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Last-minute strategies for earning IHG One Rewards elite status

Oct. 16, 2023
8 min read
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As the end of the year approaches, you may wonder how you'll earn your desired level of elite status with IHG One Rewards this year. This guide will discuss strategies for earning 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

InterContinental Phuket Resort in Thailand. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

IHG overhauled its loyalty program in 2022, adding more benefits and a new elite tier. Here are the current IHG One Rewards elite tiers and the requirements for each:

  • 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 most IHG elite status tiers via 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 accrue enough nights or points 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. Starting at just 20 qualifying nights per calendar year, you'll earn milestone rewards for every 10 qualifying nights you stay (up to 100 qualifying nights per calendar year).

Related: What is IHG One Rewards elite status worth?

Strategies for earning more qualifying nights

Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell in Florida. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Unfortunately, there isn't a shortcut to accruing qualifying nights with IHG One Rewards. You'll earn one 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). So you'll need to show up to the hotel and stay on a qualifying paid rate or award stay to earn qualifying nights.

Additionally, if you book two rooms for the same calendar day, only one night will count as a qualifying night. As such, if you need more qualifying nights than the number left in the calendar year, you won't be able to qualify for your desired status based on nights.

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If you need more qualifying nights, 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 an additional milestone reward.

If you can't get the qualifying nights you need on trips you plan to take, consider doing a staycation or mattress run near your house. Or plan a getaway to a destination with inexpensive IHG hotels or resorts. For example, you could book a four-night stay from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland for $216 or 40,000 points (or 30,000 points if you have an IHG card that provides access to the fourth-night reward perk).

There are also many inexpensive IHG properties in faraway destinations. But especially if you're planning a new trip primarily to get more qualifying nights, it may be worth paying more for your nights to stay closer to home and avoid unnecessary flight or fuel costs.

Related: Which hotels count award stays toward elite status?

Strategies for earning more qualifying points

Holiday Inn Johannesburg Airport in South Africa. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Based on IHG's terms and conditions, only the following activities earn elite-qualifying points:

  • Paying qualifying rates 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

Earning through IHG partner activities like Hertz car rentals, OpenTable reservations, Grubhub orders and Viator experiences may help if you only need to earn a small amount of additional qualifying points to reach your desired elite status. And if you happen to be eligible for an IHG card issued in the U.K. or Greater China, you could use it to earn more qualifying points on your purchases.

But for most U.S.-based IHG loyalists, the best way to earn more qualifying points is to add bonus points packages to upcoming paid stays. For example, here's an offer I saw on a stay at the Holiday Inn Ocean City in Maryland:


If you add 5,000 bonus points for $32 per night, you'll buy points for 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 bonus points you'd purchase with your stay are elite-qualifying.

Related: 7 ways to earn more IHG One Rewards points for your next redemption

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 and let you spend toward higher elite status tiers:

You can also enroll in complimentary IHG Platinum Elite status with the United Club Infinite Card.

Related: Why you should get (and keep) the IHG One Rewards Premier card

Pay for InterContinental Ambassador membership

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Vietnam. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Another way to quickly earn 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 and the following perks when staying at InterContinental properties:

  • Guaranteed one-category room upgrade
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
  • 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 have a credit card that provides this status, maintaining an InterContinental Ambassador membership may be a good choice, even if you only occasionally stay at InterContinental properties.

Related: How much value does IHG One Rewards status provide when you book directly?

Bottom line

You can earn IHG elite-qualifying points by adding bonus points to upcoming paid IHG stays, but there's no shortcut to earning IHG elite-qualifying nights.

This doesn't mean earning IHG elite status is difficult, though. You can enjoy Platinum Elite status as a perk of InterContinental Ambassador membership, and several cards offer automatic Platinum Elite status for as long as you're a cardholder. Plus, you can earn top-tier Diamond elite status through the end of the following year by spending $40,000 or more on the IHG Premier Card or IHG Premier Business Card in a calendar year.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.