As the end of the year approaches, you may be wondering how you’ll earn your desired level of elite status with IHG One Rewards this year.
Several promotions this year have helped some IHG loyalists snag status quickly. For example, IHG’s lucrative status challenge this summer let members earn Diamond Elite status through the end of 2023 after just 15 nights.
Unfortunately, that status challenge is over now. But this guide will discuss how to earn IHG elite status before the end of the year, including ways to earn more qualifying nights or qualifying points.
IHG One Rewards elite status overview
- Silver Elite: 10 qualifying nights.
- Gold Elite: 20 qualifying nights or 40,000 qualifying points.
- Platinum Elite: 40 qualifying nights or 60,000 qualifying points.
- Diamond Elite: 70 qualifying nights or 120,000 qualifying points.
As you can see, you can earn IHG elite status by accruing qualifying nights or qualifying points. IHG uses a calendar year as its qualification period, so you have from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 each year to qualify for your desired elite tier. Then, you’ll keep your status through the end of the following calendar year.
Additionally, you can earn milestone rewards based on your qualifying nights each calendar year. You’ll earn milestone rewards after just 20 qualifying nights, which can be another reason to earn more qualifying nights.
Strategies for earning more qualifying nights
Unfortunately, there isn’t a shortcut to accruing qualifying nights with IHG One Rewards. You’ll earn an elite-qualifying night for every night of a qualifying stay, including reward stays.
The IHG terms and conditions explicitly note that you won’t earn any qualifying nights for a stay if you no-show or cancel after the hotel cancellation time (even if you’ve paid the room in full and it’s nonrefundable). Additionally, if you book two rooms for the same day, only one night will count as a qualifying night.
In other words: you’ll need to show up to the hotel and stay on a qualifying paid rate or award stay to earn qualifying nights.
Take a look at your plans for the rest of the year and see when you could stay at an IHG hotel. Even if an IHG hotel is more expensive than your other options, it may be worthwhile if it will help you earn a higher elite tier or a milestone reward. Alternatively, consider doing a staycation or mattress run near your house.
If you need to pick up more than just a few qualifying nights, you might want to take a vacation to a destination where you can book an inexpensive IHG stay. For example, you could book a four-night stay from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland for $253.76 or 40,000 points (or 30,000 points if you have an IHG card that provides access to the fourth-night reward perk).
Or, you could visit Mexico and stay inexpensively at a property such as the Holiday Inn Tuxtla Gutierrez. At this property, you can get a four-night stay from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 for just $159.83 or 34,000 points (or 25,000 points if you have an IHG card that provides access to the fourth night reward perk).
There are also inexpensive IHG properties in many other international destinations; I noticed some particularly inexpensive options in Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia. Of course, for our U.S.-based readers, it’s easier to plan a last-minute trip to Maryland or Mexico than to Indonesia.
Strategies for earning more qualifying points
Based on IHG’s terms and conditions, only the following activities earn elite-qualifying points:
- Qualifying rates paid for hotel stays.
- Spending on Hertz car rentals, OpenTable reservations, Grubhub orders and Viator experiences.
- Purchasing an IHG One Rewards bonus points package.
- Qualifying spending through IHG Business Rewards.
- Purchases on IHG One Rewards credit cards issued in the U.K. and Greater China.
If you want to earn more qualifying points to reach a specific elite status tier by the end of the year, you might opt to take part in one or more of these activities. Earning through partner activities like Hertz car rentals, OpenTable reservations, Grubhub orders and Viator experiences may help if you only need to earn a small number of additional qualifying points.
If you can add an IHG card issued in the U.K. or Greater China to your wallet, you can earn more qualifying points on your purchases. But most TPG readers in the U.S. likely aren’t eligible for these cards.
For many U.S.-based IHG loyalists, the best way to earn more qualifying points is to add bonus points packages to upcoming stays. For example, here’s an offer I saw on a stay at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland:
If you added 5,000 points per night at $32 per night, you’d be buying points at 0.64 cents each. This purchase rate is higher than TPG’s valuation of IHG points (0.5 cents each) but still lower than I can typically get when redeeming IHG points. Plus, the points you’d be adding to your stay are elite-qualifying points.
Other strategies for earning IHG elite status quickly
As you might have noticed, there aren’t many shortcuts to earning more qualifying nights or points. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any shortcuts for earning IHG elite status.
Here are some ways you can earn IHG elite status quickly.
Get an IHG credit card
Several IHG credit cards provide automatic elite status as a cardholder perk. In particular, the following cobranded IHG credit cards offer automatic elite status as a perk:
- IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Automatic Platinum Elite status as long as you remain an IHG Rewards Premier cardmember.
- IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card: Automatic Silver Elite status as long as you remain an IHG Rewards Traveler cardmember.
Your spending on these cards can also help you earn higher elite status as follows:
- IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Qualify for Diamond Elite status through Dec. 31 of the following year after making purchases totaling $40,000 or more on your card during a calendar year.
- IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card: Qualify for Gold Elite status through Dec. 31 of the following year after making purchases totaling $20,000 or more on your card during a calendar year.
It’s likely only worth spending to reach Diamond Elite status, though. Diamond Elite status provides valuable perks, including the ability to choose breakfast for yourself and a guest as a welcome amenity at most properties that don’t provide breakfast to all guests.
Pay for InterContinental Ambassador membership
Another way to quickly get Platinum Elite status is to purchase an InterContinental Ambassador membership. A 12-month Ambassador membership costs $200 or 40,000 points. But, membership provides Platinum Elite status in the IHG One Rewards program as well as the following perks when staying at InterContinental properties:
- Guaranteed one-category room upgrade.
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check out.
- Complimentary weekend night.
- Restaurants and bars credit of up to $20 per stay.
- Complimentary mineral water.
- Complimentary internet.
- Dedicated check-in area.
- Single room rate for double occupancy.
If you want Platinum Elite status and don’t want to get the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, maintaining an InterContinental Ambassador membership may be a good choice even if you rarely (or never) stay at InterContinental properties.
Look for a status match or challenge
Finally, you could keep an eye out for a status match or challenge. IHG periodically offers status matches or challenges, but there weren’t any open to all members when we published this story.
As you can see, there’s no easy shortcut to earning elite-qualifying nights and points in the new IHG One Rewards program. But you can buy IHG Platinum Elite status via an InterContinental Ambassador membership or with a status match if one becomes available.
You can earn top-tier Diamond elite status through the end of the following year by spending $40,000 or more on either of these cards in a calendar year. If you have your sights set on a particular IHG elite status, getting an IHG credit card might be the easiest and least expensive way to reach your goal.