IHG Rewards is offering a bonus of up to 100% on points purchases until 23 August 2019 11:59 pm US ET time.
IHG Rewards points can be leveraged into some cheaper hotel nights than you would pay versus paid rates at InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Indigo and Kimpton Hotels. This guide takes a look at the latest buy IHG Rewards promotions.
At the upper end of the market, InterContinental, Kimpton and Crowne Plaza hotel rooms can often go for fairly hefty nightly rates, so buying points to redeem immediately offers a nifty way to potentially reduce costs.
Is this a good deal?
Potentially, if you think you will use your points and especially for PointBreaks promotions.
An 80% bonus is less than the 100% bonus we’ve seen on a regular basis now, so make sure you’re only purchasing points with a very specific use in mind. See Offer history below.
Sometimes with IHG hotels, certain room rates are far cheaper just to book outright with cash than to book with points, especially if you are buying IHG Points during a promotion specifically for that purpose.
Towards the bottom of this guide, we have an example of a booking where it’s not advisable to use points—read on for some tips.
The current promotion
With the current deal of 80% bonus on points purchases, the cost per point is 0.55 US cents, with a total cost of US$1,000 for the maximum purchase of 180,000 IHG Rewards points including the bonus.
The bonus offer is tiered, with the maximum 80% bonus starting from 30,000 IHG Rewards points.
Note that the bonus and tiers can sometimes be unique for different members.
IHG allows you to purchase 100,000 points (excluding bonus) per calendar year.
Buying IHG Rewards points in a bonus period gives you a much better chance of coming out ahead for cheap redemptions.
Points outside of sales are sold at 1c per point but there is a hack to purchase them at 0.7c per point indefinitely—just book a points+pay room and then cancel, and you’ll be given the cash back as points in your account—but there’s some risk to your account in this approach.
Previous promotions have run as follows:
|Date||Bonus offer (%)||USD/point (cents)||Notes|
|September 2019||100||0.5||lowest price|
|June 2019||100||0.5||lowest price|
|March 2019||100||0.5||lowest price|
|November 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|October 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|September 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|July-August 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|June 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|March 2018||100||0.5||lowest price|
|October 2015||60||0.7||highest price|
|March 2015||60||0.7||highest price|
Under the current promotion if you get the maximum bonus, you’ll be able to buy enough points for a single night at hotels in the following categories/price bands for this cost:
|Example hotels in this category||IHG Rewards points needed||Cost of points per night (USD) in this promotion|
|Holiday Inn Rotorua||20000||$110|
|Holiday Inn Resort Bali, Auckland Airport, Queenstown|
Crowne Plaza Christchurch
|InterContinental Sanctuary Cove, Wellington||35000||$192.5|
|InterContinental Resort Fiji, Bali, Tahiti, Resort & Spa Moorea|
Crowne Plaza Auckland
Crowne Plaza Melbourne, Queenstown
|InterContinental Sydney, Grand Standford Hong Kong||65000||$357.5|
Clearly, you’ll want to run the numbers for your intended redemptions and compare points purchasing vs a paid stay to ensure you are better off buying and redeeming points than paying outright.
However, like other hotel program redemptions, IHG Rewards redemptions are flexible and can be cancelled at no cost.
This is a big difference compared to the lowest paid rate which is usually non-refundable, so if flexibility of your reservation is important, don’t forget to factor that benefit in.
Example IHG Rewards redemptions
A great resource for points pricing at IHG hotels is from Travel is Free, who has a map of the complete set of properties in the group and their pricing, and embedded here for your convenience.
Another great resource is Award Mapper, which gives points pricing for all the major hotel loyalty chains.
Personally, I’ve redeemed points (a mixture of purchased and earned) at a range of properties, including:
In addition, some of the best value to be had from IHG Rewards is the PointsBreaks promotions, where rooms are available for 5,000-15,000 points per night.
These are released on a limited basis from a limited set of hotels once every three months. You can read more in our guide to PointBreaks.
Notable terms around buying and redeeming IHG Rewards Points
The terms of purchase for IHG Rewards points state that you can buy a maximum of 100,000 IHG Rewards points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 100,000 points per calendar year.
You’ll also need to allow 24-48 hours for points to post and appear in your account.
There’s no requirement I know of around the age of an account that’s eligible to buy points, so you should be able to sign up and purchase immediately if it makes sense to do so.
Rooms available with IHG Rewards points, and benefits on offer with IHG Rewards redemptions
You’ll find that the rooms on offer using IHG Rewards points in each hotel are usually the base room type. If you’re after a premium or larger room, bear this in mind.
I have had some success in contacting the hotel in advance to try and pay my way up to a better room—it’s worth a shot.
You also may not be eligible for any IHG Rewards status benefits, or IHG Ambassador benefits, on points stays—that’s up to the individual hotel. Not that IHG Rewards status gets you much but the IHG Ambassador confirmed room upgrade can’t be used, which is a bummer.
Important: Check the room’s cash rate and compare it to using points
Buying IHG Points can be useful if you’re just topping up your existing balance, or using it for a PointsBreak property where the nightly rates are heavily discounted.
However, there is a quirk of the IHG program where sometimes using points for a base-level room can be terrible value compared to just paying for it outright with cash.
For example, take the newly opened Even Hotel in Miami Airport.
For their basic Wellness King Room, the ‘Global Sale’ rate is $123.72 AUD a night. The IHG ‘Reward Nights’ rate starts from 20,000 points + $136 AUD.
Yes, you read that right. The co-payment for using 20,000 IHG Points is more expensive than the cash room rate itself! Of course, there are other considerations such as the better flexibility of ‘Reward Nights’ booking compared to a sale booking, but that still doesn’t justify the difference in prices.
It would also cost you at least $135 USD (currently $195 AUD) to buy the 20,000 points outright during a 100% bonus points sale—once again ridiculously higher than the cash room rate itself, and that’s not even taking into account the extra $136 AUD co-payment.
To buy the whole 35,000 points needed for a full reward redemption without co-payment, you’d be looking at $207 USD (currently $300 AUD) during a 100% bonus points sale.
In comparison, the best available ‘Flexible’ rate for the same dates comes in under $150 AUD, or half the cost of buying the equivalent amount of points.
So the important lesson here is research your desired hotel’s room rates before committing to buying IHG points. For lower-end hotels with a sale rate, chances are you won’t be able to beat that value unless you already have IHG Points earned from other means.
As with any points purchase promotion, you need to run the maths for your own intended redemption and personal circumstances to see if this will yield some good value for you.
I’d argue that the best places to look for value are the resorts that are priced in the mid-range of the points category prices, such as the InterContinental Bali and Fiji resorts.
It will be harder to get great value out of the top-category points redemptions if buying points outright to redeem, but it’s worth keeping it in your back pocket in case you need to stay at a city hotel at a super expensive time of year.
Points redemption rooms are often available when you wouldn’t expect it and you may be able to save then too.