13 ways to stock up on IHG Rewards points

Mar 3, 2021

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I typically redeem a lot of IHG Rewards points each year. After all, despite IHG’s switch last year to dynamic award pricing, you can still find excellent value when redeeming IHG Rewards points. Case in point: I’m currently getting 1.24 cents per IHG point across eight IHG award stays I’ve booked for later this year, which is much higher than TPG’s valuation of IHG Rewards points.

There’s a ton of value to be found when booking (and rebooking) IHG Rewards award stays right now. Luckily, there are many ways to earn IHG Rewards points. So, whether you need to top off your account or substantially boost your balance, you have options. In this article, I’ll describe all of the ways you can earn IHG Rewards points. Then, you can use some of these methods to earn enough points for your next redemption.

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In This Post

Earn points through staying at hotels

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam
InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

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

  • The IHG brand
  • How much you pay for your stay
  • Your IHG Rewards status
  • Any active promotions for which you’ve registered
  • Whether you book a qualifying rate

You’ll only earn IHG Rewards points and get access to elite benefits when you book a qualifying rate through a qualifying method. If you book directly with IHG using a business or leisure rate, your stay will usually qualify. But, if you book through an online travel agent, your stay usually won’t be eligible.

Some IHG brands earn differently

Your earning rate will vary on qualifying stays based on the IHG hotel brand. Specifically, you’ll earn points as follows:

  • Most IHG brands – 10x points
  • Venetian Macao and Parisian Macao – 10x points
  • Venetian Resort Las Vegas –  2,000 points per stay
  • Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites – 5x points
  • IHG Residence properties – 2.5x points
  • IHG Army Hotels – 3x points

You’ll generally earn points on qualifying room rates as well as additional purchases charged to your room, including food and beverages. However, you may not earn points on other purchases charged to your room at some brands and locations.

Except at InterContinental Alliance Resorts and hotels in select countries, you can earn points on up to nine hotel rooms. Your IHG Rewards account number must be associated with each room reservation and you must be staying at the property.

Related: Battle of the hotels: Why I stay most often with IHG

IHG elites earn more

InterContinental Tahiti (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

IHG Rewards elite members earn additional points on all of their IHG hotel stays. As you’d expect, the higher the elite status tier, the more points you’ll earn on your stay.

Here’s how many bonus points elites will earn:

  • Gold Elite – 10% bonus
  • Platinum Elite – 50% bonus
  • Spire Elite – 100% bonus
  • Kimpton Inner Circle – 100% bonus

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

  • $200 x 10x 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. Based on TPG’s valuations, this equates to a 10% return.

Additionally, top-tier IHG Spire Elite members get an annual choice benefit. This choice benefit is either 25,000 bonus points applied to your account or the ability to gift IHG Platinum Elite status to a friend or family member. Based on TPG’s valuations, the bonus points choice is worth about $125.

Related: Why I often choose IHG and Choice hotels, despite limited elite perks

Earn bonus points through promotions

IHG frequently has offers that let you earn additional points on your hotel stays in addition to the standard earning rates. IHG’s current promotion offers 2,000 elite-qualifying points for every two nights stayed between Jan. 20, 2021, and Mar. 31, 2021.

However, you must register for this promotion (and most other IHG promotions) before staying. And for promotions that offer a promotional multiplier such as 4x points, the multiplier usually applies only to the stay’s base earnings. So, if you are an IHG elite, your elite bonus usually won’t be multiplied.

Related: 19 promotions that will make your next hotel stay more rewarding

Earn with credit cards

One of the easiest ways to earn IHG points is by spending on a cobranded IHG credit card. There are currently two options available for new applicants: the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG Rewards  Traveler Credit Card.        

The IHG Premier Credit Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. And when you pay with your IHG Premier Card, you’ll earn:

  • Up to 26x points at IHG hotels and resorts
  • 5x points on travel, gas stations, and restaurants
  • 3x points on everything else

The IHG Premier also offers various perks, including automatic Platinum Elite status, an anniversary night and the fourth-night reward benefit in exchange for its $99 annual fee.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to pay an annual fee, you can sign-up for the no-annual-fee IHG Traveler Credit Card. The IHG Traveler card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 120,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. And when you make purchases with the IHG Traveler Card, you’ll earn:

  • 5x points at IHG properties
  • 3x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
  • 2x points on everything else

But, the IHG Traveler card doesn’t offer nearly the same level of perks as the IHG Premier. As such, I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier.

Related: Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others?

Transfer points

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the IHG Rewards program. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and the transfer should process instantly.

However, I don’t necessarily recommend this transfer. After all, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at two cents each and IHG Rewards points at 0.5 cents each. Even if you get 1.24 cents per IHG point like I recently did, you’ll still lose a fair bit of potential value when transferring Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards.

As such, you’ll generally only want to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG if you need to make up a small difference between your current balance and the desired award. Otherwise, you’ll typically want to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for higher-value redemptions.

Related: How to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Earn points by shopping and dining

There are four main ways to earn IHG points through shopping and dining: the IHG Rewards Dining program, restaurant reservations, food delivery to select IHG hotels and buying Apple products. In this section, I’ll take a closer look at each of these methods.

IHG Rewards Dining program

(Photo by Michael Berman/Getty Images)

The IHG Rewards Dining program allows you to earn points when you dine at participating restaurants. To use the program, you’ll need to sign up for an account online and link at least one credit or debit card to your account. Then, you’ll automatically earn IHG Rewards points when you dine at participating restaurants, bars and clubs.

The points you’ll earn vary depending on how frequently you use the program, as well as whether you opt-in for email notifications. You can earn between 1x and 8x IHG points on eligible purchases, a 0.5% to 4% return based on TPG’s valuations. And, for a limited time, you can earn 1,000 bonus points when you dine at a participating restaurant, spend $30 or more and complete an online review within your first 30 days.

Best of all: these points are in addition to the rewards earned on your credit card. So, make sure to link a card that earns bonus points on dining purchases.

Related: 10 programs that reward you for dining out

Restaurant reservations

The IHG Rewards program has an additional partnership that allows you to earn bonus points when dining out. Specifically, if you make OpenTable reservations through the IHG Trip Extras restaurant portal, you’ll earn up to 500 IHG points per reservation. But, when I searched a few different cities, I noticed that most reservations only earned 150 points.

Related: 8 tips for scoring reservations at the world’s most popular restaurants

Food delivery to select hotels

You can also earn IHG points when you order food delivery to select IHG hotels in the U.S. To earn points, place your order through the IHG Grubhub portal. By doing so, you’ll earn 500 IHG Rewards points for your first order and 250 points for each subsequent order.

Related: Hungry for miles? Use these tips to maximize earnings on your next food delivery order

Buy Apple products

IHG Rewards doesn’t have a formal online shopping portal. But, you can earn four IHG Rewards points per dollar spent on select Apple products. Just click through the IHG Apple rewards portal before you make an eligible purchase and you’ll earn points automatically. Best of all, these points are in addition to the rewards earned by your credit card on the purchase.

Do note that many credit cards and airline shopping portals also give bonus points or miles when shopping with Apple. So, you may want to use a shopping portal aggregator to see which site offers the best bonus.

Related: Which credit card should I use in shopping portals?

Earn points on meetings and events

Conference room table lined with leather chairs and two men in suits standing in the background
(Photo by sirtravelalot/Shutterstock)

You can also earn IHG Rewards points through the IHG Business Rewards program. This program allows you to earn points when you plan a meeting or event – including a wedding – at select IHG properties.

To earn points on meetings and events, you must register on the IHG website. Then, you can earn 3x points when you book rooms, meetings and events for others. Qualifying spending includes:

  • Guest rooms booked for others
  • Meeting and event costs
  • Conference room costs
  • Food and beverage service linked to meetings and conferences
  • All-inclusive meeting packages

Keep in mind that IHG Army Hotels and select other properties don’t participate in IHG Business Rewards. You can see the participating properties on IHG’s website. And there’s generally a cap of 60,000 points that you can earn on an individual meeting or event.

Earn points with travel partners

There are two primary ways you can earn IHG Rewards points with partners. In this section, I’ll describe both of these methods.

Earn points on rental cars

Rental car return
(Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

You can earn IHG points when you book a rental car through Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty via the IHG Trip Extras portal. Specifically, you can get the following:

  • Hertz: Savings on base rates, 1,500 IHG Rewards points per rental, 500 points per day for Elite members and 125 points per day for Club members
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Everyday savings and 125 IHG points per day for all members

Remember to compare prices with other booking options to ensure you’re getting a good deal. And, don’t forget to pay for your rental with a card that provides coverage on your car rental.

Related: 10 best ways to redeem your points and miles for a car rental

Earn points on tours, activities and transportation services

You can also earn IHG Rewards points when you book Viator tours, activities and transport services through the IHG Trip Extras portal. Specifically, you’ll earn 1,000 IHG points when you book a tour, activity or transportation through the portal. Based on TPG’s valuations, 1,000 IHG points are worth about $5.

Related: Travel’s just the beginning — How to use points to try something new

Buy points

Woman Holding Credit Card in Front of Laptop
(Photo by Kite_rin/Shutterstock)

Another option for earning IHG points is to purchase them directly. Granted, it doesn’t always make sense to buy points. But, it can make sense to buy IHG points.

The standard price to buy IHG points is one cent apiece when you purchase at least 26,000 points. But, the program regularly offers bonuses of up to 100% on these transactions. A 100% bonus allows you to pick up points for as little as 0.5 cents apiece, matching TPG’s most recent valuations. Since I can typically get much more than 0.5 cents of value per IHG point, I often purchase IHG points when there is a 100% bonus.

If you decide to buy IHG points, be sure to use one of the best credit cards for buying IHG points. And note that you typically can’t purchase more than 150,000 IHG points per calendar year.

Related: Get up to a 100% bonus when you buy points and miles

Which IHG points are elite-qualifying?

Throughout this guide, we’ve discussed earning IHG points that you can redeem for free hotel nights and more. But, for travelers looking to earn elite status with IHG, there is an additional aspect to consider: which points are elite-qualifying.

In general, the following activities produce points that are redeemable and elite-qualifying:

  • Hotel stays
  • Spend on IHG credit cards
  • Spend on select partner activity
  • IHG Rewards bonus points packages
  • Spend through IHG Business Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers to IHG Rewards

On the other hand, the following generally produce points that are redeemable but not elite-qualifying (unless otherwise indicated):

  • New cardmember bonuses or selected bonus point promotions offered through IHG credit cards
  • Points earned from IHG promotions
  • Elite status bonuses
  • Activation bonuses or select promotions offered through IHG credit cards
  • Select partner promotions
  • Point vouchers, purchases, transfers or deposits

Luckily, if you’re only looking to earn redeemable points, the distinction between elite-qualifying and non-elite qualifying points isn’t all that important.

Related: On the hamster wheel of chasing hotel elite status? Buy it instead

Bottom line

As you can see, there are quite a few ways you can earn IHG Rewards points. Between cobranded credit cards, hotel promotions and IHG Rewards partners, you’ll be well on your way to earning enough IHG points for your next redemption before you know it.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh.

Featured photo of  the Kimpton Rowan, Palm Springs.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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