Hospitality powerhouse InterContinental Hotels Group has thousands of hotels worldwide, a decent point value within its rewards program and good credit card perks, but there are some downsides to the IHG Rewards Program as well. Here’s what you can expect.
How to earn IHG Rewards Points
Hotel guests earn 10 points per $1 spent at the majority of IHG brands, but only 5 points per $1 spent at Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites. Only points earned via a stay or hotel spending count toward your free nights rewards.
You can also buy points; however, unless there’s a special promotion running, this is often not a good deal.
Occasionally, promotions run to help you earn extra points via special tasks/activities, such as booking a certain number of nights within a particular timeframe. There’s also currently an offer of 500 bonus points if you decline housekeeping services at participating hotels (on a stay of a minimum of two nights).
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card holders earn points at a rate of 10 per $1 spent on IHG purchases; 2 per $1 spent on gas, groceries and dining; and 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases. There’s also currently an 80,000–90,0000 bonus points offer when you sign up for the card. It comes with an annual fee of $89, but you get an annual free night after each account anniversary, which makes the fee quite worth it. Unfortunately, the free night is limited to certain properties (in other words, not the best ones), but you can most likely still find a hotel that fits your needs. Additionally, cardholders receive automatic Platinum Elite status (which you’ll see below comes with a high number of perks) and a fourth night free on award stays.
You can earn points with various IHG partners, including Hertz, retailers and some services like GrubHub and OpenTable. Special partner offers come and go. For example, you can currently purchase a new Apple product through IHG and earn 4 points for every $1 spent.
You’ll also earn points via IHG’s own programs-within-the-program. You earn 1,000 points every time you book an activity with IHG Trip Extras, and earn plenty of points when you dine if you join the IHG Rewards Club Dining program (plus 1,000 bonus points for signing up).
There are four rewards program levels — Club, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite. You can additionally purchase membership into the InterContinental Ambassador club.
Club-level members receive:
- Exclusive room rates
- Points-earning capabilities
- Dedicated customer service
- Complimentary WiFi
- Fuel Rewards Program access
- Free Kindle ebooks
- $30 in-room spa credits
Gold Elite members receive the above, plus:
- Extended check-out and priority check-in
- Raid the Bar privileges
- Welcome amenities
- No blackout dates for reward nights
- 10-percent more bonus earnings
Platinum Elite members receive the above, plus:
- Complimentary room upgrades and guaranteed room availability
- Elite rollover nights
- 50-percent more bonus earnings
Spire Elite members receive, on top of all this:
- Kimpton CEO access
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five-Star Status
- Inner Circle amenities
- Complimentary Chef’s Taste
- 100-percent more bonus earnings
- Complimentary nights at new hotels
- More points-earning opportunities
As mentioned, you can buy your way into the InterContinental Ambassador program as well, for $200 a year. You receive room upgrades, an annual weekend night certificate, extended check-out, in-room snacks and drinks, a welcome gift and automatic upgraded status in the IHG Rewards program.
How to redeem
Obviously you can redeem your IHG Rewards points on reward nights. You need at least 10,000 points to redeem your first free night and there are no blackout dates.
There are more than 200 airlines you can redeem your points with, and you can also redeem points with hotels outside of the IHG family. Car rentals are also available. If you want to use your points as miles, you can transfer accordingly with one of the IHG Rewards Club Partner Airlines.
Use your points for shopping with IHG’s online catalogue of name brands, including electronics and gift cards. You can also shop for digital products, such as downloadable games and books. IHG additionally gives you the option to donate your points to a charity of your choice.
The IHG Rewards Club can seem like a great deal because of the free perks you get during your stays and the many ways to redeem your points. However, remember that lots of options doesn’t necessarily always equal good value. In order to get the most out of your IHG Rewards Program experience, it’s recommended you open an IHG Rewards credit card to earn more points via your everyday spending, and then redeem your points for the free nights. Generally, redeeming your points elsewhere won’t give you a good value.