Best Ways to Earn Points With the IHG Rewards Club Program

Mar 2, 2019

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The InterContinental Hotels Group (commonly known as IHG) is among the world’s largest hotel chains, so naturally, it has its own loyalty program. The IHG Rewards Club allows you to earn and redeem points at over 5,000 properties snapping more than a dozen participating brands around the world. But did you know that there are a ton of ways to earn IHG Rewards Club points without stepping foot in an IHG hotel?

In this article, we’ll take you through the best ways to earn IHG Rewards Club points. We’ll start with earning on hotel stays, move onto the program’s cobranded credit cards and end with partner earning opportunities, all to put you closer to your next award stay.

Earning Through IHG Hotel Stays

Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

As mentioned up front, you can earn IHG Rewards Club points when you stay at IHG hotels worldwide. However, the exact number of points you’ll earn on these stays depends on a few different factors:

  • The type of hotel you’re visiting
  • How much you paid for your stay
  • Your IHG Rewards Club status
  • Any promotions for which you’ve registered

The majority of IHG properties will award you 10 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases (excluding taxes and fees). However, there are two exceptions: Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. These two properties earn 5 points per $1 spent. Note that the program’s terms & conditions allow both room rates and additional purchases like food and beverages to earn points at almost all brands (Kimpton is the main exclusion).

Further, those with IHG Rewards Club elite status earn additional points on all of their IHG hotel stays. As you’d expect, the higher the status tier, the more points you’ll earn on your stay. Here’s how many bonus points each status tier earns:

  • IHG Gold Elite: 10% bonus, 1 extra point per dollar spent (0.5 points at Staybridge and Candlewood)
  • IHG Platinum Elite: 50% bonus, 5 extra points per dollar spent (2.5 points at Staybridge and Candlewood)
  • IHG Spire Elite: 100% bonus, 10 extra points per dollar spent (5 points at Staybridge and Candlewood)

Here’s an example of how these can add up. If you’re an IHG Rewards Club Spite Elite member staying at a Kimpton hotel for three nights at $200 per night, you’d earn the following:

  • $200 x 10 points/$ x 3 nights = 6,000 points
  • 6,000 points x 100% bonus = 6,000 points

As a result, you’d take home a total of 12,000 points on your stay, giving you a return of 10% (before factoring in taxes and fees).

Additionally, top-tier IHG Spire Elite members get an annual choice benefit upon qualification; you can select 25,000 bonus points or gift IHG Platinum Elite status to a friend or family member. TPG currently values IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5 cents per point, meaning this bonus is worth $125. That bonus by itself isn’t very lucrative, but it’s nice to take home some extra points just for qualifying for status.

Earn Bonus Points With Rewards Club Offers

In addition to these “standard” earning rates, IHG frequently has offers that let you earn additional points on your hotel stays. As of writing this article, IHG is running two different promotions: 3x points at Avid hotels (ends 4/30/19) and its first quarterly promotion of 2019. The latter of these two is targeted and typically awards a minimum of 40,000 bonus points to IHG Rewards Club members for completing different tasks — for example, staying at different types of IHG hotel brands, staying for a specific number of nights, or staying on certain nights of the week.

As noted above, these offers are personalized on a member-by-member basis. You can check your offers on IHG’s website, but act quickly — this first promotion of 2019 ends on April 30.

Earning With Credit Cards

While IHG may not have as vast of a credit card portfolio as Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy, it one solid credit card with a welcome bonus, complimentary status, and more. Here’s a look:

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card ($89 annual fee): This card just launched an enhanced sign-up bonus, allowing new cardmembers to earn up to 120,000 points. You’ll earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months plus an additional 40,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first six months. You’ll also enjoy a free night after each account anniversary, valid at IHG hotels up to 40,000 points. The card earns 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel; 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You’ll receive Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member, and you’ll also be able to get a fourth night free when you redeem your points for hotel stays. Finally, if you spend $20,000 on the card in an account year and then make one additional purchase, you’ll receive an extra 10,000 points.

Note that the IHG Premier card replaced the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card in 2018, though if you have held onto that one, you may be offered a bonus to upgrade. If you choose not to upgrade, you’ll still be able to earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, but your IHG earnings are just 5x points.

Earning With IHG Meeting Rewards

Colleagues at business meeting in conference room. (Photo by FangXiaNuo/Getty Images)
Booking a meeting at an IHG hotel can also snag you points. (Photo by FangXiaNuo/Getty Images)

Consider hosting your next business event, wedding, or other gathering at an IHG hotel. IHG Rewards Club Meeting Rewards awards 3 points per $1 spent on qualified meeting expenses, including guest rooms, food and beverage and meeting spaces. It also gives meeting hosts a fast track to elite status; hosting one meeting gives you Gold Elite status, and two meetings will get you Platinum Elite status.

Buying Points

Another option for earning IHG points is to purchase them directly. As a general rule of thumb, buying points is not a good option, but there are a few exceptions to this rule, and IHG Rewards Club is frequently one of them. The normal price to buy IHG points is 1 cent apiece (as long as you purchase at least 26,000 at once), but the program regularly offers bonuses of up to 100% on these transactions. This can allow you to pick up points for as little as 0.5 cents apiece, which matches TPG’s most recent valuations.

To see whether the program is currently offering a bonus, check out this link, and if you do go ahead with a purchase, be sure to carefully pick which credit card to use.

Earning with Partners

Not in the market for a new credit card? No worries — there are a few more ways you can earn IHG Rewards points. These include credit card transfers, car rentals and more.

Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

IHG Rewards Club has one transfer partner: Chase Ultimate Rewards. These points transfer to IHG Rewards Club at a 1:1 ratio, and the transfer should process instantly. However, we don’t necessarily recommend this transfer. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, while IHG Rewards Club points are valued at just 25% of that (0.5 cents apiece). This means you’re effectively cutting your point value by 75% when transferring to IHG Rewards Club. The only time I’d recommend this is when you absolutely, positively need to make up a small difference between your current balance and a desired award. Otherwise, you’re much better off redeeming Ultimate Rewards points in other, more valuable ways.

Book a Ride With GroundLink

RideLink is a limo booking service with a strong presence in US cities like New York and Washington, DC. Book a ride through IHG’s RideLink portal and you’ll be rewarded with 500 IHG Rewards Club miles. That’s not a huge haul by any stretch, but every little bit helps!

Rent a Car With Hertz

Prefer rental cars to limos? No worries: book your Hertz rental car through the IHG portal and you can earn a good number of points. The program is currently offering a bonus of 1,500 points plus an extra 500 points per day. You’ll also enjoy up to 35% off the base rates of your rental, and IHG Spire Elite travelers can even receive an upgrade to Hertz’s Five Star status.

Oh, and don’t forget: consider paying for your rental car with a card that’ll give you primary car rental coverage like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Join IHG Rewards Club Dining

When dining out, be sure to use a card with a bonus for restaurant purchases. Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash.
When dining out, be sure to use a card with a bonus for restaurant purchases. Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash.

IHG Rewards Club Dining is the result of the program’s partnership with the Dining Rewards Network. You can use this program to earn points at participating restaurants (viewable on the program’s website), and it’s very simple — just sign up for an account and link your favorite credit card(s) that you use for restaurant purchases. Whenever you swipe your card at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn IHG Rewards Club points. These are in addition to the miles earned on your credit card, so make sure to link a card that earns bonus points on dining purchases.

In addition, you’ll probably want to register for email notifications after you join IHG Rewards Club Dining. This will give you “Select member” status and boost your earning rate to 5 points per $1 spent at participating restaurants. If you opt out of receiving emails (or delete the emails you receive), your earning rate is cut down to just 1 point per $1 spent.

Finally, if you dine with IHG Rewards Club Dining 11 times in a one-year period and opt-in to emails, you’ll be upgraded to the service’s elite status tier: VIP member. This boosts your earning rate to cool 8 points per $1 spent at participating restaurants. You can keep your status indefinitely so long as you dine 11 or more times per year with the program.

Dine Out or Order In

The IHG Rewards Club program has two additional partnerships that allow you to earn bonus points when dining out or ordering in from select restaurants. For the former, you can make reservations through the IHG Rewards Club portal and earn 500 IHG points on your first dine and at least 150 points on each subsequent reservation. If, on the other hand, you don’t feel like dining out, you can earn IHG points when you order food delivery from Grubhub. Just place your order through the IHG Grubhub portal and you’ll earn 500 IHG Rewards Club points for your first order and 250 points every time thereafter.

Buy Apple Products

IHG Rewards Club doesn’t have a formal online shopping portal, but you can earn 4 IHG Rewards Club points per $1 spent on Apple products (in addition to the points earned by your credit card). Just click through the IHG Apple rewards portal before you make a purchase and you’ll earn points automatically.

Do note that nearly all airline and credit card shopping portals also give you bonus points or miles with Apple, so I’d recommend use a shopping portal aggregator like CashBackMonitor to see which site is offering the best bonus on these purchases.

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are quite a few ways you can earn IHG Rewards Club points. Between its cobranded credit cards, targeted hotel promotions and everyday partners, you’ll be well on your way to a free IHG hotel stay before you know it.

Featured photo of the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow courtesy of IHG.

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