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Today we’re going to take a break from talking about airline deals and go back to the hotel points.  We do need to talk a bit more about Southwest, now that they’ve expanded their bookable dates through the summer, but today let’s talk about IHG.


Ever heard of em?  I bet you’ve heard of some of their brands.  IHG is a grouping of hotel brands that includes InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and several others.

IHG has over 4600 hotels across 100 countries, so they have several different stay options both domestically and internationally.  There are a couple of reasons why getting and spending IHG points can be an attractive option

IHG promotions

IHG has several different promotions that they offer, and that they are all stackable on top of each other.  So there might be a promotion for Stay 2 nights, get 3000 points, or Stay on a Weekend for 2000 points.  The good part of this is that you can stack the promotions.  So if your stay counts for several different promotions, YOU GET THE BONUS POINTS FOR ALL OF THEM.  Travel is Free has a great post called Earning IHG Rewards on Steroids, and Frequent Miler recently posted on how one stay of his earned 22,000 IHG points and both of these guys draw a lot from information on FlyerTalk.

IHG Big Win

Another big promotion that IHG has offered the past several quarter is the concept of the Big Win. Anyone can sign up for the Big Win promotion, and the offer that you get is different for each person.  Carolyn and I both signed up, and our offer is below


As you can see, you earn different amount of bonus points for completing different “missions”.  It’s a little hard to tell from just the pictures, but what I have is:

  • 1000 points for any stay
  • 3000 points for 4 nights
  • 7000 points for staying with 3 different brands
  • 2000 points for 2 different stays
  • 8000 points for 3 different Saturday stays
  • 10000 points for completing all 5 of the other missions

This is not particularly compelling (there are other people who have reported much better deals.  Still though, this can be done with 3 Saturday stays and one other stay.  With the Big Win on top of the stackable promotions mentioned above, those 4 stays would probably earn somewhere around 70,000 points for a total cost of ~$300 (obviously we’ll pick the cheapest stays that we can), or a total of about 42c / point, which is not bad.

IHG also has a credit card offered through Chase.  The publicly available link is for 60,000 points, though this Slickdeals thread mentions that there is an offer to earn 80,000 points.  It also comes with a free night each anniversary, which, unlike the Hyatt or Marriott credit cards, has no category restriction

How about a free night at an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora?

How about a free night at an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora?

Redeeming IHG points – PointBreaks

So we talked a little bit about how to accrue a bunch of IHG points, but what’s the best way to SPEND them?  Obviously if you get the Chase IHG Visa card, then you want to use your free night on the most aspirational place possible (e.g. Bora Bora).  Now that’s great for a getaway, but probably not as awesome for family travel.  I mean, I was freaking out when we took our family with young kids to the top of the (then) tallest building in Cincinnati – I can’t imagine trying to sleep with my kids “sleeping” in one of those bungalows

Free night redemptions with IHG start with Category 1 taking 10,000 points, though there aren’t a ton of those hotels (none in Cincinnati, for example).

But every 2 months, IHG comes out with a “PointBreaks” list, which is a list of several hundred hotels around the world that are bookable for only 5000 points.  This list does skew towards lower end hotels, but each time, there are a few gems on it.  The current list runs through March 31, 2014 and includes hotels like

  • Intercontinental Phnom Penh in Cambodia (rack rate of $190 / night)
  • Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu (20,300 VUV or about $USD 213 / night)
  • Staybridge Suites Sacramento California Airport Natomas (normally runs $173 / night and you get a 1BR suite)
  • Hotel Indigo Miami Florida Lakes ($171 / night)

On the other hand, it also includes the Candlewood Suites Tulsa Oklahoma which you could get for $69 / night 😀

Still, this can be a great opportunity if you’re flexible about your locations.  The folks over at Travel is Free have several posts talking about this – they use this list extensively as they travel around the world.  The key to that is if you find a rate that is appealing, make sure to book as much as you think you might want (as long as it’s a refundable rate), since you can just cancel afterwards.  Of course, the more awesome deals are going to sell out further

In conclusion, IHG is a great opportunity to earn and redeem points.  Even if you just got the 80,000 points from the credit card, that could be up to 16 free nights if you stay at only PointBreak hotels

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