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
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 IHG points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Favorite Card Features:
- Earn a free night each card anniversary at eligible hotels up to 40k points per night
- 26x on IHG purchases
- 5x on restaurants, gas, and travel
- 3x on all other purchases
- 4th night free on award stays
- $100 Credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- Platinum Elite status
- No foreign Exchange Fees
Annual Fee: $99
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: 80,000 IHG points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.
Favorite Card Features:
- 17x on IHG purchases (5x from the card & 10x as an IHG Loyalty Member)
- 3x on monthly bills, restaurants, gas,
- 1x on all other purchases
- 4th night free on award stays
- No foreign Exchange Fees
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 $89 annual fee in exchange for a free night certificate can return a decent value when redeemed strategically.
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.
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.
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.
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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