Should you buy IHG Rewards points or transfer points from Chase?
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Many award travelers overlook the IHG Rewards program. But, even if you don’t frequently use the IHG Rewards program, you may want to quickly earn IHG Rewards points for an upcoming redemption. After all, it’s easy to get good value when redeeming IHG points regardless of whether you’re staying at your local Candlewood Suites or an aspirational InterContinental resort.
If you want to quickly earn a lot of IHG Rewards points, you have two main options: buying IHG points or transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG. In this guide, I’ll discuss both options and how to choose which is best for you.
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Buying IHG Rewards points
- 1,000 to 10,000 points: 1.35 cents per point.
- 11,000 to 25,000 points: 1.15 cents per point.
- 26,000 to 150,000 points: 1 cent per point.
However, IHG frequently runs buy points promotions. The best offer you’ll see — which IHG typically offers several times per year — provides a 100% bonus. During this bonus sale, you can purchase IHG points for as little as 0.5 cents per point.
For example, during the current up to 100% bonus points sale that ends March 18, 2022, I could buy 150,000 IHG points and get 150,000 bonus IHG points for just $1,500.
IHG Rewards allows its members to buy up to 150,000 points each calendar year. Purchased points don’t count toward IHG Rewards elite status and aren’t refundable. Once you buy IHG points, the points should appear in your account within 72 hours.
To buy IHG points, click here and enter the name, IHG Rewards number, email and password associated with your IHG Rewards account. Select the number of points you’d like to purchase in the drop-down box and then enter your payment information.
When you buy IHG points, you’ll make your purchase through points.com. So, the purchase will not code as travel. As such, don’t use an IHG credit card or a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases. Instead, use an everyday spending card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Citi® Double Cash Card that earns bonus rewards on all purchases.
Transferring Chase points to IHG Rewards
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards points in increments of 1,000 points at a 1:1 ratio. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the currency earned by select Chase credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
To transfer Chase points to IHG Rewards, navigate to the Chase travel portal here. You may need to log in and select which Ultimate Rewards account you want to use. Click the three little bars on the upper left hand corner and select “Transfer to travel partners.”
IHG Rewards might show up at the top of the next page as a saved frequent travel program. If so, hover over the tile and click “Transfer points.”
Otherwise, scroll down to the hotels section at the bottom of the page and click “Transfer points” in the IHG Rewards box. If IHG Rewards isn’t already saved as a frequent travel program for you, you’ll need to enter your IHG account number.
Next, enter the number of points you want to transfer and click “Continue.”
Finally, confirm your transfer details and click “Confirm & submit” if you want to go forward with the transfer. According to TPG’s tests of how long Chase Ultimate Rewards take to transfer, you can expect the points to reach your IHG account instantaneously.
If you happen to have Bilt Rewards points, these also transfer to IHG at a 1:1 ratio.
Should you buy IHG Rewards points or transfer from Chase?
Transferrable points are only valuable when you redeem them. But, I’d be hard-pressed to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards. After all, there are so many more valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. And all of Chase’s transfer partners use a 1:1 transfer ratio.
In short, would you rather have an IHG Rewards point, a Marriott Bonvoy point or a World of Hyatt point? And would you rather have an IHG Rewards point, a Singapore KrisFlyer mile or a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club point? This is what you must consider when deciding whether to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG instead of other transfer partners.
Based on TPG’s valuations, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, while IHG Rewards points are worth just 0.5 cents each. So on paper, you’re losing 1.5 cents per point when you transfer Chase points to IHG.
Meanwhile, you can buy IHG points for just 1 cent each as long as you purchase at least 26,000 points. And, during occasional 100% bonus sales, you can buy IHG points for as low as 0.5 cents each — which equals TPG’s valuation of IHG points.
I wouldn’t transfer Chase points to IHG because there are many more lucrative uses for Chase Ultimate Rewards points. But, whether to buy IHG points or transfer Chase points depends on your situation. If you have a lot of Chase points, are short on cash or have already hit the annual cap for buying IHG points, you may want to transfer Chase points.
Alternatively, if you are working toward meeting the minimum spending requirements on a new card, buying points may be an easy way to do so. Just make sure you have a use for the points before you buy.
Why you might want IHG Rewards points
Finally, let’s quickly discuss what you might want IHG Rewards points. The short answer is that IHG has some stunning properties in its portfolio, including the InterContinentalMaldives Maamunagau Resort and the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. And, these properties are often a better deal on points than cash.
For example, consider this four-night stay at the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, where you could redeem 480,000 points or pay $4,254.56 for an overwater pool villa with free cancellation until three days before arrival. You’d get a redemption rate of 0.886 cents per point on this stay (although you could get 1.18 cents per point if you have access to the fourth-night reward perk).
And, consider this four-night stay at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. For this stay, you could redeem 188,000 points or pay $1,352.05 for a one king bed garden view room with free cancellation until the day of arrival. You’d get a redemption rate of 0.719 cents per point on this stay (or 0.959 cents per point with the fourth-night reward perk).
But, it’s not just high-end luxury hotels where you can get good value when redeeming IHG points. For example, consider this four-night stay at the Staybridge Suites Atlanta-Buckhead. For this stay, you could redeem 83,000 points or pay $726.30 for a one king bed studio suite with free cancellation until two days before arrival. You’d get a redemption rate of 0.875 cents per point on this stay (or 1.21 cents per point with the fourth-night reward).
If you’re planning on redeeming IHG points for a stay of three nights or longer, it may be worth applying for the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card. After all, both of these cards provide a fourth-night reward when you redeem points for any stay of three or more nights.
In practice, this fourth reward night means you’ll pay the current points rate for the first three nights and zero points for the fourth night of your stay. Best of all, there’s no limit on how many times you can use this perk each year.
My husband and I have bought IHG points many times during 100% bonus sales. After all, we can easily get more than 0.5 cents per point from IHG points, especially with the fourth-night reward perk. If we needed more IHG points for upcoming redemptions, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy IHG points at 0.5 cents each. By doing so, we can save our Chase Ultimate Rewards points for more valuable uses.
However, I don’t recommend buying IHG points or transferring Chase points to IHG speculatively right now. IHG is currently updating its loyalty program, so I’m wary that the value of IHG points may change. As such, I only recommend buying or transferring for IHG award stays you feel relatively confident you’ll use.
Featured image of the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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