While IHG Rewards Club certainly give you access to hotels in the majority of popular destinations, the points are inflated compared to other rewards program points — see how IHG points add up.
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The International Hotel Group is one of the world’s largest (and oldest) hotel chains. With a large variety of hotels – ranging from budget-friendly Candlewood Suites to stately Intercontinental Hotels – the IHG program seems like a good choice for an international traveler seeking to hop between a large number of destinations, but how far can IHG points actually take you?
Our analysis shows that – while IHG Rewards Club certainly give you access to hotels in the majority of popular destinations – the points are inflated compared to other rewards program points, and it takes a very large number of points to score an award night in certain locales.
IHG points value
While it’s not uncommon for hotel programs to inflate their rewards points, IHG points sit near the bottom of the chart in terms of redemption value. We estimate IHG points to be worth 0.55 cent apiece, well below the value of Marriott points and near the same value as Hilton Honors points.
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How we value IHG points
To estimate the value of IHG points, we’ve taken a sampling of hotels from each level of hotel across a variety of travel destinations, compared the price in dollars to points across a variety of dates, and then calculated an overall average. We find that value of IHG points is extremely consistent across hotel levels, with only a small increase in value within the first three levels:
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How to value IHG points for yourself
We’ve told you how we value IHG points, but, really, the value of points comes down to how each individual actually ends up using them. In trying to determine what IHG points are worth to you, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Which redemption option to you prefer? Do you prefer to use your points for standard room awards, or do you prefer another redemption option? (Note, some redemption options can severely lower the value of your points.)
- What level of hotel do you intend to stay in? Do you want to stretch your points across a lower-level hotel, or are you aiming for a free weekend at a luxury resort? While IHG points are pretty consistent in value, you might find some bargains in the lower levels of IHG’s hotel chart.
- What’s your destination? Again, the value of IHG points is pretty consistent across destinations. But, if you have a specific destinations in mind, you should check the prices for that destination before you plunge into the IHG program – you might find your points are a little more valuable or less valuable, depending on where you want to go (or you might find there are no offerings at all).
- What time of the year are you traveling? Since the number of points for a particular hotel is fixed across time, IHG points get a little more valuable during popular travel times.
- How far away is the date of your stay? IHG points also get more valuable when you book closer in to your travel date, since the number of required points is fixed (though you might have difficulty finding available rooms if you wait too long).
How to calculate your point value
To estimate your point value, you can take the value of your intended redemption option in dollars, subtract any taxes or fees that you still have to pay (note, IHG generally doesn’t charge taxes and fees on award nights) and divide it by the number of required points:
Point Value = Rewards Value (in dollars)/Number of Points
The resulting value will be a rough estimate. There are a plethora of factors that can affect the value of an award night, such as the points lost by not paying for the room in cash, the lowest possible rate you could score on that particular room over time, the lowest rate you could get for a room in the same destination among competing hotel chains and so on. But, for a simple comparison of point values between loyalty programs, the above formula should help you along.
How flexible are IHG points?
On the plus side, the IHG program gives you plenty of options for earning and redeeming points, with few restrictions to get in the way of using your points. Here are some of the pros and cons of IHG points:
Pros of IHG points:
- IHG points don’t expire as long as you earn or redeem points within a 12-month period.
- IHG has one of the largest hotel networks in the world – you should be able to find redemption options most places you want to travel.
- In case you don’t have enough points for a free night, you can use a combination of points and cash to pay for a stay at any of IHG’s properties (however, you’ll want to check the value before you redeem this way, as the value can vary drastically).
- IHG charges a fixed number of points for rooms within each tier, which means you can improve the value of your points by booking rooms during popular times of the year.
- IHG doesn’t enforce blackout dates on its awards and availability of award nights tends to be good for most destinations. As long as you check in advance, you should be able to find availability for most destinations.
- The value of IHG points is pretty consistent across levels of hotel and destinations, which means you can count on getting the same value no matter where you want to travel.
- The IHG portfolio includes some very affordable hotel brands, including Candlewood Suites and Holiday Inn Express, allowing budget travelers to collect points on cheaper hotel stays toward a free stay at a high-end hotel.
Cons of IHG points:
- While IHG has more than 40 airline partners that you can transfer points to, the transfer ratio is terrible – mostly 5:1.
- Though IHG offers redemption options outside of award nights, the value is mostly poor.
- There is no option to redeem your points for cash back.
- IHG points are very inflated compared to other program’s points, and it can require a very large number of points to book a room award in some destinations.
- Hotel options in Hawaii are extremely limited – you are probably better off with another loyalty program if you want to use points for a Hawaiian vacation.
- IHG makes frequent updates to its program that decrease the value of its points.
Are IHG points worth it?
For fans of IHG brand hotels, IHG points are a no-brainer, and for a world traveler looking for points that give them a large range of options, IHG points are a viable choice. Still – especially if you are – say – looking at signing up for an IHG credit card in the hopes of earning bonus points toward a free stay at a particular destination, you should do a careful investigation of what those points will actually get you in that destination. In some cases, you might get a few free nights, while in other cases they may not take you very far at all.
If the IHG rewards program falls short for you, you might consider a more flexible points program, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership rewards.
See related: IHG® Rewards Club guide: The best ways to earn and use IHG points, 8 ways to earn IHG points, Best ways to redeem IHG points, The benefits of IHG Rewards Club elite status, Which IHG credit card is best for you?