IHG Rewards Club Points Will Expire, and They’re Promising a New Elite Program

I didn’t think I’d ever see IHG Rewards Club points expire, or new elite benefits get introduced, but it looks like both will be happening soon.

IHG Rewards Club, which used to be known as Priority Club, is a huge program covering Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and related brands.

It’s historically been a strong earning program, with little in the way of elite benefits. Recently they’ve gotten tougher on the earning side, making it much harder to earn points from a variety of promotions at once.

Nonetheless, they’ve had interesting – and fun – promotions. It’s a program for the points-obsessed, but not the status-obsessed.

Interestingly, they have a separate elite program for Intercontinental properties – Ambassador – while using the basic program for points-earning and redemption. Things get confusing.

Where the Program Needs Work Now

The big gaping holes in the IHG Rewards Club program, in my view, are:

  • Most elite benefits aren’t promised on award stays
  • Very few real elite benefits — some hotels are generous on their own, but there’s no club lounge promise, no suite upgrade promise, no guaranteed late check-out even.
  • No awards for premium rooms — you can use your points for a basic room only, which is doubly-bad when elite upgrades (such as they are) aren’t promised when using points.

They’re making some big changes to the program, and so far we only know a few of them.

Points Will Expire

IHG Rewards Club points don’t expire. But they soon will.

Starting in May 2016, accounts without earning or redemption activity in the previous 12 months will have all of their points expire.

Points do not expire for elite members, so an elite who goes inactive has a longer time to expiration — they must first lose their status, and then the 12 month clock begins.

It’s sad to see IHG Rewards Club points expire.

Elite Status Restructuring

In July they’re introducing a new top tier elite level requiring 75 nights or 75,000 points earned during the year. They haven’t released most of the benefits of this top level yet. We do know that they will include:

  • 100% points bonus on paid stays
  • 25,000 bonus points for qualifying, or gifting Platinum status to another member

Existing elite tiers will require fewer stays or points — Gold at 10,000 points or 10 nights, Platinum at 40,000 points or 40 nights.

The real question — to be determined — is what the new top tier offering will include. If it’s meaningful upgrades, lounge or breakfast, guaranteed late check-out then it will be a passable competitive level. I’m hopeful they do something interesting, novel, and rich here but that remains to be seen. No matter what they do, the bulk of benefits need to apply just as well on award nights as on paid nights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I think you’re right on – these changes aren’t bad but it remains to be seen what the new top level will ACTUALLY provide, since as you mention, the current elite benefits aren’t all that great…

  2. How about IHG Points go back to the name Priority Club, the hotels revert back to their old logos, and the people in charge who made the changes from before are all fired.

    Expiration on points for the Holiday Inn? Great! I’m going to Sheraton — been longing to get Platinum there, so that the HI Express can keep their cinnamon rolls.

    More ObamaNomics and his communist regime’s War on Whites; I meant, War on Hotel Hoppers.

  3. The points expiring is really disappointing. Perhaps “any activity” will keep them from expiring so redemptions could keep the account alive.

  4. Their FAQ says: “Are the point requirements for Reward Nights changing?
    Our point requirements are changing slightly for 2015, effective 1 May 2015. We’ll be raising less than 300 hotels by 5,000 or 10,000 points and we’re lowering about 150 hotels by 5,000 points. The overall point requirement of 10,000 to 50,000 points for all Reward Nights is not changing.”

    So, will there be advance notice as to which ones are changing?

  5. You have failed to notice what I believe to be the true prime mover of this welcome development. IHG’s acquisition of Kimpton Hotels.

    I view this as a positive development as I have high hopes that IHG is going to truly bring IHG Rewards into alignment with many of the other top tier hotel programs, now they have decent downtown properties in core US cities that business people and leisure travelers would like to stay at during their travels.

    If they truly wish this investment to succeed, and not lose the current members of Karma Rewards, then fashioning a decent rewards program is of paramount importance.

    Hopefully, they will do away with the antiquate dual track rewards program that I believe that only they retain — the sooner that Intercontinental Ambassador is history, the better.

    If SPG Rewards can have Luxury Collection and Westin, Le Meridien and W Hotel properties co-existing along side in the same rewards program as Four Points by Sheraton, then Intercontinental Hotels and Kimpton hotels, can doubtless do the same with their lesser brands such as Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites.

    I just can’t wait for their future disclosures!

  6. Ed, I’m no fan of our current President, but you are an idiot.

    Confine your polemics to the Neo-Nazi board that you likely frequent.

  7. well said Colin!

    “Ed” that is the most ridiculous bit of analysis and hate material I have seen, I think you might need specialist help.

  8. Is it safe to assume that the automatic Silver IHG status afforded by holding the Rewards Club credit card will be sufficient to prevent points from expiring?

  9. I think one particularly germane point is whether there will be any benefit improvements for Platinums. The 75 night top tier is great, but I’d think that that would be very few of us. On the other hand, many readers hold the IHG credit card, which gives automatic Platinum status.

  10. G-flyer:

    You are confusing 2 different Chase products.

    The Chase IHG MC confers automatic PLATINUM status to cardholders and I hope and do believe that will remain as IHG already has signaled that Platinum status will remain but be superseded by a higher rewards level that likely will not be conferred by such card.

    With respect to automatic “Silver” status in the IHG Rewards program, I do not believe there is such a status level.

    However, one does receive automatic Silver status in the Marriott Rewards program by simply having the Chase MR Visa card and paying its annual fee — For a myriad of reasons, I do not believe that the changes to the IHG Rewards program will affect one from obtaining such status by virtue of being a cardholder.

  11. If IHG grants elite benefits on award stays I’m a player. Until then, Hilton and Marriott get my business.

  12. Completely agree with Ed. As an infrequent business traveler, I joined Priority Club (or whatever dumb name they are calling it now) specifically to stack up points from my maybe-a-couple-times-a-year business trips so I could redeem points on vacations and with family. I chose to go to Holiday Inn Express and other HI locations because I knew I was making an investment in the future with points that would never expire.

    Now that points expire, there is zero reason to participate in this program, especially since my job offers to pay for better hotels than Holiday Inns, so I’ll just stay ELSEWHERE and try to manage the points more carefully. If I’m going to lose points anyway, at least I’ll be staying at nicer hotels. I’m sure I can find something to replace that barfalistic breakfast at HI Express.

    Of course, points programs are intended to reward your best customers. However, with the number of days required to earn higher statuses, I gotta believe that there are many more people in my position than there are the top-tier whales that IHG is apparently now so concerned with.

    I guess I will have to use up my Priority Club points (not much, I think I have about 200K) this year and will not be looking back. I’am already enrolled in Hilton HHonors and have accumulated some points there, so I figure I’ll put all my energy into that.

    They removed the only reason for moderate business travelers to be in their club.

  13. Gary, I think I speak for most readers when I say “the one-week experiment that you promised is over. Now bring back the full RSS feeds.”

  14. Oops, I should point out I only agree with the first half of Ed’s post. Not sure what the president has to do with it…

  15. I had been assured verbally and in writing that these points do not expire (“never expire regardless of usage”), and now they will expire. Poof, just gone. Totally unacceptable. I will try very hard not to use any of their hotels going forward. Even if your points are not expiring, you should consider staying with other hotels as well. If they change the rules and cheat us once, they will probably do it again. They are not being very loyal to us, are they?

  16. I just heard points expire. I dont want to have to monitor my ‘reward’ points, so im going to use my points up with the family and take my 15 to 20 nights a year to Hilton Honors.. That’s a promise! Infact, I’m at a holiday I’m express right now and I’m checking out in the morning and walking across the street to hampton inn…

  17. If they wanted to change the rules for new points, fine, but to arbitrarily change the rules for points earned before, over many years, shows a total lack of concern for their customers. I am done with them as well!

  18. Here it is March 2017 and I just looked at my Priority Points and it said ZERO. I had over 330,000 points. Planned on using them when hubby and I retired. I had points from 20 years ago and would add to them every so often. Now I can’t get anyone at IHG to talk to me about getting my points back. I never received anything saying they would expire. Even one of the customer service reps said she told people for years “they would never expire”. Liar, liar…..

  19. Holiday Inn sucks – just got off phone with the “NEW” program customer service rep regarding all my points expired and lost …was in auto accident and didn’t travel much for a year – CS Rep said my “preferences” had a do not contact …. I never set this but seems NEW program was nice way to eliminate points from many Priority Points accounts …. it is criminal that they did NOT notify in any email or regular mail about NEW program changes especially given fact that Priority Points never expired. I will NEVER stay at any of this group’s hotels again… nice job IHG you have lost my business and my family’s business… kick my ass goodbye!!

  20. I faxed the corporate in Utah, didn’t tell them much. But they looked me up and I received an email and was told they gave me my 330,000 plus points back, but now I have to live by their new rules. I thanked them and then had a few “facts” to tell them. Never stop fighting for what is yours and against what is wrong. I have taken on some big dogs and won. One thing to always remember “they can do what they want to do”. Think about that!

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