Will IHG Finally Introduce Worthwhile Status Benefits? Here’s What Might Be Offered.

Unlike many in the points and miles world, I actually have a soft spot for IHG Rewards Club.

OK, so they nixed my plan to pretty much live in 5,000 point per night PointBreaks hotels on our road trip. However, thanks to having both the old and new IHG credit cards, I get the 4th night free and 10% of my points rebated on our award stays. That means a 4 night stay at a 10,000 point property only costs a net 27,000 points. They also sometimes offer decent targeted Accelerate promotions that can earn you a ton of bonus points when only staying a couple of nights.

The biggest drawback with IHG Rewards Club is elite status. To be honest, that should be written as “elite status” as there’s very little elite or status-like about how IHG rewards their loyal members. If you want free breakfast, IHG responds the same way a Michelin starred chef would if you asked for ketchup on your steak – you might want it, but you’re not gonna get it.

Even if you earn Spire Elite status by staying at IHG properties 75+ nights a year, you won’t get free breakfast unless you happen to stay at one of their brands that includes free breakfast for all guests (e.g. Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites). Hilton Gold and Marriott Platinum members get free breakfast and those aren’t even top tier status levels in those programs.

Lounge access? Nope. Room upgrades? Subject to availability, so no guarantees and nothing in the terms stating that you’re entitled to a suite. Status partnerships with airlines like Hyatt and Marriott offer? Sadly not.

That could all be changing though.

IHG Elite Status

Will IHG finally treat me like a king with my Spire Elite status. That remains to be seen.

The Frequent Miler team has gotten its hands on screenshots of surveys IHG sent to some members that asks how they could be better rewarded. If some of these changes went ahead, it would be a huge plus in the IHG column.

First off, I should point out that these are just surveys, so there’s no guarantee that any of these mooted enhancements (in the real sense of the word) will be introduced. The fact that they’re surveying members though suggests that it’s certainly something they’re considering and hopefully means that changes are afoot.

What status benefits are they considering? IHG asked the person that provided these screenshots to rank their top 5 benefits from the following list:

IHG Survey - new benefits 1

IHG Survey - new benefits 2

Some of those benefits aren’t overly exciting (to me), such as premium internet, upgraded toiletries and a concierge help desk line. A few of them are far more interesting though and in some cases would have IHG showing some initiative and offering something that none of the other major hotel chains give to their elite members.

Here are some of the benefits that stood out to me:

  • Free breakfast – This is something that IHG needs to offer if they’re going to entice more people to come over from Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that they don’t offer it at the moment.
  • No cancellation fee EVER – including non-refundable rates – This would be huge for me personally and I’m sure would be a welcome enhancement for most other members. Non-refundable rates tend to be the cheapest, so being able to book the cheapest rates safe in the knowledge that you could cancel and get a full refund would be awesome.
  • 24 hour stay (check out 24 hours after arrival) – Perfect for those times when you arrive at a hotel late at night, especially if you’re there during a stopover.
  • 5 extra points on Chase Credit Card for Holiday Inn stays – I’m assuming this was worded poorly by the survey company and that they meant to say IHG stays rather than just the specific Holiday Inn brand. The IHG Premier credit card currently offers 10x on IHG stays; making it 15x would make it the most rewarding hotel credit card when used for paid stays based on how I value each chain’s points. It would mean Spire Elite members paying with that card would earn 35x on paid stays (10x base, 10x bonus for Spire Elite and 15x from the card), even before taking into account whatever promotion IHG was running at the time. (n.b. it’d be 25x for Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites as they’d earn 5x / 5x / 15x respectively).
  • 1/2 off room service – I’m cheap and so I never order room service. Effectively getting a Buy One Get One Free meal deal for me and my wife would be tempting though on nights when I can’t be bothered to make dinner for us in our hotel room.

A few of the other benefits have the potential to be rewarding, but the vagueness of their descriptions makes it hard to assess:

  • Reward night best night – I have no clue whatsoever what this might be referring to. It’s therefore doubtful it’ll ever see the light of day as I can’t imagine any survey respondents picked it seeing as they provided no explanation as to what the benefit would entail.
  • Amazon gift card – Choice Hotels offers this as one of the optional ‘Your Extras’ for Platinum members when staying midweek. They only offer a $2.50 Amazon gift card though, so if IHG followed suit then it would be boring. Something like a $20 gift card would make it worth considering, although only on one night stays. That’s unless it was offered for every night of the stay which would make it far more exciting, although it’s highly doubtful they’d go that route.
  • Uber/Lyft credit – Similarly, Choice Hotels offers Platinum members a $2.50 Uber credit for midweek stays. IHG would need to offer a much larger credit to tempt me into booking with them if I had somewhere else in mind.
  • Bonus points – It’s a little strange that this was included as an option in the survey as IHG already offers bonus points as a welcome amenity. To clarify that – I’ve received 250-500 bonus points as a welcome amenity for every stay over the past 18 months. Having said that, it’s not officially listed as an elite benefit, so they might just be looking to codify that.

Once survey respondents had picked their top 5 benefits, they were apparently then asked to compare some of those choices to another hotel’s loyalty program. It seems like the competing program was one they already had status with and those questions were to ascertain which of the benefits would encourage them to move nights from the other hotel chain to IHG.

IHG Survey - free breakfast question 1

IHG Survey - free breakfast question 2

It’s interesting how the survey tries to present Spire Elite as a far better status than Marriott Platinum or Titanium, despite the fact that Marriott already offers free breakfast, lounge access and premium internet to those members. As Greg noticed, they’ve also stated that Marriott award nights don’t count towards status even though they do.

Conclusion

Don’t be getting your hopes up yet as there’s no guarantee that IHG will add any of these elite benefits. Even if they do, it could well be the less valuable benefits like a free drink and a Kindle book.

However, if they add free breakfast and/or other benefits like a 24 hour stay and no cancellation fees ever, that would definitely encourage me to book more stays with them and I’m sure would make many people reconsider IHG Rewards Club as a viable option for their loyalty.

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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Christine K
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Christine K

The lack of complimentary breakfast is the single most important reason I do not stay more at IHG properties.

​​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points!
Guest
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Agreed!

DaninMCI
Guest
DaninMCI

“Premium Internet”? To me is an insult at any property. It would be like telling you they are giving you HBO because you’re elite. What’s next free fax (up to 1 page) and “premium air conditioning “ ?
Breakfast can be a big benefit but like late checkout it isn’t something that every guest cares all that much about. Sure it’s nice when I have time but much of the hotel visits I have end up with early morning flights or meetings. It’s more of a leasure concern while on vacation I think. As a Spire Ambassador IHG member and also Marriott Platinum what I find the most value in is lounge access and ability to check in early. Everyone is different however.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

I don’t understand why no cancellation fee means non-refundable rate becomes fully refundable.

Jay
Guest
Jay

IHG first needs to consolidate the different elite level programs into one.
Having Spire/Plat/Gold level and Ambassador/Royal Ambassador level separately is just dumb.
Once they merge the different elite programs into one, they need to provide lounge access to the top tier level and free breakfast starting from mid-tier level.
Problem solved.

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Guest
​​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points!

don’t forget Inner Circle!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Lol true, I forgot about that one.
It’s kind of crazy there are 3 separate elite membership programs at IHG.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

Would this only be for Spire Elite, or also Regular Platinum Elite benefits? Free breakfast, etc.

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

IF they make any changes, It would only be for Spire. Just can’t see them including Platinum!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

A few of the “perks” they list like Kindle book, free internet and bonus points are already part of their program – if you have the app, you get a couple of Kindle books every so often, Welcome bonus points already post to my account at checkin and I haven’t been to an IHG hotel in the last few years that doesn’t offer free internet.

I would guess they are trying these surveys and hoping for a bunch of answers for the shit that already exists, but that no one knows are cares about. Then they announce great new features like Free Internet, Kindle book a month and Bonus points! Awesome! Yes! IHG IHG IHG…

Anastasia
Guest
Anastasia

I got the survey too, though I think my list of potential perks might have been slightly different. I too thought the survey meant they’re considering making some changes. I informed them in the ‘additional comments’ that the best perk they could add is getting rid of the damn ‘urban destination fees’ at Kimpton hotels (which are now at practically every Kimpton hotel and pretty much cancel out any reason I’d stay there, including the Amex offers they keep putting out).

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[…] top tier elite status in the game, so it’s good to see IHG wanting to improve benefits. Frequent Miler received a survey asking people to rate the top 5 benefits, this included things such as free […]

aubergine
Guest
aubergine

Getting rid of destination fees where they have them for elites would be a real plus.

However the breakfast issue is something that I think they will have a problem with their franchisees.

Many of their property owners chose an IHG flag because they didn’t want to wear that burden.

Personally I think their brands have gotten to be too many, and incoherent.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I got the survey and I believe the survey company made the amateur mistake of conflating HI/HIX. At first I thought HIX was intentionally omitted from the list of brands/# of nights I had stayed in the last 12 months for some specific research purpose. I used my stay history from the App to fill out that question. But towards the end when the questions mentioned my total # of IHG nights in the last year and it was a sum of the category numbers I had indicated, I realized that my survey might not be weighted appropriately since it appears that I have a lot fewer nights than I did.

Gary
Guest
Gary

I an a IHG elite member. If there is a Hyatt property I always pick that one over any IHG property. I am top status with Hyatt and get great perks to go with most stays. I sometimes stay at a IHG property if there is no Hyatt or Marriott property available. I travel at least 100 days a year and IHG has lost tens of thousands of dollars of my business because of their poor rewards program. Good thing there are so many other brands I can pick from.

huey judy
Guest
huey judy

I’m top status with both IHG and HHonors plus hold affinity credit cards for both … I have to work hard to book IHG properties because the perks at Hilton are sooooo nice. Breakfast buffets at international Hiltons are to die for; I usually don’t do breakfast, but always at a Hilton. IHG offered points and cash far earlier than HH, but HH stepped up a few years ago. I have never understood why IHG is so miserly with their loyal guests. It just makes no sense. I might as well stay at a Best Western. All IHG would need to get at least half my business would be to add ExecLounge access and suite upgrades. I have a couple of favorite IHG hotels, but generally find myself at a Hilton property if not travelling to those particular cities.