IHG Rewards Club members have many different ways to earn and redeem their points, and InterContinental loyalists can quickly rack up rewards. However, there isn’t much value in redemption options besides PointBreak promotions.
What Are IHG Rewards Club Points?
IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty program for InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns 12 brands covering more than 5,500 hotels in 100 countries. The properties range from affordable chains like Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites to upscale ones such as Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
There are two types of IHG Rewards Club Points: base points and bonus points. The most obvious way to earn base points is by staying at IHG hotels; you’ll generally get 10 points per dollar. Nab another 25 base points per dollar for IHG stays by paying with a branded credit card. You can also earn them by riding with Uber, booking rental cars through Hertz or Dollar/Thrifty, reserving cruises though CruisesOnly, or taking advantage of the IHG Rewards Club Dining program.
You earn bonus points through promotions. These can be used for rewards but don’t count towards elite status. IHG offers generous bonus promotions. For example, IHG Rewards Club members can earn double points for stays at select hotels in Asia through May 31, 2020.
Base points count toward IHG elite status, which has four tiers. In each successive tier, you’ll earn more points and gain access to more exclusive upgrades.
- Club: The base level that you get for signing up. Members earn 10 points for every dollar spent at IHG and get exclusive rates, dedicated phone assistance and free Wi-Fi.
- Gold Elite: Become a gold member with 10 nights a year at IHG properties or by earning 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points. In addition to the basic benefits, you get 10% extra bonus points, extended check-out, and priority check-in.
- Platinum Elite. You earn this by staying 40 nights in a year year or earning 40,000 Elite Qualifying Points. Platinum members earn 50% Bonus points and enjoy Elite rollover nights, complimentary room upgrades, and guaranteed room availability.
- Spire Elite: IHG’s highest level, reached by staying 75 nights in a year or earning 75,000 Elite Qualifying Points. Members get gold perks, 100% bonus points, early check-in, Hertz Five Star status, and a choice between extra points or gifting Platinum Elite status to a friend.
Which Cards Earn IHG Rewards Club Points
How to Use IHG Rewards Club Points
IHG Rewards Club Points aren’t as versatile as, say, World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy points. However, it’s a good program for travelers who prefer more affordable hotels, and Holiday Inn and other IHG brands often have hotels in areas that higher-end chains don’t. You’re generally going to see the most value out of hotel stays. Keep in mind that your points expire after 12 months if you’re at Club level.
- Hotel stays. Free nights cost 10,000 to 70,000 points.
- Intercontinental Ambassador membership. For 40,000 points a year, upgrade to Platinum Elite Status and receive other perks.
- Experiences. IHG’s experiences can be bought at flat rates or through auctions.
- Magazine subscriptions. Choose from 50 magazine subscriptions starting at 1,000 points.
- Digital products. Redeem for eMagazines, movies, music, eBooks, games and software starting at 300 points.
- Transfer to travel partners. Choose from more than 30 airline partners. Rates vary but generally don’t offer good value.
- Online shopping. IHG offers an online catalog of jewelry, electronics, gift cards and other products, but you only get 0.2 to 0.3 cents per point.
- Transfer to friends and family. Give points to another member for $5 per 1,000 points.
- Donate to charity. Choose from partners including Goodwill and American Red Cross.
Hotel stays give you the most bang for your IHG Reward Club points. The company has 13 different categories of hotels for point stays; they cost from 10,000 to 70,000 points per night. IHG also has an unusual and unfriendly policy of capping the value you can get from your points. Whether you’re booking an economy room or a luxury suite, you can’t get more than 0.7 cents per point in value.
However, not all stays will even get you that rate. Mid- to high-end stays will generally only be worth 0.3 to 0.4 cents per point. For example, if you book a room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Seattle South – Tukwila with points, you’ll get the maximum cash value of 0.7 cents per point. But a room at the Kimpton Hotel Vintage Seattle will cost you $161.60 or 50,000 points, giving you a value of 0.32 cents per point.
If you want the perks of elite status but don’t have the stays, you can buy InterContinental Ambassador Membership for $200 per year or 40,000 points, a value of 0.5 cents per point. You’ll receive Platinum Elite status, guaranteed upgrades, late check-out, a complimentary weekend night, a restaurant and bar credit of up to $20 for every stay, and additional perks depending on where you’re staying.
IHG’s experience program is called IHG Rewards Club Access. It’s smaller than many competing programs, and uses “experiences” pretty loosely—last time we looked, there were only eight experiences on offer, and one was actually a bundle of hiking gear. Some experiences have a flat price, others are in auction format.
You can buy many of these experiences separately, and in many cases you might as well. For example, you could get two terrace-level tickets to see the Jonas Brothers at the SSE Arena, Wembley in London for 20,000 points, with dinner, a couple of drinks, and lounge access included. We estimate the value at around $200, or 1 cent per point.
You can choose from 50 magazine subscriptions, including Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Us Weekly and a range of other periodicals. Most will cost you 1,000 or 1,500 points for a one- or two-year subscription, which is generally a decent value of more than 1 cent per point.
An unusual redemption option that IHG offers is its suite of digital products. You can use points to buy more than 250 eMagazines, rent or buy hundreds of popular movies, browse thousands of digital albums and eBooks, and download video games or software.
Shows and movies cost 950 to 4,440 points, which ends up being poor value. You can rent “Ad Astra” through Amazon for $5.99 or through IHG for 5,900 points, the equivalent of 0.1 cent per point. Digital magazines and video games mostly offer similar values.
Books can get you a little more value: the Kindle versions of Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House” costs $14.99 at Amazon or 2,150 points on IHG, for a value of 0.7 cents per point.
Transfer to Airline Partners
IHG has 39 airline transfer partners. Redemption rates vary by airline but the majority of them offer a rate of 5:1, which will seriously devalue your points, so we don’t recommend this option.
- Air China
- Air France
- AIR MILES
- Air New Zealand
- Alaska Airlines
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- All Nippon Airways
- American Airlines
- Asia Miles
- British Airways
- China Eastern
- China Southern Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Gulf Air
- Hainan Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Iberia Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qantas Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Velocity Frequent Flyer
You can buy electronics, home and garden, fashion, health, beauty and sports departments through IHG’s online catalog. There are many redemption options starting at less than 10,000 points. However, typical rates are between 0.2 and 0.4 cents per point, so this isn’t a wise option either.
Transfer to Friends and Family
IHG Rewards Club points can be transferred to any other IHG Rewards Club member in 1,000 point increments for $5 per 1,000 points. There is no limit to the number of points a member can transfer or receive. Many other programs allow you to do this for free, so we can’t recommend this option unless you need to combine points to book something, since it’s much cheaper than buying points.
If you’d like to make a difference with your points, you can choose to donate them to Goodwill, American Red Cross, Youth Career Initiative or Prince’s Trust in increments of 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000. There is no tax break for donating points.
While IHG Rewards Club Points can be redeemed and transferred a number of ways, the PointBreak redemption options provide far more value than any other option. If you use IHG properties often, this program is definitely worth joining. However, Chase and Amex have much more valuable redemption options for their members.