IHG Rewards Program: Get Maximum Value from Your Points

IHG Rewards Program: Get Maximum Value from Your Points

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IHG Hotels is one of the largest hotel groups in the world. With 15 different hotel brands sprawled across nearly 5,800 properties, IHG is worth considering for your next vacation. In addition to its large footprint, the IHG Rewards Program is one of the most well-rounded rewards programs out there, with offerings for both budget and luxury travelers.

While rewards programs are known to mainly benefit loyal customers, there are plenty of ways to maximize the IHG Rewards program without consistently visiting its hotels.

What is IHG Hotels & Resorts?

The IHG Hotels & Resorts is a loyalty program designed to give rewards to loyal customers. Formerly known as Priority Club Rewards, the program's rebranding in 2013 led the way for industry-leading benefits such as free internet for all rewards members. Now, the loyalty program has grown its reach to over 100 million enrolled members.

At the time of publishing, IHG contains 15 different hotel brands. Ranging from budget to luxury, there’s plenty to choose from for any travel occasion.

IHG hotel brands

Brand
Type of property
# of locations
Six SensesLuxury18
RegentLuxury6
IntercontinentalLuxury212
KimptonLuxury66
Hotel IndigoLuxury/Boutique118
Show All Rows

At each of these properties, you can earn IHG points for your stay. The points you earn can be used for a variety of redemptions, including free nights at IHG properties — and the best part is that you can earn IHG points in many other ways, not just by staying in IHG hotels.

Pros and cons of the IHG Rewards Program

IHG Hotels & Resorts stands out among rewards programs because of its diverse portfolio of hotels, plentiful opportunities to earn IHG points and the overall value consumers can earn with the program.

The IHG Rewards Program also offers stable point values and a great variety of properties where travelers can redeem points. While other hotel reward programs have shifted to dynamic pricing that causes prices to fluctuate wildly, IHG uses a rewards chart with static pricing that makes point values relatively consistent. This predictability means the IHG Reward Program is worth committing to regardless of your travel preferences.

Unfortunately, no rewards program is perfect: The largest con of the IHG Rewards Program is that status is too easy to earn. Earning Platinum Elite status is as simple as signing up for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, for example, and this causes elite status to not mean much to each individual property. Other hotel programs, such as Marriott Bonvoy, only allow members to earn up to Gold Elite status automatically, while any status levels past that must be earned through hotel stays. Platinum Elite status may sound alluring, but keep in mind that many other IHG Rewards Program members have the same status.

Here are a few numbers to summarize the IHG Hotels group and the IHG Rewards Program.

IHG by the numbers
Number of properties5,903 IHG Hotels open for business with 883,563 open rooms to choose from
IHG points needed for a free night10,000 to 70,000
Number of redemption options8 (hotel nights, merchandise, bid on unique experiences, magazine subscriptions, digital rewards such as eBooks, transfer points to airline miles, transfer points to friends, donate points)
Point value0.5 cents (10,000 IHG points are worth around $50)
Pros
  • Large amount of hotel properties
  • Wide selection of types of hotels
  • Point values are relatively stable
  • Award nights start at only 10,000 points
  • Points are transferable to airline programs
  • Many ways to earn points, including IHG credit cards
Cons
  • Points expire after 12 months of inactivity, which is short compared to other programs
  • Over 100,000 points per night needed for exclusive properties

How much are IHG points worth?

Collecting hotel points can be very rewarding and even turn into a hobby for some, though some critics of rewards programs contend that points often aren’t worth anything. In the case of IHG Rewards, points aren’t worth a ton, but they can prove to be valuable when used strategically.

IHG doesn’t reveal the "true" value of their points, but many travel rewards experts estimate their value to be worth roughly 0.5 cents per point ($0.005).

For example, 140,000 IHG points bonus are worth an estimated $700 in value.

However, these points fluctuate in value depending how you use them. If an IHG hotel requires more points than usual for a reward night, points will be worth less. There is a simple strategy to avoid this trend — use your points only when it makes sense.

How do you know if using IHG points is worth it?

IHG points are generally valued around 0.5 cents per point — if a hotel stay is worth around 0.5 cents per point, then it’s likely worth it to use them. To calculate the value of IHG points, use this simple equation:

Cash price (including taxes and fees) / Number of points needed for hotel stay = Points value for that specific reservation

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How to earn IHG points

The IHG Rewards program is widely known as one of the most consumer-friendly loyalty programs because of the number of opportunities to earn IHG points. Here are some of the more popular ways to earn IHG points:

Stays

IHG Hotel stays

When you book an IHG stay through IHG directly, you will earn IHG points. The amount of points you earn varies based on the price you pay and your IHG elite status. Here is what a basic IHG member earns:

10 IHG points for every $1 USD

  • Regent
  • Intercontinental
  • Kimpton
  • Hotel Indigo
  • EVEN Hotels
  • Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Voco
  • Holiday Inn
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Holiday Inn Resort
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • Avid Hotels

5 IHG points for every $1 USD

  • Staybridge Suites
  • Candlewood Suites

When you have elite status, you will increase your points earnings as follows:

  • Gold Elite - 10% bonus earnings
  • Platinum Elite - 50% bonus earnings
  • Spire Elite - 100% bonus earnings

Keep in mind that the points you earn are derived from the base rate of the room, not including taxes or fees. For example, an IHG Hotels & Resorts Member that stays at a Voco hotel and spends $300 will earn 3,000 IHG points.

Credit cards

IHG Credit Cards

IHG has partnered with Chase to offer co-branded credit cards, which are popular among travelers because of their great value. In fact, IHG has a promotion at the time of publishing for up to 140,000 bonus IHG points. In addition, if you stay at an IHG hotel, the cards offer generous earnings on top of your base points — up to 25 points per $1 with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. That's nearly 13% back on your IHG hotel stays if you value IHG points at 0.5 cents per point.

Credit card
Sign-up bonus
Earning rate
Annual fee
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardEarn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account openingEarn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.$0 Intro for the First Year, then $89
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit CardEarn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.$0

Promotions

IHG Promotions

IHG frequently announces opportunities to earn more IHG points. For Winter/Spring 2020, you can earn up to 4x bonus points on your IHG hotel stays. Utilizing promotions like this is perfect to jumpstart your points balance. You can find IHG promotions on the promotions page of the IHG website.

Dining

IHG Dining

IHG Hotels & Resorts Dining is a free program where you can earn IHG points when you connect your IHG rewards account to any credit card that you use for dining. When you sign up, you will be asked to link a credit card, though you can link multiple credit cards (including ones that aren’t co-branded by IHG) to maximize your earnings with the program. When you use any card listed in your IHG Hotels & Resorts Dine & Earn profile, you will earn IHG points for dining, in addition to credit card rewards. This is a practice known as "double dipping," as you are earning points with two different programs with one purchase.

The amount of points you will earn in the IHG Hotels & Resorts Dining program depends on your status level:

Membership level
Requirements
IHG points/dollar
VIP member
  • Elect to receive emails from IHG Hotels & Resorts Dining and provide your email address
  • You have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year
8
Select member
  • Elect to receive emails from IHG Hotels & Resorts Dining and provide your email address
5
Basic member
  • No valid email address tied to IHG Hotels & Resorts Dining account.
1

However, the number of participating restaurants is limited. To find out which restaurants participate in your area, you can use the search engine on the IHG Hotels & Resorts Dine & Earn page.

Buy points

Buy IHG points

You can buy IHG points if you need additional ones; note, however, that we don't recommend this option, as points can be expensive to purchase.

Purchasing IHG points is best for people who need to top off their points balance for a stay, not for purchasing in large quantities. However, IHG periodically offers discounts on purchased points that may be a decent value.

If you do buy IHG points, be sure to calculate the value you receive. You can do this by using the formula mentioned below.

Transfer points

Transferring IHG points

Chase is the only bank that allows its points to be transferred to IHG. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG points at a 1:1 ratio.

The following Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points:

This is another option we don't recommend — there are much more valuable uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Similar to buying IHG points, transferring Ultimate Rewards points should only be done to top off an account for a free stay.

How to redeem IHG points

Now comes the exciting part: redeeming your IHG rewards. IHG points are fairly simply to redeem, as IHG uses an award chart to map out their hotel prices.

Free nights

In the past, IHG utilized an award chart to organize how much their hotels cost when using IHG points. This chart is no longer advertised by IHG, but it appears that award nights are still organized by the level of luxury of each hotel with static numbers of points for each level. This is different from other programs, such as Hilton Honors, that have "dynamic" award pricing, largely based on supply and demand.

It’s vital to keep in mind the value of points when eyeing a particular award room. The chart below offers a guideline on when to use IHG points and when to pay cash for a room. Note, there is no fixed dollar amount on the left side of the chart. The general idea is: The higher the cost of the room, the more sense it makes to use points, especially if the point value for the redemption is high.

Free nights

For example, let’s analyze a modest Holiday Inn booking. The room costs around $200 after taxes and fees and requires 40,000 IHG points per night. This would equate to approximately 0.5 cents per point — about average for an award room booking. In this case, since the point value is about average, the room is worth booking with points.

How to redeem IHG points
How to redeem IHG points

If luxury is your preference, IHG has plenty of options to use your points. Here is an example of the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, which costs over $350 per night after taxes and fees. It requires 60,000 points per night to book, which may sound steep, but actually is a great value. Once you divide the points from the price, it comes out to 0.75 cents per point — significantly higher than average.

How to redeem IHG points
How to redeem IHG points

Using IHG points can be tricky, but using our IHG points value equations can help make your next hotel booking more rewarding.

IHG fourth night free

With IHG's fourth night free benefit, you can enjoy the fourth night free when you book the first three nights using IHG points. This is a great way to stretch your points further, and works for stays in increments of four, so you can, for example, plan a ten night vacation to get two free nights.

This benefit is exclusive to IHG credit card holders. If you plan to stay often with IHG hotels, a card like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can potentially save you thousands of points.

Alternative redemptions for IHG points

If you accumulate IHG points but don’t travel much, you can always redeem points for other options than hotel rooms:

Alternative redemptions for IHG points
  • Purchase merchandise from the IHG online catalog
  • Bid for unique experiences in the IHG Hotels & Resorts Access program
  • Use a mix of points and cash for your hotel stays
  • Purchase magazine subscriptions
  • Digital downloads, such as eBooks, games, music and movies
  • Transfer IHG points to your preferred frequent flyer program
  • Gift or transfer IHG points to friends or family
  • Donate your points to a variety of non-profit organizations

Keep in mind that many of these options will net you a poor value on your IHG points, which are best used for hotel stays.

IHG elite status

Having IHG Elite status is a great way to make your hotel stay experience go from good to great. With benefits such as hotel room upgrades, free spa credit and welcome amenities — status gives IHG a chance to say "thank you" for your loyalty.

Status is typically earned through hotel stays. If you travel consistently for work or pleasure, you can earn IHG elite status by meeting the following requirements in a calendar year.

IHG status levels

Status levels
Requirements to earn
IHG Club memberJoin the program
IHG Gold Elite Status10 hotel nights or 10,000 elite qualifying points
IHG Platinum Elite Status40 hotel nights or 40,000 elite qualifying points
IHG Spire Elite Status75 hotel nights or 75,000 elite qualifying points
Intercontinental AmbassadorPurchase of: $200USD or 40,000 IHG points

Once you earn status, it's valid until the end of the following calendar year. So if you earn status in January 2020, you will maintain that status level until December 2021.

Benefits of IHG Elite status

Here are the different levels of the IHG Rewards program, and what each status tier will earn you.

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • $30 in-room spa credit (where applicable)
  • No blackout dates on reward nights
  • Club member benefits plus...
  • 10% bonus points on top of base points
  • Extended check-out
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenity
  • $10 Raid the bar credit (at participating properties)
  • Club member benefits plus...
  • 50% bonus earnings on top of base points
  • Extended check-out
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenity
  • $10 Raid the bar credit (at participating properties)
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability
  • Club member benefits plus...
  • 100% bonus earnings on top of base points
  • Extended check-out
  • Priority check-in
  • Early check-in
  • Welcome amenity
  • $10 Raid the bar credit (at participating properties)
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status
  • Inner Circle amenity (when staying at Kimpton properties)
  • Exclusive choice benefits upon receiving status
  • IHG Hotels & Resorts Concierge
  • Complimentary night at new hotels

Note that the following perks are only applicable to stays at Intercontinental properties:

  • Guaranteed room upgrade
  • Extended 4pm check-out
  • Complimentary weekend night
  • Dedicated check-in area
  • Automatic Platinum Elite status
  • Restaurant and bar credit worth $20 USD for every stay
  • Complimentary mineral water
  • Complimentary internet (highest access)

Fast tracks to IHG elite status

If you enjoy IHG elite status but don’t travel enough to earn it, there are alternatives to earning status the old-fashioned way.

Open an IHG credit card

While airline credit cards don’t award status automatically, several hotel credit cards do. IHG currently offers two credit cards that offer elite benefits without a large annual fee.

Card
IHG Elite status
Annual fee
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardAutomatic IHG Platinum Elite status$0 Intro for the First Year, then $89
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit CardIHG Gold Elite status after spending $10,000 on the card in one calendar year$0

IHG status match

From time to time, IHG will run a promotion offering to match your elite status from other hotel loyalty programs such as Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. Status matching is a great way to try out other hotel brands to see if your hotel loyalty is more valuable elsewhere.

To do this, search for "IHG status match" and you will find the promotional page detailing the program. Generally, you will need to provide your current loyalty program status and submit it. IHG will then approve it, and you will be given the respective status.

However, status typically lasts for a limited time. To maintain status, you’ll need to meet additional requirements, such as staying a certain number of nights or earning a certain number of points. If you meet the requirements, you will earn the promotional status. If you do not meet the threshold in the required timeframe, you'll lose your status.

At the time of publishing, IHG is not running any promotions. Be sure to check the IHG promotions page regularly if they are offering a status match.

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Is IHG Rewards worth it?

Yes, the IHG Rewards program is worth it. With the wide variety and large number of IHG properties around the world, there are endless redemption opportunities.

However, you should avoid hoarding IHG points as they are subject to devaluation. The purpose of hotel points is to create travel memories, while lowering costs at the same time. Don’t feel guilty for spending your points — in fact, give yourself a pat on the back. By collecting IHG points, you can travel to your desired city or country for a lot less.

Furthermore, you don’t need millions of IHG points to redeem them. Most of the major cities in the U.S. have properties that are as low as 15,000 points per night. Because of these achievable free nights, the IHG Rewards Program is an outstanding option for all travelers alike.

Destination (within 30 miles)
# of Hotels
Points needed for one night
Los Angeles4820000-70000
Chicago5515000-50000
Las Vegas1120000-70000
Show All Rows

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).