Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
IHG Hotels & Resorts has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. From opening its first Atwell Suites hotel in Miami to launching the new IHG One Rewards loyalty program and forming a strategic alliance with Iberostar, IHG is expanding and advancing.
I frequently stay at IHG Hotels & Resorts properties, primarily because of the value I can get when redeeming IHG One Rewards points. Although IHG moved to dynamic award pricing in 2020, I’ve continued getting solid value from my IHG points. In fact, I rarely book paid IHG stays because of the excellent value I can get when redeeming IHG points.
Here’s what you need to know about redeeming IHG One Rewards points for stays, flights and more.
Redeem IHG One Rewards points for hotel stays
You can redeem IHG One Rewards points for most IHG stays through IHG’s website, app or customer care. However, you may be unable to redeem IHG points at some InterContinental Residences, IHG Army Hotels, Iberostar Beachfront Resorts and Six Senses properties.
You can usually only redeem IHG points for standard room types. Reward nights include taxes and fees but don’t include resort fees, service charges, transportation, gratuities and incidentals. For stays at all-inclusive resorts, reward nights are based on double occupancy.
Since IHG uses dynamic award pricing, the number of points you’ll need to redeem for a reward night will vary. IHG’s terms and conditions say reward night pricing “may vary according to several factors, including but not limited to brand, hotel, and day of week.” Although there aren’t any reward night blackout dates, you may not find award availability for some stays because “room inventory is limited and subject to prior sale,” according to IHG’s terms and conditions.
To check award night availability and pricing, start on IHG’s website or app. Enter your destination, check-in date, checkout date and number of guests. Select “reward nights” from the drop-down menu under rate preference.
The next page will show you the award night results for your search query. You can filter these results by amenities or brands. You can also sort by various metrics, including distance, price and rating.
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Click on “map” to see where the properties are located within your destination.
Once you click “select hotel” for one of the properties, you’ll see the room options you can book with points for your stay. Some properties may only offer one room type, while others may offer a variety of room setups or views. Scroll through the options, and pick the best room type for your trip.
It’s also worth checking paid rates by clicking the “cash” button. For example, this Holiday Inn would cost either 33,000 IHG One Rewards points or $264 on the sample date I picked. So, redeeming points for this stay would yield a redemption rate of 0.8 cents per point. (This is higher than TPG’s valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents per point, so it’s a redemption we’d recommend.)
Let’s assume you toggled back to the “points” tab, clicked on the 33,000 points per night option and clicked “select.” Doing so would take you to the last page before confirming your reservation.
Be sure to check the cancellation policy before booking. Most reward night stays are free to cancel until shortly before your stay, but cancellation policies can vary.
IHG occasionally offers reward night discounts to eligible Platinum Elite, Diamond Elite and IHG One Rewards credit card holders. You’ll usually get an email from IHG about these reward night discounts, but you often must book quickly to enjoy the discounted rates.
Finally, note that IHG’s terms and conditions now allow a second guest listed on a reward night reservation to stay even if the member who booked the reward night isn’t staying. So, you can redeem your IHG points for a friend or family member’s stay. However, there are additional requirements if your stay is within mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.
Perhaps the best way to get better value when redeeming IHG One Rewards points is to get an IHG credit card with the fourth-night-free reward perk. This perk lets cardholders of the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card and the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card pay 0 points for every fourth night when redeeming points for stays of four nights or more.
Without this benefit, this four-night stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives would cost 127,000 points.
Since I have the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, which offers the fourth-night-free reward perk to cardholders, I’d only need to redeem 95,000 points for this four-night stay.
Even if you only redeem IHG points once or twice a year for stays of four nights or longer, it’s worth getting and keeping an IHG credit card because of this valuable perk.
Points and cash
As you might have noticed in some screenshots above, you can also book points and cash rates. Know, though, that you’re effectively buying points when you book an IHG One Rewards points and cash rate, so you’ll be refunded solely in IHG points if you cancel your booking within the free cancellation period.
It’s worth working through the math and checking the rate at which you can currently buy IHG points outright before you book a points and cash rate. For example, consider this one-night stay in New York City.
For a one-night stay in a standard room with a king-size bed and free cancellation until one day before your arrival, you could pay:
- 25,000 points
- 20,000 points and $34
- 15,000 points and $68
- 10,000 points and $102
- 5,000 points and $136
If you redeemed 25,000 points for this night that would otherwise cost $204, you’d get a redemption rate of 0.816 cents per point (which is significantly higher than TPG’s valuation of IHG points).
If you booked a points and cash rate, you’d effectively buy IHG points at a rate of 0.68 cents per point. This rate is higher than the lowest rate IHG occasionally sells points for (0.5 cents per point); it’s also lower than the redemption rate you’d get when only redeeming points.
Pay with points
Pay with points lets you redeem IHG One Rewards points during stays at participating hotels for a credit against eligible charges on your room bill. Eligible charges vary by property, but IHG’s pay with points terms and conditions say eligible room charges often include “food and beverage, spa and salon services, spa and salon retail items, room upgrades, laundry, dry cleaning, telephone charges, pay-per-view movies, parking, gift/retail shop, service charges, and gratuities.”
After you check in, you’ll get a message if pay with points is available for your stay. If you want to know ahead of time whether a property participates in pay with points, you’ll need to check with the individual property.
Once you’ve checked into a participating property and have charged eligible purchases to your room, you can go to IHG’s pay with points website or the IHG app to redeem IHG points. From this page, you can select an amount to credit to your bill or enter a custom amount and see how many points a credit in that amount will require. Note that IHG may limit your number of transactions or the number of points you redeem toward pay with points per day.
Transfer IHG One Rewards points to airline partners
Like many hotel rewards programs, you can transfer your IHG One Rewards points to various airline partners. You can see all the airline options on IHG’s earn miles page, but know that most programs transfer at a rate of 10,000 IHG points to 2,000 airline miles, so you’re almost certain to lose value when you redeem your IHG points for airline miles.
Because of this, you’ll only want to consider transferring IHG points to an airline if you need to top up your account balance for a specific redemption. Otherwise, you’ll almost certainly get better value when redeeming IHG points for hotel stays.
Other ways to redeem IHG One Rewards points
You can also redeem IHG points through the IHG One Rewards catalog or for digital rewards. Doing so will usually give you a relatively low redemption rate, and the exact options vary based on your region and country of residence. Here’s a look at the options available to U.S. residents.
IHG One Rewards catalog
You can redeem IHG One Rewards points for merchandise, gift certificates, donations and more through the IHG One Rewards catalog. For example, you can redeem between 1,000 and 2,500 IHG points for a yearlong magazine subscription.
You can also redeem IHG points for gift cards to various merchants. Here’s how many points you’ll need to redeem for physical gift cards of varying amounts:
- $100 gift card: 49,000 points (redemption rate of 0.2 cents per point)
- $60 gift card: 30,000 points (redemption rate of 0.2 cents per point)
- $50 gift card: 25,000 points (redemption rate of 0.2 cents per point)
- $25 gift card: 13,000 points (redemption rate of 0.19 cents per point)
- $15 gift card: 8,000 points (redemption rate of 0.19 cents per point)
- $10 gift card: 5,500 points (redemption rate of 0.18 cents per point)
- $5 gift card: 3,000 points (redemption rate of 0.17 cents per point)
You can redeem IHG points for activities and event tickets through the IHG One Rewards catalog. For example, here are some ticket examples for a concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, as well as various activities in New York City that you can book with IHG points.
Additionally, you can redeem 30,000 IHG points to cover a TSA PreCheck application fee. Or, you could donate your points to charity, with options starting at just 2,500 points.
It’s also possible to redeem IHG points for merchandise, including headphones, backpacks and even laptop computers. If you don’t see what you want, you can request unique gadgets and big-ticket items through the rewards concierge.
You can redeem IHG One Rewards points for digital rewards as well. Options include movies, music, games, magazines, books and software.
As with the IHG One Rewards catalog, you’ll want to consider whether you’re getting good value from this type of redemption before you use your IHG points for digital rewards.
Related: The best IHG hotels in the world
There are many ways to redeem IHG One Rewards points. However, I almost always recommend redeeming your IHG points for hotel stays. This will give you the most value for your points and let you explore over 6,000 IHG properties worldwide.
Additional reporting by Carissa Rawson and Andrew Kunesh.