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IHG Rewards cheat sheet for using your points

by on Wed June 8, 2016 • 56 Comments
While InterContinental Hotels Group doesn’t have one of the best hotel programs for high-value, luxury redemptions, it does offer some good value in the low to mid-tier hotel range along with a handful of good luxury redemptions. Read on to learn what you need to know to make the most of your IHG points.


What hotels can you book with IHG points?

IHG has over 5,000 hotels across over 100 countries. IHG has eight brands total where you can earn points and redeem points. The easiest way to understand each of these brands is to categorize them:

  • Premium: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza
  • Lifestyle: Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, Hualuxe
  • Mid-Range: Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express
  • Limited Service: Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites

In addition to the brands listed above, another grouping of brands that fall under the IHG Umbrella are Kimpton hotels. Currently, points earning and redemptions are not applicable to Kimpton hotels, but at some point in the future that may change. Up to date information on the IHG/Kimpton merger is available here.

How many points does a free night cost?

The cost of a free night at an IHG hotel ranges from 5,000 points per night for a PointBreaks promotional hotel (more on this later) up to 60,000 points per night for a Category 9 hotel. IHG has many hotels that fall well within the middle of the redemption range. Unless you are staying city center or at at an InterContinental brand hotel, you will most likely be looking to pay between 20,000 and 40,000 points per night.

Tip: One downside to IHG Rewards is that reward nights are capacity controlled. This is the most noticeable with PointBreaks hotels which will often sell-out at the promotional rate of 5,000 points within the first day of being offered. In practice, you often will only run into problems with this capacity control when booking very popular hotels or at very popular times.

What are Points + Cash awards?

IHG also has Points + Cash awards, that are somewhat unique in their execution. For $40 you can get a 5,000 point discount on an award and for $70 you can get a 10,000 point discount on an award. Unlike other hotels that offer Points + Cash options, with IHG you are actually buying the additional points for that dollar amount.

This means that if you cancel a Point + Cash award night, you will not be refunded the dollar amount you spent, but rather you will have the additional 5,000 or 10,000 points returned to your account. This presents a unique ability to purchase points at a discounted rate which we will elaborate on later. If you find yourself short on points, Points + Cash awards are a great option.

How much does an upgrade cost?

Upgrades with points are not available in the IHG program, however you may be able to upgrade by paying a cash surcharge at time of check in, subject to availability and the policies of the hotel.

Good Deal Redemptions

IHG has a lot of great hotels all over the world and you really won’t run into all that many places where there isn’t an IHG hotel option.

A few of the best resorts to redeem your IHG points at are the InterContinental Paris Le Grand, InterContinental Amsterdam Amstel, and InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa. All of these hotels regularly cost over $500 per night for weekend rates and can have rates closer to, or even over, $1,000 per night.

The InterContiental Paris LeGrand and InterContinental Bora Bora both cost 60,000 points per night while the InterContinental Amsterdam Amstel will run you 50,000 points per night. Even at the low end of the spectrum, you are looking to get about 1 cent per point in value ($500.00/50,000 points = $0.01).

Interested in staying in an all-inclusive resort on points? IHG has a couple of options that will work for you in Jamaica and Mexico. IHG all-inclusives generally cost between 30,000 and 50,000 points per night for two people. Redeeming points for all-inclusives is great because not only do you have a free hotel room, but you also receive food and drinks for no additional cost. The only additional cost you need to consider is getting to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, some activities, and more is included in your rate. For this reason it is difficult to determine an exact value per point, but it could easily reach into the multiple cents per point range.

You can check out some of our other favorite redemptions here.

How IHG PointBreaks work

IHG PointBreaks hotels are hands down one of the best parts of the program. Every couple of months IHG releases a list of PointBreaks hotels, a group of hotels that offer a promotional redemption rate of only 5,000 points per night for the next two (or so) month period.

It is impossible to predict what hotels will be included during each period, and generally it is filled with lower end properties, but if the hotels on the list coincide with your travel plans it’s hard to beat 5,000 points per night.

Every once in awhile there will be a real gem on the list like the InterContinental Tahiti which made it onto the PointBreaks list in 2013.

What is the cancellation policy for an award night?

The cancellation policy of award nights is dependent on the hotel. Most hotels will only require 24 hour advance notice, while some may have a more strict cancellation policy. Always be sure to double check the cancellation rules before you book. If you cancel, you should see the points deposited back into your account within minutes.

Can you turn IHG points into airline miles?

It is possible to convert IHG Points to airline miles. It will cost you 10,000 IHG points to convert to 2,000 airline miles, and you have many airlines to choose from. In order to convert points to miles, you will need to contact IHG Customer Care.

Tip: It is generally not advisable to transfer IHG points to airline miles because of the poor transfer ratio. If you need to top off an account for a redemption or otherwise would absolutely never use the points, it may be justifiable, but you will receive much higher value by redeeming the points for hotel nights.

What is an IHG point worth?

We value IHG points at 0.5 cents each. For example you can book the Intercontinental Century City near Los Angeles for 50,000 points a night, versus about $275 if you paid in cash, getting about 0.5 cents in value. The Intercontinental in San Francisco costs 60,000 points a night, and often goes for around $300 a night in cash. Searchers on on average get a bit more value than that for awards. And using PointBreaks or saving points for days when cash rates are unusually high can get you substantially more value.

Can you share points?

It is possible to share IHG points by transferring them to another member’s account. Points can be transferred in 1,000 point increments for a cost of $5.00 per 1,000 points.

Can you purchase points?

IHG points can be purchased directly from IHG in 1,000 point increments, up to 60,000 points per year. Point prices depend on how many you are buying:

  • 1,000-10,000 points: $13.50 per 1,000 (1.35 cents per point)
  • 11,000-25,000 points: $12.50 per 1,000 (1.25 cents per point)
  • 26,000-60,000 points: $11.50 per 1,000 (1.15 cents per point)

There is an even less expensive way to purchase points, but it is a less direct method and will require you to have at least 5,000 points already in your account. We mentioned above that when paying for a Point + Cash rate, you are actually purchasing points with the cash part of the rate. As a reminder, you receive the following ‘discounts’ for the cash paid:

  • 5,000 point ‘discount’ – $40.00
  • 10,000 point ‘discount’ – $70.00

What this really means is that you are purchasing 5,000 points for $40.00 (0.8 cents per point) or 10,000 points for $70.00 (0.7 cents per point) when you book a Points + Cash rate. Upon canceling that stay, all points are returned to your account and cash is not refunded. Here’s an example.

The Crowne Plaza: Memphis Downtown can be booked for 25,000 points per night. It also has Points + Cash Rates of 20,000 points + $40.00 and 15,000 points + $70.00. If you book one night for 15,000 points + $70.00, you are really purchasing 10,000 points for $70.00. If you then cancel that hotel night, 25,000 points will be returned to your IHG account. This method of purchasing points costs less than purchasing them directly through the IHG Purchase Points link.

How do you earn points?

You are able to earn points for every stay at an IHG hotel, with the exception of Kimpton hotels. You will earn 10 points per dollar spent at Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and InterContinental Hotels. You will earn 5 points per dollar spent at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotels. If you achieve a higher status level with IHG you will earn more points for each stay. Gold members receive a 10% bonus, Platinum members receive a 50% bonus, and Spire members receive a 100% bonus.

IHG runs various promotions throughout the year where you can receive bonus points for staying different numbers of nights at different brands. Promotions usually require registration ahead of time.

Tip: In addition to hotel stays, you can earn points for purchasing goods and services with IHG Partners.

What stays qualify to earn points?

Almost all rates that are booked through receive stay and points credit. If you decide to book through a third party travel site such as, Orbitz, or Expedia then you will not receive any points or stay credit towards your room rate. There have been scattered reports that you may still receive points on eligible dining charges that are posted to your room.

IHG does have a Best Rate Guarantee program that will match a better rate found on third party websites. If you find a better rate elsewhere, you will receive one night of your stay for free.

How can you earn Gold status?

Gold status can be earned by staying at IHG hotels. In order to earn Gold status you must do one of the following within a calendar year:

  • Stay 10 nights
  • Earn 10,000 base points

The additional benefits for having Gold status are:

  • Points don’t expire
  • Priority check in
  • 10% bonus points

How can you earn Platinum Elite Status?

The easiest way to earn Platinum Elite status is to hold the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card issued by Chase. In addition to being able to earn Platinum status by holding the credit card, you can also earn it by one of the following:

  • Stay 40 nights
  • Earn 40,000 base points

The benefits of obtaining Platinum Elite status are the same as Gold with the following additions:

  • 50% bonus points (instead of 10%)
  • Elite rollover nights
  • Complimentary upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability

Receiving Platinum Elite status through the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is going to give you the most bang for your buck as IHG status is not really worth very much. The 50% bonus is nice, however, and the Free Night Certificate from the IHG credit card already makes it pay for itself.

How can you earn Spire status?

Spire status can be earned in the following ways:

  • Stay 75 nights
  • Earn 75,000 base points

The benefits of obtaining Spire status are the same as Gold and Platinum with the following additions:

  • 100% bonus points (instead of 50% or 10%)
  • Exclusive choice benefit upon receiving status
  • Exclusive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star upgrade upon receiving status

What cards earn IHG points?

IHG Points can be earned through a couple of different credit cards. Chase issues the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card which lets you earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG hotels. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores & restaurants. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get a free night each year of card membership at over 5,000 hotels worldwide and platinum elite status, as long as you’re a Select credit cardmember

The Annual Free Night Certificate is good for one night at an IHG hotel every year upon your cardmember anniversary. This certificate alone can make this credit card worth the $49 annual fee, saving you potentially hundreds of dollars on a hotel night.

IHG is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. As such, any premium Chase credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, could be used to earn IHG points.

Chase offers a few credit cards with no annual fee that earn Ultimate Rewards like the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited. Having these cards alone will not allow you to transfer to IHG because a premium Chase Card (Sapphire Preferred, Ink) is required in order to transfer points. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to IHG.

In general, this is not the best way to earn IHG points as Ultimate Rewards has a lot of other transfer partners that are even more valuable than IHG, but if you need a few points for a redemption it may make sense.

Do IHG points expire?

If you have elite status with IHG, your points will not expire. If you do not have elite status, you will need to have qualifying activity at least once every 12 months. Qualifying activity counts as any points earning or redemption.

The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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56 thoughts on IHG Rewards cheat sheet for using your points

  1. Michael Pieris

    I am staying at Intercontinental Residences Doha almost 2 years now and i am spending at the restaurants of the Hotel a lot of money.
    Unfortunately nobody till now mentioned anything about points.

    I am wondering why?
    Please i am waitting for an answer.
    Michael Pieris

  2. Jack Moove

    I’m new to this card but have a trip planned to a holiday inn for 14 room nights next month. I see on IHGs site that I’m going to earn a bit over 38000 points. I’ll be paying for the room with my IHG credit card, which earns 10 points per dollar, so is that another 25000 ($2500 x 10) points on top of the 38000?? Then i’ll surpass the 2k required spend for the 80k bonus points. If this is right, after this one trip, I’ll have 143k points? Will that raise me to Spire too?

  3. Michael Sousa

    I thought I read somewhere that IHG offers a 10% bonus on points redemptions. For example, if I redeemed 35,000 points for a night’s stay, I would be getting 3,500 points back after my stay (at a future date). I can’t seem to find where I read that. Was I seeing things, or is that true, or perhaps it was/is a temporary promotion?

  4. Derek

    I have 404,195 points from years of business travel and want to maximize for a nice beach vacation. Any tips??? I’d really like something above a standard room but have not been so lucky.

  5. Jeremy

    I have 17,000 points and 7 nights. Does that mean I have 7 free nights available? I’m good elite status in less than three months.

      1. alberto

        And how about points and cash rewards ? Not for the points, but more for the qualifying nights for status.

  6. Angie

    I’ve got 4725 points about to expire. No credit card (and well over 5/24 with a lightly bruised credit score after a HELOC refi and several new cards) and no status. Tried the fuelrewards linking but I must have done something wrong. Don’t see a portal. Worth trying to save these points?

    1. Vicki

      Buy a minimum amount of points like 1,000 for $13.50. This will extend the expiration date of your existing points.

  7. James Owens

    What happened to the Priority Club points I used to have before conversion to IHG Rewards? What happened to points I earned under my Priority Club number AFTER the 2013 conversion to IHG?
    Jim O

  8. MDM

    I recently signed up for the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard with an offer to earn 60,000 point s after making $1000 in purchases within the first 3 months. We made the purchases immediately upon receiving the card and paid the accumulated charges. When we went to try t use the points to book a stay, we were told we would have to wait 4-6 weeks for the points to be posted to our account. Has anyone else run into this? This seems ridiculous and was not stated anywhere on the policies for the card.

    1. Shirley

      Yup! The selling point of the credit card is that if you use it at any IHG hotel, you get 5x the points. Well guess what? Those don’t get deposited until 6-8 weeks either. Apparently after you use the card, it has to be routed to IHG rewards dept and they have to verify and then deposit the points. Seems kind of stupid.

      1. me

        That is written in the T&C the points normally post a day or two later after the statement in which you met/exceeded the minimum spend closed.
        Same goes for everything you earned in points for the credit card. That is always the case across each and every credit card provider for each and every card.


      @Kaylon – Unfortunately no, it means you have one night counting towards your elite status qualification.

  9. James B

    One additional benefit for frequent travelers is that IHG has promotions every quarter that – if you can meet the requirements – essentially double your points.

    Also, if you get the IHG Chase card for $49.95 a year you’ll get an additional 5 points/dollar and a free night at any property.

  10. Mister

    When you say base points, does that mean per every dollar spent?

    How do you find out how many points a room costs?
    Can’t find it on reservations…..

    One holiday inn hotel advertised , sign up for the card and get a $50 statement
    Discount. Does this apply to any first time stay?

  11. Howard Ripley

    I get the PointBreaks setup but I feel the IHG rewards is not a bonus to reward regular customers not when it pushes the points cost of a hotel so high just for a run of the mill hotel, here in UK hotels per night seem to be regularly 20 – 25,000 points per night if you buy extra points as I did in the recent IHG offer to use for a weekend away, working out the cost instead of paying approx. £178 in cash for a 2 night stay, unfairly if you use reward points that I am now stuck with it effectively works out at £202 approx. Massive expensive lesson learned for me it is easier and more flexible to use cash.

    I did email customer service re the issue of not so reward this was their unhelpful useless response and then no further replies to my correspondence 🙁

    “I hope you’re having a great day. My name is AJ and I want to thank you for emailing us about your Gold Elite account.

    I want to thank you for your email and personally apologize if the Reward Night points required is too high for your liking and the inconvenience this caused you.

    We take all feedback seriously so we can continue to improve the IHG® Rewards Club program. You can be sure we’ve earmarked your comment and will use it to make our offerings even better.

    Again, thanks for letting us know about your experience. We appreciate you as an IHG® Rewards Club member. If you need anything else just call or send us an e-mail at ihgrewardsclub at”

  12. JR

    I have 35,000 points. I want to stay two nights. I want to get the first night free and pay the regular amount the second night. The IHG site does not seem to let me do this. It makes me spend the points per night, not just one night. Is there a way to get around this?


      @JR – Just book two separate reservations – let the hotel know when you check in or in advance and you’ll stay in the same room.

  13. Kelly

    Has anyone ever been able to reserve a room on points in order to get the room now and later exchange the points for the free night awards after the award night posts?

  14. Ankit Jain

    I am short of 268 points to reach the Spire level in IHG. What would be the cheapest way to go for Spire status and at the same time spending the minimum amount? I do not have any IHG credit card. Thanks!


      @Ankit Jain: The IHG Rewards Club Credit Card does not grant elite points, so your best bet would be to stay at an IHG hotel before the end of the year. Earning 5 points per dollar, you would have to spend a minimum of $53.60 to earn the 268 points you need to reach Spire status for 2018. Good luck!


      @Nic: Although you can book some IHG hotels (including Crown Plaza or InterContinental Hotels) with your airline miles, your value will vary based on which airline rewards points you plan to use. However, you may lose value compared to using those miles for flights.

      Although American Express Membership Rewards® can’t be transferred to IHG Rewards Club, you can use your points to book a hotel through Amex Travel. If you use Membership Rewards® to book a hotel through Amex Travel, your points will be worth one cent per point.

  15. pixie

    2 questions…
    is the chase ultimate rewards transfer a 1:1 transfer to ihg?
    is spire elite granted per year? or does it renew as long as your account is active?
    any workarounds with booking with chase ultimate rewards and getting points with IHG?


      1: Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to IHG Rewards Card at a 1:1 Ratio.
      2: To earn Spire Elite status, you have to stay 75 qualifying nights, or earn 75,000 elite qualifying points. If you are concerned about earning status, you can book your IHG hotel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal using your Ultimate Rewards points, as those stays may qualify towards elite status.


      @Danny – Nights that earn you IHG points for the stay. Sometimes when you book via sites besides IHG, like Priceline, it won’t be a ‘qualifying’ night, and you won’t earn points for the stay.

  16. Laurie Cohen

    i am about 25,000 elite qualifying points away from maintaining my Spire Elite status and wondered what your suggestion would be to keep this level? Do the points received by acquiring a Chase card go towards elite qualifying points? Or is there a better way.


      @Laurie – Yes spend on the IHG card counts, though intro bonuses or special promotions on the card don’t count.

  17. Ikechi Ajoku

    I have just booked to stay at the intercontinental hotel in Bangkok for 2 nights, next week via my IHG profile. I have over 15000 points. Can I used this to pay/redeem for the 2 night stay at the hotel next week?

  18. Frank

    In the Southeast U.S. I’m unable to ever get my points valued beyond .0035 (about one third of one cent) Not sure where these 1 cent valuations come in. Secondly, if you use some of the suggestions above – that is – – buying points with cash while booking … you are usually paying .007 cents each point. If I went to exchange those points back I’d get .0035 cents value. Why on Earth would I want to spend $70.00 to get $35.00 of value? Honestly I think people writing these articles didn’t take basic math courses or either I’m missing something. I have never found ANY instance where buying points with cash during booking is a good deal …. just flushing money away.

  19. David

    Do IHG points purchases count as hotel spend on the IHG Rewards card, or are they billed through a third party such as

  20. Shan

    How many points are given for the annual free night? The hotel I want to stay at is 40000 points for a standard room. Would the free anniversary night cover 40000 points?


      @Shan – You wouldn’t need to use any points to use the free anniversary night. It’s good regardless of how many points a standard room costs.

  21. Melinda Baker

    If a hotel is 20,000 points, do I have to pay anything additional or does this cover the cost of the hotel? Do I have to pay the taxes?

    1. James

      I am only 288 points from getting spire elite. Can I use the trick of booking a room with points plus cash, then canceling to get the points refunded with the cash converted to points? Would this’d be considered qualifying points?


        @James – Unfortunately purchased points (which is what these are) don’t count towards elite qualification.

        If you have an IHG Rewards credit card, earning from that will count but at this point you may want to find a cheap Holiday Inn Express.

        “Points earned from Qualifying Rates paid for hotel stays, spend on IHG® Rewards Club credit cards, select partner activity, IHG® Rewards Club Bonus Points Packages, and Qualified Spend through IHG® Business Rewards are considered Qualifying Points and are counted toward Elite status.”

  22. Kalboz

    SE Asia and especially Thailand have some great resorts at bargain rates using IHG points:

    – ICH Hua Hin Resort & Spa 35K IHG points per night
    – HI Resort Phuket-Patong 30K points
    – HI Resort Phi Phi Islands 35K points
    – HI Resort Mai Khao 25K points
    – HI Resort Krabi Ao Nang Beach 25K points

    And many more …

  23. P.R.E.S.L.E.Y.

    Great cheat sheet. Didn’t know about the Paris LeGrand. And I totally agree with your valuation of . cents per point.

  24. Billy D

    And no mention of Crowne Plaza? I find the Crowne Plaza in Amsterdam in a much better location and a much better value than the intercontinental, even with my ambassador benefits. I dont spend much time in the hotel room when in Amsterdam but when I do IHG’s Crowne Plaza is a terrific choice. Great happy hour specials and the included breakfast spread is phenomenal

    1. Brendan

      The hotel, currently operating as Crowne Plaza® Amsterdam City Centre, will undergo a complete transformation following a full renovation of the lobby, restaurants, facilities and guest rooms. It will open as a 270-room luxury Kimpton hotel in 2017.


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