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IHG® Rewards Club guide: The best ways to earn and use IHG points

How to earn and spend your hotel points with IHG One Rewards

Summary

Loyalists of IHG hotel brands will love the flexibility and ease of earning and redeeming points through its hotel rewards program, IHG One Rewards. Discover how to get the most out of your IHG points.

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InterContinental Hotels Group, better known as IHG, is a huge international hotel company with over 6,000 hotels in almost 100 different countries around the globe. Its brands include both budget friendly and luxury hotels — big names such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental. With thousands of properties for travelers on any budget, IHG has something for everyone. If you are a loyalist of an IHG brand or want to take advantage of a large hotel network with locations all over the world, you might want to consider joining IHG One Rewards to start earning points.

What is IHG One Rewards?

IHG One Rewards is the loyalty program for all IHG hotels, allowing members to earn points on hotel stays, spending on a co-branded card, car rentals and more.

IHG One Rewards members can redeem their points for a variety of purchases, including reward nights at an IHG property, flights, merchandise and donations. Plus, members can transfer points to 43 different airline partners for even more flexibility.

One big drawback to IHG One Rewards is its inflated point value, so they might not get you as far as competing programs. However, IHG’s elite benefits are valuable for frequent customers of its various hotel chains and can help make up some of the value.

IHG One Rewards program overview

Type of currencyHotel points
Average point value0.55 cents
Credit cardsIHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
Redemption optionsReward nights, merchandise, digital downloads, charitable donations and more
Minimum required to redeem10,000 points for a reward night
Do rewards expire?Yes, if your account is inactive for 12 consecutive months
Blackout dates/travel restrictionsNone
Hotel brandsAtwell Suites, Avid Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Mr & Mrs Smith, Regent Hotels & Resorts, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Staybridge Suites, Vignette Collection and Voco Hotels
Hotel coverage6,000+ properties in nearly 100 countries
Transfer optionsTransfer to 43 airline partners
Best for
  • IHG brand hotel loyalists
  • Worldwide travelers who want a large hotel network
  • Travelers who want property options for any budget
  • Rewards travelers who prefer flexibility over value

What are IHG points worth?

Though many hotel programs tend to inflate the value of their points, IHG points don’t fare too well compared to others. Experts at CreditCards.com value IHG points at around 0.55 per point.

You should keep in mind that is an estimation of the average point value. Depending on what you redeem your points for, the point value could go up or down slightly.

Pros and cons of IHG One Rewards

Compared to other more robust travel rewards programs, IHG One Rewards may not seem as valuable or impressive. However, considering its broad range of hotel brands — from budget to luxury — it’s still a worthy program to participate in for loyal customers. Let’s examine the pros and cons of this hotel program.

Pros

  • Over 6,000 hotel properties: You’ll certainly have no problem finding an IHG property to stay nearly anywhere in the world, whether you’re vacationing in Joshua Tree, California or Sydney, Australia.
  • Points and cash: When redeeming your points for reward nights, you can cover your stays partly in points and partly in cash (or your preferred credit card). This way you only need at least 5,000 points to stay at an IHG hotel using your rewards.
  • Numerous ways to earn points: IHG One Rewards allows you to earn points through a variety of different ways. Perhaps the most lucrative is hotel stays — at a variable rate, such as 10X points for stays at IHG hotels and 5X points for stays at Candlewood Suites. You may also earn points through partners (like OpenTable), limited-time offers, purchasing points, spending with an IHG credit card and milestone rewards, coming soon.
  • Earn miles instead: Are you already a frequent flier of one of the 43 IHG airline partners? If yes and you’re only joining IHG One Rewards to transfer those points your preferred airline, you can change your preference to directly earning airline miles instead of hotel points.
  • Abundant redemption options: This hotel rewards program offers quite a few ways to redeem your points such as reward nights, merchandise, gift cards, digital rewards (like magazine subscriptions), transferring your points to travel partners and nonprofit donations.

Cons

  • Difficult to achieve elite status: The elite statuses of IHG One Rewards offers many of the typical benefits including no blackout dates for reward nights and free Wi-Fi. However, each elite tier is quite difficult to qualify for — 10 qualified nights for Silver Elite or 40 nights for Platinum Elite — versus the equivalent tiers under Hilton Honors only require seven nights for Silver and 28 nights for Gold.
  • Dynamic award pricing: According to this newer pricing model, the exact number of points needed to redeem for a reward night depends on the hotel brand, day of the week, travel season and more.
  • Limited reward night rooms: Though the official IHG website says there are no blackout dates for reward nights, there is a small inventory of reward night rooms. So even though your vacation dates are not blackout ones, if your preferred IHG location has no available rooms eligible for reward nights, you’re in a tough spot.
  • Low transfer value: If you already have a good number of points and would like to transfer them to an airline partner, the transfer ratio is usually around 5:1. At that rate, you will lose out on a lot of value.
  • Inflated merchandise redemption: Unfortunately, we noticed that items on the IHG One Rewards shopping portal are worth more in points than their market prices. For example, the Conair 1600 Watt Folding Handle Hair Dryer costs $14.99 normally. It costs 14,500 points within the shopping portal, but with the average IHG point worth around 0.55 cents, the hair dryer costs around $80 in points.

How to choose an IHG credit card

IHG has three credit cards — two for consumers and one for business owners. Though the cards share many similarities, there are a few key differences between them that make it easy for you to decide which one suits you most.

Consumer cardholders may choose between the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card. Right off the bat, the IHG Rewards Premier Card is better suited for frequent travelers who stay at hotels at least twice a year — enough to justify the $99 annual fee and make good use of the up to 26X points on IHG hotel stays. This card is especially good for loyalists of the hotel chain because of its annual bonus of a rewards night, automatic Platinum Elite status and $30 spa credit. The sign-up bonus is also quite nice — 140,000 points plus 1 Free Night if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

As for the IHG Rewards Traveler Card, its lack of an annual fee, access to Gold Elite status if you spend $10,000 and up to 17X points on IHG hotel stays is better for those (infrequently) traveling on a budget. This no-annual-fee card’s introductory offer is decent as well, giving you 80,000 points if you spend $2,000 in three months — a smaller bonus for a reasonable spending goal.

Deciding between these two cards mainly comes down to if you can justify the annual fee on the IHG Rewards Premier Card and travel enough to make use of its added benefits. If you aren’t an existing IHG enthusiast and just want to maximize your travel expenses when you do travel, you can stick with the IHG Rewards Traveler Card.

As for the IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, it has a similar rewards structure as the IGH Rewards Premier Card and many of the same benefits, like complimentary Platinum Elite status. It also has another bonus category of 5X points on social media, search engine advertising and office supply stores. On all other purchases, it offers 3X points, which may prove to be quite lucrative. This card may be useful for business owners whose business requires travel and hotel stays multiple times a year.

Bottom line

Regardless of the program’s low point valuation, IHG One Rewards can still prove lucrative to enthusiasts of its various hotel brands. If you cannot get enough of staying at Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo or Staybridge Suites, becoming a club member of this hotel rewards program will get you staying for free at an IHG hotel property in no time.

This hotel chain is particularly popular among budget-conscious vacationers, and its flexibility, in both earning and redeeming points, only works to your advantage. Plus, the perks of changing your preference to earn miles or paying for points (to top off your pile of points for a free stay) makes the program attractive to a wide range of consumers. If you already enjoy staying at IHG properties, there’s no reason for you not to participate.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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