I’ve recently written a number of posts about earning IHG points, and since it was such a big part of us living in luxury hotels for $600 to $700 a month, I wanted to do a single post on all the ways to earn IHG points. Every IHG points earning strategy in one place.
I’ll discuss how with IHG hotels I can get cash back, points for the spend, and then 50,000 points from promotions; credit card perks and comparisons; ways to buy points, and hotels where you’d be profitable buying points; and much more…
Credit Cards That Earn IHG Points
Comparing the two IHG Cards: Premier vs Traveler card
|4th night free||Yes||Yes|
|Global Entry or TSA Pre® Fee Credit||Yes||No|
|Earn 10,000 Bonus Points||After $20k spend||No|
|No Foreign Transaction Fees||Yes||Yes|
|Earn points at IHG hotels||10/$||5/$|
There are 3 big benefits of the IHG Premier Card
- The bonus points you get for signing up (highest bonus has been 120,000 points)
- The free night every year (worth up to 40,000 points)
- 4th night free (on redemptions)
The only one of those the “Traveler” card doesn’t have is the free night every year, which is a big perk.
Understand that the Platinum hotel status has no benefits. Literally none beyond earning up to 5 more points per dollar. And I don’t think I’d spend $20k on this card to get the bonus 10k points.
Therefore, the big difference is that the extra $60 in annual fee gets you the annual free night.
Breaking down earnings:
All in all, with the IHG Premier card, they advertise you earning 25 points per dollar. 10 points per dollar with the IHG card, 10 for being a member, and another 5 from the platinum status.
Plus, right now via Ebates you get 8% back on IHG bookings!
Also, I have a chase offer on my IHG card to get 15% back on “domestic” Holiday Inn hotels (up to $36). If that combines, that’s 23% cash back and 25 points per dollar.
Plus, as I’ll discuss shortly, you can earn a ton of points on the promotions.
IHG Free Night
Even though the annual IHG Free night only gives free nights at hotels up to 40,000 points, I still think the card is worth it. For example, the InterContinental Kiev is easily worth $300+ a night.
Plus, if I spend $1,000 at IHG hotels this year (very very likely), then I’ll earn an extra 5,000 points, which is worth at least $25.
Best Use of IHG Free Night:
Here are the most expensive IHG hotels (as identified in the recent post, The Highest Value IHG Hotel Redemptions):
The InterContinental Fiji, which we stayed at for 8 nights, and it’s quite pleasant. I’d also want to go visit some of the small islands around the area.
The Holiday Inn in Zion National Park is on there. We visited Zion National Park recently, and the hotel is actually really in the park, so you can just hop on the park shuttle and go hiking.
A Holiday Inn in Hollywood, Vancouver, and Paris.
A Hotel Indigo in Atlanta.
A Holiday Inn Resort Catalina Island! Which I had no idea existed til just now!
The InterContinental Kiev keeps coming up, because it is a great hotel (we also stayed 17 nights there once, as I recently mentioned). Kiev is a fantastic city when it’s warm.
Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach
Any one of these hotels is worth the $89, and it’s definitely worth having a card just to get the 4th night free.
You can also check out the Complete Map of IHG Rewards Hotels, and filter to view the best hotels up to a category 7 (40,000 points).
Transfer Partners (Why I Don’t Transfer To IHG)
There are two bank points that transfer to IHG points:
- Chase UR points (1,000:1,000)
- Diners Club (1250 to 1500)
I just learned that Diners Club transfers to IHG by checking FM’s List of Transfer Partners. I know nothing about Diners Club, but I love the table FM has put together so much that I added the List of Transfer Partners to our Resource page.
While you can transfer 1,000 points from Chase and get 1,000 IHG points… I would never do that.
Why “never”? As I’ll discuss, you can buy 10,000 IHG points for $50 (or less), and yet 10,000 Chase points would be worth $125 – $150 via the Chase travel portal.
Besides the fact that you’re measurably losing value there, Chase points are hard to earn, and IHG points are very easy to earn.
Buying IHG Points
Buy from IHG w/ 100% bonus
IHG often runs a promotion to buy their points with a 100% bonus.
At best during a 100% bonus buy promotion, you can buy IHG points for .5 cents each. That would make 10,000 points $50. On the high end, 70,000 points would cost $350.
Buy with a 20% discount
If you have one of the IHG Cards, you get a 20% discount.
“Save at least 20% on points purchases when you pay for those points with your IHG® Rewards Club Premier or Traveler Credit Cards… The 20% discount cannot be combined with any other points purchase offer.”
Cash & Points Trick
When you go to use points for most IHG hotels, it gives you a range of options from 100% points or to use part cash.
On a 40,000 point hotel, the first option is 40,000 points, and the second is 35k and cash, then 30k points and even more cash, etc…
If you were to book this hotel, which is normally 60,000 points, for 40k + $119, then when you cancel you get 60,000 points back and never get the $119.
Now, I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to do this, but I don’t know why they would care, since they sell points for less.
I think it’s fine as long as you don’t abuse it – i.e. don’t book and immediately cancel a bunch of times.
Why would you want to do this at .6 cents per point instead of .5?
There are two scenarios where this would make sense. 1) You need the extra points now. Buying points can take awhile to post (who knows why). And 2) There’s no points buying sale and this is your best offer.
Better yet, if you’re willing to do this, you might as well do it when you’re actually redeeming points.
I went through a bunch of hotels trying to find the brand or points value with the best value, and there seems to be no consistency.
The best option seems to be hotels that are 50,000 points and booking the option to save 20k.
However, I don’t really do this anymore, because there are better ways to earn.
Profitable Points Buying Hotels
Included in my post on the Highest Value IHG Redemptions was the chart below on buying points. Assuming you buy the IHG points at .5 cents each, you would come out ahead buying points instead of booking the lowest pre-tax cash rate we found:
Earning IHG Points from Promotions
I’ve discussed pretty thoroughly how to Earn IHG Points from Promotions.
That post is on the latest IHG promotion, but they do this every quarter. Every quarter is a different promotion, but each promotion is different for each person’s account.
It seems to use account activity as part of its decision making, so try to have some minimal activity.
Most people get a challenge like the following:
It gives tasks like “stay 3 nights” and “stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotels” and to pay for your hotel with your IHG Card (if you have one).
The great thing is that you can combine completing these goals with one stay. The above could be completed in two stays at Holiday Inn hotels, where you pay with your IHG card.
And if you complete all or most of your promotions it gives another bonus, usually.
The reason I love these promotions is because I need hotel stays and it earns a ton of points. So by paying a few hundred dollars, I can get the stays I need and earn the same amount of points than if I bought the points during a big promotion.
If you want more details read: How To Earn IHG Points from Promotions.
Cheapest IHG Hotels
People sometimes seemed to get confused by my implications, so I’ll give one more shot.
First, check out my post on Cheapest IHG Hotels To Earn IHG Points.
In short, there are hotels out there that cost $30 a night! And I only need 3 stays often to complete my 50,000 point promo.
However, you actually have to stay. Of course, you could have a family member or friend check in as your added guest. I’ve done it many times. I even sometimes add my wife in case for some reason she would arrive at a hotel before me. If you have a friend staying in one of these cheap cities, I’d recommend paying for their $30 hotel if it helps complete a 50k+ point promotion.
I live on IHG points because I can always find a way to earn points. And when the planets align, there are multiple promotions going on at once (like right now with Chase, Ebates 8% back on IHG and my IHG promo).
Plus, there always seems to be a deal when redeeming them. I’ve gotten 50% off points hotels in Mexico, I’ve gotten amazing hotels for 5k IHG Points (now 5k/10k/15k) during IHG PointBreaks sale.
And now the IHG Premier card gives 4th night free!