In a move that surprises nobody at all, IHG has extended elite status until January 2022 and is extending free night certificates and other program benefits. This was to be expected. While it took longer for IHG to announce the elite status extension than their competitors, the end result is positive for loyalty program aficionados.
Elite status extended
If you hold any elite status with IHG that was scheduled to expire in January 2021, it will now be extended to January 2022.
Many readers likely have an IHG credit card that offers Platinum status, whether the old IHG Rewards Club Select card (no longer available) or the newer IHG Rewards Club Premier card. If you were planning to keep the card, this extension won’t mean much to you. On the other hand, if you were looking to cancel or downgrade to the IHG Rewards Club Traveler card (which ordinarily comes with Gold status), you now have freedom to do so and keep your Platinum status for a while.
Of course, IHG elite status doesn’t mean a lot unless you have a lot of paid IHG stays. If you do, they are ideally paid for by your employer as I wouldn’t generally recommend investing too highly in IHG given the fact that the program offers very little in terms of on-property elite benefits (nobody is guaranteed free breakfast / club lounge access and room upgrades are usually scant if available at all). The main benefit of IHG elite status is earning more points on paid stays.
That said, with a huge footprint, IHG can certainly be convenient. If it works for you and you have status, you’re keeping it for a while.
IHG previously announced reduced qualification requirements this year, so if you do not yet have status or are looking to earn your way to a higher tier this year, you’ll need fewer nights to do so. See this post for more.
Free night certificates extended
IHG had previously announced that free night certificates would be extended. Those certificates expiring in 2020 from March 1st onward will now expire December 31, 2020. New certificates issued during 2020 will be valid for 18 months. That’s not new news, but it’s worth a reminder.
International Ambassador certificates are being extended by three months (to March 15, 2020) and points expiration has been paused until December 31st, 2020 (meaning that if you have points set to expire soon you’ll have a few more months to use them).
It’s not surprising to see IHG make this move. Truth be told, I was surprised when they announced reduced qualification requirements for 2020 without any mention of elite status extension. This is an example of why I think it would have made more sense for programs to wait on making announcements rather than releasing changes piece by piece and/or having to change/update as time went on. IHG really had no choice but to extend given that all of their competitors have done so, but I guess it’s good to finally have that confirmation for folks who were curious where they’d stand.