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While it isn’t the most valuable hotel loyalty program currency, travelers can still get plenty of value out of IHG Rewards. TPG’s latest valuations peg IHG points at 0.5 cents each, but you can get a lot more value out of them at a number of hotels and through promotions like PointBreaks.
And now, targeted members can effectively buy IHG points for under 0.5 cents each through a IHG Points & Cash 15% off promotion. But first, let’s explain why you might want to buy IHG points in the first place.
Currently, members can buy IHG points through Points.com with up to a 100% bonus. That reduces the cost of points to a rate of exactly 0.5 cents per point. At this purchase rate, you can book PointBreaks hotels for $25 per night or Category 1 hotels at $50 per night. On the high end, IHG’s most-luxurious InterContinental properties currently top out at 70,000 points per night (though a couple of new Macao partner resorts are now 75,000 points). That means you can buy $350 worth of points to stay at an over-water villa in Bora Bora — where rates are often at least double that.
While 0.5 cents per point is already a solid deal, there’s now a way to get IHG points for even cheaper. Currently, targeted members can generate IHG points for as little as 0.466 cents per point using a Points & Cash promotion and the right credit card. Here’s how it works.
IHG Points & Cash bookings are billed as a way to book a hotel stay when you don’t have enough points. Instead of paying for the whole stay with points, you’ll pay for the stay partially with points and partially with cash. However, if you end up needing to cancel the stay, you don’t get the cash portion back. Instead, that cash copay is refunded as points deposited to your IHG Rewards Club account.
This trick effectively lets you buy IHG points for cheap without having to worry about buying at least 26,000 points to get a 100% bonus or the annual cap placed on IHG point promotions through Points.com. The point purchase rate differs from property to property with the (undiscounted) rate falling as low as 0.575 cents per point.
The 0.575 cents per point rate isn’t especially compelling unless you need to top off your account for a specific redemption. But if you’re targeted for the ongoing 15% discount on Points & Cash bookings, the potential purchase rate of IHG points now drops as low as 0.489 cents each. That makes it the cheapest way of buying IHG points at the moment.
Unfortunately, this promotion is targeted, so not all members will get this discount. There doesn’t seem to be any communication to members who were targeted, so the only way of knowing for sure whether or not you’re targeted is to log into your account and search for a Points & Cash award. If the search results look like this, you — like me — are not targeted:
If the cash prices have a strike-through with a lower price, you are targeted for this promotion:
This initial search is just the beginning. Not all hotels have the same Points & Cash discount rate. If you’re looking for the cheapest rate to buy points, you’ll have to search around to find a hotel with the lowest rate. In my hunting, the best rate that I could find is $97.75 for a 20,000 point discount — which equates to 0.489 cents per point. One of the properties where this discount is available is at InterContinental New York Times Square:
If you’re targeted for the 15% discount, the points and cash rates at this particular property break down as:
- 5,000 points for $25.50 = 0.51 cents per point
- 10,000 points for $51 = 0.51 cents per point
- 15,000 points for $75.65 = 0.504 cents per point
- 20,000 points for $97.75 = 0.489 cents per point
So where does the 0.466 cents per point come from? Well by putting this points purchase on your IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you’ll earn 10x IHG points from the purchase. Using this example of buying 20,000 points through the Points & Cash booking, you’ll earn 978 additional points from the IHG purchase. That means you’ll end up with a total of 20,978 points at a cost of $97.75 for a net purchase price of 0.466 cents per point.
If you don’t already have the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can currently get a sign-up bonus of 80,000 IHG points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. In addition to the 10x points on IHG purchases, you’ll also enjoy automatic Platinum Elite status (which I’ve used to get numerous suite upgrades in my travels), an automatic fourth night free on all award stays and an free night certificate on your card anniversary (valid at hotels up to 40,000 points per night).
Know before you go.
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With this card you'll get IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status which more than negates the value of the $89 annual fee. You'll also earn 10 points per dollar at IHG hotels, 2 points per dollar on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
- Earn 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®