. So if you hit Platinum Elite in 2023, you’re not going to be demoted until at least 2025.
How do I use IHG One Rewards points?
IHG One Rewards points can be used in a variety of ways.
The most popular options are Reward Nights (free hotel stays) and Points to Miles, where your IHG One Points can be converted into points or miles across many frequent flyer programs.
IHG One Reward Nights: IHG operates a dynamic pricing structure for reward nights, meaning it’s difficult to predict how many points you will need for a stay as levels can go up or down depending on demand and availability at any given hotel.
Don't have enough points? There are also Points + Pay options available when you select how many points you’d like to use and top up the rest of the room rate with cash.
Points & Cash: IHG will, from time to time, offer a limited number of deeply-discounted stays for as little as 5,000 points per night.
If you have a minimum of 5,000 points available, you can redeem free nights faster by paying the remainder of the room rate in cash. Rates and reward night availability depend on demand of course.
IHG Points to Miles: Want to convert your IHG One Rewards points into airline miles, or to simply earn airline miles directly from stays? You can choose which works best for you.
There are 43 airline partners with which you can earn miles through IHG One Rewards. See the full list here.
Many popular frequent flyer programs are included, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia’s Velocity, Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer, Emirates’ Skywards, British Airways’ Executive Club 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 One Rewards points. If you already have a stash of points, then the bottom paragraph explains how you can convert them to airline miles on request.
It's usually better value to earn airline frequent flyer points directly through hotel stays, rather than converting them from IHG One Rewards points afterwards.
InterContinental Ambassador membership: As stated earlier, another way to spend your points (especially if you are a regular at InterContinental branded hotels) is to buy Ambassador membership. This will cost US$200 or 40,000 IHG One Rewards points, which based on the earlier points value calculations is almost double the price. To buy 40,000 points would cost you US$400.
IHG’s Digital Store: It's no Amazon, but IHG offers a reasonable digital store where you can spend your points on electronics and homewares, sports gear or even entertainment. If you’re feeling philanthropic, you can also donate points in three quantities (2,500, 5,000 or 10,000) to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
How do IHG InterContinental Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle fit into IHG One Rewards?
InterContinental Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle are separate loyalty programs running parallel to IHG One Rewards. The perks of these programs are only valid at InterContinental and Kimpton hotels respectively, as not all benefits in the wider IHG One program are recognised at these properties.
InterContinental Ambassador: Membership to InterContinental Ambassador can be purchased for US$200 (A$272) 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 One Rewards and enticingly, a complimentary certificate for a weekend overnight stay which can only be used on the second night.
However, Club InterContinental access is not automatically included and is only extended to Royal Ambassador members – an invitation-only tier for members who stay frequently at InterContinental properties.
The value of InterContinental Ambassador depends on how often you stay at these hotels, compared to other brands within IHG.
However, the complimentary Platinum Elite status that comes with Ambassador membership makes it worthwhile if you want to instantly secure upper-tier IHG One Rewards perks instantly and use them across the whole network.
Ambassador membership can also be purchased outright using 40,000 IHG One Rewards points.
Kimpton Inner Circle: If you’re a frequent guest at Kimpton hotels, chances are you may be invited into this brand-exclusive wing.
The highly social boutique brand (with Australia’s first Kimpton now open in Sydney), treats its Inner Circle rewards members by ensuring your favourite drinks are in stock and special treats from the chef when dining.
Members also receive a guaranteed room upgrade, 10am check-in and 4pm check-out, invitations to exclusive events, a free night in each newly-opened Kimpton hotel and automatic Diamond Elite membership of IHG One Rewards.