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Why I've depleted my IHG account to make these 8 redemptions

Feb. 28, 2021
10 min read
Overwater spa bungalows.
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Before IHG Rewards rolled out dynamic award pricing in early 2020, I expected it to reduce the value of IHG points. But thanks to lower demand and occupancy during the coronavirus pandemic, award night prices for most dates are now lower than before IHG Rewards introduced dynamic pricing. And I've gotten excellent value recently when redeeming IHG points.

However, as demand and hotel occupancy increase, I expect to see higher award night costs and lower redemption value. So, now is an excellent time to redeem IHG Rewards points and lock-in awards at the current award rates. Here's a closer look at why now is a great time to book IHG award stays and what stays I've booked or want to book.

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Why now is a great time to book IHG award stays

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Typically, I try to get at least TPG's valuation when redeeming points and miles. TPG values IHG Rewards points at 0.5 cents, but my husband JT and I have found it easy to get more than 0.5 cents per point on most IHG Rewards bookings over the last few years.

Of course, it helps that we rarely use IHG points to book stays of less than four nights. After all, we like to use IHG's fourth-night reward, a perk of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card, to maximize IHG Rewards redemptions. Thanks to this perk, every fourth night's cost (on award stays of three nights or longer) is zero.

But, as long as we were getting at least 0.5 cents per point when booking, I rarely calculated our redemption value when redeeming IHG Rewards points. However, I did so today for all of the upcoming IHG Rewards stays we've booked as well as stays we're considering. And I was amazed by the redemption value we've easily obtained.

You can see the redemption value for each of the stays I discuss below. But, based on the eight IHG Rewards award stays we've currently booked, we're getting 1.24 cents per point of value. To put this in perspective, the 1.24 cents per IHG point that we're getting is:

  • 2.48 times TPG's valuation of IHG Rewards points (0.5 cents per point)
  • 1.24 times what IHG Rewards sells points for without a bonus (1 cent per point, assuming you buy at least 26,000 points)
  • 2.48 times what IHG Rewards sells points for at least once a year when it offers a 100% bonus (0.5 cents per point, assuming you buy at least 26,000 points)

As such, now is an excellent time to redeem IHG Rewards points for future stays. After all, we don't know how long IHG Rewards will offer such excellent redemption value. So, I'm taking advantage of redeeming IHG points at a high value while I can. And I'm keeping most of our IHG points tied to future reservations to protect against any sudden devaluations.

Related: Rollover nights, bonus points and extensions: Here’s what IHG Rewards is doing for its members in 2021

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IHG Rewards award stays I've booked

I have a few IHG Rewards award stays booked in Hong Kong later this year. (Photo by phaitoons/Getty Images)

Ever since IHG rolled out dynamic award pricing in early 2020, I've been amazed by the excellent value I've seen when redeeming IHG Rewards points. Luckily, there's still great value to be found now that I'm booking IHG award nights for trips in mid to late 2021 and early 2022.

In particular, over the last few months, JT and I have booked the following stays using IHG Rewards points. Note that each stay is four nights (to maximize the fourth-night award perk) unless I note otherwise.

  • Crowne Plaza Santiago in April (eight-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 75,000 points (worth $375 based on TPG’s valuations)
  • Current points cost: 75,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $956
  • Cents per point: 1.27
  • Holiday Inn Paris - Elysées in June
  • Our reservation: 67,500 points (worth $338)
  • Current points cost: 90,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $742
  • Cents per point: 1.10
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Austin Downtown - University in September
  • Our reservation: 67,500 points (worth $338)
  • Current points cost: 82,500 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $796
  • Cents per point: 1.18
  • Holiday Inn Express Puerto Madero in September
  • Our reservation: 52,500 points (worth $263)
  • Current points cost: 60,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $598
  • Cents per point: 1.14
  • Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong in October
  • Our reservation: 48,000 points (worth $240)
  • Current points cost: 45,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $681
  • Cents per point: 1.51 (after canceling and rebooking at the current points cost)
  • Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay in November
  • Our reservation: 52,500 points (worth $263)
  • Current points cost: 52,500 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $673
  • Cents per point: 1.28
  • Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in November (one-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 30,000 points (worth $150)
  • Current points cost: 30,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $275
  • Cents per point: 0.92
  • Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong in November
  • Our reservation: 48,000 points (worth $240)
  • Current points cost: 45,000 points
  • Current best flexible rate: $681
  • Cents per point: 1.51 (after canceling and rebooking at the current points cost)

For the two stays with lower points costs now, I canceled our reservation and rebooked at the lower cost. By doing so, I saved 6,000 IHG Rewards points across the two stays. And, this is on top of the 11,500 IHG points I saved by canceling and rebooking three IHG awards a few weeks ago.

Our one-night redemption at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport sticks out as a low-value redemption compared to our other redemptions. Although I've kept this reservation, I may end up using a 40,000-point anniversary night certificate to cover this night. Within the next few weeks, I'll consider how I might otherwise use this certificate. In doing so, I'll decide whether to redeem it for this night.

Speaking of anniversary night certificates: you can also get significant value right now from the anniversary night certificates offered as a perk of select IHG credit cards. The anniversary nights currently issued by the IHG Premier and IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (card no longer available for new applicants) are each good for a night costing 40,000 points or less. However, some spectacular IHG Rewards properties are currently bookable for 40,000 points or less on select nights.

I wrote last fall about redeeming my uncapped anniversary night certificate for a night in October 2021 at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. But, nights adjacent to my anniversary night recently dropped to 40,000 points per night. So, I was able to snag two more nights using 40,000-point anniversary night certificates. As such, we now have a three-night stay at the beautiful InterContinental Danang using three anniversary night certificates.

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

Other IHG award stays I'm considering

I may book a Holiday Inn Express near Times Square for a trip later this year. (Photo by boneman/Twenty20)

On top of the IHG award stays JT and I have booked, there are eight more stays I'm currently considering. But, I haven't booked these stays yet since our IHG Rewards balances are close to depleted. And although we could buy IHG points, we're waiting until IHG Rewards offers a 100% buy points bonus.

But, if we had the points to do so, I'd consider booking the following for trips in mid to late 2021:

  • Holiday Inn Milan - Garibaldi Station in June
  • Points cost: 39,000 points (worth $195 based on TPG’s valuations)
  • Best flexible rate: $525
  • Cents per point: 1.35
  • Holiday Inn Express Marseille - Saint Charles in July
  • Points cost: 42,500 points (worth $213)
  • Best flexible rate: $428
  • Cents per point: 1.01
  • Candlewood Suites Portland-Airport in July
  • Points cost: 47,500 points (worth $238)
  • Best flexible rate: $627
  • Cents per point: 1.32
  • Holiday Inn Express New York City Times Square in August
  • Points cost: 63,000 points (worth $315)
  • Best flexible rate: $969
  • Cents per point: 1.54
  • Holiday Inn Express Bogota - Parque La 93 in August
  • Points cost: 40,000 points (worth $200)
  • Best flexible rate: $462
  • Cents per point: 1.16
  • Holiday Inn Dar Es Salaam City Centre in September
  • Points cost: 45,000 points (worth $225)
  • Best flexible rate: $614
  • Cents per point: 1.36
  • Staybridge Suites Dubai Financial Centre in October (five-night stay)
  • Points cost: 60,000 points (worth $300)
  • Best flexible rate: $819
  • Cents per point: 1.37
  • Staybridge Suites Charleston - Mount Pleasant in November
  • Points cost: 55,000 points (worth $275)
  • Best flexible rate: $888
  • Cents per point: 1.61

Since we currently have fewer IHG Rewards points than we need for the bookings we want, I may cancel some of my lower-value bookings to redeem for higher-value bookings. After all, as an IHG Rewards Spire Elite, JT can earn up to 30x points when we book a paid stay directly with IHG Rewards and use the IHG Premier credit card to pay for the stay. And if we expect to get 1.24 cents per IHG point, 30x earnings provides a massive 37.2% effective return on paid IHG stays.

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards should improve its loyalty program

Bottom line

In the past, I'd mostly aimed to get 0.5 cents per point or higher when redeeming IHG Rewards points. But, I didn't realize the IHG Rewards award stays I'd booked over the last few months had a much higher redemption value of 1.24 cents per IHG point. This redemption value is spectacular, especially since you can periodically buy IHG points for as low as 0.5 cents.

However, don't assume that you'd get the same redemption value as me. After all, the redemption value for IHG Rewards points varies considerably based on the stay and whether you get a fourth night reward. As such, I recommend going through your travel plans and reservations to determine your redemption value. Doing so will help you decide when to use points versus cash, as well as the value you can expect to obtain when redeeming IHG points.

Featured image by Overwater spa bungalows. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Rewards Rate

6X6x Marriott Bonvoy Points on each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/3/23.

    Earn 125,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/3/23.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • 6x Marriott Bonvoy Points on each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.