Why I’m Tempted To Acquire IHG Points For 0.45 Cents Each

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A few days ago I wrote about how IHG Rewards Club is having a flash sale on the purchase of points. They’re offering a 100% bonus on purchased points, and that offer ends today at 11:59PM ET. At first I dismissed this, since IHG increased award pricing at some hotels earlier this year. They’ve offered 100% bonuses on purchased points in the past, and when they devalue their award chart, the value of such a promotion decreases, unless they increase the bonus or decrease the price per purchase point.

What I hadn’t initially realized is that they did in fact decrease the cost per purchased point (before any bonuses) from 1.15 cents each to one cent each, assuming you purchase at least 26,000 points pre-bonus. I suspect this is being done permanently to account for the devaluation.

This means that with the 100% bonus you go from paying 0.575 cents per point to paying 0.5 cents per point. Then it gets even better than that. If you have the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (which virtually everyone should have for the anniversary free night certificate and IHG Platinum status, if nothing else), you get a 10% refund on redeemed points, for a refund of up to 100,000 points each year.

After factoring in the 10% refund, which happens after the fact, your real cost per acquired point is 0.45 cents each. I’m surprised to be saying this, but that’s a rate at which I’m personally seriously considering speculatively picking up IHG Rewards Club points. The reason I’m surprised to be saying this is because I only rarely purchase points speculatively.

I feel like for 0.45 cents per point there’s very limited downside to buying points, and quite a bit of upside, given that I never maintain a big balance of IHG Rewards Club points (at the moment I have about 53,000 points). In the past I’ve indirectly bought IHG points through Points + Cash for more than that, though it seems worth picking up 120,000 points at a low cost.

IHG award costs range in price from 5,000 points per night (for PointBreaks hotels) to 70,000 points per night (for their most expensive hotels). Assuming an acquisition cost of 0.45 cents per point, that’s the equivalent of paying:

  • $22.50 for a 5,000 point stay
  • $45 for a 10,000 point stay
  • $67.50 for a 15,000 point say
  • $90 for a 20,000 point stay
  • $112.50 for a 25,000 point stay
  • $135 for a 30,000 point stay
  • $180 for a 40,000 point stay
  • $225 for a 50,000 point stay
  • $270 for a 60,000 point stay
  • $315 for a 70,000 point stay

IHG recently made changes to their PointBreaks program, and now stays cost anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 points per night, rather than consistently costing 5,000 points per night. The good news is that they’ve put a lot more hotels on the list, including some InterContinental properties. With an acquisition cost of 0.45 cents per point, we’re talking about $22.50-67.50 per night, which is a solid deal. It’s always worth having enough points in your account to book some of these awards.


The InterContinental Sao Paulo was bookable for 15,000 points during the last PointBreaks promotion

One other area where I’m also finding a significant amount of value is with mid-tier properties. For example, Hotel Indigo is my favorite IHG mid-tier brand, and in many cases they charge 25,000 points per night in major cities (though prices vary based on the city). If you’re paying 0.45 cents per point, that’s like buying a 25,000 point award night for $112.50 per night. Also keep in mind that when you redeem points you don’t have to pay taxes and fees, and in some destinations those would otherwise run you as much as an extra 30%.

There are many cases where this represents a solid deal. For example, take the Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv, where on random nights I’m pulling up the rate is $245 per night including taxes and fees, meaning buying points gets you over half off.


The Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv can be booked for just 25,000 points per night

Or take the Hotel Indigo Edinburgh, for example, which costs 35,000 points per night (the equivalent of $157.50 worth of points), while many dates in summer have rates of $300+ per night including taxes and fees.


The Hotel Indigo Edinburgh can be booked for 35,000 points per night

Bottom line

Rarely do I buy points without a specific use in mind, though I’m tempted to buy IHG points today for 0.5 cents each (before the 10% reimbursement for having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card). What makes this especially interesting is that I see the most value for mid-tier properties, rather than aspirational ones. Paying ~$112.50 per night including taxes and fees for flexible bookings at many mid-range properties, including many Hotel Indigo properties, is potentially a great deal.

What it comes down to is that I sometimes find myself buying IHG points last minute with specific uses in mind, so I might as well load up now at such a cheap rate. Buying 120,000 points for $600 isn’t that huge of a cash outlay (it’s not like spending $4,000+ on maxing out an American Airlines buy miles promotion), and I know I’ll get value out of this over time.

Anyone else plan to buy IHG Rewards Club points with the promotion ending today?

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Comments

  1. Agree that it’s a good price, but since the Accelerate promos are so lucrative (for me at least – I know some people get worse offers) I see less value in buying points when 1-2 stays often picks me up 30-40k

  2. I always do buy them because in the long run I would pay more to stay than with this purchase.

  3. Upcoming Daily Getaway in a few weeks is another opportunity to get IHG points cheap. No rush today.

  4. Indigo Tel Aviv, stayed there for 1 night back in 5/16. It was boiling outside and the a/c hardly blew cold air, they switched my room but that too wasnt blowing cold air. Those 2 rooms faced West towards TA and the sun was baking the rooms.

    When I went back downstairs to get another room they put me in a room facing the front and was much larger then the 2 closets they gave me before that ( yes their standard rooms are very tiny). As I was leaving the FD it seems the mgr overheard the room they gave me and speaking in Hebrew ( not knowing I understand the language) she blasted the person for giving me such a room since I was on a points stay and told them to make sure I wasnt getting a free breakfast. I answered in Hebrew not to worry as I had a 5am flight and breakfast didnt start till 6am The mgr looked like a deer looking into coming headlights, as she didnt think I understood or spoke the language.

    A call to CS when I got to NY and explained what took place and how they knew the ac wasnt working and would only use those rooms for those using pts, resulted in CS refunding me all the points

    Thats 1 hotel even for 5k I wouldnt step into again

  5. I just did. I am based in Europe and in University but looking for “cheapish” accomondation options outside of hostels. Had 10.000 points and purchased 40.000+40.000 for 400USD to pay for a trip of 4 to Marseille for three nights in October. Will be staying at a low tier IHG property there but instead of paying roughly 800USD we got our two rooms with two queens each for 400USD. Breakfast included. Chagenable at cancellation possible without punishment. Fantastic! Thanks Lucky

  6. I’m having trouble taking you seriously knowing you’re also pushing a referral link on these sales

  7. Just be careful that these points may leave your account as fast as you get them. IHG still uses a pre-historic 4 digit PIN code on their accounts so many people had their accounts hacked and points stolen including myself.

  8. @Stvr – We can debate whether pushing a referral link without explicitly disclosing it (other than the standard disclaimer at the top of the post) but I would say 67.50 for a 15,000 point say is a good deal and $90 for a 20,000 point stay could be a good deal.

  9. They are only charging 1 cents/point when you buy over 25,000 points. So buying 26,000 points is actually cheaper than 25,000 points.

  10. So then you can get a ~100$ Holiday Inn Express for the equivalent of roughly 100$ which makes it sound like the BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY!

  11. Also my experience, not only is your status not recognized but award-stays get the worst possible rooms, some distant closet with a noisy family next door behind a wafer-thin connecting-door.

    However, in the land where a 50c stamp costs 55c , a $100 hotel-room can add up to $130 or so once the initially-undisclosed taxes and rip-offs are added in – awards will avoid these.

  12. @Lucky – I purchased the 120,000 points and will be using all the points for 5 nights at Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv in May. The days that I’m looking to stay would cost me a little over $1,400 with taxes so with this $600 purchase I’ll be saving about $800. Hotels in Tel Aviv are generally expensive so I think it’s a fantastic deal

  13. Well, I was considering it myself but in many places it’s just not worth it. In Asia paying for the night in cash is cheaper than with points because point stays don’t include breakfast (unless it’s a Holiday Inn Express) and breakfast was like 20$/p.

    @Bill n DC What recognition were you expecting? It’s not like you are earning points anyway

  14. @lucky I like the fact that you posted the number of points you currently have with ihg. Im wondering if you’d wrote an article about how many points you currently have or try to carry with each currency. I think it would help people priorize their stockpiling of points.

  15. @ Isaac – I’m sure it was more of a one off with your experience. I have read many reviews across different sites and Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv is generally a well regarded property. Granted 237 Sq feet is on the smaller side but I’m traveling solo and I’ve stayed in smaller rooms

  16. I’ve been simulating a few stays right now and I can’t see how this is better value than paying for the room, unless you go for Point Break stays

  17. I find Intercontinental often require 60,000 per night which seems too much given how much they award per night for paid stays. However, I will note I paid only $253 before tax for high-floor room at Intercontinental Times Square this week, and room was great by any standards, especially NYC. Also, it’s west of 8th Ave. so it’s actually a few blocks from the loud actual Times Square. High floors are quiet, good view, decent restaurant in lobby.

  18. For those of you who say IHG does not recognize status on award stays, that is not universally true. I have been upgraded many times with my IHG Platinum status on awards stays. Of course, the Platinum status comes gratis with the IHG Visa Card, which everyone should have in their wallet.

  19. I routinely get my status recognized on award stays. My travel usually involves Express and small town HIs so not exactly big upsides from the status but gettbig a free snack and no checkout time is nice after a long day. IC Park Lane also recognized my status on my last two stays there.

  20. Try getting an upgrade as an Ambassador @ The IC Sydney on points
    Expect nothing less than the Presidential suite lol
    See how great an IC property is is on reward points
    Added to that no breakfast at any InterCon
    There’s a cost you have to deduct from the poor experience u will receive at a number of their properties in my experience due to award discrimination with IHG
    I’m not a big fan personally but will use them only when Starwood Marriott Hyatt and Hikton have been fully ruled out who all offer better recognition and hard benefits on revenue or award
    The problem has cost them hundreds of thousands of my revenue over the past ten years

  21. You can stack and get an additional 10% back if you are an IC Ambassador. Brings your total down to 0.4 cpp.

  22. There is one wrinkle with the IC Ambassador rebate. You only get it from your second year on because it’s only offered when you renew you ICA. So you have to plan ahead. It also bumps the annual fee from $150 to $200.

    But given how much Lucky travels I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be a good deal for him.

  23. I just bought 60,000 + 60,000 on my IHG Credit card but am unable to use them in Bora Bora and am confused with the definition of No Blackout dates. I though that meant if there is space available your can book with points. All hotels and airline that advertise No Blackout dates allow you to book with points when space is available. IHG is apparently not the same, I can purchase with cash but not points, upsetting.

    John

  24. Thanks for the heads up.

    Just purchased 37,000 points at a cost of $US394 which with the bonus of 37,000 points & what I already had in my account allowed me to redeem two one-night stays at the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport in Singapore for 40,000 points per night.

    According to the IHG web site these two one-night stays would have cost me a total of $US505.96, thereby giving me a saving of $US111.96.

    For the $US394 expenditure I used my AMEX Platinum Charge Card so I got back a few points as well.

  25. I wouldn’t want any points sitting in my IHG account if I don’t have immediate use of those points.

    Also, I agree with @Santastico — the 4-digit PIN is way too easy to crack. Telling customers to “change your PIN on a frequent basis” does not solve the problem. Asking customers to create new accounts and crediting the stolen points to their new accounts is also not a sustainable solution.

    If IHG doesn’t take the account security issue seriously, I find it uncomfortable buying IHG points or paying for stays at IHG properties.

  26. I did yesterday and it’s the first time ever I buy points. I’m going ti use it to book four night stay at holiday inn downtown centre in Toronto in may for 600$ instead of paying ~$1.000 for the same room. Maybe non the best deal but I think it’s a good start.

  27. I am going to purchase some points here as the value is good. It will also help me meet spend on a new CC bonus as well as check-off an accelerate offer. The points don’t expire with status so they are good to have. Regarding some of the comments on recognition, I stayed at the IC San Juan last month and they upgraded me all the way to an Ocean View King on the top floor just for being a Plat. I don’t think we can generalize about hotels recognizing status or not as is can vary quite drastically.

  28. Buying IHG points saved me a ton last year. I went to the Super Bowl and all the available rooms were crazy expensive, but one Holiday Inn could be booked with points. The room would have cost around $2,700 but with the sale they had last year I was able to buy $400 in points to book the room.

    I do plan on going to several NFL games this year in other cities so I did buy some points this time around in hopes it will save some money especially for playoff games. Fingers crossed.

  29. As I said in response to your blog’s earlier post, I think any very frequent flyer would benefit from this sale IF they did not currently have a working balance (at least 50K points) in their IHG accounts. If you’re the kind of person who books more than 20 chain hotel nights a year, the odds are good that, at .45 cents, an IHG redemption would be your best lodging choice for at least one stay.

    This is why I like to keep some points available in all the hotel programs. And also do things like have discounted hotels.com and airbnb gift cards available. For any given night, you really don’t know what your best lodging choice will be. Of course, with IHG, it’s easy to gin up points at a price slightly higher than .45 if you really need them, so there’s no reason to stockpile at this price.

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