Best Use of IHG Rewards Points

More than ever I’m finding that the best uses of IHG Rewards are with the deals and sales they have. Which is fine for the extremely flexible, the last minute bookers and the constant traveler (me, me and me). Otherwise there are a few gems in the award chart that are good for more traditional use. I’ll go over those most valuable hotels and which deals to look out for when redeeming points.

It used to be that the spread of price points for awards was pretty big in even the most expensive cities. Some hotels in great locations all over Manhattan could be had for 20,000 points and a few for 15,000! Which was crazy as when I was there for New Years Eve those hotels got up to $500 and the Crowne Plaza got up to $800 (which is where we stayed).

Still here are examples of hotels in New York for 35,000 points, which is still a good deal:

  • Holiday Inn Express Times Square – $250
  • Candlewood Suites Times Square – $250
  • Staybridge suites Times Square – $350

I’ll quit rambling and get to the best uses of the points but I will say it is definately worth checking out the cheaper hotels in big expensive cities. Holiday Inn’s are often cheaper in points yet have great locations. For example the Holiday Inn Sydney has a great view of the Opera House. Just check.

PointBreaks – 5,000 point/night hotels

Maybe you’re tired of hearing about PointBreaks but I could live on them. Every two months IHG picks a list of hotels to sell at a huge discount of 5,000 points a night. The list comes out and is valid for stays in the next two months. You can book during that time however the number of rooms available for the PointBreaks discount are limited.

Nice hotels like InterContinentals go real quick. The IC in Athens went in 2 or 3 days and the IC Bucharest was gone in 3 or 4. However, as I write (2.5 weeks after the latest list was published) there are a couple of IC hotels still on the list – in Guatemala and Honduras. You can usually predict how quickly they’ll go based on their cash value. The IC in athens goes for $200 a night and the IC in Honduras is more like $100 a night.

You may also note that usually the hotels on the list would have gone unsold. You’ll see hotels in hot locations during the summer. You’ll often see hotels in less desirable locations like interstate hotels (in the US) and hotels in Central America or other places that have less than awesome economic times. That being said, we scored 8 nights in Fiji last year for 5,000 points a night during it’s peak season. Either way, don’t expect to see the IC Times Square on this list.

Last Minute Rewards Nights

Last Minute Rewards Nights are exactly what they sound like. Usually before the first full weekend of the month there will be a list of hotels that can be redeemed that weekend for 50% of the normal award rate. It’s a bit more restrictive than PointBreaks but still something to look out for.

Here are a few great redemptions at each of the IC price points:

30,000 points:

  • InterContinental Adelaide, Australia – $200
  • InterContinental Shanghai – $250
  • InterContinental Fiji – $300
  • Moorea – $300
  • IC Berchtesgaden – $250
  • IC Moscow – $300
  • IC Koh Sumai – $350

40,000 points:

  • IC Amsterdam – $410

50,000 points:

  • Bora Bora – $1,000+
  • Cannes, France – $800
  • IC London Park Lane – $830

The value of 1 cent per point seems to be pretty accurate, although I’ll admit you are more likely to find a hotel for 10,000 points worth $100 than you are a 30,000 point hotel worth $300. Most of them range from $100-$200 and don’t hotel that 1 cent per point value. So you can consistently find category 1 hotels who hold the value of 1 cent per point. On the higher end, you can double that value. If you can get points at .5 cents a piece it’s a killer deal at a place like Bora Bora where it would normally cost $1,000+ a night.

Although 5,000 points for any hotel is an amazing deal. :-)

10% back with VISA

Perhaps this should go in an upcoming post about earning points but you do get 10% of your points back after a redemption if you have the Priority Club card. I just calculate every award 10% cheaper. So I think of PointBreaks being 4,500 points instead of 5,000, as I’ll get 10% back after the stay.

Cash & Points

Lastly, I just wanted to point out one thing relating to Cash & Points… It is quite ironic when people use the Cash & Points trick (book, pay, cancel and get refunded the points), and then don’t use Cash & Points when redeeming a night at a hotel. Right? Because it’s the same rate all the time. If you are going to use Cash & Points, be consistent as otherwise it just looks (/is) abusive. So bottom line, if you find 10,000 points worth $70, then use the Cash & Points when actually doing an award stay.

Earning

And quick note about earning IHG Rewards Points, although there will be a post about that.

In the past year I have earned an unbelievable amount of points off very few stays and will go over how but there are a number of ways besides paid stays to earn points. There always seems to be a promotion of some sort. And it’s worth mentioning that you can still buy IHG Rewards Points on Daily Getaways until July 26th. I normally count on paid stays yielding enough points to make it worth they paid stay but that gravy train seems to be slowing down. Still, the points are easy enough to come by that I do not recommend transferring from Chase. As I’ve said this week (a few times or more) I value Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for the transfer to United. Although PointBreaks is tempting and if you’re starting out with nothing, it’s at least something.

Anyone have any favorite IHG hotels to add to the list or have been to any of these? One of my favorite hotels is the InterContinental Hong Kong but I have definitely not been to all of these on the list. And if you have any other great uses to mention, do share!

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4 Responses to Best Use of IHG Rewards Points

  1. Kelly says:

    Informative post! I haven’t checked out the last minute deals before and didn’t know about the 10% back (I have the Priority Club card!). Also looking forward to learning more about how to earn more IHG points.

  2. Kamal says:

    Daily Getaways are available till July 26th as mentioned on their website FAQ. Quoted below:

    ******************************
    When are offers available for purchase?
    Offers are available for purchase each weekday from June 10 – July 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm ET, Quantities for these items are extremely limited and may sell out quickly. However, in the event that they do not sell out the day they go on sale, they will appear on the “All Available Offers” page. You may purchase offers featured on this page 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the promotion ends, July 26, 2013, or until the offers sell out.
    **********************************************

  3. S says:

    I have almost 300K IHG points and I’d like to use them. But, when I use points with IHG I tend to get a ‘crap’ room (e.g., facing into an office building like the IC in Boston – they had better rooms but refused to upgrade even though I am Platinu). With SPG (which btw has my full loyalty now), often times they allow you to use extra points to upgrade to a better room, e.g, one where you can keep your curtains open!

    So, I am on the hunt to use up my IHG points – but at a hotel that ONLY offers rooms with a view (hey, this is hard earned work points being used for a rare vacation!). Know of any? Short of this, I guess I’ll have to use IHG’s program to book another brands’ hotel room using IHG points.

    • Travel Is Free says:

      To be honest, IC doesn’t really treat Platinum’s all that special most of the time, as they have two categories above Platinum – Ambassador and Royal Ambassador.
      However, there are hotels in vacation spots that I’m sure even the base rooms are great. I just stayed at the IC Berchtesgaden, and it’s in the mountains, and every room has a few… almost.
      So I can’t determine what kind of treatment you’d get, but for me, I would just pick a place I’d really like to be and burn the points. If the room is small but I’m in Bali, I’m happy.

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