How to redeem points with the IHG Rewards Club program

Feb 12, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit cards information and benefits. It was originally published on March 3, 2019.

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 this array of choices, it’s important to asses all of your redemption options before you spend your hard-earned IHG points.

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Redeeming IHG points for hotel stays

Courtesy of IHG
You can use your IHG points at properties like the InterContinental San Juan. (Photo courtesy of IHG.)

As you’d expect, you can use your IHG Rewards Club points at nearly all of IHG’s different hotel brands. IHG Rewards Club award nights are priced by category, so the higher the category the higher the price of the award 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, find the property you’d like to book, and then choose Select Hotel.

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. On a sample date in January, I see flexible cash rates as low as $237. If you redeem points on that night, you’ll get a value of just under 0.4 cents apiece. However, around the December holidays, the paid rate climbs to $473, giving you a much better redemption value of 0.79 per point.

Fourth award night benefit

If you’re looking to extend the value of your points even further, you should consider adding the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to your wallet. When cardholders book an award stay of four nights or more, the fourth night costs zero points.

Even better, the card is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

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 left. 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 + $30: 0.6 cents per point
  • 50,000 points + $60: 0.6 cents per point
  • 45,000 points + $89: 0.59 cents per point
  • 40,000 points + $115: 0.56 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 tickets to the Masters Tournament, a Morrissey concert and Disney on Ice. 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.

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 $100 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

British Airways landing at Schiphol International Airport in The Netherlands. British Airways has a fleet of 273 aircrafts and 69 in order, among them 72 Airbus A320 variants, 4 of them are A320neo and there are 21 more A320neo in order. . British Airways AirbusA320-232(WL) with registration G-EUYY and serial number 6290. It has 2x V2500 jet engines and the seat configuration is 168 economy class seats. The airplane first flew in October 2014. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
British Airways is just one transfer option for your IHG points. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.)

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 almost 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.

Bottom line

There are a number of 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.

Additional reporting by Carissa Rawson

Featured 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, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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