How to Redeem Points With the IHG Rewards Club Program
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IHG Rewards Club is one of the world’s largest hotel loyalty programs, with over a dozen brands covering thousands of properties around the world. And while the program’s currency is one of the least valuable on TPG’s most recent valuations, the points are surprisingly versatile. For example, can use your IHG Rewards Club points at nearly all IHG properties, transfer them to airlines, redeem them for experiences and more. Because of these array of options, it’s important to asses all of your redemption options before you spend your hard-earned IHG points.
In this article, we’ll run through the different ways you can redeem your IHG Rewards Club points. We’ll start by looking at how to use them for hotel stays and then move into alternative uses like experiences, car rentals and transferring to airlines.
Redeeming IHG Points for Hotel Stays
As you’d expect, you can use your IHG Rewards Club points at nearly all of IHG’s different hotel brands. IHG Rewards Club reward nights are priced by category, so the higher the category the higher the price of the reward night. As you’d expect, the upscale brands along with hotels in more desirable cities are assigned higher categories.
Unfortunately, the only way to find the award rate for a specific hotel is by searching for it on IHG’s website. The program doesn’t have any formal category lists, but each property does have a set price.
To search, start at www.ihg.com. Enter your search criteria, and be sure to select the Reward Nights option in the Rate Preference drop-down.
From the results page, select the property you’d like to book, and then choose the tabs
TPG currently values IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5 cents apiece, so you’ll want to keep this baseline in mind as you’re looking for award stays, as you may find that some properties provide less value when the paid rates are low.
For example, a one-night stay at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan costs 60,000 points per night. Next January, I see flexible cash rates as low as $237.17. If you redeem points on that night, you’ll get a value of just under 0.4 cents apiece. However, around the 2019 Christmas holidays, the paid rate climbs to $472.89, giving you a much better redemption value of 0.79 per point.
Fourth Night Free
If you’re looking to extend the value of your points even further, you could look to add the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to your wallet. Cardholders are eligible for a free fourth night on all award stays. TPG Senior Points & Miles Writer JT Genter used the benefit multiple times last year and found that the process is surprisingly simple. Just book your four-night stay and you won’t be charged the fourth night’s points — that’s it.
Now is a terrific time to open the IHG card, as it’s offering a sign-up bonus of 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.
IHG PointBreaks Redemptions
Another way to get above-average value involved IHG’s PointBreaks redemption option. A few times a year, IHG will discount select properties to as low 5,000 points per night. These properties sell out relatively quickly, so keep an eye our for new PointsBreak announcements every few months. You can also bookmark our permanent PointBreaks page, which we update whenever a new list is announced.
Points + Cash
If you don’t have enough points for a full hotel stay, you can make a Points + Cash booking for a discount on your next hotel booking. The exact rate options for this redemption vary, but they’re typically provided in discounts of 5,000 points off the full award rate. For example, sticking with the Crowne Plaza example above, you have the following Points + Cash options:
Note the terms listed on the right. When you make a Points + Cash reservation, you pay the cash portion immediately. If you then cancel the award, you’re refunded in points. As a result, you should think of this option as effectively purchasing IHG points in increments of 5,000, and you typically get better value as you use more cash.
In the above example, here are the effective purchase prices for the Points + Cash awards above:
- 55,000 points + $45: 0.9 cents per point
- 50,000 points + $75: 0.75 cents per point
- 45,000 points + $104: 0.69 cents per point
- 40,000 points + $130: 0.65 cents per point
Just be sure to compare the paid rates for the entire stay, as it may make more sense to pay for it outright if the rate is low enough.
Redeeming IHG Points for Access Experiences
Like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, you can use your IHG Rewards Club points for special experiences like concert tickets, sporting event tickets and city experiences. Some of these can be purchased immediately with points, and others (usually bigger ticket experiences) require you to bid against other IHG Rewards Club members.
Some of these current Access experiences include Brooklyn Nets tickets, Moon Taxi concert tickets and a Milwaukee city experience package. More often than not, your points will be better used on hotel stays, but some of these experiences can make for an interesting redemption. You can view all available experiences on IHG’s website.
Use IHG Points For Plane Tickets & Car Rentals
Interestingly enough, you can use your IHG Rewards Club points for flights, rental cars, and non-IHG hotel stays through its travel portal. Each of these redemptions have its own travel portal: Flights Anywhere, Cars Anywhere, and Hotels Anywhere. You can use these portals to book paid flights, rental cars, and hotel stays and cover the cost with your points. The higher the price, the more points it will cost to book.
To book a flight with your IHG Rewards Club points, just head over to the Flights Anywhere portal. Enter your origin, destination, and travel dates to see the options.
However, we’ve found that booking flights through this portal isn’t a particularly good deal. For example, the above United Airlines flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to New York-LaGuardia (LGA) in April costs 43,000 IHG Rewards Club points one-way. This same flight can be purchased for just $107 on United’s website, giving you a value of just 0.25 cents per point. This is exactly half of TPG’s most recent valuations.
Shop on IHG’s Website
You can also redeem your IHG Rewards Club points for physical products, gift cards and digital products like eBooks and software. The catalog of physical products is vast and has products like electronics, kitchen supplies, sportswear, and more.
However, as is often the case, these awards usually aren’t the best use of your IHG points. For example, a Keurig Classic K-Mini Plus costs 39,000 IHG Rewards Club points. The same coffee machine can be purchased for $99.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond, giving you a value of just 0.26 cents per point. This is also significantly lower than TPG’s valuation, so we recommend looking elsewhere when redeeming your points.
Transfer IHG Points to Airline Partners
Like many hotel rewards programs, you can transfer your IHG Rewards Club points to a variety of airline partners. However, these usually give you a less-than-ideal transfer ratio. The majority of programs transfer at a rate of just 10,000 points to 2,000 airline miles, so you’re virtually certain to lose value when you redeem your IHG points in this way.
Because of this, we only recommend transferring your hard-earned IHG Rewards Club points to an airline if you need to top-up your account balance for a very specific reward. Otherwise, you’re usually better off booking hotel stays for maximum value.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to redeem your IHG Rewards Club points. However, we almost always recommend sticking with hotel stays, whether you’re using your points for full award stays or Points + Cash redemptions. This will give you the most value for your points and let you explore over 5,000 IHG properties worldwide.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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