Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Selecting a hotel for any trip requires a lot of research and planning. Even once you’ve decided where to stay, you still need to determine how to book.
You could book the least expensive rate, but you usually won’t earn points or get elite benefits if you don’t book directly. The benefits and earnings you get when you book directly may be worth more than expected, especially if you have IHG One Rewards elite status.
In this guide, I’ll discuss the value IHG elite members can get when they book directly with hotels participating in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program.
What value does IHG elite status provide?
With the launch of the new IHG One Rewards loyalty program in 2022, IHG added a new elite status tier, refreshed elite earning rates on stays, added several new elite status perks and introduced the ability to earn milestone rewards starting at just 20 nights per calendar year.
As with most hotel elite status tiers, IHG elite status provides benefits in two primary areas: earnings and on-site perks. It’s not easy to estimate how much value you’ll get from on-site perks since the value will be different for each IHG member, so I recommend considering the elite status perks you plan to use during each stay to determine the value of those on-site perks for yourself.
We estimate IHG One Rewards elite status is worth about the following if you spend an average of $150 per night on eligible purchases:
- Silver Elite status: $3 per night
- Gold Elite status: $6 per night
- Platinum Elite status: $27 per night
- Diamond Elite status: $46 per night
At first glance, you may not agree with these valuations, but let’s consider the valuation of IHG Diamond Elite status at about $46 per night. As a Diamond Elite member, the primary benefits you’ll get are an upgraded room based on availability, 2 p.m. late checkout based on availability, early check-in based on availability, elevated earnings and a welcome amenity (including the option to select free breakfast for two when staying at full-service and select-service brands).
These benefits and their value will vary by property and stay. As a Diamond Elite member, I often get assigned a room with a good view on a high floor. IHG properties outside the U.S. tend to be even better about room upgrades, frequently assigning me a larger or elevated room type as a Diamond Elite member.
I’ve only occasionally had a property deny my late checkout request. That said, this is a perk I rarely depend on during stays since I typically choose other brands when I need late checkout due to IHG offering the benefit based on availability.
The option for Diamond Elite members to select breakfast as a welcome amenity provides significant value at hotels that don’t provide breakfast to all guests.
Know, though, that a decent chunk of the value we attribute to each elite status tier per night is based on the points you’ll earn on stays. As an IHG member, you’ll earn points at a set rate for qualifying stays booked directly with IHG. Plus, IHG elite members earn bonus points on top of these rewards.
Here’s a look at the earning rates for stays based on the brand and your elite status.
|Property||Club member||Silver Elite (20% bonus)||Gold Elite (40% bonus)||Platinum Elite (60% bonus)||Diamond Elite (100% bonus)|
|Most IHG-branded hotels||10 points per dollar||12 points per dollar||14 points per dollar||16 points per dollar||20 points per dollar|
|Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties||5 points per dollar||6 points per dollar||7 points per dollar||8 points per dollar||10 points per dollar|
|IHG Army Hotels||3 points per dollar||3.6 points per dollar||4.2 points per dollar||4.8 points per dollar||6 points per dollar|
|IHG-branded Residence properties (excluding voco Residences)||2.5 points per dollar||3 points per dollar||3.5 points per dollar||4 points per dollar||5 points per dollar|
|The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and The Palazzo at The Venetian Resort||2,000 points per stay||2,400 points per stay||2,800 points per stay||3,200 points per stay||4,000 points per stay|
If you frequently redeem IHG points for your stays instead of booking paid rates, you may find our estimated values for each status tier are too high. Head over to our IHG One Rewards elite status guide and remove or adjust the bonus points in our calculation if you usually redeem points for your stays or spend significantly more or less per night. If you remove bonus points from the calculation entirely, our value of Platinum Elite status drops to $22 per night, and our value of Diamond Elite status drops to $38 per night.
Value of points earned
It’s worth considering how much the points you’ll earn will be worth if you book a qualifying rate directly. Different brands earn at different rates, as we discussed above.
For simplicity, let’s assume you’re staying at the majority of IHG hotels and resorts where Club members earn 10 points per dollar, Silver Elite members earn 12 points per dollar, Gold Elite members earn 14 points per dollar, Platinum Elite members earn 16 points per dollar and Diamond Elite members earn 20 points per dollar.
Based on TPG’s valuations, IHG points are worth about 0.5 cents each. This means that on $100 in purchases for a stay, a Platinum Elite member would earn 1,600 points worth $8 and a Diamond Elite member would earn 2,000 points worth $10. So, consider the value of the points you’ll earn when deciding how to book your stay, even if you don’t care about other elite status perks or earning toward status.
Which stays qualify?
Like most hotel chains, IHG One Rewards generally won’t provide elite benefits or earnings on bookings not made directly with IHG or other approved channels. The IHG One Rewards terms and conditions state the following are eligible booking methods for qualifying stays:
IHG Customer Care, IHG websites, the IHG One Rewards app, IHG WeChat mini program, Iberostar website, Iberostar Contact Center, IberostarPro, authorized travel agents (excluding online travel agents such as Expedia.com and booking.com, and unauthorized agents on online vertical travel portals), or directly at the hotel.
So, don’t expect to get elite benefits or bonus points when you book through an online travel agent or credit card portal. As such, I almost always book directly to ensure access to elite benefits and earnings.
Related: The 19 best IHG hotels in the world
How to earn IHG elite status
All IHG members are at least Club members, but you can earn IHG elite status through the end of the following calendar year each calendar year you meet the following requirements:
- Silver Elite status: 10 qualifying nights
- Gold Elite status: 20 qualifying nights or 40,000 qualifying points
- Platinum Elite status: 40 qualifying nights or 60,000 qualifying points
- Diamond Elite status: 70 qualifying nights or 120,000 qualifying points
There are also other ways to earn IHG elite status. For example, you’ll be upgraded to Platinum Elite status if you purchase InterContinental Ambassador status. You can also get IHG elite status as a benefit of the following IHG credit cards:
- IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Get automatic IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status as a cardholder perk and earn Diamond Elite status through the end of the following calendar year each calendar year you make purchases totaling $40,000 or more with your card.
- United Club Infinite Card: Get automatic IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status as a cardholder perk.
- IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card: Get automatic IHG One Rewards Silver Elite status as a cardholder perk and earn Gold Elite status through the end of the following calendar year each calendar year you make purchases totaling $20,000 or more with your card.
I love having the IHG Premier card, as it also offers an anniversary night certificate that’s valid for hotels costing 40,000 points or less and provides access to the valuable fourth-night-free reward benefit. Between these two perks, I think the IHG Premier’s $99 annual fee is worth paying.
This article illustrates the value you may miss if you don’t book directly with a hotel brand, especially if you have hotel elite status. This doesn’t mean you should never book through an online travel agency or a credit card travel portal. Instead, you’ll want to compare the full picture and not just the price difference when deciding how to book your next IHG stay.