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I’m Out – How an IHG Devaluation Made My Big Spend Decision Easy

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IHG Elite Devaluation

IHG Elite Devaluation

The honeymoon phase of IHG’s One Rewards program, if it ever existed, is now over.  Mark recently described the perplexing limitation on the free night certificate with Chase IHG Premier‘s welcome offer.  And just a few days ago, DDG explained new restrictions of the complimentary upgrade benefit.  Not coincidentally, this IHG elite devaluation made my big spend decision easy.  Let me explain.

Disappointing Changes

The most significant changes announced last week are as follows.  IHG now states that complimentary upgrades do not include club level amenities or services:

Complimentary Upgrades to Club rooms, Club REGENT or Club InterContinental rooms / floors do not include Club Level amenities or services, e.g. Club Lounge access, free pressing, airport transportation, etc.

The same language has been added to confirmable suite upgrades, which are one of the options for Milestone Rewards:

Confirmable Suite Upgrades to Club rooms, Club REGENT or Club InterContinental rooms / floors do not include Club level amenities or services, e.g. Club Lounge access, free pressing, airport transportation, etc.

IHG Elite Devaluation

IHG Elite Devaluation – My Take

First off, I’m taken aback at how quickly IHG degraded their new program.  IHG substantially devalued the complimentary upgrades for Platinum and Diamond members, which they touted just four months ago when they unveiled One Rewards.  Redeeming Milestone Rewards on confirmable suite upgrades is much less attractive, also.  Milestone Rewards was another significant feature of One Rewards which they highlighted at program launch.  Taking into account these two changes, it seems IHG wanted to wow us with their new program but not actually deliver.

It’s comical to think that upgrades to club rooms without club access is an elite benefit.  What is that?  Without club access, that probably means the same standard room but wasting more time going up and down on the elevator to a higher-floor club level.  No thanks!

IHG Elite Devaluation

What I’m (Not) Doing

As I previously described, I’m continuing with my plan to meet the Chase IHG Premier‘s $20k big spend bonus to receive 10k points and a $100 statement credit.  I had been on the fence about the $40k big spend bonus for Diamond status, more against than for it.  IHG has made my decision easy with their recent changes.  I will not spend one penny over $20k on my IHG Premier this year.  I won’t obtain Milestone Rewards anyway, so the second change above doesn’t directly impact me.  But the signal IHG sent with these rapid, significant changes gives me no reason to have hope for the program’s future.


Many may choose to pursue Diamond status through stays or spend, anyway.  I can understand that might be the right call for another individual’s situation.  My family and I focus on Holiday Inn Express stays, though, where Diamond benefits (the complimentary breakfast benefit, specifically) don’t matter as much, anyway.  Overall, I feel IHG’s been tremendously stingy over the past few months.  It feels like they want the accolades that come with their new program’s perceived impressive new benefits without actually delivering on them.  After I enjoy my cinnamon roll, I’m out.

How do you feel about the recent IHG elite devaluation?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. Interesting reading as I am halfway through my diamond challenge. I will complete the challenge. I am hoping that daily breakfast will mean daily breakfast in Asia.

  2. Miss the old days when my Ambassador membership got me unlimited free drinks in the lounge and the 241 weekend nights could be used on most rates. IHG status offers nothing of value now

  3. Just getting back from Six Senses Laamu Maldives booked on points. Breakfast included… highly recommended. If you can travel, some options outside of USA that make it worthwhile.

  4. Outside of HIE, IHG has always been stingy with any kind of breakfast. Not even a free cup of brewed coffee to go…!!! Yet, IHG restaurant workers are standing around watching you. Nothing to do!
    IHG must make their money some other way? Was in HI, Brno, CZ (long ago) and reception must not be concerned about prostitution. As AOC said once…it’s all about the Benjamin’s.

  5. After 25+ years as an IHG fan with millions of points earned, I’m out. To make matters worse I just got the “upgraded card” letter on my $49 legacy card after 2 years of a 10k upgrade offer while denying my ability to apply and get the SUB. Done.

  6. Thank you Benji for your article. My DH has been communicating with IHG CC in regards
    with their offer and applying for a business card. We have been in business for over 35 years and after
    twice faxing them very sensitive information, we have given up (they keep re-querying more info. and when we send it they say it is blurry etc.)
    We are done. I noticed that they do not include club lounges with upgrades etc in their fine print.
    Marriot and Hilton does not do that to us as Diamond members. We will stick with them and forget about IHC. Not worth the hassle.

  7. Am surprised you’re pushing for the $20K. I mean you could buy 10K for about $50 so $20K of spend for $150? That’s a horrible upside when only getting IHG points in return.

    • I don’t know. If one can do it organically, it is a minimum of 2.25% on return, most likely higher. But yeah, buying might be the smarter play here, as 70,000 points would only be $350 … hmmm. ????

  8. Really not sure where all of this rage comes from. This is IHG. You get what you pay for and a bunch of points toward future stays. If you’re not spending money, the benefits are limited. I’m an IHG Diamond member. To date I’ve not had any trouble with breakfast amenity and not sure where you’re staying that they limited you to only one night. I’ve never had that problem. So far I’ve received breakfast credit for each night. With regard to getting certain club benefits on room upgrade, this is consistent with how IHG has always run the business. They’ll give you a better room but if you want club access you pay for it. I think the complaints are more a function of absolutely horrible service at US hotels, which is undoubtedly more common these days at IHG properties and all other chains. Bonvoyed lately? Outside the US, which is actually where most IHG full service properties are, my experience is that new benefits are being honored.

    • I actually earned my Diamond through stays not cash for 2020 which was extended for COVID. Currently im checked in to Hotel Indigo, Gainesville, FL. Im on my 3 of 3 nights. Upon check-in they clear told me its 1 x breakfast for 2 per stay (not per night) I also thought it was also crazy. I even asked if I could break up and get 1 person for 2 days as my spouse never eats breakfast but they denied as they give you a single paper voucher good for 2 people on the day you declare upon check-in. But upon rechecking IHG Diamond benfits on the app it clearly says “daily” breakfast. I guess Hotel Indigo, Gainesville, FL is doing their own program. Tomorrow morning for breakfast I’ll triple check with a different hotel staff, but 1 x breakfast for stay is for sure disappointing and more reason for me not to chase Diamond next year. I actually thought about buying the Ambassador status for $200 or 20k points as I get many email offers for it but I opted out and will let my Diamond status burn out and put more effort in to Marriott.

    • Hotel Indigo Gainesville update. So after being told I only get 1 breakfast for 2 people once per stay as a Diamond member (welcome amenity) after reading the blog hearing other received daily breakfast on my final morning I asked the morning staff and I was told as a Diamond member i should have received daily breakfast for 1 person and 2nd would need to pay since I booked under the military rate. Although since there was a mistake at check in and I missed breakfast on day 2 I was given a voucher for 2 on my final morning. Possibly hotel staff are sill learning the new IHG benefits and you can get a different answer depending who running the front desk.

  9. I have been an IHG member for a long time. The reason is because of the hotels at the locations I go to, plus I really like the Intercontinentals in Asia (HK, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia). I have always had a great time at those IC’s and that’s why I stay there so often. Having said that, I think their loyalty program is garbage and not worth anything. I am also a member of Hilton and their loyalty program is vastly better and worth it.

  10. Personally I don’t see any benefit for Diamond status. I been living in hotels past 3 months from Intercontinental & Kimpton in San Deigo, Indigo in Florida and HIE, candlewood etc all over the USA. I never receive any upgraded room and the Diamond status only gives free breakfast or room credit at Indigo & Kimpton and it’s only once per stay not daily!! I’m staying now at Indigo for 3 nights and they gave me a single breakfast voucher for 2 people on the 1 of 3 days of my choice, the other 2 days it’s $19 pp (not worth it) I just don’t see the hype of Diamond status, I never even get as much as a thank you for being a Diamond member at check-in. I also never saw the club level at Intercontinental, had no idea they had one and I have been Diamond for past 3+ years. The only time I ever receive upgrades is when I book through FHR. I booked Intercontinental ATL a few times through FHR and have received or at least they acknowledged if they had an upgrade or not unlike when I check in as a under valued Diamond member.

    • Try again, Mike. The club lounge is literally the first thing you see as you enter into the IC San Diego. You get complimentary access as a diamond elite for the duration of your stay. Also, as Diamond Royal Ambassador Inner Circle you get complimentary club access daily and free breakfast daily up to $100/day.

      • Wow I must have missed it!!! It was a nice hotel but they never mentioned the club lounge to me (I had no idea) nor did I get an upgrade for being Diamond member. I stayed early June this year for 5 nights using points. Parking was underground come up elevator there was a restaurant on the right side which looked closed and empty in afternoon, when you walk past it check in desk was off to the left. Breakfast was not Included for Diamond and it did not look good enough to pay the high prices for I went across the street and got a thick breakfast burrito at some Aloha shop and went to the attached Starbucks on ground floor. The only club lounge I had was the food trucks that parked on the front lawn on the weekend 🙂 after 5 night I checked in to Kimpton Gaslamp and by far that was one of the worst hotels I have stayed in since I can remember. Lobby was also under construction at the time which did not help.

      • I feel like I have been in the dark. I really had no idea about any club lounges at Intercontinental, on this current trip road trip which started 5 May to present. I stayed at 3 x Intercontinentals: San Deigo, Los Angeles (my favorite) & ATL and never heard of the club lounge. Reading about club access it sounds as Diamond does not qualify for access and to get access you pay $100 per night, stay in club room which I never have, or upgrade status to Ambassador for $200 which I keep passing up the offer I keep receiving. Now I’m feeling I probably should just cash in 20k points for Ambassador. This 3 month trip I probably could have benefited from Ambassador status and maybe actually received an upgrade or 2 as Diamond status has given me nothing but some welcome points.

  11. After everything that the property owners and loyalty programs have pulled and people still talk about tier status? Stop the discussion and move on. It has become all too tiring.

  12. I dunno….20k seems like a lot of spend to just get 10k points and a $100 statement credit. Am I reading this wrong?

    • Came here to say the same thing. That spend decision is … perplexing. Seems like that $20k would be better spent almost anywhere else, no?

    • SteveL. and TO,
      Of course, big spend bonuses, with IHG or others, don’t make sense for everybody. I explained why it made sense for me in other posts, including one linked within this article. Meeting this $20k goal with the IHG Premier hasn’t precluded me from meeting my unrelated, higher priorities with other rewards.

    • Swag,
      The submitted article predated the apparent development you mentioned. Regardless, you have to love the timing. Even if this development is confirmed, pursuers of an IHG big spend bonus will have until 30 Sep. I’m almost done, anyway.


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