How to redeem points with the IHG Rewards program
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IHG Rewards 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 in TPG’s most recent valuations on a per-point basis, the points are surprisingly versatile and aren’t to be ignored.
Even though the IHG Rewards program moved to dynamic award pricing last year, you’ll still typically get the best value when redeeming for award nights. However, you can also transfer IHG Rewards points to airline loyalty programs, redeem for experiences and more. Since you have a wide variety of choices, today I’ll help you assess all of your redemption options before you spend your hard-earned IHG points.
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Redeem IHG points for hotel stays
You can use your IHG Rewards points to stay at all of IHG’s hotel brands. However, note that IHG Rewards hasn’t fully integrated the Six Senses and Mr & Mrs Smith brands yet, so some properties within these brands aren’t available for award stays.
IHG uses dynamic award pricing. So, the only way to find the award rate for a specific stay is to search on IHG’s website. Award night rates will vary based on property, when you search and when you plan to stay. And you’ll typically only see award availability when select base-level room types are available.
To check pricing and availability for a specific stay, head to IHG’s website. Enter your search criteria at the center of the screen, 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 points at 0.5 cents apiece, so you’ll want to keep this baseline in mind as you’re looking for award stays. You may find that some properties provide less value when paid rates are low.
For example, a one-night stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Chicago costs a whopping 80,000 points per night on New Year’s Eve. Alternatively, the paid rate is $366.38 after taxes, giving you just under 0.46 cents per point in value. The same hotel booked in mid-October costs 50,000 points or $333.67 after taxes, for a higher 0.67 cents per point in value.
Always do the math and see if it’s worthwhile to book an award or paid stay — you could be leaving points on the table if you redeem for low-cost award nights.
Fourth-night reward 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 redeem IHG points for a stay of four nights or more, every fourth night costs zero points.
Even better, the IHG Premier Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Points + Cash
If you don’t have enough points for your stay, consider making a Points + Cash booking. The exact details of this redemption option vary, but you’ll usually see discounts offered in 5,000-point increments. For example, at the Kimpton Muse in New York City, I saw 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, IHG will refund you in points. As a result, you should think of this option as effectively buying 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 rates at which you would buy points when booking a Points + Cash award:
- 43,000 points + $30: 0.6 cents per point.
- 38,000 points + $60: 0.6 cents per point.
- 33,000 points + $89: 0.59 cents per point.
- 28,000 points + $115: 0.58 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.
Transfer IHG points to airline partners
Like many hotel rewards programs, you can transfer your IHG Rewards points to various airline partners. However, these usually give you a less-than-ideal transfer ratio. Most 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 points to an airline if you need to top up your account balance for a specific reward. Otherwise, you’re usually better off booking hotel stays for maximum value.
Other ways to redeem IHG points
You can also redeem IHG Rewards points for non-travel items, but it’s rarely a good idea. Here’s a closer look.
Redeem for events and experiences
Like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, you can use your IHG Rewards points for special experiences like concert tickets, sporting event tickets and city experiences. Some can be purchased immediately with points, while others (usually bigger ticket experiences) require you to bid against other IHG Rewards members.
IHG Access Experiences is currently paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. But in the past, Access Experiences included tickets to the Masters Tournament, a Morrissey concert and “Disney on Ice” shows.
Regardless, Access Experiences redemptions were hardly a good deal and your points are better used on hotel stays. That said, some of these experiences can make for an interesting redemption if you don’t mind a low redemption value. You can view all available experiences on IHG’s website when they return post-pandemic.
Shop on IHG’s website
You can also redeem your IHG Rewards points for physical products, gift cards, magazines and digital products like e-books and software. The catalog of physical products is vast and has products like electronics, kitchen supplies, sportswear and more. You can also donate points in increments of 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000 to select charities.
However, as is often the case, these awards usually aren’t the best use of your IHG points. For example, a $25 Starbucks card costs 13,000 IHG Rewards points. This represents a horrible deal as it provides just 0.19 cents per point in value. This is also less than half of TPG’s valuation, so we recommend looking elsewhere when redeeming your points.
There are many ways to redeem your IHG Rewards points. However, I 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 courtesy of Kimpton Epic Hotel.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
- Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
- Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
- IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®