- IHG's loyalty program is free to join and makes it easy to accrue points
- As with any reward program, the perks get better as your status goes up
If you're a frequent traveler, signing up for hotel rewards programs is a no-brainer: It's essentially the chance to get free money or other perks for doing what you'd do anyway. IHG's loyalty program is a particularly good introduction to the world of hotel rewards because it's free to join and makes it easy to accrue points, which you'll earn every time you book a stay directly through IHG.
The InterContinential Hotels Group may not have as much immediate name recognition as some other rewards programs out there, but chances are you've stayed in, or at least heard of its properties. IHG has more than 5,000 hotels and resorts all over the world, across 12 brands that include Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, Staybridge Suites and all the various iterations of Holiday Inn.
The IHG Rewards Club has four membership tiers. From lowest to highest these are: Club, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite. All levels get you complimentary internet during your stay, a $30 spa credit where available, plus at least two Amazon Kindle eBooks every year, with more books the higher your tier — never run out of beach reads again! As with any rewards program, the perks get better as your status goes up: Gold status adds priority check-in, while Platinum and Spire both offer free room upgrades and guaranteed availability.
But one of the best things about becoming a member is that there are no blackout dates when you decide to book part or all of a new stay with your points, and award stays still count toward Elite status — meaning you can earn rewards at the same time that you're redeeming them. You'll also start earning more points per stay as you rise in the ranks: Gold status, for instance, gets you a 10% bonus on top of your base points, which then jumps to 50% once you reach Platinum and a whopping 100% at Spire.
IHG frequently offers promotions that could let you earn more points quickly. For instance, all members earn 50% more at new and featured hotels — providing a good excuse to check out a fresh property. There are also plenty of ways to earn points beyond hotel stays. One of the most interesting is "Trip Extras," which gets you 1,000 points for every local activity you book directly through IHG. And if you want to take a shortcut and are in the market for a new credit card, IHG's Rewards Club Premier Card gets you automatic Platinum Elite status plus an 80,000-point welcome bonus.
Finally, you'll get 1,000 points just for signing up and completing a quick survey. So maybe use some of the time you'd spend scrolling through Instagram to take the first step toward a free hotel stay and a #travelgram of your very own.