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Should you buy IHG Rewards points or transfer points from Chase?

Feb. 18, 2022
10 min read
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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

Kimpton Banneker Hotel (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

You can typically buy IHG points at this link for the following rates:

  • 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.

(Screenshot courtesy of points.com)

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.

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Related: The best credit cards for buying points and miles

Transferring Chase points to IHG Rewards

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

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."

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

Next, enter the number of points you want to transfer and click "Continue."

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

If you happen to have Bilt Rewards points, these also transfer to IHG at a 1:1 ratio.

Related: 10 best ways to use 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Should you buy IHG Rewards points or transfer from Chase?

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

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.

Related: Why are transferable points worth more than other rewards?

Why you might want IHG Rewards points

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

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).

(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

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).

(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

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).

(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

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.

Related: Why I'm happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier Card

Bottom line

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 by (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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  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.