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IHG Rewards Club: the Best Value for Your Points

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Contents

IHG Rewards Club is a worldwide loyalty rewards program that gives members the freedom to redeem points for free nights, free flights and more. Between all redemptions, we obtain an average point value of 0.37 cents (or $0.0037), though that value can rise as high as 1 cent in certain cases or as low as 0.2 cents in others.

Overview of the IHG Rewards Club

Within this program you will essentially have the choice to redeem your Club points between hotel reservations, air miles transfers, air travel bookings, shopping and gift cards. Not all redemptions are made equal, however, as you can see below. It makes sense, being a hotel rewards program, that you are going to get the best value when redeeming for hotel reservations within the Intercontinental Hotel Group. You will find smaller but possibly decent value in air miles transfers, followed by booking airplane tickets.

RedemptionValue per Point (cents)
Hotel Reservation  0.64
Miles Transfer  0.30
Bookings  0.28
Shopping  0.20-0.30
Gift Cards  0.25

Hotel Reservation Redemptions

IHG (the Intercontinental Hotel Group) and its 12 brands have nine categories of hotels, with the higher categories boasting more luxuries, amenities, and more central locations. The categories are important because more points are needed for a free night with each increase in category number. If you plan to book in a large city such as New York, expect to find more higher category hotels then if you were to book in a city such as Phoenix.

Standard Redemption

Across all categories we get an average point value of 0.64 cents per point (or $0.0064). This value can dramatically increase or decrease however depending on the classification of the hotel you are booking or the city you are booking it in. Essentially, the more expensive a room within a category is, the higher value you will get for it. For example, a 25,000 point room in New York City, which costs $171 a night, will get you a higher point value than a 25,000 point night at the Crowne Plaza Dallas, which costs $111. When you go to book a hotel, you should always divide the price by the points needed, to determine what value your points will get and compare it to our average value. 

Category Points NeededValue per Point (cents)
1 10,000 0.71
2 15,000 0.75
3 20,000 0.67
4 25,000 0.58
5 30,000 0.56
6 35,000 0.60
7 40,000 0.57
8 45,000 0.68
9 50,000 0.64
10 55,000 N/A
11 60,000 N/A

Recently, IHG introduced two new categories worth 55,000 and 60,000 points a night. The change has only been made to eight hotels around the world and there is not enough information to accurately declare a point value. IHG is sure to be adding more hotels to these new categories as the year goes on however.  

Cash + Points 

Similarly to other hotel rewards programs, IHG gives you the option to pay part of the free night with cash and a fewer amount of points. Essentially you are paying the amount of points needed for a category lower plus $40 or two categories lower plus $70. The value of this redemption depends entirely on how you value your IHG points - you'll have to calculate if the cash you are paying is worth less or more than the amount of Club points you would otherwise pay in order to maximize value. For example, if you wanted to stay at a category 3 IHG hotel, which would cost you either 15,000 points plus $40 or 10,000 points plus $70, we need to figure out if the 5,000 extra points is worth more than the $40 or if the 10,000 extra points is worth more than $70. 

If we use our average of 0.64 cents, we divide into $40 and $70 to get an equivalent points value, which is 6,250 and 10,938 points respectively. When we add those amounts to 15,000 and 10,000 respectively, we end up with 21,250 and 20,938. Both values are greater than 20,000 (the original number needed to redeem a Category 3 night) making this redemption ultimately not worth it because you can just spend 20,000 points for the free night. Here we used the average, but you may come across a hotel that gives you a higher value for your points, for example a category 4 hotel that costs $194 per night translates into Club points value of 0.97 cents. If we use the same methodology as above, the total costs would be effectively 19,123 points if you paid $40 and 17,216 if you paid $70, meaning the cash + points option is a good deal if you spend $40 and an even better deal if you spend $70. We find that generally, when the value of the point exceeds 0.8 for the $40 cash option and 0.7 for the $70 option, they are worthwhile. 

PointBreaks

At some participating hotels across the world, IHG offers you a free night, regardless of category, for 5,000 points. This is a tremendous deal so long as you choose a hotel with a rate higher than the average category 1 hotel which is around $71. We would recommend you use this deal to claim the highest possible category hotel to get the greatest bang for the 5,000 points. Currently, hotel promotions seem to be in minor cities or less central locations. You can find a PointBreaks participating hotel here.

Where and What are IHG Hotels? 

Essentially, all 12 IHG brands can be found everywhere, boasting nearly 5,200 hotels and nearly 727,000 rooms across the world. Below on our map, you may see where exactly all those properties are located. 

IHG properties

You should also note that IHG is a network of 12 different brands of hotels. Below you can see what hotel brands fall under the IHG family and how many of them there are. 

Brands  # of properties 
Candlewood Suites  333
Crowne Plaza  403
EVEN  2
Holiday Inn  1,208
Holiday Inn Express 2,406
Hotel Indigo  64
HUALUXE 3
Intercontinental  182
Kimpton  59
Staybridge Suites 219

Airline Redemptions 

With IHG you can also use your points to fund your travels through the air. You can either transfer your points directly to airlines for frequent flyer miles or book flights directly through IHG. While convenient, we don't recommend these options because of their less than optimal value.

Air Miles Transfers 

IHG allows you to transfer your accumulated points for air miles through 45 different carriers - more partners than Starwood, Marriott, or Wyndham. The issue with this miles transfer program, however, is that all the airlines have unfavorable conversions. They're transferred in a 5:1 ratio, or 10,000 points for 2,000 miles (except Air New Zealand and El Al Israel Airlines - which are even worse). Since airline miles are generally valued between 1.1 cents and 2 cents, you’ll essentially be devaluing your points by a fifth of those values, which will always be less than the 0.64 cents per point average you can get for a hotel booking. For example, transferring for Delta Skymiles, valued at 1.4 cents, will devalue your points to 0.28 cents. We get the average value of a transferred point to be 0.3 cents per point. Below you can see all the carriers you may transfer to. 

Airline  Miles:Points Airline  Miles:Points
Aeromexico Club Premier 10,000:2,000 Hainan Airlines  10,000:2,000
Aeroplan / Air Canada 10,000:2,000 Hawaiian Airlines 10,000:2,000
Air Berlin 10,000:2,000 Iberia Airlines  10,000:2,000
Air China 10,000:2,000 Japan Airlines 10,000:2,000
Air France  10000:2,000 Jet Airways  10,000:2,000
Air New Zealand  10,000:25 KLM 10,000:2,000
Alaska Airlines 10,000:2,000 LAN Airlines 10,000:2,000
Alitalia MilleMiglia 10,000:2,000 Life Miles 10,000:2,000
All Nippon Airways (ANA) 10,000:2,000 Miles and More (Lufthansa) 10,000:2,000
American Airlines AAdvantage 10,000:2,000 Malyasia airlines  10,000:2,000
Asia Miles 10,000:2000 Qatar Airways 10,000:2,000
Asiana Airlines 10,000:2,000 Qantas Airways  10,000:2,000
Avianca  10,000:2,000 Saudia Arabian Airlines 10,000:2,000
British Airways 10,000:2,000 Singapore Airlines 10,000:2,000
China Eastern Airlines 10,000:2,000 South Africa Airlines 10,000:2,000
China Southern Airlines 10,000:2,000 Southwest Airlines  10,000:2,000
Copa Airlines  10,000:2,000 TAP Air Portugal  10,000:2,000
Delta Air Lines 10,000:2,000 Thai Airways  10,000:2,000
El Al Israel Airlines 10,000:40 US Airways 10,000:2,000
Emirates Skywards 10,000:2,000 Virgin Atlantic 10,000:2,000
Etihad Airways 10,000:2,000 Jet Blue Airways  10,000:2,000
Global Pass Smiles 10,000:2,000 Virgin America  10,000:2,000
Gulf airlines  10,000:2,000 Virgin Australia  10,000:2,000

Air New Zealand and El Al airlines have a different rate because they are worth much more than normal miles, but because you are only getting 25 and 40 points respectively, it still works out to be a poor deal. For example, an Air New Zealand mile is worth 66 cents, meaning you're only getting $16.50 worth of miles which is less than every other transfer. 

Airplane Ticket Bookings 

IHG also allows you to choose from over 200 airlines and book flights directly through its travel portal. You will find however your points devalue even further than with a miles transfer. 

Delta Flight JFK to... Points Price  Points Value (cents)
MIA 76,000 $211  0.28
SFO 55,000 $148  0.27
LHR 391,000 $1,156  0.30
NRT 366,000 $1,082  0.30

We obtain an average of 0.28 cents ($0.0028) per point when booking a flight through IHG. Although it is only .02 cents less than a miles transfer, this redemption can prove to be much worse due to the high amount of points you need to book a flight. For a miles transfer, 2,000 miles can be the difference between you and free flight, in which case, the 10,000 points can be well worth it as you are only giving up one free night at a category 2 hotel. In comparison, the 391,000 points needed for a flight to London can get you 18 free nights at category 4 hotels. As long as you maintain account activity at least once a year, your points won’t expire. If you manage to accumulate 391,000 points, it would be a tremendous waste to use them for one flight when you essentially can get all of your hotel expenses for all of your travels for free. 

Bottom Line on the IHG Rewards Club

Always a Good Redemption

A great redemption is one that surpasses our hotel reservations average of 0.64 cents per points. Based on our data, we find you will have the most success with a booking that exceeds 0.64 cents with low-end and high-end hotels, whereas there is a dip in value towards the middle. However, it really depends on where and when you are booking, so we encourage you to check the value of your points on a case-by-case basis and make sure you are getting above 0.64 cents. The best redemption you will get is if you find a value of over 0.7 cents and you can use the cash + points option. 

Sometimes a Good Redemption

If for any reason you are unable to book a hotel for above 0.64 cents, you can still find a decent value in your IHG points between .50 cents and .63 cents. You will probably be able to find a middle category hotel for around that value that'll still be worth much more than other redemption options such as booking airline tickets. Occasionally, a miles transfer could also be worthwhile if you transfer to a carrier who values their points highly and you are close to a free flight. Alaska Airlines for example has an average value per mile of 1.9 cents. 

Not Good Redemptions

Essentially anything below 0.40 cents is a bad redemption. Unless you absolutely need to, we would not recommend using your points to book flights since you’ll be saving enough money using your points for free nights that you will not need to save money on the flight. You should also never transfer to an airline that has a low value for its points, essentially anything below 1.7 cents, and even then it should only be done if you are close to a booking a free flight. Shopping and gift cards are also a tremendous waste of your points if you're looking to maximize value. Booking free nights should always be at the forefront of your mind for the IHG Club program when it comes to getting the greatest bang for your points.

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