Best Ways to Redeem IHG Points: Strategies to Maximize Your IHG Points

| Updated: September 5, 2019
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The IHG Rewards Club program is one of the three largest hotel loyalty programs in the world with a portfolio of more than 5,600 hotels and resorts around the world. The program offers a good mix of value-based hotels designed for families and business travelers plus luxury resorts in some of the world’s most in-demand getaways. The program itself has some drawbacks, but you’ll find it very easy to earn IHG points that can be redeemed for free stays at any hotel in the program.

Whether you plan to save up your IHG points for your next trip or you want to maximize the value of your welcome bonus from the IHG Rewards Club Premier card from Chase, this guide will help you explore ways to use IHG points for the best value, including a look at some great redemption options to inspire you for your next jet setting adventure.

Quick Answer: How to Get Maximum Value from IHG Rewards Club Points

The vast majority of the time, you will redeem IHG points at maximum value when the points are used for IHG free night stays. To get the best value when you redeem IHG Rewards points, do the following:

  • Always compare the cash price for your stay to the point cost. It’s better to pay in cash and earn points if you don’t get at least 0.6 cents per point.
  • Points & Cash bookings can sometimes give you a better value for your points. It can even be used to “buy” discount IHG points for a stay.
  • Grab PointBreaks deals when they’re available to save up to 50% on an award stay.
  • If you don’t have enough points for a stay, you can buy the remaining points with the Points & Cash option, sometimes even with a promotion on the cash portion for extra savings.
  • Use the IHG Rewards Club Premier card to book award stays and get the 4th award night free.

How to Use IHG Rewards Club Points

IHG Rewards Club is often overshadowed by the two other hotel giants — Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors — but it has a lot to offer with IHG points that are easy to earn and a variety of redemption options, including a portfolio of more than 5,600 participating hotels around the world. You’ll get the best value when you use IHG points for free stays at IHG hotels, but you can also redeem IHG points for merchandise, gift cards, and unique experiences or transfer your points to airline partners.

This guide will go over how you can redeem IHG Rewards points and tips for getting the maximum value possible.

Redeem IHG Rewards Club Points for Reward Stays

If you want to get maximum value when using IHG Rewards points, your best option is using them for free IHG stays. As a general rule, IHG points are worth 0.6 cents each but it’s definitely possible to get a higher value with strategic use of your IHG points. For example, you may get a better deal with a Points & Cash stay, PointBreaks deals, or by choosing hotels at the higher or lower end of the award chart.

Note: IHG permits hotels to limit the number of available award rooms. While Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt have broad “no blackout” policies that allow you to book an award stay if a standard room is available, IHG allows hotels to limit the award pool. Just because a standard room is available to book with a paid stay does not mean you can redeem IHG points. The number of rooms available for award stays is left to the hotel’s discretion. This may not affect you too frequently but it’s something to keep in mind, especially with last-minute award stays.

It’s also important to keep in mind you won’t enjoy your IHG elite status benefits on award stays except for free internet. That means no complimentary elite room upgrades when you book an award stay.

IHG Rewards Club Brands

IHG Rewards Club points can be used for free IHG nights at any IHG brand. IHG has 15 participating brands, some of which are newly announced or very small. Some of the largest brands in the IHG family are Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, and Staybridge Suites.

IHG Rewards Club Award Chart (How Many Points Do You Need for a Free Night?)

While IHG has said it plans to move to dynamic pricing like Hilton Honors — a move that gets rid of hotel categories and makes it difficult to predict how many points are needed for a stay — the program does still use an award chart. IHG has 13 hotel categories ranging from 10,000 points per night for a category 1 hotel to 70,000 points for a category 13 property. Each category increases in price by 5,000 points per night.

With PointBreaks hotel deals, published every quarter, you can even book IHG free night stays starting at just 5,000 points per night.

Free Night Rewards

The IHG Rewards Club program makes it easy to book free IHG nights with your IHG Rewards points thanks to a simple award chart. There are a few ways to use IHG points for free stays. Along with standard room awards, you can also use points to book PointBreaks deals or use a combination of points and cash to book a stay.

Here’s what you should know about redeeming IHG points for free nights.

Standard Point Rewards

Unlike some hotel loyalty programs like World of Hyatt that allows you to book standard and upgraded rooms, including suites, you can only use IHG points to book standard rooms. Standard award nights cost between 10,000 and 70,000 points per night depending on the hotel category.

Booking a free IHG room is easy by logging into your IHG account and searching for available hotels at your destination. Under the Rate Preference drop-down menu, make sure you choose “Reward Nights.” Unfortunately, the IHG Rewards Club program doesn’t use formal category lists for hotels so the only way to see each hotel’s award rate is by searching for it on IHG.

PointsSavers Rewards

IHG publishes PointBreaks deals every quarter to book hotels for as few as 5,000 IHG points per night rather than the usual 10,000-point minimum. With IHG points valued at 0.6 cents each, that’s equivalent to paying just $30 or so to book a room.

During the promotion, award stays at select hotels are discounted from up to 70,000 to just 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 points per night. You’re limited to just 2 PointBreaks nights per hotel during each promotional period.

Note that you can use Points & Cash to book PointBreaks hotels. While the cost will vary by hotel, you will usually pay around $50 to lower your PointBreaks cost by 10,000 or $80 to lower the cost by 10,000 IHG points. You’re better off just using points for these deals, though.

Cash + Points

You can still book an award stay even if you’re short the required number of points with the Points & Cash option. You can book stays with a combination of points and cash, although there isn’t a straight formula: some hotels require more cash but others require more points to book a stay.

If you decide to use points for a Points & Cash stay, make sure you explore all of the options available. You may get a better value by using more points and less cash. For example, spending $40 will usually get you a 5,000-point discount with a value of 0.8 cents per point while $70 gets you a 10,000-point discount with a value of 0.7 cents per point.

At some premium hotels, you’ll see another Points & Cash option to get 15,000 points discounted from your stay with $90 in cash.

Because Points & Cash stays work by literally buying the points you need at a discounted rate with the cash amount of your stay, you can even use these bookings to “buy” discounted IHG points. If your refundable Points & Cash stay is canceled, you will be refunded completely in points, not cash.

How to Book a Free Night Reward

Booking an IHG award night is as easy as booking a paid stay. You can book your free night online through your IHG account or over the phone.

Online

To book your free night reward online, log into your IHG Rewards Club account and search for a property at your destination. Choose the “Reward Nights” option from the Rate Preference drop-down menu to see available properties and the number of points needed per night. You can choose between paying the full point price or using the Points & Cash option. Once your reservation is made, the points will be deducted from your account.

By Phone

For help booking an award stay, call the IHG Worldwide Reservation Offices. The customer service number depends on the brand and region. For example, call the Holiday Inn Reservation Office at 1-800-465-4329 from the U.S. to book a stay at any global Holiday Inn.

IHG Rewards Club 4th Free Night Benefit

While Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy make their 5th night free benefit available to elite members, the IHG Rewards Club has a better but more restrictive perk: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card holders enjoy a 4th night free on award stays. With a lower stay requirement to earn a free night, you may find yourself using this perk more often.

When you book an award stay of at least four nights, the free night will show up automatically online as long as you are logged into your IHG account.

10 Incredible IHG Rewards Club Point Redemptions to Maximize Their Value

Have you been saving up IHG points for something amazing? Are you ready to redeem the welcome bonus points from the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card? Here are 10 awesome IHG Rewards Club redemption options with a range of low category hotels for long stays and one-of-a-kind resorts to get the best value for your points.

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Bora Bora is one of the ultimate getaways. At the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, you can enjoy warm waters, beautiful sunsets, and pristine beaches from a luxury overwater villa. Best of all, even standard award nights here book you straight into an overwater villa.

The Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort is located on a coral island with private overwater villas and a world-class spa.

Stays at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa often top $1,300 per night, offering a great value even at 70,000 points per night. The only drawback? It can be challenging to find award nights at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort. When you do find an available award night, maximize your savings by booking at least four award nights with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card to get your 4th night free.

Holiday Inn Express Glasgow – City Center Riverside
This Holiday Inn Express is located close to the river and a short walk from the beautiful and historic downtown area. You’re also just 10 minutes from the Glasgow Central train station to travel to Edinburgh for more exploration of everything Scotland has to offer.

Redeem IHG points at maximum value at the Holiday Inn Express in Glasgow near the river and historic city center.

The Holiday Inn Express Glasgow usually goes for around $90 to $120 per night — a steal as a category 1 hotel that requires just 10,000 points per night. You’ll get around 1 cent per IHG point!

Holiday Inn & Suites Mexico Zona Rosa
Want to stretch your IHG points as far as possible? This Holiday Inn in Mexico City costs just 10,000 points per night. It boasts a convenient location for exploring Mexico City as it’s just minutes from the Bicentenario Fountain, the National Auditorium, the Historic Center, and other popular destinations.

Enjoy beautiful views of Mexico City and the art galleries and boutiques of Zona Rosa from a convenient location.

Rooms at the Holiday Inn Mexico Zona Rosa usually go for around $70 to $100. With a welcome bonus from the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card, you’ll have enough points for a long stay AND get a good value for your IHG points.

Crowne Plaza Paris – Charles de Gaulle
Planning a trip to Paris? Crowne Plaza Paris – Charles de Gaulle is the perfect place to stay in style and on a budget. Crowne Plaza Paris is a family-friendly hotel near the airport that offers family rooms that sleep four. You can also pamper yourself at the NUXE Spa or get some sun in the Crowne Garden.

Enjoy a stay near the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for just 25,000 points per night.

Stays at Crowne Plaza Paris – Charles de Gaulle are usually around $100 per night but can reach $200 during peak season. You can book a balcony room for just 25,000 points per night.

Crowne Plaza Jerusalem
Crowne Plaza Jerusalem offers a great value for a trip to the Dead Sea. Located in the Givat Ram district of Jerusalem, Crowne Plaza is Jerusalem’s tallest building and close to the Knesset house of parliament and the Israel Museum.

Crowne Plaza Jerusalem offers one of the best values in the city for an award stay.

The Crowne Plaza Jerusalem may not give you the best possible value — 20,000 points for a room that usually goes for $100 to $150 — but it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a reward stay in Jerusalem, a popular tourist destination that actually has few hotels in loyalty programs, unlike Tel Aviv.

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

Want the ideal tropical getaway for the whole family? You’ve found it at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives. While the Maldives is best known for its luxury resorts, this Holiday Inn offers a great way to enjoy everything this beautiful island has to offer at a great value.

This resort is also unlike any Holiday Inn you’ve seen before with overwater bungalows, private gardens with plunge pools, water activities, and more. As with other Holiday Inn locations, kids always eat free and there’s a Kandoo Kids for on-site kids activities. While the speedboat transfer to the resort can cost $700 or more at many of the high-end resorts at the Maldives, it’s just $229 each to the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives.

Take a family vacation in style at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives for just 45,000 points per night.

The Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is just 45,000 points per night — a bargain that gets even better if you stay at least four nights with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card for the 4th night free perk.

InterContinental Resort Tahiti
IHG definitely dominates the market in French Polynesia with four resorts in Tahiti and Bora Bora. If you don’t need an overwater villa and want a more affordable option for staying in this tropical paradise, InterContinental Resort Tahiti is a great choice. The resort is set on 32 acres of tropical gardens alongside a lagoon with limitless things to do, including scuba diving, shows, world-class dining, relaxing massages at Deep Nature Spa, or grabbing a tropical drink at the swim-up bar at the sand-bottomed infinity pool.

Escape to Tahiti for the ultimate budget-friendly family vacation in a tropical paradise.

Rooms at the InterContinental Resort Tahiti typically go for $300 to $700 a night but you can book an award stay for just 50,000 points a night. There’s plenty of potential for maximizing the value of your IHG points, especially when combined with the 4th night free benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Premier card.

Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan
At the Crowne Plaza, you can enjoy craft cocktails while overlooking Times Square with a prime location right on Broadway just steps from Central Park and Rockefeller Center. Before stepping out to enjoy everything New York has to offer, stop by the Broadway 49 Bar and lounge for specialty cocktails in a unique atmosphere with views overlooking the theater district.

Crowne Plaza offers one of the best deals on Times Square with a convenient location, comfortable rooms, and great views.

Stays at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan can go for more than $400 a night. If you have your heart set on a stay on Times Square, you can still get a good value when you use IHG points at Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan for 60,000 points a night.

Candlewood Suites Chicago/Naperville
Whether you stay for one night or a week, you can really get a great value when using IHG points at Candlewood Suites in Chicago. Enjoy a spacious suite with a fully equipped kitchenette and the comforts of home just a few miles from the DuPage Children’s Museum and Cantigny Park. Stays at the Candlewood Suites Chicago/Naperville are just 15,000 points per night, a rarity in the area.

The Chicago Candlewood Suites is one of the best deals in the Chicago area, especially for longer stays.

Hotel Indigo San Diego-Gaslamp Quarter
This boutique hotel is located in San Diego’s famous Gaslamp Quarter, the heart of San Diego’s vibrant nightlife with clubs, lounges, bars, and more to explore. You’re also close to the city’s most famous attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and the San Diego Convention Center.

Hotel Indigo in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego is a pet-friendly hotel close to everything Downtown San Diego has to offer.

Hotel Indigo San Diego-Gaslamp Quarter costs 55,000 points per night, not out of the ordinary for such a costly city. This can still be a great deal depending on the season, however, as prices can top $400 per night.

Other Ways to Redeem IHG Rewards Club Points

In almost every case, you will get the best value for your IHG points when they are redeemed for free stays at IHG hotels. Still, there may be times when you don’t have an upcoming trip and want to do something else with your points. IHG Rewards Club offers a handful of other redemption options for using IHG points.

Redeem for Unique Experiences Through IHG Rewards Club Access

IHG Access Rewards offers a unique way to redeem IHG points. You can bid on or buy outright experiences that include all-inclusive vacations, sporting events, concerts, and fine dining through the program.

A recent example of an experience through IHG Access Rewards was a package with four tickets to the 100th anniversary of Disney on Ice in Wembley. For 50,000 points, the package included four club tickets with fast track entry, lounge access with welcome drinks, and food and drink vouchers.

The downside of the program? There usually aren’t many experiences available through the program, although this may hopefully change. Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy offer similar redemption options with more robust options.

Transfer IHG Rewards Club Points to Partners

IHG points can be used in many ways, including outside of the IHG Rewards Club program. While this option almost always gives you a low value for your points, you can transfer IHG points to frequent flyer programs like American Airlines AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. You’ll usually get a very poor transfer ratio of 5 IHG points to 1 mile or even worse.

IHG Rewards Club has 39 airline transfer partners. As a general rule, transfers can take up to 6 weeks and you need to call IHG to make the transfer. Transferring your IHG points really only makes sense unless you never plan to stay at an IHG property again, want to switch out hotel loyalty programs, or you are very close to an award flight and the miles are difficult to earn.

Redeem Points on Shopping and Gift Cards

You won’t get a good value, but you can use IHG points to shop through IHG’s online catalog of products and gift cards. To give you an idea of what you can expect, you can use IHG points for a 16GB Amazon Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa which retails for $50 and costs 22,000 points — a very poor value of just 0.2 cents per point. Gift cards usually give you a value of 0.25 cents per point.

Use IHG Points for Digital Rewards

If you aren’t going to use IHG points for IHG stays or even airline partner transfers (which still offer a very low value), you can always use your points for digital rewards like eBooks, movies, and games. You won’t get a good value for your points but this is an option for using up a fairly low amount of points that would otherwise go to waste. Buying a digital movie usually costs 1,450 to 1,850 for new releases.

How to Earn IHG Rewards Club Points

Ready to start earning IHG points to book your first free IHG night award? There are plenty of ways to earn IHG points through the IHG Rewards Club program, including through IHG stays and transferring Chase points. Here’s a quick overview of the ways you can earn IHG points.

Book IHG Stays

You’ll almost always earn the most points per dollar when booking IHG stays. You can earn IHG points on your stays in several ways:

  • Base points (10x at most IHG brands)
  • Elite status bonus points (1x to 10x depending on status)
  • IHG bonus promotions
  • IHG credit card bonus points (25x during the first year)

On a $200 IHG stay, you can earn 2,000 base points, up to another 2,000 points as an elite status member, plus an extra 5,000 points during the first year with the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card. That’s 9,000 points — already almost enough for a standard free night stay!

IHG Rewards Club Credit Cards

The IHG Rewards Club Premier card offers one of the most lucrative ways to quickly earn IHG points. During the first year as a cardholder, you’ll earn 25x bonus points on IHG stays on top of the 10x base points and the 5x elite status bonus points you get with the automatic Platinum elite status. You also earn 4x IHG points on all other spending during the first year.

After the first year, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card earns:

  • 10x points at IHG
  • 2x points on gasoline, restaurants, and grocery stores
  • 1x points on all other spending

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Because IHG is partnered with Chase, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with other Chase credit cards into IHG points. Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to IHG Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio with a transfer minimum of 1,000 points.

Think twice before transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG, however. Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 2 cents each and IHG points are worth 0.6 cents each.

Other Ways to Earn IHG Points

There are plenty of other ways to earn IHG points, even without IHG stays or using the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card. You can also earn IHG points with the following:

  • Book transport services. Get up to 1,000 IHG points when you book transportation through IHG.
  • Ride with Uber. Sign up for Uber and get 2,000 IHG points when you take your first ride.
  • IHG Rewards Club Dining. Register a debit or credit card and earn IHG points at participating restaurants and bars.
  • Do surveys through Opinion Check-In.
  • Decline housekeeping at IHG and get 500 IHG points per stay.
  • Book a rental a car. Get a discount and bonus points at Avis, Budget, and Hertz. You get 3x IHG points per dollar at Avis and Budget or 1,500 IHG bonus points at Hertz with up to 500 points per day of your rental.
  • Buy Apple products through IHG. Get 4x points when you shop through IHG.
  • Host meetings. Through IHG Meeting Rewards, you earn 3x points on meeting space, guest rooms, food, and beverages plus bonus points for becoming an elite member.
  • Buy IHG points. Sometimes IHG offers targeted bonuses to get up to 100% more points. Otherwise, you pay 1 cent per point.

FAQ

What can IHG Rewards points be used for?

The best option for redeeming IHG Rewards points is using them for free IHG stays. You can also transfer IHG points to airline partners or use them for physical or digital merchandise. IHG points can also be used for unique experiences like concert tickets or VIP sporting events.

How do I redeem IHG reward points?

You can redeem IHG points through your IHG Rewards Club account online to book IHG stays or call customer service to book a stay. For most other redemption options, you can go through your IHG account except transferring points to airline programs which requires calling IHG.

How many IHG points do you need for a free night?

IHG free nights start at 10,000 points and go up to 70,000 points depending on the hotel category. IHG PointBreaks deals allow you to book stays at select hotels each quarter starting at just 5,000 points.

How do I use my IHG free night certificate?

The IHG free night certificate from the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card will be added to your IHG account automatically. You can use it by going to your account management page and clicking on the “1 Free Night” link. This will show you information about your certificate with a link to redeem it. This link takes you to the IHG booking page with “Chase Anniversary Free Night” as the rate preference.

Can I use IHG points to book a room for someone else?

Yes, you can use IHG Rewards points for an award stay for someone else. To do this, add the other person as an additional guest on the reservation. You can also specify that the additional guest will be the one checking in on the “Special Requests” section, but this shouldn’t be necessary.

Do IHG Rewards points expire?

Yes, IHG points expire after 12 months of inactivity. If you have IHG elite status, your points won’t expire.

Can IHG points be used for flights?

IHG discontinued its program that allowed you to directly book flights with IHG points. You can still transfer IHG points to 29 airline partners to book flights, although you will not get a good value for your points.

Can I transfer IHG points to airlines?

Yes, IHG has 29 airline transfer partners but the transfer rate is typically very poor.

Can you cancel IHG free night?

Yes, you can cancel an IHG award stay but pay attention to the cancellation deadline. As long as you cancel before the deadline, the points will be returned to your account.

Do IHG reward nights count towards status?

Yes, IHG reward nights do count as qualifying nights toward elite status qualification.

What credit cards earn IHG Rewards Club points?

There is only one IHG co-branded credit card: the IHG Rewards Club Premier card from Chase. For the first year, you earn 40x IHG points per dollar at IHG and the card includes automatic Platinum elite status.

Wrap Up

It’s definitely true that the IHG Rewards Club program has some shortcomings, especially when it comes to its elite status benefits and flexibility when it comes to redeeming IHG points. Still, IHG points are easy to earn and there are more than 5,600 participating hotels and resorts around the world with a focus on properties that are designed for budget travelers, business travelers, and families. Especially with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card, you shouldn’t have any trouble earning free IHG nights. In fact, you can even earn a free stay or two with every paid stay thanks to the generous bonus during your first year as a cardholder.

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