IHG Reduces Status Requirements By 25%-30%, Extends Anniversary Night Certificates

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IHG has finally announced some changes as to how they’ll be handling elite status requirements and anniversary night certificates. This update is definitely welcome, but there’s a good chance they’ll have to revisit this in the coming months.

IHG Status

You can find the latest updates here. Here’s a quick summary of what’s changing.

Elite Status

They’re reducing the status earning requirements by 25%-30% depending on the status level. Here are both the old and new requirements:

  • Gold – Old criteria required 10,000 qualifying points or 10 qualifying nights, now requires 7,000 qualifying points or 7 qualifying nights – a 30% decrease.
  • Platinum – Old criteria required 40,000 qualifying points or 40 qualifying nights, now requires 30,000 qualifying points or 30 qualifying nights – a 25% decrease.
  • Spire – Old criteria required 75,000 qualifying points or 75 qualifying nights, now requires 55,000 qualifying points or 55 qualifying nights – a 26.67% decrease.

Anniversary Night Certificates

If you had any anniversary night certificates expiring (earned through your credit card(s)), those will be extended. Any certificates expiring from March 1, 2020 will now be valid until December 31, 2020. All certificates that are issued in 2020 will have an expiry date of 18 months.

Cancellation & Change Policy

All bookings made by April 6, 2020 can be changed or cancelled for stays up to June 30, 2020. If you cancel, refunds might take 90 days to be processed. If you change the reservation, a higher rate might apply.

IHG is removing non-refundable rates for new bookings until later in 2020, so all rates will now have greater flexibility. It’s not clear if prices will be higher as a result of this increased flexibility.

Points Expiration

IHG Rewards Club points usually expire after 12 months of inactivity for members without status (it never expires for Gold, Platinum and Spire members which is a great program feature). If you’re an IHG Rewards Club member without any status and your points were due to expire between April 1 and June 30, 2020, your points now won’t expire until December 31, 2020 which gives you more time to ensure there’s some kind of activity on your account.

Quick Thoughts

It’s good to see IHG finally making some kind of announcement about status, anniversary night certificates, etc., but some of these changes result in more questions rather than answers.

For example, they’ve reduced status earning requirements by 25%-30%, but that supposes that travel will be back to normal within 3-4 months. The way things are going, I can’t imagine that’s the case, so they’ll likely have to revisit and revise these earning thresholds again in a few months time.

As for the anniversary night certificates, it’s good that they’re extending these, but they haven’t advised when that’ll be done. My wife had a certificate which expired in mid-March but that’s completely disappeared. I tried contacting IHG through their online chat feature several times this past week, but each time they hung up on me (or whatever the virtual version of hanging up is) after waiting in line for a while. This new policy suggests that expired certificate will be extended to December 31, 2020, but for now it’s gone into the ether.

They’ve also advised that certificates issued in 2020 will have an expiry date 18 months in the future. My wife’s new certificate was issued in the last week or so and shows an expiry date of March 24, 2021, so has a 12 month expiry date rather than 18 month. The update on their website says that they’ll be reaching out to cardmembers directly about this, so hopefully that’ll give more indication as to what’s happening and when their system will be updated to reflect the correct expiration dates. (Update: Following Steve’s comment below, we just used the Chat feature on their website again and this time spoke to an agent immediately with no wait. She added a free night certificate to my wife’s account with an expiry date of December 31, 2020, so this time it was quick and easy to sort out. Here’s how to chat to an IHG agent online.)

Something that’ll be concerning for some people is that IHG is advising refunds for prepaid rates could take up to 90 days to process. I’m assuming that’s due to most IHG properties being franchised and they’re facing a cash crunch, but waiting up to three months to be refunded for an expensive hotel reservation that the hotel themselves might have cancelled is far too long in my opinion.

We’re now waiting on Marriott to let us know how they’ll be changing their elite status requirements.

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