There used to be a loophole for earning IHG status whereby one could transfer points from a bank to Virgin Atlantic miles and then transfer 1:1 from Virgin Atlantic to IHG and the points would count as “qualifying points” for the purposes of earning elite status. That stopped working last year. However, No Mas Coach reports that transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards post as qualifying points. While that’s only really exciting if you’re somewhere close to elite status already (and still only marginally exciting), it’s a great find for those who could use a shortcut to status.
- Points transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG Rewards are posting as “qualifying points” for the purposes of earning IHG Elite Status
- Points transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG at a rate of 1:1
- Transfers are instant
- Note that this probably isn’t supposed to happen this way, so keep in mind that it could change
IHG elite status is….underwhelming. It gets you some extra points and maybe a warm hello. Top-tier Spire Elite members earn a larger bonus in terms of points earned on paid stays (a 100% bonus on base points vs 50% bonus for Platinum status). You also get a Choice Benefit of either 25K points for you or gifted Platinum status to a friend if you achieve Spire Elite status.
Earning IHG Spire Elite status ordinarily requires 75 paid nights or 75,000 base points (earned from spend at IHG hotels). Platinum Elite status requires 40 nights or 40,000 points.
Keep in mind that nobody gets guaranteed free breakfast at IHG hotels (except for everyone at places like Holiday Inn Express). There really aren’t many on-property benefits (and the few that do exist aren’t actually guaranteed on award stays even though they are often honored). InterContinental hotels have their own paid elite status (Greg recently wrote about it here: New InterContinental Ambassador: status you can buy as well as his experience using it My InterContinental Ambassador experience in Austin). I therefore wouldn’t be wildly excited about earning IHG status in the first place. I’d be even less enthusiastic if it required transferring a ton of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s because Ultimate Rewards points could be used to book travel through the Chase portal at a value of 1.25c per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or 1.5c per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. They could be even more valuable when transferred to airline partners or Hyatt. At a basement level, Chase points can be cashed out for a value of 1c each. Contrast that with the fact that we reported an opportunity earlier today to purchase IHG points for less than four tenths of one cent each.
That said, if you are close to Spire Elite status but not going to make it over the hump, transferring from Chase might make sense. For instance, if you just need 5,000 points to hit Spire, it’s probably worth a transfer from Chase since you’d also earn 25,000 IHG points as a Choice benefit. However, I definitely wouldn’t transfer 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for instant Spire Elite status unless perhaps your master plan was to match that status to something really valuable. Even then, I’d question the logic.
Of course, it’s worth noting that there are sometimes opportunities to get good value for IHG points. In my post about purchasing points earlier today, I noted that my wife is going on a trip with friends this weekend. The closest hotel to where they’re going that wasn’t a questionable motel was an IHG property and it yielded good value for the points.
Of course, I wouldn’t transfer Ultimate Rewards for that when I could have purchased the points necessary for $80 earlier today. However, if I were 20K away from earning Spire Elite status and I couldn’t find any of those cheap points & cash options anymore…I don’t know, maybe I’d consider transferring from Ultimate Rewards.
Overall, this is a niche play for sure, but it’s really interesting to see that it is possible. I suspect it has probably worked for quite a while but few people in the hobby would ever consider transferring from Chase to IHG and I suspect that those who do aren’t paying for many IHG stays and therefore may not have paid attention to the qualifying points meter. Truth be told, I have a few thousand qualifying points this year and I’m not really sure where they came from since I’ve never really paid attention to what qualified since the status didn’t interest me.
But if you often stay at IHG properties on the company dime and you’re close to Spire status, the additional bonus earnings on those stays paid for with someone else’s money might be worth a quick transfer from Ultimate Rewards. Keep in mind that these points surely aren’t meant to be qualifying points, so it’s anybody’s guess as to when this will go the way of Virgin transfers to IHG and stop counting as qualifying points.