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Earlier this week, Ben provided a preview of the upcoming IHG Points Break list which goes live on Monday.
Given that we’re still welcoming lots of new readers here at One Mile at a Time, I thought it might be useful to provide some context as to what this, why you should care, and how to get those first points — even (or especially) if you live outside the US.
This is a great opportunity to save on hotels — the PointBreaks hotels can be had for the equivalent of $35 if you know what to do.
What are PointBreaks, and why should you care?
If you work or play in the financial sector, your life sort of revolves around earning season. Four times a year, the entire community tunes in as a slew of companies announce how much money they made (or lost) over the last three months. Even if you have little more than passing interest in a company, you usually can’t help but take a peek out of curiosity. Nowadays, however, most companies give plenty of guidance beforehand — during both good times and bad — to prepare investors for what is coming. That can make the actual earnings call a great big yawn.
Well, the announcement of the IHG PointBreaks list has roughly the same impact on the miles-and-points community. Roughly four times per year, IHG makes a random selection of hotels available at the highly discounted rate of 5,000 points per night — literally the equivalent of $35 (more on that in a bit.)
When the PointBreaks sneak preview comes out a few days before, even those who proclaim to have never stayed in a Holiday Inn Express stop what they are doing and take a peak to see if by chance a fancy hotel is on the list.
Like the Intercontinental Bora Bora, which is certainly fancy.
Then, much like the talking heads on CNBC, miles and points pundits analyze the list and pontificate on why there aren’t more high-end properties and how it used to be so much better. A couple days later, the list goes live for booking and those who actually found something useful rush to get one of the rooms before they sell out — after all, they are capacity limited.
In a nutshell, that’s how IHG PointBreaks work.
The PointBreaks List Is Out
This PointBreaks list is sort of what we’ve come to expect lately. It has a couple of interesting properties that a case could be made for planning a trip around, but by and large, it’s just a lot of hotels that offer good, solid value. And that’s the key.
There are 160 properties on the list and I will guarantee you that almost every single one of them regularly goes for more than $35 per night.
That means that if you happen to be in the area, and need a roof over your head, a PointBreaks hotel is going to save you money. Will it be a lot of money? Probably not, but if a hotel goes for $80, and you can get it for the equivalent of $35, why wouldn’t you want to?
Getting Your First 5,000 IHG Points
You obviously need to have 5,000 points in your IHG account in order to book this deal. I know, I know, many of you are saying, well I don’t have 5,000 points, so this deal isn’t for me. But you’ve read this far, so don’t give up yet.
I remember when I was getting started started in this game, I had no idea how to get the initial IHG 5,000 points. Or I was worried that I should get them as cheaply as possible or else Ben would make fun of me. Essentially, I was letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
So here is the perfect way to get your first 5,000 IHG points:
- Apply for the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.
- It comes with a bundle of IHG points as a sign-up bonus, and is worth keeping long-term as it offers an unrestricted free hotel night every year on your account anniversary, after you pay the $49 annual fee.
And the really good way:
- Transfer 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points to your IHG account.
- There are better uses for Ultimate Rewards points, but if you’re looking for your first 5,000 IHG points, this will work.
And finally, the good enough way that works for everyone, regardless of which country you live in:
- Anyone can buy IHG points outright from IHG.
- It’ll cost you $67.50 for 5,000 points. The points will post instantly and then you can immediately go read Ben’s post about how to get more for 0.7 cents each.
For what it’s worth, using $67.50 worth of points on a PointBreaks booking would still save you money. It’s just that you can do better. But you need to have 5,000 points in your account before you can do better. So never let your IHG account balance drop below 5,000. Ever. (Have you got the idea yet?)
What Should You Book?
You should book anything that meets your needs. It’s as simple as that. Just about everything on this PointBreaks list is going to be a good value at 5,000 points, so you can’t go wrong.
Sure, some will tell you that the Intercontinental Mendoza is the only luxury property on the list, and that’s true. But not all of us can stay at a luxury hotel every night — sometimes we just need a roof over our head. And a free breakfast.
I’m a value-conscious traveler who has stayed at everything from hostels right up to the Park Hyatt if the price was right. And I’m here to tell you that if you need to stay in any of these 160 cities on the list, then 5,000 points is a great price.
Road Tripping America
Let’s consider my parents who drive from Ohio to Florida each year for the winter. My Dad is definitely not a luxury hotel kind of guy — give him a bed, a free breakfast, and ideally a hot tub, and he’s thrilled. Give him that for 5,000 points and he’s jumping for joy.
Last spring, I booked them at the Holiday Inn Express Pikeville, Kentucky for a night on their way home. You’ve probably never heard of the place. But it was close-enough to being on the way and it was a great value at 5,000 points per night instead of about $90.
This time I’ll probably book them the Holiday Inn Express Harriman, Tennessee. It’ll do for a night, and will let him explore a little bit in that direction. At 5,000 points, it’ll be perfect.
Each quarter, IHG puts a random selection of hotels on sale for 5,000 points each. The current list is out and will be bookable starting Monday morning for stays through October 31. Pretty much all of these hotels are a great value at 5,000 points each. It’s easy to get your first 5,000 points, and after that, you can get additional points even cheaper.
Although the sale technically extends throughout the quarter, these are capacity controlled so they do sell out of the 5,000 rooms. Therefore if you want a popular property, you should book it right away on Monday morning. Just don’t all of you go and book the Holiday Inn Express Harriman, Tennessee or my Dad will not be happy.
And don’t ever let your IHG account balance drop below 5,000 points!
What PointBreaks properties are you looking at?