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5 Best Uses of IHG Points: Stay in Faraway Islands and Expensive Metropolises for Pennies on the Dollar

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5 Best Uses of IHG Points: Stay in Faraway Islands and Expensive Metropolises for Pennies on the Dollar

Ethan Steinberg5 Best Uses of IHG Points: Stay in Faraway Islands and Expensive Metropolises for Pennies on the DollarMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: IHG allows hotels to limit the number of rooms available for award bookings. That’s important information, because it can make last-minute IHG award nights especially difficult to find.

No matter what you value in a hotel loyalty program (low award rates, great elite benefits, valuable credit cards or something else entirely), IHG is arguably the weakest of the four major programs. Still, for many years, it roped in travelers who were loyal to other chains by offering a free night at any IHG hotel around the world in exchange for a $49 credit card annual fee. This perk has since been devalued (the free night has been capped and the annual fee raised), but many award travelers, myself included, took full advantage of this opportunity to explore the ins and outs of IHG Rewards Club.

I’m not a fan of IHG’s incredibly limited award availability, but I’ve gotten some great redemptions using my points for one night stays in pricey markets. As with any loyalty program, you’ll get the best value redeeming IHG points at the top end and the bottom end of the award chart. Let’s take a look at some of the best uses of IHG points.

Standing inside the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin, you’d never know you were in a city of 24 million people. It’s one of the best uses of IHG points in my opinion. (Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

Best Uses of IHG Points

Free nights at IHG hotels range from 10,000 points on the lower end all the way up to 70,000 points on the higher end. IHG has announced plans to move to dynamic pricing in the next year or two, which is likely to change the entire process of redeeming IHG points. IHG allows hotels to cap the number of rooms they make available for rewards. While dynamic pricing is usually a bad thing for consumers, the silver lining is that it might lead to more award space being made available, albeit at higher prices.

CategoryPoints per Night
Category 110,000
Category 215,000
Category 320,000
Category 425,000
Category 530,000
Category 635,000
Category 740,000
Category 845,000
Category 950,000
Category 1055,000
Category 1160,000
Category 1265,000
Category 1370,000

IHG is perhaps best known for its luxury InterContinental brand, and quirky millennial (and pet) friendly Kimpton Hotels, but it generally doesn’t have a strong presence in middle market properties. This means you’ll get the best values using your points on truly aspirational trips

1. French Polynesia Four Ways

French Polynesia, including Tahiti and Bora Bora, is a bucket list destination for many travelers thanks to the stunning turquoise water and beautiful nature scenes. It also has the added benefit of being much closer to the US than the Maldives, and InterContinental has a huge edge when it comes to points properties here.

You’ll have your pick of four different InterContinental hotels to choose from, making it ever so slightly easier to find award space at this coveted destination.

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora: 70,000 points per night

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa: 70,000 points per night

InterContinental Resort And Spa Moorea: 50,000 points per night

InterContinental Resort Tahiti50,000 points per night

If you’re after that elusive overwater bungalow, you’ll want to pick the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa. This is the nicest property of the four, and the only one where award nights book straight into overwater villas. That’s a given though, since the resort doesn’t actually have any rooms on land! It’s also the hardest resort to find award availability, and at the time of writing there isn’t a single available reward night for the rest of the year.

That said, nights tend to open up sporadically a few weeks before.

2. Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

Keeping with the theme of faraway tropical places, let’s turn our attention to the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives which can be booked for only 45,000 points per night. While you normally think of the Maldives as a high-end luxury destination (and IHG is opening an InterContinental there later this year), this is unlike any Holiday Inn you’ve ever seen before.

The resort comes outfitted with a number of overwater bungalows. And like all Holiday Inn hotels, kids eat free. One of the biggest selling points is that the speedboat transfer from Malé only costs $229 per person, as opposed to $700+ at some of the higher end resorts in the area.

3. Kimpton Ink48 Hotel New York

At only 65,000 points per night, the Kimpton Ink48 Hotel is a relative bargain in New York’s pricey market (and IHG’s pricey award chart). The hotel is located on West 48th and 11th Ave, just a few blocks from the Hudson river and the Intrepid museum.

With cash rates often climbing above $400 at this hotel, points are the way to go. You’ll be sure to enjoy all the fun benefits of staying at a Kimpton, as well. Make sure to weave the secret password into your conversation when checking in (until September 2 it’s “off duty”) and watch the magic happen. You’ll receive anything from free drinks or breakfast to a host of other surprises.

If the password isn’t enough to get you free drinks, IHG Elites will get the $10-$15 “raid the bar” credit which is valid for mini-bar or hotel bar charges at Kimpton properties.

Perhaps my favorite part of the Kimpton charm is their pet policy- “At every Kimpton boutique hotel, we invite you to bring your furry, feathery or scaly family member — no matter their size, weight, or breed, all at no extra charge. If your pet fits through the door, we’ll welcome them in.” It’s incredibly hard to travel internationally with my dog, but I see a lot of Kimpton stays with him in my future when I move back to the US.

4. InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin

One of my biggest complaints about the InterContinental brand is that it feels like cookie cutter luxury without a personal touch. While there are certainly worse things for a hotel to be than “generically luxurious,” I have found at least one hotel that broke this mold and made an incredible impression on me. The InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin is the perfect mix of antique charm and new age luxury, much like the city of Shanghai itself (you can check out my full review here).

The InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin made for a peaceful getaway from busy city life, and a fantastic use of my IHG points. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/Million Mile Secrets)

The hotel is nestled in sprawling gardens in the French Concession, no more than a 20 minute walk from the shops in Xintiandi or Jing’an and the winding alleys of Tianzifang. The property itself used to serve as the state guest house of Shanghai and the headquarters of the Community Party during the War of Liberation. Much of the exterior facade has been maintained, and I spent most of my time just peacefully strolling around the property without a care in the world. While Shanghai is home to four InterContinental hotels, I think this is by far the best combination of location and charm and at 35,000 points a night it’s a great redemption.

5. Float In The Dead Sea For Free

Outside of luxury hotels, IHG’s pricing in major cities is rarely competitive. However, I’ve often found IHG to have reasonably priced hotels in smaller markets where there aren’t as many options for using points. One great example of this would be Jerusalem, a highly popular tourist destination with surprisingly few points hotels to choose from, especially compared to Tel Aviv.

20,000 points per night to stay in Jerusalem is a great deal, and a relaxing vacation to the Dead Sea is a good value too. I must warn you though that my two nights at the Crowne Plaza Jerusalem were two of the worst nights I’ve ever spent in a hotel. The floor I was staying on was under renovations and I stepped on a two inch long nail within five minutes of getting to my room. I brought the (now bloody) nail down to the front desk agent who refused to do anything about it. After a few minutes of shouting back and forth with the manager, I accused the hotel of gross negligence for leaving a nail in a guest room. Apparently that magical phrase meant that they couldn’t offer me compensation, as this entire issue now had to be resolved by IHG’s corporate insurance. I pressed my case for several months and the best the hotel was willing to offer me was 3,000 IHG points (which I value at about $15).

Earning IHG Points

IHG Rewards Club is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, but this is almost always a bad redemption value (if you need a hotel stay you’d be much better if transferring your Chase points to Hyatt). Instead, you can earn IHG points quickly by applying for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which is currently offering a bonus of 80,000 IHG points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. The card also earns ten points per dollar at IHG hotels, helping to quickly increase your balance.

Bottom Line

Redeeming your IHG points for a good value requires a little bit of work since the hotel company doesn’t have as many middle of the road hotels, but it’s certainly possible. If you target aspirational and expensive hotels and look for areas where there aren’t many options for using points, you’ll generally get a much better deal.

You can learn more IHG tips and tricks here:

And for the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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IHG has been by far the WORST experiences I’ve ever had in 20 years of travel across brands. Doesn’t matter the Spire status. They treated us abysmally and added insult to injury every time. The last time we had two destroyed expensive jeans because the carpet was soaking in Bleach and all they were willing to do was return the points spent for the night with a mere 5000 points thrown in after very many passive aggressive emails. We’ve stopped using them and the 300k or so points we have remaining will be used differently.