Since last year I’ve been pretty settled on a hotel status plan. The World of Hyatt Visa makes attaining Hyatt Globalist possible, and I’ve been loyal to Hyatt since 2019 when I was first able to qualify for their top-tier status. Hilton Diamond has been my “backup” status, attained through the Hilton Aspire American Express Card. Together, this has been a great hotel loyalty strategy.
However, I just ran the numbers for attaining top-tier status with IHG, and it is an intriguing idea.
My Potential Path to IHG Spire Status
This opportunity starts with a mishap. Last month I did my in-person Simon verification in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, I ended up having to run my IHG Premier Mastercard instead of my Double Cash, as Citibank declined the charge. Simon has a policy of not attempting the same card twice when buying gift cards, which is unfortunate. The only backup card I had with sufficient credit limit for the purchase was my IHG Premier Card. The value of 9,000 IHG points is far less than $180 cash back, but I couldn’t complain since the fees were waived for this particular in-person visit.
What hadn’t occurred to me is how much further along the path toward IHG Spire status this would put me. IHG has reduced their 2020 status requirements, and credit card spending counts toward the base points needed to attain IHG elite status. I’d forgotten this was the case. The card already provides automatic Platinum status, and I pretty much forget about the IHG elite program beyond that. When I saw that I only needed just shy of 39,000 points, my wheels started to turn.
With the Simon charge and a couple other purchases at grocery stores during the 5x promotion, my current statement will be earning me 12,000 IHG points. All of these should be elite qualifying points. This will put me at 26,000 points remaining.
There is a single upcoming stay where I’ve elected to earn an extra 5,000 IHG points through one of their bonus point packages (for just $19 more). Since these points are elite qualifying as well, the stay will add another 6,000 points to the total. This will put me at just under 20,000 points needed.
This might sound like a lot, but hear me out. I generally do some manufactured spending through online Simon bulk gift cards each month. If I switch my spending to my IHG card instead of the Double Cash, I could knock out IHG Spire before the end of the year pretty easily. Card fees and liquidation costs come to $119. In the process I’d earn:
- 20,000 IHG points from the card spend
- 10,000 bonus IHG points from hitting over $20,000 in cumulative spend on the IHG card
- 25,000 bonus IHG points when qualifying for Spire elite
Rather than just earning 20,000 IHG points, which are not worth $119 to me, I’d take home many more points. The 55,000 IHG points are worth $330. Even discounting the value of the status entirely, I still come out ahead.
What Does IHG Spire Status Provide?
Unlike top-tier status with Hyatt, Hilton, or Marriott, the benefits of IHG Spire are lackluster. These include:
- 100% bonus points on IHG stays
- 25,000 bonus IHG points upon qualification
- Complimentary room upgrades
- Check-in as early as 10:00 AM
- Hertz Five Star status
- Kimpton Raid the Bar benefit
- Kimpton $30 in-room spa credit
- Kimpton Inner Circle Amenity each stay (if Inner Circle)
- Kimpton Chef’s Taste each stay (if Inner Circle)
Unless you really like the Kimpton benefits, Spire doesn’t offer much. IHG upgrades have never been guaranteed and I’ve never had anything to write home about. The biggest perks are honestly the 25,000 bonus points and the 100% bonus on stays. This will come in handy for potential work travel next year, but even that doesn’t offer massive value.
It’s a toss-up whether I’m going to switch things up and pull in IHG points and status rather than keep earning ThankYou Points for two months. I’m essentially getting $330 in value for $119 out of pocket, which is a net gain of $211. But I’m also forgoing a net gain of 25,000 ThankYou Points, which I value at $500. Is earning IHG Spire for 2021 worth $289? That I don’t really know.
What would you do if presented with this option?