Some of the best value to be had from IHG Rewards is the quarterly PointBreaks promotion, where a number of hotels globally of the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands are made available for an up to a 90% discount when using points.
With a lot of negative feedback about the low number of (poor) properties, the loyalty program has announced that they are doubling the number of hotels available each quarter, including more InterContinental properties.
Let’s hope we continue to see InterContinentals like the one in Fiji included in future promotions
However, the flipside is that instead of there being one pricing level (5,000 points per night), there are now three levels: 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 points.
My take on this is that it is positive for now, as PointBreaks has been very hit-and-miss in the quantity and quality of properties in the past. However, let’s see if/when IHG skews the higher-quality properties mostly to the higher tier/s and has some token properties available at the 5,000-point level.
You are also now able to make bookings with points and cash, meaning that you can make a cash co-payment if you don’t have enough points for one of the higher categories.
These changes are effective immediately.
Why this is a good deal
Given some of these hotels would normally go for as much as 70,000 IHG Rewards points, and that you can acquire IHG Rewards points for around 0.6c USD per point in promotions that run every 1-3 months (there is one running until 28 February), some of these offers can be an absolute steal.
Most hotels are priced between 10,000 and 70,000 points, so if we take an average as 30,000 per night, buying points for 0.6c USD each, you would be paying $30 USD/night for a PointBreaks property instead of $180 USD!
Do note that IHG did devalue its program at the start of 2018.
When does the promotion run?
Around the last Monday of the month every three months, IHG will release a list of around 200 hotels around the world which can be booked for the following three months for a maximum of two stays per hotel for unlimited nights.
The majority are located in the US, followed by Europe and Asia, and then other regions such as Oceania.
You can view the current list of PointBreaks hotels, bookable now for stays until 30 April 2018.
The best-value redemptions are usually for InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels. Here are our highlights from this quarter’s list:
- Holiday Inn Nola – Naples Vulcano Buono
- Holiday Inn Express Istanbul Airport
- Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie
- InterContinental Cali
- InterContinental Medellin
- Holiday Inn Dresden – City South
- Holiday Inn Rome – Aurelia
- Crowne Plaza Istanbul – Florya
- Holiday Inn Express London – Dartford
- Holiday Inn Express London – Newbury Park
- Crowne Plaza Kochi
- Crowne Plaza Kathmandu-Soaltee
- InterContinental Nairobi
- Hotel Indigo Newark Downtown & Holiday Inn Express North Bergen – Lincoln Tunnel (alternatives to expensive NYC accommodation)
- InterContinental Sao Paulo
- Crowne Plaza Helsinki
- Crowne Plaza Helsinki
- Crowne Plaza Venice East – Quarto D’Altino
- Holiday Inn Express London – Hammersmith
- Holiday Inn Express London – Wandsworth
- Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi
- Ana Crowne Plaza Hiroshima
Once the quarterly list is released, rooms start disappearing at any desirable hotels soon after. That’s because only a certain number of PointBreaks nights are made available for each hotel.
Note that you can’t tweak the booking dates or hotels later; only cancel in entirety (for a full refund).
I travelled to South Africa in December 2016 and booked three nights at the Holiday Inn Sandton in Johannesburg as it was on the PointBreaks list for that quarter (and is again this quarter).
Holiday Inn Sandton, Johannesburg
I bought some IHG points in September 2016’s promotion at 0.575c USD, meaning that this three-night stay at 5,000 points/night cost me 15,000 points in total, translating into $28.75 USD/night. Compare that to the $94 USD/night regular rate and I made a saving of almost 70%!
A trick to get in early
Bookmark this page: the week before the official list is released, IHG will post a preview of the upcoming PointBreaks hotels on its blog.
For example, if the next promotion is predicted to drop in the last week of July, put in your calendar to refresh that blog post page in the few days before and keep your eye out for any premium hotels like InterContinentals anywhere or in destinations that you are already planning to be.
Then the offer will be refreshed and bookings open at 9am Eastern Time in the US, which is usually just before midnight in Australia (depending on your state/territory and daylight savings). You can calculate the time difference here.
How can I acquire IHG Rewards points?
Apart from actually paying for IHG stays with cash and earning points, the best way to build your balance is to keep an eye on the IHG Rewards ‘buy points’ promotions in the hope that a good option will come up that will match your travel preferences in the next promotion.