You May Be Surprised By What IHG Rewards Club Expects From You As a Member

In updating its terms and conditions, IHG Rewards Club updated its right to update its terms and conditions.

Specifically, they made clear the right to devalue the program and what they expect you to do to find out if they’ve made changes to their rules (hint: they don’t have to tell you).

Here’s the updated clause, broken up for readability and bolded for emphasis.

Programme Availability; Changes in Terms and Conditions SCH and its frequency alliances (third parties with which SCH is affiliated within the scope of the Programme) reserve the right, in their sole discretion, to modify, alter or otherwise update these terms and conditions, and/or to add, modify, restrict, suspend, discontinue, or cancel the Programme, including redemptions and the number of IHG Rewards Club points issued for a Qualifying Stay, status levels, or other Programme benefits, at any time, even though such changes may affect the value of rewards or points already accumulated.

So at will, with any notice or no notice, they can reduce the value of the points in your account.


Intercontinental Times Square

Here’s how you find out if things change:

You should check the last updated date in the footer for notice of changes to these terms and conditions or to the Programme. If the footer indicates that the terms and conditions, or the Programme itself, have changed, immediately read it.


Intercontinental Singapore

Note of course that they don’t provide a summary of changes, or an archive of previous versions of the terms and conditions. Just read the new terms, internalize them, and know what’s changed.

By choosing to remain an IHG Rewards Club member after we have posted notice of such modifications, alterations, or updates, and after you have been provided an opportunity to read the revised terms and conditions or Programme information, you agree to be bound by such revised terms and conditions or to be a part of the Programme as revised. The current Programme Membership Terms and Conditions supersede all prior published Programme Membership Terms and Conditions.

So you don’t just have to be bound by new terms, changed without notice, you are deemed to like it!

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. Once upon a time, this was a fairly rewarding program, which, in some ways, made up for inventory of properties, which, except for a few standouts, was and is pretty grim.

    Now it’s not that rewarding and their program PR is atrocious.

    This is how you go from being a player to being not a player.

  2. @Gary –

    One of the greatest concerns would be if they decide at some point to discontinue, or cancel the ‘Programme’ per their terms they are also allowed to do that without notice. Poof!

  3. Is this really a change or is it cya legalese for what they (and many others) already do? I guess time will tell.

  4. Well as long as they keep letting me earn 40,000 points in a quarterly promotion with 2 stays, I am still on board the IHG wagon

  5. IHG gives points out like people give candy on Halloween. No other program I’m aware of is as easy to accumulate points or to just buy them. I love to complain about the value of being a spire, but their points are easy to get and easy to redeem.

  6. As someone who travels full-time, pretty much all I care about is free nights. No other program comes close to IHG on that metric. Is it poorly run and arbitrary? Yes. Am I willing put up with pretty much anything? As long as they have lucrative promotions and keep rolling out point breaks lists ever quarter, yes.

  7. I’ve tried to terminate my IHG account, and IHG has given me the middle finger. They take deaf customer service to a higher level.

  8. First off, I understand this post by Gary and yes it is ridiculous that they can say that. It is also terrible that IHG points could devalue with no notice.

    With that said, exactly what Roger said above… IHG points have kept me traveling for 15 years for free to anywhere I want to go.

    I average 150-175 nights a year in hotels for work and manage to maintain diamond Hyatt and Hilton and Spire IHG. Of course using points for a nice Hyatt Regency in Hong Kong or Berlin will result in a ‘better’ stay experience with breakfast and lounge and possible upgrade, etc, and I DO value that a lot, but just as important to me is the endless IHG points that can be redeemed almost anywhere in the world for hotels in very good locations. I may not get all the benefits and yes that would be better, but 15,000 points for the Holiday Inn Express in Cape Town is a great deal, etc.

    I will always try to maintain Hyatt and Hilton due to the benefits on award stays, but I always try to have 500,000 or more IHG points on hand. Another lesser known benefit is ‘hotels anywhere’ which you can book directly on the IHG site with points. In case you want to go to some pretty random places without chains this can represent a great value. Even the ‘flights anywhere’ option can be pretty reasonable points-wise if you are looking to save some cash and have a large balance of IHG points.

    As an example, with the current IHG promo, I did a one night stay at a Crowne Plaza this week that will net me 19,200 points. I can usually average between 6,000-8,000 points per night even without promos, and with the IHG credit card I get 10% redeemed points back all year and for $49 a free night anywhere in the world, which I’ve used at 3 hotels going for $500+ per night.

    /end white knighting for IHG because I do see how lame their terms are and their benefits on award stays to loyal customers.

  9. IHG are just trying to keep all of the rotten Obama-ites out of the system, and keep them out of their hotels. Once Trump is in, IHG will get good again.

  10. If IHG is “terrible”, how about this?
    —————————————————————
    Marriott Rewards Terms & Conditions Overview

    Marriott Rewards membership and its benefits are offered at the discretion of Marriott. Marriott and its travel partners have the right, without limitation, to change, limit, modify or cancel Program Rules, regulations, rewards, and reward levels at any time, with or without notice, even though such changes may affect the value of points or miles already accumulated, the ability to use accumulated points or miles, or the ability to obtain certain rewards. Marriott and its travel partners may, among other things:
    — increase or decrease the number of points or miles received for a stay or required for a reward;
    — withdraw, limit, modify, or cancel any reward or category;
    — add blackout dates, limit rooms available for reward redemption at any participating hotel, change or restrict participating hotels, or otherwise restrict the continued availability of rewards;
    — change program benefits, travel partners, locations served by Marriott or its travel partners, conditions of participation, rules for earning, redeeming, retaining, or forfeiting points or miles, or rules governing the use of rewards;
    — change or cancel its travel partner rewards. The accumulation of points or miles does not entitle members to any vested rights with respect to points, miles, rewards, or program benefits. In accumulating points or miles, members may not rely upon the continued availability of any reward or reward level.

    ———————————————————————————

    You will find, if you search, a similar statement in practically every loyalty program’s T&C. I’d once posted a statement from HH T&C on this very site to indicate that loyalty programs reserve the right to devalue their points, which is the most effective “weapon” at their disposal for decreasing their “financial liability” due to all the points that they issue but for which they cannot claim the equivalent amount of cash as revenue until the points are redeemed, forfeited or expire.

    Offered without additional commentary other than to say that one would have expected a “thought leader in travel” to be fully aware of a provision that’s in all or nearly all travel loyalty programs’ T&C and not only in IHG’s

  11. ….then again, the myopia is inline with travel gurus’ unshakeable conviction that there are such things as “guaranteed” or “confirmed” elite perks, which are “best” or infinitely better, even though the only reason a program would “guarantee” a perk when it clearly does not have to is to limit its benefit by EXCLUDING non-“guaranteed” options. You want a “guaranteed” 4pm late checkout? Done, you got it. But then you’ll be quoted the 4pm “guarantee” when they deny your request for a 6pm checkout 😉

    G’day!

  12. Case in point:

    We’ve heard ad nauseam about how HGP has the “best” suite upgrades policy in the business because their DSUs are “guaranteed”, even if, like any other elite suite upgrades, they depend on AVAILABILITY. So, let’s explore just how great these so-called “guaranteed” or “confirmed” suite upgrades are. First the T&C entry for HGP DSUs (#10):

    T&C ITEM #10: “Diamond members will be issued four (4) suite upgrade awards, in their account, annually, defined as March 1st of the current year through the last day of February of the following year, Awards can be tracked through “My Awards” on goldpassport.com.”

    NOW, NOTICE THE RESTRICTIONS [see comments in brackets after each condition]:

    — Suite awards issued on or after March 1, 2016 must be redeemed for reservations with a checkout date prior to the expiration date of the award [latest restriction that gutted the perk some more]
    .
    — A complimentary suite upgrade is valid on paid nights when PAYING AN ELIGIBLE RATE, for a maximum of 7 consecutive nights, at participating Hyatt hotels where suite accommodations are AVAILABLE. [i.e., DSUs are no good for pampering oneself on personal AWARD stays!]

    — Suite upgrade awards must be redeemed at time of reservation [what do you do if none are AVAILABLE at the “time of reservation”?!!!]

    — Suite upgrade awards are not valid at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Park Hyatt Sydney, Andaz Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort, Hyatt Regency Tulsa, Hyatt Regency Wichita, Hyatt Paris Madeleine, Hyatt Herald Square, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, Hyatt Manila City of Dreams, Hyatt Santa Barbara, Hyatt Residence Club resorts, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels and M life resorts. [That’s a long list of exclusions for a hotel chain with a tiny footprint!]

    — Guest must pay an eligible rate. [ they repeated this to make sure that there is no doubt]

    — For purposes of this award, a suite provides for one-bedroom accommodations. Suite upgrade awards are only valid for standard suites, defined as each participating properties introductory suite category. Blah…blah… blah [standard jargon in all programs excluding higher end suites].

    NOW, THE KICKER!

    Then, there is this kicker. In addition to all of the above, and because they have “guaranteed” you just 4 (FOUR!) highly restrictive and restricted suite upgrades per year, they will make sure that those 4 “guaranteed” suite upgrades and all their restrictions are all you’ll get:

    T&C ITEM #3: “Diamond members will receive the best available room (EXCLUDING SUITES), including Regency Club or Grand Club rooms, at the time of check-in.”

    The “(EXCLUDING SUITES)”, which I capitalized, is in the T&C.
    So, you want 4 “guaranteed” suite upgrades per year? Done, you got it. But then they’ll quote you Item #3 when you run out of DSUs and request a complimentary suite upgrade. While properties where a HGP Diamond is a frequent guest and well-known would ignore Item #3 and give them a complimentary suite upgrade if it’s available, most properties would deny requests for such upgrades by HGP Diamonds by simply quoting them T&C Item #3…

    Are you sure you’d like to have your perks “guaranteed”? 😉

    G’day!

  13. Hopefully you aren’t a HGP Diamond. you obviously don’t appreciate their program. It works wonders for me. I’ve actually received suite upgrades on free night when I add the free nights to a paid stay that a suite upgrade was applied to. Many Hyatts would rather let you stay in the suite if you just paid for a bunch of nights and applied an upgrade rather than move you to another room when you’re paid nights are done. It’s a crap shoot but it’s worked every time for me! Down in Jamaica at ziva they even give 2 or 3 butlers with a suite upgrade sometimes. My favorite though is when I reserve on points and cash then apply an upgrade. Like soon I’ll be arriving at Hyatt regency Honolulu on a points and cash and for an suite upgrade they just give a whole other adjoining connecting lockout style room right above Waikiki beach with 2 full oceanfront balconies. If that isn’t a value, then Idk what is! And in relation to your comment about Hyatt not having a suite upgrade available at time of reservation you could cancel the reservation and try a different Hyatt to see if you can use a suite upgrade. What else would you expect them to do? Kick out the people from their reservations that were booked into the suites before you were? Your argument makes no sense. Please stay away from Hyatt’s and leave all those suite upgrade chances to those of us that fully appreciate them.

  14. I ditched this program about 5 years ago due to devaluations and increased limiting of rewards nights. I transferred to SPG … should they delete their lifetime gold I will drop that program too and start to use consolidators . May as well save money up front rather than hope for promise fulfilment later

  15. I too have been enjoying IHG for years, especially their cc certificate for only $49, that unlike Marriott’s is good at any level property, with a full 12 month expiration. In the past I’ve profited handsomely from their targeted promotions. And with last years “contest” we each scored 150,000 points that are going to come in very handy next Summer, from St Petersburg to Washington, DC.

    But I do find this language both harsh and insulting:

    “You should check the last updated date in the footer for notice of changes to these terms and conditions or to the Programme. If the footer indicates that the terms and conditions, or the Programme itself, have changed, immediately read it.”

    So how times a day am I expected to check for this? And then I’m ordered to read it “immediately”? 🙁

    Nevertheless, as long as the program stays so user friendly in practice, we’re staying on board. We are certainly not giving up our 2 free nights, from the cc certificates, at the Hong Kong Intercontinental next Summer. But having read this, we are just as certainly booking our award reservations as quickly as our certificates post. 😉

  16. @Billy D — I appreciate Hyatt just fine, so relax. I just do not believe their loyalty program is anywhere near “la creme de la creme” that travel bloggers have painted it to be. The picture you just painted is more believable and it is standard loyalty stuff. Nothing out of this world. For example, after I got the Chase Hyatt visa with its 2 free suite upgrades for signing up, I used one to upgrade two paid nights to a suite at Park Siem Reap. Betting that they would not dare kick me out of the suite after the two paid nights, I booked two additional cash+points nights in a standard room. Sure enough, the property let me stay in the suite for all 4 nights. Is that specific to Hyatt? Not.at.all! I do it every year at Conrad Hong Kong, where I do not even book a suite. I just book a revenue stay in a standard room for a night or two and then I book a 1- or 2-night points-only award. At check in, I would be upgraded to a suite (has happened 100% of the time at this property and I do not even ask anymore) and I would be told to just stay put in there for both the paid and award nights. I will be doing it again this coming January…

    The reason I asked what a HGP Diamond would do if there are no suite upgrades at booking is precisely to elicit the response that you gave. I never suggested that anyone should be kicked out to accommodate you! You said that you’d try to find a suite upgrade at another property, but considering Hyatt’s very tiny “footprint”, that’s not that easy to do, is it? It’s a clear demonstration of a limitation of so-called “guaranteed” or “confirmed” suite upgrades: they depend on availability like any other elite suite upgrade instrument. They too are a crap shoot. My main beef with DSUs is that there are only 4 of them per year. I’d run out by the end of Q1!

    You are happy with HGP, that’s fine with me. Just do not pretend that is the “best” loyalty program in the business because it is not, and neither is its suite upgrade policy. It is so restricted it limits the perk’s benefit (see above).

    You do not need to worry about me competing with you for suite upgrades. You already are competing with a bunch Diamonds who were status-matched when Hyatt tried to grab SPG elites, but they botched it and ended up awarding many new Diamonds up to 8 DSUs! Hyatt is the only chain where I stay without status (well, I am a Plat but it’s the same thing) and do not care because their hotels are usually tastefully done, with service that’s generally second to none. Too bad they do not have a loyalty program to match. 🙂

    I hope we have now cleared the air.

    G’day!

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