With a portfolio of over 6,000 properties in more than 100 countries, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is one of the world’s biggest hotel chains.
The group caters to every budget with its 18 brands – from essentials brands Holiday Inn and Avid, to luxury and lifestyle brands Six Senses and Regent.
IHG’s recently-revamped loyalty program, IHG One Rewards, allows you to earn points and subsequently redeem them for free stays at its wide selection of properties and brands.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about IHG One Rewards, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning IHG One Rewards Points
While the primary way to accumulate IHG points is through paid stays, you can also earn them in a number of other ways, especially through credit cards.
Chase Co-Branded Credit Cards (US)
Chase is the sole issuer of IHG co-branded credit cards in the US, and the bank offers three cards you can choose from: IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card, IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, and IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.
All three co-branded cards carry the fantastic fourth reward night free benefit, which is detailed below.
The Chase IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card is a no-fee card that offers as many as 120,000 points as a welcome bonus.
The card’s everyday earning rates are:
- 5 points per dollar spent at IHG properties
- 3 points per dollar spent on dining, gas stations, and monthly bills
- 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
- 10,000 points bonus upon spending $10,000 in each year
In addition, the card automatically comes with IHG Silver membership, which can be upgraded to Gold upon spending $20,000 in a calendar year.
On the other hand, the higher-end Chase IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Chase IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card fetch an annual fee of $99, though their welcome bonus can be as many as 175,000 points.
Both cards’ everyday earning rates are:
- 10 points per dollar spent at IHG properties
- 5 points per dollar spent on travel, dining, and gas stations
- 5 points per dollar spent on social media and search engine advertising, and office supply stores (business card only)
- 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
- 10,000 points bonus plus $100 statement credit upon spending $20,000
Both cards also come with a bevy of benefits, including:
- Automatic IHG Platinum membership, which can be upgraded to Diamond when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year
- Annual free night certificate, which can be redeemed towards a night worth up to 40,000 points or supplemented with points for a higher-priced stay
- Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus statement credit up to $100 every four years
- Up to $50 United TravelBank Cash each calendar year
- Additional free night certificate upon spending $60,000 (business card only)
Transferring from Other Programs
Aside from IHG co-branded cards, you can also accumulate IHG points by transferring from a couple of US credit card programs.
Foremost, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1 UR point = 1 IHG point. However, with Chase’s wide range of transfer partners, you should assess if converting your UR points into IHG points would best suit your needs.
Bilt Rewards is the only other transfer partner of IHG in the US. You can convert your Bilt points into IHG points at a 1:1 ratio.
Staying at IHG Properties
When you stay at IHG properties, you’ll generally earn 10 IHG points per dollar (USD) spent, converted to the local currency.
However, there are a few exceptions:
- Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites: 5 points per dollar (USD) spent
- IHG Army Hotels: 3 points per dollar (USD) spent
- Most IHG-branded residences: 2.5 points per dollar (USD) spent
To derive even better value with your stay, you may book with IHG’s preferred partner program, Luxury & Lifestyle, which gives you extra benefits at no additional cost. Bookings must be done through an authorized travel advisor, and you can receive elite-level treatment even if you don’t have IHG One Rewards status.
Meetings and Dining at IHG Properties
At IHG properties, you’ll also earn points when you hold meetings and events, or when you dine.
When you hold a meeting or event, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar (USD) spent, converted to the local currency. For your expenses to be eligible, you must also register with IHG Business Rewards.
Meanwhile, when you dine at participating restaurants and bars in Asia-Pacific, you’ll earn 100 points per $10 (USD) spent, and you’ll get a 20% discount on your bill as well. A full list of participating restaurants and bars can be found on the IHG website.
Buying IHG One Rewards Points
The quickest way for you to gain IHG points is by buying them from its partner Points.com.
By default, you can purchase points at 1.35 cents per point (USD), with an annual cap of 150,000 IHG points per calendar year.
However, there frequently are promotions that let you buy points with a 100% bonus. If you chance upon a 100% bonus promotion, your acquisition cost drops to 0.62 cents per point (USD).
Even better, if you buy IHG points using one of the three Chase co-branded cards, you’ll save an additional 20% on your total purchase.
Other Ways to Earn IHG One Rewards Points
IHG has a dedicated portal, which allows you to book car rentals, tours, activities, restaurants, and transport services.
When you use the portal, you’ll earn:
- Car rentals: up to 1,500 points per rental
- Tours and activities: up to 1,000 points per service
- Transportation services: up to 1,000 points per service
- OpenTable restaurant reservations: up to 500 points per reservation
- GrubHub: up to 500 points per delivery
Through IHG One Rewards Dine & Earn, on the other hand, you’ll also earn points when you dine in participating restaurants, and pay for the bill with a linked credit card.
Redeeming IHG One Rewards Points
While IHG provides several options to redeem your points, you’ll get the most value by redeeming them for hotel or resort stays.
Stays at IHG Properties
IHG One Rewards doesn’t publish an award chart; instead, the program adopts a fully-dynamic pricing scheme. This means that the cost of a stay in points fluctuates based on a number of factors, such as dates, demand, and the cash price of a room.
You can find award nights for under 10,000 points per night in less expensive cities, and as high as 80,000–100,000 points per night in more expensive cities.
In fact, some properties may go for much higher. For example, a night at the Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives may fetch as many as 250,000 IHG points.
Fourth Reward Night Free
One of the best perks of the Chase IHG co-branded cards is the fourth reward night free benefit. When you book three nights with points, you’ll get the fourth night completely free.
Your Chase IHG card must be linked to your IHG One Rewards account to avail of this benefit.
Transfer to Airline Loyalty Programs
IHG One Rewards allows you to transfer your points to more than 40 airline loyalty programs. For most programs, you’ll get 2,000 airline miles/points in exchange for 10,000 IHG points, effectively giving you a rate of 5 IHG points = 1 airline mile/point.
Other Ways to Redeem IHG One Rewards Points
In most cases, you’ll get the most value out of your IHG points by redeeming them for free hotel stays. However, there are other redemption options you might find beneficial.
First, IHG One Rewards Access allows you to use your points on activities, concerts, and events. Examples of experiences you can bid for or redeem outright are sporting events and drag brunches.
Likewise, IHG has an online catalog, which allows you to redeem your points for a wide array of electronics, sporting goods, clothing, gift cards, and more.
You can also redeem IHG points on digital rewards, such as movies, music, games, e-magazines, e-books, and software. Note that due to licensing restrictions, the selection varies per country.
It bears repeating that with the options above, you’re not getting as much value as a hotel or resort stay.
IHG One Rewards Tips & Tricks
With IHG One Rewards, redemption costs are fully dynamic; thus, you’re not getting as many “sweet spots” as other hotel loyalty programs. Still, there are tips and tricks that can make your IHG One Rewards membership worthwhile.
Merely joining the IHG One Rewards program already entitles you to Member Rates, which are up to 5% lower than the non-member best available rates.
IHG is known for offering status challenges, which allow members to experience and earn higher elite status easily. These promotions may either be targeted or open to everyone.
For instance, IHG recently offered a Diamond Elite status trial, and the ability to maintain it upon staying 10 nights.
If you frequent InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, IHG One Rewards has a subprogram called InterContinental Ambassador that you might find beneficial. Foremost, the program provides an automatic upgrade to Platinum Elite status and its associated benefits.
In addition, you’ll receive the following perks at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts:
- Complimentary weekend night (with one paid night stay)
- Restaurant and bar credit of up to $20 (USD) for every stay
- Guaranteed one category room upgrade
- Guaranteed extended 4pm check-out
- Complimentary mineral water
- Complimentary internet
- Dedicated check-in area
- Single room rate for double occupancy
- Complimentary breakfast for one (Mainland China only)
Membership to the program can be purchased for either $200 (USD) or 40,000 IHG points per year.
IHG One Rewards Elite Status
IHG One Rewards has four elite status tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. In order to progress to the next tier or retain your current tier, you must accumulate the following Qualifying Nights or Qualifying Points in a calendar year:
You’ll receive Qualifying Nights on stays at any IHG brand, even those paid with points. If you book multiple rooms under your name in one stay, you’ll get Qualifying Nights on only one room.
On the other hand, Qualifying Points are distinct from rewards points, which are used to redeem for stays. Qualifying Points are mainly accrued through stays on qualifying rates, though they may also be earned through other activities, such as car rentals, restaurant reservations, delivery orders, and experiences booked through the IHG Trip Extras portal.
Frankly, Silver or Gold Elite status doesn’t provide much by way of hotel benefits, other than late check-out. However, if you’re at least a Platinum Elite member, you’ll be eligible to receive a room upgrade and a welcome amenity.
Additionally, as a Diamond Elite member, you may choose free breakfast as your welcome amenity.
In terms of hotel benefits, IHG One Rewards pales compared to its competing programs. However, the Milestone Rewards feature makes loyalty to IHG properties worthwhile.
Milestone Rewards are earned starting at 20 nights through 100 nights. You’ll choose one reward for every 10 nights, and you’ll get an extra reward on your 40th and 70th nights.
While you may easily choose points, you may also consider the other rewards that may be of better benefit to you.
For the Food & Beverage Reward, you’ll get a $20 credit during a stay. Thus, if you get five of them, you’ll get $100 value.
The Annual Lounge Membership, meanwhile, grants you and a companion access to the club lounge of a hotel or resort for the remainder of the year and the following year.
IHG One Rewards is surely worth participating in, since it’s the loyalty program of one of the largest hotel chains in the world. The program allows you to earn and redeem points in more than 6,000 properties in 100 countries around the world.
Aside from stays, you can easily rack up IHG points by signing up for one of the three Chase co-branded credit cards. Chase consistently offers generous welcome bonuses on these cards, as well as high points-earning rates on certain categories. Plus, even better, the cards offer the fourth reward night free benefit.
Elite status with IHG One Rewards pales in comparison to other programs when it comes to hotel benefits. Nonetheless, Milestone Rewards, which are earned every 10 nights starting from 20 nights up to 100 nights, make chasing status with the program worthwhile.