Why the current IHG promotion is better than buying points.

IHG has come out with the most interesting promotion for this last quarter, Sept 1 – December 31. It’s called “The Big Win” and each person has a different promotion with tasks, if you will. If you complete a goal, like stay two saturdays or book online, you get a bonus. And if you complete all of your tasks, you get a Big Win bonus amount of points.

The Big Win bonus usually matches the combination of small bonuses you get. For example I get 106,000 points for completing all my tasks, but 53,000 (half) of them are from the Big Win bonus, which comes from completing all of the tasks.

Here is how to analyze if this is a good deal for you.

  1. Add up all of your bonuses. If you complete all of your tasks, how much are you going to come out with. For me it’s 106,000 points.
  2. How many nights can you complete it in?I have one goal of 5 nights total, another for two saturdays, and another for staying at different brands. The reality is that I can knock out multiple of these at once. I can stay one saturday at one brand and the other at a different brand. This gets me down to 3 nights.The point is that I can do this in 5 nights.
  3. Rake in more bonuses. Say 5,000 more points a night.If you haven’t read my post on earning IHG Rewards points on steroids, well you should. Because staying at IHG is already profitable with a good rate. I got over 15,000 points on my last paid stay without any big promotion. You just have to register for as many little promotions as you can and they seriously add up.Maybe you already know how much you earn per night, but if you follow my guide mentioned above, you’ll earn at least another 5,000 points per night.
  4. Take the number of nights required and multiply that number by 5,000 and add your total. Then divide expected dollar by points.Okay so I can do this in 5 nights, and I’ll get at least an extra 5,000 points per night from little bonuses. So that’s 25,000 points.Then I add the 25,000 to my total from completing the Big Win promotion – 106,000. Which gives me 131,000 points.Then I divide what I pay for a night by 131,000. This is easy to judge if you have some stays coming up. Just go to IHG.com and look at the prices of hotels. I’ll say that I can do each stay for under $100, for sure. So it will be at most $100 for 5 nights to do this thing.$500 / 131,000 = $0.38.
  5. Take that cents per dollar and multiply it by the number of points for your desired redemption.I spend all my points on PointBreaks hotel usually which costs 5,000 points per night. Actually with 10% rebate of the credit card I think of it as 4,500 points. So for me I’ll multiply .0038 by 4,500. This tells me that a room with PointBreaks will cost me about $17.If your desired stay is somewhere more expensive, like Bora Bora. You’ll need 50,000 points. At this rate, it would be $190.
  6. Is it doable?One of my stipulations is to complete stays in two of the listed cities (like NYC and DC). Will I be in the area in the next 3 months?
  7. Is it convenient?Have you factored in that you were going to stay in these hotels anyways?

Reality check – This isn’t buying points this is getting rewarded for stays.

I was going to stay at hotels anyways.Β It just happens to be that my paid stays lead to cheap points.

I think I can get even better margins.

With AAA, weekend rates and cheap cities I can do this for less than $100 a night.

Heck, I think I can earn more than 5,000 from the tiny bonuses too. More like 10,000 a night.

I think I can get this down to $10 per 5,000 points.

Go ye forth and do likewise. But really, did you get a good offer? Let me know below.

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  1. Good overview. My offer can also be done in 5 nights, with my curveball part of the offer definitely the one that stays which cities to stay in. For that reason alone, I’ll be unlikely to finish, but I’ll be happy to grab some bonus points along the way!

    • Yea, some of the small bonuses are good themselves. But perhaps a friend in one of those cities needs a stay from your account? :-p

  2. Went on IHG site to look for the offer but unable to find it. How do I find which task I need to complete?

  3. Do stays outside the US qualify for the promotion? I will be traveling to Mexico and find rates there are pretty good.

    • Certainly.
      Unless there is a requirement for city specific stays (like I need two in specific big cities (and one of those cities for me could be Mexico City)), any IHG property will do.

  4. 106,000 wow, mine only gives me 50,000 including bonus

    • Ditto that :(

    • Carrie has a 50k offer. But seeing as the requirements are pretty small, I think we’ll go for it too.

    • Found some nights for a MR/beach holiday for $60 a night + tax, so looking up.

    • Blah, I need to get out of Europe or go east lol. 100 Euro a night is what I’m around.

  5. Mine has a major curve ball, I have to complete 2 stays in Australia and/or Japan. I have no current plan to travel to either, having been on vacation in Japan for two weeks in May. I had one night in Japan at an IHG hotel, I am guessing that is why I got this particular stay requirement. In addition, even by completing all of the requirements, I would still only get 66,000 bonus points. I may steer some of my hotel stays towards IHG in the next three months, but quite frankly I am disappointed in my offer and probably won’t.

    • Yea, I was a little worried they would throw out some random location that I’ve been too. But luckily they didn’t. Maybe it is based on your last reservation? No wait. Mine was Germany last month so… Yea. Odd. YMMV, eh?

    • I’ve never been to Japan and Australia under IHG so my guess is they are pretty random – in a way I’m stuck now – these 2 just won’t be on my travels!

  6. don’t forget the shopping portals for paid stays such as Ultimate Rewards – 3 points/$ or 6% cashback from Upromise

    • Der! I always forget!

  7. Do all the stays have to be booked at the IHG website to earn the points? My “Big Win” would only bring 57,000 pts., and my Carlson stays (as Gold, thanks to AMEX platinum) bring a lot more pts (plus lots of 4for2 and 2for1 pricing in Europe, where I live). Being only a leisure traveler, I don’t have that many stays I can divide. Thanks for this great blog.

    • Sorry, just checked to find out that my Big Win includes one offering in which I have to book 2 qualifying nights on the IHG website — not all. Strange, but I didn’t get any sort of an offer for stays in other cities.

    • Well, Club Carlson is my second choice for sure in terms of earning points. Depends on their promotion I guess.
      Yea, the city one is the one I wish I didn’t have!

  8. Finally just checked mine. One of the requirements is staying 15 nights which seems to take a lot of the value out of the deal for me. Still thinking about it, but don’t know if I’m going to have that much time.

  9. Thanks Drew, This post has been really helpful, even as it’s taken me a month+ to realize all the benefits & “steroids” lurking herein. (The deal in my box seems very reasonable; if I read it right, no special locations, and I can get the 50K with just 4 days, if played right) I also am thinking to get the ihg/chase card, and (in thanks to you), I’m wondering if you/TIF have a link to it yourself. (one for which you & Carrie would get credit) Sorry if I’ve missed it somewhere.

  10. Double-great Drew — thank you again, and appears thus far I too was approved. (via the flyertalk provided link) Owe you yet another one. Seriously, I caught the lament in your newsletter, and whenever I get the chance, have the need, I do want to sign up for cards/promos that help you and Carrie, help us all.

    • Glad the link worked out. Well, shoot. Thanks, we really do appreciate that! It wasn’t meant to be lament, I enjoy eating in the lounge. lol. But maybe I’m a little jealous of bloggers who can make a living off of it, if I’m real honest. If you picked up on that it wasn’t intentional. πŸ˜€


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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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