Pay less for IHG points with the “Points & Cash trick”

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Buying points rarely makes sense, though situations absolutely arise that warrant the purchase. When hotels sell points at a discount, you may be tempted to jump on the offer. For instance, IHG regularly sells points for as little as 1 cent each. But it recently published a promotion offering points for as little as 0.57 cents each — nearly half-price!

If you feel compelled to jump on an IHG sale, know this: There’s a secret way to “buy” IHG points for less than 0.6 cents each, whenever you want. Even if IHG hasn’t published a sale. We call it the “IHG Points & Cash trick.” I’ll review how this trick works and how you can use it to get an even better deal on award stays.

(Photo by Brian Biros/Million Mile Secrets)

IHG Points & Cash trick

IHG allows you to book award nights using a combination of points and cash. This means if you don’t have enough points for an award night (or if you don’t want to use all your points), IHG will “sell” you the remaining points you need for your stay.

Let’s look at an example to better understand. The Holiday Inn Cincinnati-Riverfront costs 30,000 points per night. However, it provides the following Points & Cash options:

They key is this: No matter which option you choose, you’re still paying 30,000 points per night. IHG is simply selling you the points you need to complete your stay. If you choose 15,000 points and $89, IHG will deposit 15,000 more points into your account and immediately remove the 30,000 points it needs to complete your stay. In other words, IHG sold you 15,000 points for $89. That’s a rate of 0.59 cents each.

After you book your stay, your reservation will appear in your account as a reward stay. If you then cancel your reservation, IHG won’t refund your $89 — instead, 30,000 points will deposit into your account (the 15,000 points from your account and the 15,000 points you “purchased” with $89).

You can repeat this over and over to purchase as many IHG points as you like. Just note that the Points & Cash rates vary, and some are a poorer deal than others.

Not everyone may be comfortable using this trick to buy IHG points at a cheaper rate. If you decide to do it, always double-check you’re making a refundable reservation (take note of the cancellation deadline!).

The IHG award chart prices hotel stays between 10,000 and 70,000 points per night (though a few select hotels price even higher). With this deal, you can effectively purchase hotel nights for as cheap as $59 per night. And you can reserve top-tier IHG hotels for around $413 per night (often the best use of IHG points). Some of these hotels can cost over $1,000 per night.

Earn IHG points quickly with the IHG Premier Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You’d have to buy $840 worth of IHG points via the Points & Cash trick to accrue that many points!

 We estimate IHG points value to be 0.5 cents each, so you should at least get $700 from this bonus — though as discussed above, it’s possible to get much higher value if you know how to use IHG points.

The card also comes with a reward night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide (on IHG hotels that cost 40,000 points or less). Plus, you get a fourth consecutive reward night! You can read our full review of the IHG credit card for all the card details.

Bottom line

You can “buy” IHG points for less than 0.6 cents per point by making refundable Points & Cash award bookings, then cancelling them. Not everyone is comfortable using this technique, so as always, do what works for you.

IHG hotels have variable rates, so let us know if you find a hotels with an exceptional Points & Cash value! And subscribe to our newsletter for more hotel and airline tips and tricks.

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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