Travel Rewards Credit Cards


The Complete Guide to IHG Rewards

The Complete Guide to IHG Rewards

An Introduction to IHG

 

In terms of free nights, IHG Rewards is perhaps the best hotel rewards program around. In the last year we have spent 133 nights in IHG properties, and spent an average of $32 a night on hotels. If that’s not reason enough to pay attention to this guide… I’m not sure what is.

This guide will start out going over our specific stays- dollars and points on every IHG hotel stays we’ve done in the last year. Then we’ll break down the concepts and tactics.


This is what you’ll read about and learn in this complete guide:

  • Our stats
  • Overview of IHG properties
  • How to earn IHG points
  • How to earn big with promotions
  • How to redeem award nights or cancel award nights
  • The details of IHG’s different status programs
  • How to BRG an IHG
  •  

    Our IHG Stats

     

     

    How we did it…

    Most of our hotel stays have been at InterContinental hotels, but since we keep track of and post every dollar we’ve spent in the last year, we’re able to give specific stats:

  • 133 nights
    – 93 free nights
    – 40 paid nights
  • 51 stays
  • $4,298 spent at IHG hotels
  • 872,500 points redeemed
  • 4 BRGs, and 1 free night cert
  • The $4,298 includes the $49 annual fee from the credit card, but otherwise it refers to paid stays. Because of the $4,298 in paid stays, we got 872,500 points and 133 nights out of it. That means…

    We spent an average of:

  • $32.31 per night
  • 9,915 points per awards nights
  • 2.6 nights per stay
  • 4.24 stars per hotel
  •  

    The way we have gotten such great value out of our paid stays is simple.

  • Redeem during great redemption promotions
  • Paid stays during earning promotions
  • Stacking up as many earning promotions as we can
  •   

    IHG Properties

     

    IHG Rewards Club is the rewards program for the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG).

    With nearly 5,000 properties around the world, IHG is one of the largest hotel chains in the world.
     

    IHG has many brands under its umbrella. Here are the brands (with a few notes):

  • InterContinental – 5 star brand, and by far their nicest hotels.
  • Crowne Plaza – A generally nice brand that ranges from hotels that are old and dated to nice 5 star hotels in the city center.
  • Hotel Indigo – A cute boutique hotel brand that is generally smaller and unique from hotel to hotel.
  • Holiday Inn Resorts – Nice resorts generally Holiday Inn styled and more plain than those listed above, but for the most part above average quality (compared to regular Holiday Inns).
  • Holiday Inn Express – IHG is trying to roll out a new vision for Holiday Inn Express as a newer more modern hotel.
  • Holiday Inn – Generally plainer 3 star hotels.
  • Staybridge Suites – A hotel in which all the rooms have a kitchen of some kind. Staybridges are generally nicer and more lodge styled.
  • Candlewood Suites – Also a hotel where all the rooms have a kitchen, but a bit more budget and plain than the former.
  • And there are a couple new brands I haven’t gotten the chance to visit yet:

  • Hauluxe – Chinese “upscale” focused version.
  • EVEN – A health/workout themed hotel with weights in every room.
  • At any of these hotels, IHG points can be earn and used.

     


    The best of IHG Rewards is the earning aspect. First, we’ll lay out the fundamentals of earning and then dive deep into maximizing these rewards.

    You earn 10 points per dollar at all properties except for the “suites” properties

    Of course there are other ways to earn…
     

    IHG Credit Card

     

     
    The best publicly advertised offer is a credit card that gives 60,000 IHG points upon spending $1,000 in 3 months. However, there is a thread on flyertalk (found here) that discusses an active 80,000 point version of the card.

    The 80,000 point offer is a great deal. While I find miles way more valuable than hotel points and therefore recommend airline cards first to newbies, for someone who is set on miles and needs a hotel card, this is a great place to start.

    The card now has no foreign transaction fee, and it gives 5 points per dollar at IHG properties, 2 points per dollar at gas/grocery/dining, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. 5 IHG points per dollar probably isn’t worth more to me than the 2.14 Chase points per dollar given from a Chase Sapphire Preferred or a similar card. Not a great daily spender as the points just aren’t as valuable to me, but still a great hotel card for me.

     
    IHG Free night status

    Free night every year

    The annual fee is waived for the first year, but starting on month 13, it does have a $49 annual fee. However, this is one of the very few cards we find worth keeping because it comes with a free night certificate good at any hotel. In expensive cities like London, Paris, Sydney, and Geneve, you could stay at a $400+/night hotel for $49.

    After you pay the annual fee, the award night will post under “My Account” once you login to IHG.com. On the left you’ll see “Free Night Status”.

     

    10% of your points back

    Another main feature of the IHG rewards card is that it gives 10% of your redeemed points back. Just by having the credit card, this passive benefit gives 10% of your used points back to your account.

     

     

    Purchasing Points

     

     
    There is a secret way of purchasing points on the cheap… that isn’t so secret. And then there are two more traditional ways of purchasing points.

    1) Purchasing through IHG.

    IHG sells points at a premium, in 1,000 point increments:

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $12.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points
  • We have never found this to be a great deal, but periodically IHG has sold points with a 100% bonus, and it would be possible to buy points for $11.50 per 2,000 points (instead of 1,000). This would allow you to buy 5,000 points for $28.75.

    Check here to see if there is a 100% bonus.
     

    2) Daily Getaways

    DailyGetaways is a sale of travel deals. Like groupon, but it generally has hotel points for sale at a discount. In the last few years, IHG has had multiple sales on there, offering to sell points for a better deal than normal… but not quite as good as the 100% bonus that IHG periodically offers.
     
    3) Cash + Points + Cancel

    It’s not quite as good of a deal as buying during the 100% bonus, and it’s not exactly kosher… but it does post the points a lot more quickly. The trick is to book with cash + points.

    If you go to book a room on points, you can book for 5,000 or 10,000 less points than the full points-price and choose to pay a bit in cash. Pay 5,000 less points and pay $40 cash. Or, pay 10,000 less points and pay $70 in cash.

    The trick is that when you book with cash and points, it charges your credit card immediately. Then when you go to cancel the reservation, it will refund completely in points. In other words you pay in partial cash and partial points, but get the reservation refunded completely in points.

     

    Bonus Points Package

     

     
    Most hotels now offer an upsell on a paid night for bonus points. This is based on the “best flexible rate” and each hotel has an option to add a different amount of points per night.

    Packages are generally 1,000 points per night, but you can often find 5,000 point packages. Doing a quick search I found a hotel that gives 1,000 points for $5 extra a night, and another 5,000 points tends to go for $15 extra a night. I was lucky enough to see one for 15 Thai Baht (THB), which is about $0.50… but I think that was a mistake.

    Are these packages worth it?

    Use common sense? Would you buy 1,000 points for $5, (the same as buying 5,000 points for $25). Would you buy 5,000 for $25? But don’t deceive yourself.
     
    In general, I prefer to chase promotions and earn that way, but as we’ll discuss, getting 5,000 points quickly when the PointBreaks list comes out can be important.

    Promotions

     

     

    The key to earning on paid stays with IHG, is that there are plenty of stackable promotions. There are big promotions (like the Big Win) and small ones, like what I call “earning IHG Rewards points on steroids”. Each of these promotions are stackable, and my best one night stay earned me over 30,000 points.
     

    Major promotions

    There are many promotions that go on, but they seem to change seasonally so there isn’t much point in detailing a promotion that’s dead and may never come back again. But it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for promotions on the IHG Rewards Club offers page.

    Earning on Steroids

     

     

    IHG sends out promotions to people all over, offering a few thousand points for your next weekend, or your next stay, etc. Each of these promotions has a 4-digit code that gets shared on flyertalk.

    Here is the FT thread where you can find a wiki of these promo codes. Each 4-digit code found in that forum can then be added to this page.

    A few things to note.

    First, there are a ton of codes, and at most around 20 codes that will work. In other words, if you were to go through all of the codes, you would get a ton of errors notifying you of your codes being ineligible. You could focus on more recent codes in the wiki, or you could go through the thread starting with the most recent post in attempt to skip codes that are likely to be ineligible.

    Many of these bonuses are listed with the details of the promotion. Most are a bonuses (1,000 to 5,000 points) on your next stay, next two-day stay, next weekend, or something similar. So you won’t be able to plan out exactly how to optimize the promotions, but instead, just register for as many promotions as possible before whatever stay you would have made anyway.

    These codes are also one time only bonuses. After using them, you won’t be able to register again. To register for more codes, you’ll most likely need to wait for more promotions and more codes to come out. Given that, earning is very heavy towards your first stays.


     

    A note of caution…

    Lastly, I should note that recently IHG has shut down a few accounts because of this. Apparently they closed account for applying for ineligible promotions… which doesn’t make any sense, because they have the ability to decline codes based on a profile. However, I can verify that most accounts are completely unaffected. No one we know personally has had an account closed. And personally, we haven’t changed a thing. Still, if you’re worried about getting an account closed, and you have a valuable account (RA status/tons of points), don’t use these codes.

    Adding it all up

    Earning from a paid stay:

  • Register for steroid codes
  • Register for major promotions
  • 10 points per dollar + 50% bonus for Platinum status (which comes from the card).
  • Bonus points package
  •  

    Getting points without a paid stay:

  • Buy points promotions
  • Cash + points + cancel
  • Credit card
  •  

    Redeeming Points

     
    IHG has some of the most fair redemption prices of all the hotel chains. There are great redemptions on the top and bottom as the prices are only 10,000 to 50,000 points a night. Plus there are great promotions for using points. IHG unlike any other chain, focuses on having promotions not only for earning, but for redemptions.


    Check out: Best IHG Rewards Category 1 & 2 Hotels. Even without any promotions there are a number of great hotels that are only 10,000 points or 15,000 points a night. You’ll find many great deals, like a Holiday Inn in central Lyon, France for 10,000 points and a Holiday Inn in downtown Krawkow, Poland for 15,000 points.

    For 50,000 points, there are a number of very high end hotels that would otherwise cost close to $1,000 a night. Like:

  • InterContinental Park Lane London
  • InterContinental Bora Bora
  • InterContinental Carlton Cannes
  •  
    Better yet, there are a number of hotels that are 25,000 points a night and still high end:

  • InterContinental Koh Samui
  • InterContinental Hua Hin
  • Booking/Canceling Award Nights

    Browsing award prices and booking awards online is super easy. Start by going to IHG.com and under the rate preference dropdown, select “Rewards Nights”. When you book an award night, the points are instantly deducted.

    But the other thing to know is that reward nights are easily cancelable. The cancellation time may vary by location, but in general, reservations will be cancelable up until 4pm of the day before checking in. Sometimes it’s the same day, and sometimes it’s multiple days, but you can easily find this when booking your room under the “rate details”.

    When you cancel, your points will instantly be put back into your account.

    Redeeming Promotions

     

    PointBreaks

     

    Debatably, IHG’s PointBreaks is the best hotel promotion around.

    Every two months (usually) IHG picks about 150 hotels to make bookable for the next two months for a special rate of 5,000 points a night. Given that you can buy 5,000 points for $35 (with the cash + points trick mentioned above), this is always a great deal, and sometimes it’s incredible. On PointBreaks, we’ve stayed at the Intercontinental Kiev, a Holiday Inn in Paris, the InterContinental Athens and many more for 5,000 points a night.

    The key is that each hotel only allows so many rooms to be sold for 5,000 points. So when the booking opens at the beginning of the two month period, some of the nicer hotels have all their rooms go from the PointBreaks list quickly.

    Thus, three things to know about booking:

  • You need to book during the two month period, for stays during the two month period.
  • There needs to be award availability.
  • Only so many rooms are on the PointBreaks list, and once that number of rooms is booked, awards go back to regular price.
  • Only the hotel and IHG know exactly how many rooms are bookable for 5,000 points, before going back to regular price. But again, you can guarantee that the really nice hotels (if/when they are on the list) will go within the first day, and sometimes within hours. And unlike regular award availability, once gone from the list, the hotel won’t be placed back onto the list if reservations are canceled. In other words, that availability won’t “open back up” once booked.

    There is no way to predict which hotels are going to be on the list either, however, if a hotel has joined pointbreaks during a particular season one year, that is probably the same season you’ll see them participate again another year. But IHG often posts a preview (found here) of the list a few days before booking is officially possible.

    To keep posted on PointBreaks, it’s one of the few promotions we post about on Travelisfree.com or FreakinFlyers.com.
     

    Last Minute

     
    Last minute rewards is one of the other discount redemption lists. It’s a number of hotels that are 50% off the first weekend of the month.

    Status

     

     
    IHG has one of the most complicated status systems, mostly because they have two different programs.


    IHG Rewards has its typical status system including:

  • Club
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • These statuses apply to all IHG properties.


    Then, InterContinental Hotels – which is the high-end chain within the IHG family – has its own status system.

  • Ambassador
  • Royal Ambassador
  • Both Ambassador and Royal Ambassador status are only good at InterContinental hotels, and they are the top statuses at InterContinental properties. In general, Ambassadors are treated better than Platinum members at Intercontinental Properties.

    IHG Status

     


    Benefits


    Club members get:

  • Free internet
  • Weekday paper
  • Gold members get:

  • Above benefits plus…
  • 10% bonus points
  • Platinum members get:

  • Above benefits plus…
  • Complimentary upgrades
  • 50% bonus points
  •  
    These demonstrate the least beneficial rewards program around in terms of membership perks. The only difference between signing up and Platinum is 50% bonus points and “upgrades”. And my experience with “upgrades” is hit/miss… and more “miss” than “hit”.

    At my many Crowne Plaza stays, we’ve never gotten Club Lounge access or breakfast as Platinum members. It’s a bit of a joke… but every bit helps.
     

    Requirements for achieving status


    Club

  • 1 – 14 nights
  • Gold

  • 15 – 49 nights
  • or 20,000 Elite Qualifying Points
  • or 3 brands + 10 nights
  • Platinum

  • 50+ nights
  • or 60,000 Elite Qualifying Points
  • or 4 brands + 40 nights
  • or IHG Rewards credit card
  • And a sidenote, one unique change to IHG is that rewards nights count as qualifying nights.
     

    InterContinental Status

     


    Weekend Certificate (BOGO Cert)

    The weekend Ambassador certificate is known as IHG’s “BOGO cert” because it’s a “buy one get one” free that can only be used on the weekend. Specifically, you can be checking in Friday, or Saturday and the following night will be free (except in the Middle East, which includes Thursday as a weekend). The BOGO cert can be used at any IHG property, and on any room that’s for sale. Basically, the BOGO rate will be the “best flexible rate”.

    Booking with your BOGO: Book online here, or by calling the Ambassador Service Center.
    You need to give the original certificate to the hotel upon checkin.


    Benefits

    Ambassador status:

  • Guaranteed room upgrade (generally only 1 room type)
  • Fruit upon arrival
  • “Gift”
  • Single-room rate for double occupancy
  • 4pm checkout
  • Complementary film per day
  • Newspaper daily
  • Weekend Night Certificate (BOGO)
  • 5,000 IHG points
  • Overall, it’s a lot of fluff. But you get what you pay for. 4pm checkout, fruit, and no breakfast, and no guaranteed lounge access.

    Royal Ambassador status:

  • Benefits of an Ambassador plus…
  • Early check-in (8am)
  • An upgrade to an Executive room, Club InterContinental room or a Suite for Royal Ambassadors at check-in is guaranteed (except on award stays)
  • Use of health-club
  • Beverages are complimentary from the mini-bar (except on award stays)

  • Overall, it’s a lot fluff. There are barely any added benefits, and it’s still missing guaranteed access to the lounge, and free breakfast. Lounge access and breakfast is a top tiered benefit of every hotel chain except IHG and InterContinental.

    Royal Ambassador status is the only hotel rewards program that discourages using points at InterContinental hotels by not giving any benefits at the hotel when using points.

    That being said, they do sometimes give upgrades to suites and club rooms. It’s extremely hit/miss, but we have had some excellent suites and lounges because of Royal Ambassador status. And while you may not get lounge access, you can have drinks from the mini-bar to make up for it.

    Another small bonus of requalifying for Royal Ambassador status is that you get a couple of the Ambassador perks again. You get another 5,000 points and another weekend (BOGO) certificate.
     


    Earning:

    Ambassador

  • Pay $200 or 32,000 points.
  • Royal Ambassador

  • RA status is officially an invite only status. They do not publish their requirements but we do speculate about them in a flyertalk thread. The best guess is 60+ paid nights at various brands and a number of InterContinental properties.
  • You used to get a referral certificate, to refer a friend to be a Royal Ambassador, upon qualifying. This was taken away recently and now there is no way to trade or buy Royal Ambassador status.

    IHG Best Rate Guarantee

     


     
    IHG has a guarantee that if you find a lower rate on a competitor site after booking on IHG.com, then you’ll get your first night free… even if your stay is only one night. In the last year, we’ve gotten 4 completely free nights out of this at high end hotels.

    Here’s the process:

    1.)Find a lower rate on Kayak or another site

    2.)Book a cancelable rate on IHG.com

    3.)Fill out their claim form, which will state where the lower rate is

    They may deny the claim because their terms and conditions are pretty strict. This is why I always advise booking a refundable rate. If they deny your claim, then you can just cancel. If they approve your claim, then you get a free night!
     

    IHG Best Rate Guarantee Rules

     

    There are many minor details for why IHG will deny a claim. Here are a few of the important things to know:

  • Must match in every way: Breakfast, room type, bed type, cancellation policy, payment, etc…
  • Make sure it’s actually bookable – click through to the end
  • The lower rate has to be publicly bookable (not membership sites)
  • Has to be a lower rate before tax and after tax
  • If the lower rate’s cancellation policy is even a few hours more strict, it will be denied
  • Lower rate must be more than 1% or $1
  • Only 1 free night per 7 days, within 50 miles (you could either wait a week, or you could book the next night if it’s 50 miles away)
  • Lower rate has to be bookable in the same currency
  •  
    If you’d like to learn more, read How to find a free night with IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee, or check periodically on sites like Kayak.

     
     
     

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    41 Comments

    1. Fantastic post, thank you for this treasure trove of information, organized in a great way. Keep up your great work. thank you.

      Cheers,

      PedroNY

      Reply
      • Thanks for the encouragement!
        Drew

        Reply
      • Do you have a way I could contact you with a couple of questions specific to my situation regarding points accumulation? I won’t hold you to any information you give if not correct I am just brand new to using/earning points and we have been living at a Staybridge property for almost two months and out of financial necessity would love to know how we can maximize our earnings/use of our points!!

        Reply
    2. What a brilliant post! Thanks!

      Reply
      • Glad to here it. :-) Thanks for sharing!
        Drew

        Reply
    3. Fantastic post, Drew. Have no words to express my thoughts after reading this gem of a post.

      Reply
      • That’s great, as always, thanks for encouraging Kumar!
        Drew

        Reply
    4. Thanks, Drew. I just added 12 to our next stay in a few weeks. Is there an easy way to find your guides? Can you create a tab for them?

      Reply
      • Not yet, but we’re working on it. I think we’ll have them in the side bar.

        Reply
      • just added 12 what? codes? You got 12 codes to work? Congratulations if so….?

        Reply
    5. Hello, I just discovered this whole world of points and miles a couple of weeks ago so pardon the dumb question. If I earn hotel points, can you redeem hotel rooms for another person that is not your spouse? Thanks!

      Reply
      • It’s not a dumb question (actually pretty common) and I should have included it.
        Yes you can.
        But make sure the reservation is for more than one person, and then you can add “additional guest”. Add that persons name in that form, and I even make a note in the addition comment box right below, that “john smith will be checking in”.

        Reply
      • how long do my points last till they expire

        Reply
    6. one of the best posts ive ever seen on a travel blog. awesome graphics too.

      Reply
      • That is a very high compliment. Thanks, I passed on the compliment of the graphics to carrie as well. 😀

        Reply
    7. Another great (and visually appealing) summary!

      Just wanted to point out one other benefit of buying ambassador status – there is an option that gets you another 10% point rebate (similar to the credit card 10% points rebate). The two are cumulative (20% total) and better yet I find that IHG very often gets the AMB credit wrong (i.e. not at all unusual to get far more points than you are expecting).

      Here are the renewal options that show up in my account (you may be right that the 1st year signup is more):

      Renew for $150 USD and receive 10,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points
      Renew for $200 USD and receive 15,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points plus a 10%** rebate on Reward Nights
      Or, if you wish to renew your Ambassador status using IHG® Rewards Club points
      Renew using 24,000 of your IHG® Rewards Club points and receive 5,000* bonus points

      Reply
      • This is great information. Perhaps I should see if carrie would be willing to edit the code to include this info…

        Reply
    8. I just got the IHG credit card and I’m still confused. It says i get 5 points per $ spent at IHG hotels but your site says I get 10pts per $ spent. Which one is it?

      Reply
      • My mistake, it is 5 points per dollar. Don’t know why I remembered 10…

        Reply
      • I believe you get 10 points with AMbassador Status. I also get 10 percent rebate from the AMB status sign up.

        Reply
    9. Drew & Carrie: Interesting that you’re again positive on IHG. 😉 Concur with everyone on the visuals, the appeal and helpfulness of the graphics. Great work — and good substance, except for one area which some more clarification would help:

      Above, you write that $4,298 in paid stays over 40 nights earned you 872,500 points. That works out to a whopping average of 21,812.5 points per paid stay….. Would I be correct in surmising that the vast majority of your points this year (2014) have come from Big Win promotions.? Have you had many of the codes work for you LATELY? (since say May — after the last BW? Are you still getting 20k per night?)

      It’s my sense that IHG has really gone quite miserly on the codes…. Fewer and fewer of them work. Haven’t seen any new ones in months.

      Friend got herself a new IHG card earlier this year…. then diligently followed your guidance and signed up for various codes…. very few of them worked. Of the few that did, most were one shot only. First night, sure, 18K points of bonuses. About 5k on average since, if that. This summer’s “reel promotion” was long on soda pop and movie tickets and really short on points.

      Seriously Drew, are you getting any of the codes to work in recent months? (other than the lame ones for stay four nights, get 5k?, or stay 7 and get 10K?)

      Looking to the future, are you or anybody picking up anything about a return for “big win” for the fall? Or is IHG now getting too profitable to run “big” promotions and codes? Hope so, but your post on Hilton and others I’ve seen about Hyatt….. has me less enamored with IHG of late.

      Reply
    10. I am starting to see your blog pop up in comments at other travel sites. Comments about high value, unique content with low links and low attitude. This post furthers that perception. You really should have a tips jar/donation button.

      Reply
    11. I joined the IHG rewards club in September 2014. Unfortunately I should have joined when I first stayed in August because I missed out on just the base points for approximately 15 nights averaging $150 a night. Ouch! That doesn’t include the extra bonus points I would have received by stacking the promos that I found towards the end of September. I haven’t seen any recent promo codes posted but at least wanted to report that many of the ones posted earlier this year still worked. Last week I stayed 3 nights during the week and the cost without sales tax was approximately $400.00. In addition to my base points I also got an additional 18,000 bonus points by stacking. I was doing the math with the current promo codes in place combined with the Into the Nights promo and if I book a room for Saturday in the town where I live it will trigger even more bonus points, get me to elite and I will make money because it will allow me to hit booking through IHG, my second Saturday stay, another qualifying brand and 2 Holiday Inns. I don’t know if more bonus points will trigger because not all offers on my status page have been completed and don’t know if I will continue to get points on the other promos good for 60 or 90 days. I know I’m rambling but the old promo codes are still working so use them and please post any new ones out there. Prob the easiest is watching the video and taking the quizzes.

      Reply
    12. Can you earn promo code points or any points for that matter with a points plus cash stay or do you only earn points on paid stays?

      Reply
    13. You have probably already blogged this somewhere, but is “cruise and earn” a good plan with IHG? or are there better ways to save/ get money back on cruises?

      Reply
    14. Is the Royal Ambassador status a one time payment for life? Or is it an annual fee? Seems worth it for a one time payment…and almost seems worth the 32,000 point redemption?

      Reply
    15. Incredible insight always on your posts. Thank you.
      …you forgot to mention that IHG allows you to use points for stays at non-IHG hotels, some of which belong to PREFERRED HOTEL group. Not as lucrative as the UR to AMTRAK To CHOICE but it is an option.

      Reply
    16. @Airgypsy for PREFERRED HOTEL GROUP?!?!?! I only know of Venetian in LV. Can you share?

      Reply
    17. Awesome! I love the IHG Chase card too. One question, my anniversary is March 27, and I want to use my annual Reward Night for my trip to San Francisco April 12. If I pay the annual fee right away, will it post in time for me to book it? Worried it might be weeks……

      Reply
    18. @Hank
      Under IHG Rewards, go to Travel Anywhere. There are some hotels in the Preferred Group, some very costly in points, others more reasonable, depending on location and the dates. Also be patient when searching, as I’ve seen varying points required for SAME hotel, same date but different search location, e.g., searching for Kahalui, HI versus Wailea, HI yielded different points required for the same hotel, same dates for some reason (?)

      Reply
    19. Referred to here through a friend, wonderful tool;)!

      Reply
    20. Thanks for this guide!I recently signed up for the IHG card on a 60k points and $50 bonus after hitting minimum spend. I can be matched to an 80k points offer, but lose the $50. Is it worth it to switch to 80k points, essentially paying $50 for 20k points?

      Mathematically it seems like a good deal, although I don’t travel a huge amount and may just take the money.

      Reply
      • They might match the 80k and not pay attention to the $50 part. But I find they want a link to the 80k offer, but if you got it in the mail and have the code, that would work. My guess is that they won’t take away the $50. In fact, I don’t think they can.

        Reply
    21. Legendary Post. This is the epitome of utilizing the internet to organize and spread information to educate the world. Thank you.

      Reply
    22. Drew, could you reply to the comment by “havai”. It seems to me like 200 points per dollar in spend at IHG is rather unbelievable based on the promos and codes available today. I dont wish to sound rude or skeptical but it seems like there is something you arent telling us if you spend roughly $20k a year and earn nearly 1 million IHG points alone.

      Reply
    23. Can you describe step by step how you got 800k miles ?

      Reply
    24. Hey Drew – Here’s a question on something I’ve come across a few times. What if the cancellation policy on the other site is BETTER than the IHG cancellation policy?

      Reply
    25. Drew, really enjoy your blog, the best one out there! One question, from the IHG website, the membership levels are Gold, Platinum, and Spire which is different than what you listed in this post. Did IHG just change that?

      Reply
    26. Very useful website, makes we wonder why IHG doesn’t have the same thing.
      Fyi Holiday Inn THOIRY – GENEVA AIRPORT is permanently closed – please delete it.

      Reply
    27. I’m having issues with using my collected IHG points on a room that my family of four can share. Many of my hotel choices will only let me redeem points on a room for two. I knew IHG must not care anything about customer loyalty when they rolled out the special pricing for loyalty members that saves an entire $3. Now I’m apparently supposed to leave half the family at home when I travel?

      Reply
    28. I was told I have enough points to pay for 1 night, but was told, “Accessible rooms are not available for a Rewards night, only a standard room.” I stayed in accessible rooms to earn these points. SMH, Can this be true?

      Reply

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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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