How to use an IHG promotion to effectively buy points for a half a cent each
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
If you need a little more help toward your next IHG redemption, we've got some good news. Now through Oct. 10, members can book a Points & Cash stay at IHG with a 20% discount on the cash copay. This effectively reduces the cost to buy IHG points to just 0.5 cents each for stays now through Jan. 1, 2020.
But first, let's explain why you might want to buy IHG points in the first place.
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.
PointBreaks hotels start at just 5,000 -- or just $25 worth of points per night at a valuation of 0.5 cents per point. While the 5,000-point PointBreaks hotels are dwindling, there are typically over 100 PointBreaks hotels available for 10,000 points per night. At those properties and the hundreds of other hotels with a 10,000-point standard pricing, you're redeeming just $50 worth of points per night.
On the high end, most IHG luxurious InterContinental properties currently top out at 70,000 points per night -- although a couple of new Macao partner resorts are now 75,000 points. That means you're redeeming just $350 worth of points to stay at an over-water villa in Bora Bora — where rates are often at least double that.
If you're looking for a quick way to boost your IHG points balance to take advantage of these redemptions, IHG is offering up to a 80% bonus when buying points now through Oct. 18. That bonus reduces the cost of points to a rate of 0.56 cents per point if you buy at least 26,000 points.
But now there's a way to get IHG points for even cheaper. Currently, targeted members can generate IHG points for as little as 0.5 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 80% bonus on buying points or being limited by 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 0.72 cents per point. That rate isn't especially compelling unless you need to top off your account for a specific redemption.
But at a 20% discount, the rate drops to 0.576 cents per point. That's still marginally higher than the 0.56 purchase rate through Points.com. However, there's another aspect to keep in mind.
Standard IHG points purchases are processed by Points.com, meaning that you won't earn bonus points for charging it to a IHG credit card or other cards that offer a category bonus for travel. However, Points & Cash transactions are processed by IHG, opening up the possibility for some very large spending bonuses.
By putting this points purchase on your IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, you'll earn up to 25x IHG points from the cash co-pay. That's through an incredible new offer on this card (ends Oct. 8) for cardholders that have signed up since the Aug. 8, 2019 refresh. These cardholders will earn a whopping 25x on IHG purchases for the first 12 months after opening their account.
When you factor in these earnings, your effect
- 25x rate: 0.545 cents per point -- for IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders who signed up since Aug. 8
- 10x rate: 0.503 cents per point -- for IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders who signed up before Aug.t 8
It doesn't seem that all IHG Rewards members are targeted for this Points & Cash discount. To see if you're getting the discount, search "Points + Cash" options. If the cash prices have a strike-through with a lower price, you're one of the lucky ones:
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 searching, the best rate that I could find is $115 for a 20,000 point discount. One of the properties where this discount is available is at InterContinental New York Times Square:
If you don't already have the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, you can currently get a sign-up bonus of 125,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. 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).