Hotel Indigo Verona Italy IHG

5 Ways to Earn IHG Points and Benefit from their Rewards Program

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Are you familiar with the IHG hotel rewards program and how easy it can be to earn IHG points?

Their hotels include brands like Intercontinental, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, as well as the boutique line of Kimpton hotels.

I’ve stayed in IHG hotels throughout my travels throughout the U.S. and internationally.

In fact, on a last-minute road trip, I stayed almost primarily at Holiday Inn Expresses.

With thousands of hotels around the world, IHG offers a wide range of hotels in all comfort categories. What’s even better is how easy it can be to earn IHG points.

In this guide, I’ll highlight some of the most lucrative ways to build up your IHG points balance to use for award nights.

5 Ways to Earn IHG Points &
Benefit from their Rewards Program

My hotel room at the Hotel Indigo, an IHG brand, in Verona, Italy

1. Get a co-branded IHG credit card.

Chase offers 2 co-branded IHG hotel credit cards, the IHG Premier Card and the IHG Traveler Card.

These are updated card offerings from the old IHG card with its $49 annual fee and free night certificate at any IHG property around the globe. 

The IHG Rewards Premier is IHG’s premium credit card.

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months as a cardholder. Plus, earn up to $100 in IHG® statement credits on purchases at IHG® Hotels and Resorts during the first 12 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • Earn an Anniversary Free Night at eligible hotels up to 40k points per night + earn a reward night when you redeem IHG points for a consecutive 4-night stay (i.e. 4th night free)
  • Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at IHG Hotels and Resorts
  • 5x on restaurants, at gas stations, and on travel
  • 3x on all other purchases
  • IHG Rewards Bonus points are redeemable at Hotels & Resorts such as InterContinental(R), Crowne Plaza(R), Kimpton(R), EVEN(R)Hotels, Indigo(R) Hotels, and Holiday Inn(R)
  • Up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS every 4 years
  • Automatic Platinum Elite status as long as you're a cardholder
  • No foreign Exchange Fees
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $99 

Hotel Room

 The IHG Traveler Card is also a great option if you’re looking to earn free nights at IHG hotels with a no-fee card.

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months as a cardholder. Plus up to $50 in IHG® statement credits on purchases at IHG® Hotels and Resorts during the first 12 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • 17x up to on IHG Hotels & Resorts bookings
  • 3x on monthly bills, restaurants, and at gas stations
  • 2x on all other purchases
  • Redeem 3 nights, get the 4th night free on award stays
  • IHG One Rewards Bonus points are redeemable at Hotels & Resorts such as InterContinental(R), Crowne Plaza(R), Kimpton(R), EVEN(R) Hotels, Indigo(R) Hotels, and Holiday Inn(R)
  • No foreign Exchange Fees
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $0

Both of the IHG cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. But the good news is you can also apply for a new IHG card even if you have the old version.

Each IHG card is considered a different product. 

The IHG Rewards Premier card with its anniversary night can offer great value, even though the perk is restricted to hotels up to 40k per night. 

The Holiday Inn Express in Springdale, Utah, just 5 minutes from Zion National Park, is $250+ a night during the peak spring, summer, and fall seasons!

Paying the annual fee in exchange for a free night certificate can return a decent value when redeemed strategically.

angels landing Zion National Park
Beautiful Zion National Park thanks to my Holiday Inn Express stay!

2. Be an IHG Member who does IHG promotions.

First and foremost, IHG members earn more points for paid stays than non-members. It’s free to join and an absolute no-brainer if you’re a miles and points enthusiast. 

While there haven’t been any recent 100k IHG promotions for mailing in promotion entries, IHG does have frequent Accelerate promotions that allow you to earn IHG points for completing a series of tasks in a set amount of time. 

As an IHG member, you’ll get emails announcing these promotions. Once registered, you’ll see your personal Accelerate offer. It’s a good idea to always register because you never know where or when you might end up staying in an IHG hotel. 


3. Earn IHG points from dining rewards.

Airline and Hotel dining rewards programs are a set-it-and-forget-it way to earn miles and points. The IHG dine and earn program is the same.

Essentially, you can earn 5 or 8 IHG points (depending on your dining rewards status level) for every $ you spend at a participating restaurant. Even if there are just 2-3 restaurants in your area and you dine or take out just once in a while, the points will add up.

Once you’re signed up (it’s free!), you’ll earn points automatically without you needing to do anything else. You can read more in my dining rewards guide.

4. Use the Cash and Points trick.

Don’t have enough points for a free night? 

IHG allows a combination of cash and points to book that reward night.

When searching for availability on IHG, set the rate preference as “Reward Nights.” The search results will display showing the number of IHG points needed per reward night.

Just beneath this, note the cash and point options.

Hotel Indigo Verona, Italy Credit: IHG Screenshot

IHG lets you purchase the extra points you need for the redemption. 

And, here’s the trick. 

First, make sure you have at least 5k IHG points in your account or else it won’t work.

A paid stay, the co-branded credit card, the IHG Dining Program, and IHG promotions are all easy ways to earn this minimum. As a last resort, you could also transfer Chase UR points to IHG. 

If you have just 5k IHG points in your account, find a hotel on IHG’s website needing 15k IHG points per night. That’ll be a lower-tier property, probably in a small town or less popular area.

Otherwise, any hotel where you’re short points for a reward night will do.

Note the cash and points option will allow you to pay 15k IHG points or10k IHG points + $38.

Here’s a 15k Holiday Inn Express in Milford, Connecticut. Credit: IHG Screenshot

 The 10k + $38 option gets you the remaining 5k points needed for a reward night for .076 cents each.

The IHG points value in this example is just so-so. But keep your eyes peeled for select hotels offering the purchase of 15k points at $90 for an even better .6 cents each! 

For this example, let’s say you choose the 10k + $38 option.

You’ll now be using your existing points plus the $38 option to purchase the remaining 5k IHG points needed for a reward night at this hotel. 

Go ahead and complete the booking. Note the $38 you used to purchase points is non-refundable. You WON’T get your money back. 

Are you wondering what the “trick” is? Here it is. 

Afterward, cancel the booking you just made. Your existing IHG points will be put back into your account. BUT, so will the 5k IHG points you purchased for $38!

The cash and points trick helped you add 5k IHG points to your account for just .076 cents each.

This process can be repeated until you have the needed points for your actual booking. The idea is to search for hotels, most likely in small towns, and look for the best value cash and points options.

Are you wondering how this is a good deal?

Let’s say you paid $70 for each increment of 10k IHG points.

Imagine also that you’re planning a stay at the Intercontinental Paris Le-Grand for a night in June. Who doesn’t love Paris in June? 

Search results for the Intercontinental in Paris Credit: IHG Screenshot

The member rate per night is 552 Euros or 582 Euros for a flexible rate. This will convert to $625-$650 U.S. dollars per night at current exchange rates. Not cheap!

Let’s imagine you have 40k existing IHG points. You’d be about 50k points shy of an award stay at the Paris Intercontinental Le Grand.

IHG is a Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner, but not a great value at all for your UR points. 

You go through the IHG cash and points trick 5 times to top up your account with 50k points for a total of $350 U.S. dollars. (You’ll need to do this over 2 days, as IHG caps the amount you can spend on points at $280 a day.)

You now have the 90k IHG points needed for a “reward night” and you paid $350 instead of the $600+ quoted in the cash rate.

Of course, always check IHG to make sure there are reward nights available, as well as check the hotel nightly rate on IHG’s website to make sure this “trick” works out to be a good value.

But when used correctly, you can use it to save money, especially on pricey hotels in popular locations.

5. Take Advantage of IHG Partner Offers.

Whether you’re renting a car with Hertz, completing surveys, or shopping a partner offer, there are opportunities to add to your IHG points balance. Make a habit to check on the IHG website for the latest partner-earning offers. 

For example, you can earn 4x the IHG points for every dollar spent at Apple. This can be a great way to rack up points, especially if you’re making a big purchase on a new phone or laptop.

Given their large global footprint and popular brands, IHG points are a popular hotel points currency to earn for free hotel award nights.

And, with so many ways for IHG points earning, from hotel credit cards like the IHG Rewards Premier Card and the no-fee(!) IHG Traveler Card to the IHG dining program, you could be on your way to more award nights sooner than you’d imagined.

How do you earn IHG points and take advantage of the program’s benefits?

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5 Ways to Earn IHG Points & Benefit from the IHG Rewards Program

24 thoughts on “5 Ways to Earn IHG Points and Benefit from their Rewards Program”

  1. That sounds cool. Signed up for it a couple of weeks ago but so far I have not booked ay hotel yet (would love to have that credit card actually, but I am from Germany so I need to figure out about that 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      The 1st step is signing up so great work! The credit card is for U.S. residents so that may be a bit trickier to figure out. Keep an eye out for IHG promotions. They can be quite lucrative and involve paid stays or not.

  2. Sounds like a really good deal. I especially like the fact that are no blackout dates! And that you can use a combination of cash and points. Very informative, thanks!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      The cash and points option adds such value to hotel redemptions, Katja. Hope the information will be helpful for you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Amelie! It is an American credit card. But, you can join the IHG loyalty program and take part in some of their promotions and benefits. The cash and points trick can be done with any credit card. 🙂

  3. Wow, that’s quite the hack! I also always look to book through InterContinental, because their best rate guarantee means you get the first night FREE if you find a lower price somewhere else!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I love that best rate guarantee, Tamara. It’s a great IHG perk to add to this post! Hope the cash and points trick comes in handy for you. 🙂

  4. We got the Chase co branded credit card and loving it – were clever enough to apply and have the card come before we moved from the States to Australia, because we have pretty limited options re points here in Aus!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      So smart, Meg! The miles and points game is so strong in the US. Best to take advantage while you can. 🙂

  5. Fabulous! These are some amazing tricks I had not heard before and I’m A points hoarder! The refunding is gold.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Mar. Us “point hoarders” have to stick together and share tricks! Hope IHG’s cash and points trick comes in handy!

  6. Great suggestions. My best friends use this program and they are always racking up free rooms all over the place. I’m not a Holiday Inn fan so I use my Marriott card for the same but they don’t seem to rack up so easily.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Marriott is a solid program, Melody, and with the acquisition of Starwood, I’d imagine the program gets even better at least on the Marriott side of things. Holiday Inn Express and IHG properties offer really great value. Like you said, the points are just so easy to earn.

  7. Smart strategies with a great program. We prefer to stay at airbnb’s instead of hotels, so this particular program would not apply. However, we do accumulate points through other programs like Chase and United. Like you said, playing the points game can be very beneficial.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Airbnb is a great option for lodging, Rosemary. Chase and United are great miles and points earning programs. Just FYI, although not the best use of your Chase points, you could transfer some to IHG in a pinch or to get started with the cash and points trick.

  8. I love Intercontinental and we stay there often (in fact staying there now in Monterey!), so the points are a big thing for us. I really need to stay informed about the contests and participate in those.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Enjoy your stay in Monterey, Laura! You can log into your IHG account and check your email preferences. Make sure you’re getting promotions to be sure you don’t miss out on anything.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      That’s always the complaint, right Nisha? You have the points but can’t use them because of blackout dates. IHG makes it really simple to earn and burn those points!

  9. Tracy Spiegner

    I actually use the IHG program a lot. I use Hilton, Marriott, & Hyatt too. I try to get the best from each program. I am a blogger who loves hotels. Great post. I like their “Points Break” hotels too. I find that each program has a sweet spot, so love IHG too. I love hotels though again. As always, very helpful post.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Tracy. Points Break hotels are great. I hope they’re not gone for good!

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