May 28 2014

Ways to Earn IHG Rewards Points

After yesterday’s post about InterContinental Hotels Group’s new list of PointBreaks properties, with hotel rooms available for roughly $35 worth of points per night, I was asked for suggestions on ways to obtain IHG points.

So, here ya go!

Transfer Chase credit card points

Some Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points that are transferable to various airline and hotel partners – IHG Rewards Club among them.

UR xf partners
Some Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Since points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, this is generally not a good value (to me, an Ultimate Rewards point is worth $0.017 while an IHG Rewards point only $0.007). However, if you just need a small amount to top off your IHG account for a redemption it can make practical sense.

Get a co-branded credit card

The IHG Rewards Club Select credit card currently offers a 60,000 point bonus after you charge $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months. (There is also a non-public offer of 80,000 points which isn’t too hard to find by Googling, but just be warned that if the points don’t post after you used an offer you weren’t targeted for you might have an uphill battle getting them.)

I personally have (and really like) the card. While it has a $49 annual fee (which is waived the first year), I get more than enough value to justify the fee.

As a card holder, each year I receive a free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property. I redeemed my last one for a night at a hotel where the “retail” price exceeded $800/night.

The card also provides Platinum elite status with IHG, has no foreign transaction fees, and gives a 10% rebate on points redemptions. So if I redeem 40,000 points for a free night, I get 4,000 of them back.

Purchase points from Daily Getaways

Daily Getaways, a program from American Express and the US Travel Association, offers various travel packages at “discounted” prices. On June 5th, IHG Rewards points will be offered in various increments:

  • 100,000 points for $630
  • 50,000 points for $325
  • 25,000 points for $167
  • 15,000 points for $100

(These packages were also available from Daily Getaways on May 26th. Some of those are still available for purchase at this writing.)

There is a 10% discount if paying with an American Express card. Assuming you buy the 50,000 point package and get the 10% discount, you’re paying $293 for 50,000 points, or just under $0.006/point.

It’s not a bad deal because, to me, a point is worth about $0.007 (far less than what Daily Getaways claims it’s worth, by the way). However, you are converting a liquid asset (cash) into a very illiquid one (points with little value outside the loyalty program). So personally I would not speculatively buy points, but I could see it making sense if you have a specific redemption in mind.

Also remember the points may take up to 10 business days to post. By then, the property you want may be sold out of PointBreaks nights for this round.

Earn them the old-fashioned way

As with most hotel loyalty programs, you earn points for every dollar spent on hotel charges. (And elites earn additional bonus points.)

Clearly it’s ridiculous to pay for hotel nights just to earn points. But if you travel and need hotel nights anyway, it makes sense to “play the game” wisely and maximize your earnings.

For example, by participating in a (now-expired) promotion, I earned 170,000 points for about $0.002 (2 tenths of one cent) each.

Indirectly “buy” points

There is an indirect way to obtain points for $0.007 each. For this to work, you need to already have at least 5,000 points in your IHG account.

HI PDX

Here’s how the trick works:

  • Find an IHG hotel (any IHG hotel) that can be booked for 5,000 points + $70, such as this one (pictured above).
  • Book this “points & cash” reservation. Make sure it is a booking that can be cancelled without penalty! (Click on “view rate details” or something to that effect to see the cancellation policy.)
  • Cancel the booking. The $70 paid will not be refunded in cash. Rather, it will be refunded in the form of 10,000 points. (The original 5,000 points will also be returned for a total refund of 15,000 points.)
  • This method effectively buys 10,000 points for $70, or $0.007/point.

Caveat: I mention this trick because I know it’s commonly used, but I would advise caution. While I did not see the practice explicitly disallowed in the T&Cs (to the contrary, the terms specifically state that cancelled points & cash bookings will be refunded entirely with points), you don’t want to risk having your account shut down for abuse.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment or drop me a note with further questions or if you have additional suggestions. Enjoy using the points (wisely!).

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Posted May 28, 2014 by Admin in category "IHG", "Tips

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