IHG Rewards Credit Card Shake Up
Enhancements is a term we hear often. Usually it comes from loyalty programs as they are slashing earning rates and turning to dynamic prices. Rarely does an enhancement actually mean something good. I have to say that this just happens to be one of those few times. Last week we heard about IHG refreshing their rewards program. We didn’t get a ton of detail when it was announced but it appears things are starting to slowly come out. First up is an IHG Rewards credit card shake up. These “enhancements” have me quite interested in a program that normally was not a major focus of mine. Let’s take a look at the upcoming changes.
Changes Coming To IHG Rewards Credit Cards
Here are the proposed changes to IHG Rewards credit cards lineup. They will be in place starting March 24, 2022.
Changes and enhancements to the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
- The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card will become the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card (no fee card)
- Increased ways to earn points through purchases on the card.
- 3X points (from 1X) on utilities, internet, cable, phone, and select streaming services purchases
- 3X points (from 2X) on dining / restaurant and gas purchases
- 2X points (from 1X) per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Automatic IHG® Rewards Silver Elite status
- A simplified way to reach the next IHG® Rewards status level
- Cardmembers will earn IHG® Rewards Gold Elite status after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year, instead of receiving Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs) on purchases made with the card.
- Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $10,000
- Cardmembers will now earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year.
Changes and enhancements to the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card will become the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Increased ways to earn points through purchases on the card:
- 5X points (from 1X) on travel
- 5X points (from 2X) on purchases at gas stations, dining / restaurants
- 3X points (from 1X) per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Added flexibility to Anniversary Free Night certificates
- Cardmembers can add unlimited points from their IHG® Rewards account to redeem their Anniversary Free Night at hotels above the 40,000 point redemption limit.
- Up to $50 United® TravelBank Cash each calendar year
- Cardmembers can use TravelBank Cash on United Airlines purchases after registering their IHG® Rewards Premier card with their United MileagePlus® account.
- Earn 10,000 bonus points and $100 statement credit after spending $20,000
- Cardmembers will now earn both 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year, starting in 2022.
- A simplified way to reach the next IHG® Rewards status level
- Cardmembers will continue to receive automatic Platinum Elite status, but now will also earn IHG® Rewards Diamond Elite status after spending $40,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year with their card, instead of receiving Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs) on purchases made with their card.
- Annual fee will increase to $99 in 2023 for existing cardmembers
New Business Card Coming
Chase and IHG are introducing the new IHG Premier Business Card on March 24 (annual fee $99). We do not have any details on what the earning rates or welcome offer will be.
My Thoughts On The Changes
Whoa! That is a lot to take in and almost all of it is positive. One of the reasons IHG has not been a primary focus of mine in the past is because earning points was always difficult. IHG points are only worth around $0.005-$0.006 per point so only earning 1 or 2 points per dollar was not enough to justify spending on their cards. That is a return well below a 2% cash back card. Being a part of the Ultimate Rewards program doesn’t help either since it is only a 1 to 1 transfer rate. You would be better off cashing out your Ultimate Rewards points at 1 cent a piece and paying for the hotel instead of transferring, a vast majority of the time at least. With these changes that is no longer the case for some.
Gas & Dining
Being able to earn 5 points per dollar at gas stations and on dining is a big improvement. I wish grocery would have been included with these options since it is included with them in the current 2X earning structure. Even without grocery this is still a major improvement, more than doubling the current earn rate. This also gives people a meaningful way to rack up IHG Rewards points if they so choose.
There are better options out there for gas purchases, like the Amex Business Gold or the Wyndham Rewards earner business, but this is a great option for topping off accounts or unlocking an award stay you have your eyes on.
Phone / Streaming / Utilities
The no fee IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card has increased earning rates on complimentary categories as well. Although most will choose a more lucrative option for these purchases as they have become a more common bonus category on cards. That is true for all except for utilities. It will be interesting to see how that is categorized. Earning 3X IHG Rewards points is somewhat similar to earning 2% back, especially if you stack with any other deals or their big spend bonuses.
Free Night Certificate Improvement
The really big plus here, for me at least, is kind of a compromise IHG is making for IHG® Rewards Club Premier cardholders. We were all pretty upset by them putting a cap on the anniversary free night. Then with them going to dynamic pricing recently it made the certificates even more difficult to use. Well, cardholders are getting a little something back by being able to add points on top of the 40K free night certificate to book more expensive rooms. This makes the certificates cardmembers get each year more valuable for sure.
Big Spend Bonuses
I am not sure how many people will put $10,000 or $20,000 of spend on these cards but it is interesting to see big spending bonuses offered. If you spend $20,000 in the gas category you could earn 110,000 points and a $100 credit, offsetting the increased $99 annual fee. I am sure some will consider this option at least.
Travel Bank Cash
Free money for any United flyers here. Especially if you are pairing it up with your Amex airline incidental credits already in there.
Not much to say here till we have more details. But a new card is always a plus for us, especially a business variety which doesn’t add to your Chase 5/24 count.
It is rare that we see a refresh work so heavily in our favor. When the World of Hyatt card launched is one such example and now the IHG Rewards credit card lineup is another example. IHG has hit us with some larger devaluations the last few years, switching to dynamic pricing and capping free night certificates, but these changes give some of that back to cardholders. Something that I wasn’t expecting for sure in this age of constant devaluations. The opportunity to quickly rack up some points in the gas category will make this a program I pay more attention to going forward. That, and the addition of adding points to free night certificates for aspirational bookings, turn my IHG cards from potential closures back into long term keepers.
What do you think about the changes? Let me know in the comments below.