The IHG Cash & Points trick is a great way to ‘buy’ IHG points at a highly discounted rate of 0.7 cents a piece and I covered the process in a recent article. Purchasing the points is the easy part, but finding hotel redemptions valuable enough to make buying them worthwhile is where the work comes in.
Of course the value savings threshold will differ from person to person, but even if I have a specific stay that I want to book I would like to get at least 1.4 cents each per point. That would be a 50% savings off the nightly paid rate. I also would not necessarily buy IHG points just to store them in my account, because currently it is possible to ‘buy’ IHG points at 0.7 cents each and keeping a large points balance would run the risk of losing value from a devaluation.
All that said, if you plan on booking a stay at an IHG property and can save money through purchasing IHG points and redeeming them for the stay vs. paying for the night outright, why not do it?
Clearly a great use for IHG points and one that can easily justify purchasing points using the ‘Cash & Points’ trick are for PointBreaks hotels. For only 5,000 points per night you can stay at any hotel on the rotating list of hotels that IHG publishes on a two month basis. At this discounted rate you are essentially only paying $35 per night at an InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, or Holiday Inn property that would otherwise cost much more. It is also easy to get upwards of 3+ cents per point from some PointBreaks stays.
Apart from buying IHG points through the ‘Cash & Points’ method it is a bit more tedious to find hotel redemptions valuable enough to justify buying the points.
The first step is to find a hotel that offers a high nightly value in comparison to points per night, obviously this is the goal with any points redemption when maximizing the value per point. It’s one thing when you are burning points earned from a valuable credit card welcome bonus, but when you are going out of your way to purchase points directly from a loyalty program itself, it’s another story. In either case you’ll want to make sure the return is worth the effort.
Finding a low point per night to price per night ratio is not always straightforward either, and unlike the points redemptions rate, paid stay prices will fluctuate as the date of the stay approaches. This is where each person will have a different value threshold that they consider it to be worth the savings to buy the points and use for a stay. It may be saving $10 per night for some or $100 per night for others.
After all, it is clearly more valuable redeeming 25,000 points per night for a stay worth $500 per night vs. $200 per night. The caveat is that there is not always a quick and easy way for finding these high value redemptions.
For example, as I was just looking up the InterContinental Koh Samui to potentially use my Chase IHG Free Night I noticed that it would be a valuable proposition to buy IHG points to use at the hotel. The nightly rates runs for about $500 per night including taxes during the summer and costs 25,000 points per night. That means that you are getting 2 cents per point---buy low (0.7 cents each), sell high (2.0 cents each).
At this rate you are saving $325 per night off the standard rate. In other words you’re only paying $175 per night for a stay that would cost ~$500 per night.
Another relatively good deal would be for the Holiday Inn Sisli in Instanbul, where a room can go for $187+ or 15,000 points per night. Even here you can get 1.24 cents per point and save $82 per night.
Now, how to go about finding the most valuable IHG properties? Again, it really comes down to where and when you are traveling. It will make sense to buy IHG points at 0.7 cents each to use at some IHG hotels and not for others. And because nightly rates fluctuate, even if there was a list of high value point redemption IHG properties, the nightly rate will change dramatically over time.
That said, if you are planning a paid stay at an IHG property it does not hurt to compare the cost in points per night and quickly run the math for buying IHG points for a redemptions.