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How to maximize redemptions with the IHG One Rewards program

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Editor’s note: We’ve updated this post with the latest information.

IHG One Rewards is an underdog of the hotel points world. But IHG hotels and resorts are available in many destinations. And IHG One Rewards significantly improved its elite benefits in 2022.

It’s possible to get higher than TPG’s valuation — and the rate at which you can buy IHG points during 100% bonus buy points sales — when redeeming IHG points. So in this guide, we’ll discuss how to maximize IHG One Rewards redemptions.

Calculate your redemption rate

InterContinental Phuket Resort pool
InterContinental Phuket Resort in Thailand. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

IHG began using dynamic award pricing in 2020. Now, all IHG award stays are priced dynamically, meaning the number of points you’ll need to redeem for a stay varies based on your booking date, the property you choose, your stay dates and other factors.

That said, getting good value from your IHG One Rewards points is still possible. TPG’s valuations peg the value of IHG points at 0.5 cents each, but you can often get a higher redemption rate when redeeming IHG points.

For example, let’s assume you want to book a standard room with two queen beds at the Hotel Indigo Savannah Historic District from Oct. 19 to 22. You could book a rate with free cancellation until two days before your stay for $1,151.62 or 170,000 points. If you redeem IHG points, you’d get a redemption rate of 0.677 cents per point.

That said, you won’t always get a good redemption value. So, always compare the cash rate to the points rate and calculate your redemption rate. If your redemption rate is low, consider booking a paid rate for your stay and saving your points for a higher-value redemption.

Related: The 19 best IHG hotels in the world

Be flexible

Another way to maximize your IHG points is to be as flexible as possible. For example, you could save points (or money) in the above example by shifting your stay to other dates. Specifically, you could redeem 105,000 points or pay $790.92 for a three-night stay if you shifted your stay to check in on Sunday. Doing so would give you a redemption rate of 0.753 cents per point if you redeemed points.

Likewise, if you are flexible as to where you stay in a city — or even the city you visit — you may be able to redeem fewer points and get a higher redemption rate.

For example, you might decide to save by staying out near the Savannah airport for the Thursday through Sunday stay discussed in the previous section. By doing so, you could redeem 77,000 points or pay $561.41 for your three-night stay, giving you a redemption rate of 0.729 cents per point if you redeem points.

In short, being flexible can help you redeem fewer points for your stays and maximize your points.

Related: What credit card should you use for IHG stays?

Check Points and Cash redemptions

It’s also worth checking Points and Cash rates. As the name suggests, Points and Cash rates let you combine IHG points and money to stretch your points further.

You can see these redemption options by selecting “Points + Cash” once you select a hotel from the search results.

Booking IHG points and cash

Like all redemptions, run the numbers to see if a Points and Cash booking makes sense. In the above three-night stay example, you could book a room that would cost $1,151.62 or 170,000 points for:

  • 154,998 points and $90, giving you an effective 0.685 cents per point.
  • 139,998 points and $180, giving you an effective 0.694 cents per point.
  • 124,998 points and $270, giving you an effective 0.705 cents per point.
  • 109,998 points and $345, giving you an effective 0.733 cents per point.
  • 94,998 points and $420, giving you an effective 0.770 cents per point.

In some cases, you may be better off redeeming points or cash for the entirety of the stay. That said, it can sometimes make sense to use Points and Cash redemptions if you’re running low on points. And in some cases, you can use Points and Cash bookings to effectively buy IHG points at a good rate.

Just note that when you make a Points and Cash reservation, you’re effectively buying points using the cash portion of the booking. Should you need to cancel, your refund will come entirely in points rather than the combination of cash and points you initially used.

Related: Should you buy IHG Rewards points or transfer points from Chase?

Use the fourth-night reward perk

If you have the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card or IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you can benefit from your card’s fourth-night reward perk on stays of four nights or more booked entirely with IHG points. This perk causes every fourth night on an award stay of four nights or longer to cost zero points.

Getting an IHG fourth night reward

To use this perk, log in to an account associated with an eligible IHG credit card, search for a stay of four nights or longer and opt to redeem IHG points. You’ll see the discounted rates in your search results.

Getting an IHG fourth night reward

There’s no cap on how many times you can use this perk yearly. And you can even get more than one fourth night reward on a single stay. For example, you’d get two fourth-night rewards on a stay of eight to 11 nights and three of them on a stay of 12 to 15 nights.

Getting an IHG fourth night reward

Related: The incredibly easy way of redeeming IHG’s 4th-night reward

Check for price drops

singapore voco
voco Orchard Singapore in Singapore. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

You can also maximize your IHG points by periodically checking for drops in award pricing for your upcoming stays.

To do so, do a new award search for your dates and see if the rates are lower. If they are, cancel your stay and rebook (or if you have enough points in your account to do so, book the new stay and then cancel the higher-priced stay).

Related: How rebooking hotel stays can help you save on award nights

Know when to buy IHG points

You can buy IHG points for as low as one cent per point when you purchase 26,000 IHG points or more. Buying IHG points at this rate is usually not a good idea, though.

After all, IHG limits the points you can buy each calendar year. And IHG occasionally runs buy points promotions that let you buy points as low as 0.5 cents per point.

Buying IHG points

Buying points at 0.5 cents each matches TPG’s valuation for IHG points and is lower than the redemption rate you can often get when redeeming IHG points. So, if you usually get more than 0.5 cents per IHG point on your redemptions and find your balance getting low, consider buying points next time IHG offers a 100% bonus.

Related: 7 ways to earn more IHG One Rewards points for your next redemption

Snag IHG elite status

Room at InterContinental New York Barclay
The InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City. SCOTT MAYEROWITZ/THE POINTS GUY

As mentioned above, IHG elite status is more valuable than ever. Earning IHG elite status could give you more perks on your stays, making your award stays more valuable.

The best perks — like the option to choose breakfast as a welcome amenity at full-service and select-service brands — are only available for top-tier Diamond Elite members. You can earn Diamond Elite status by staying 70 qualifying nights, earning 120,000 qualifying points or spending $40,000 on your IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card in a calendar year.

Award nights count as qualifying nights. But, if Diamond Elite status is out of reach, you could still easily snag Platinum Elite status. This status typically requires 40 qualifying nights or 60,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Alternatively, you can buy your way to Platinum Elite status by signing up for InterContinental Ambassador or getting the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

If you want to get the most value from your IHG points, you’ll likely find snagging IHG elite status worthwhile. Plus, if you sign up for InterContinental Ambassador, you’ll get extra perks at InterContinental and Six Senses properties participating in IHG One Rewards (even when you redeem IHG points for your stay).

Related: IHG food and beverage rewards are now redeemable at select properties

Bottom line

It’s relatively easy to maximize redemptions with the IHG One Rewards program. By checking redemption rates before booking and opting to redeem points when the redemption rate is high, you’ll get solid value from your IHG points.

Of course, you’ll have to decide what a good enough redemption rate is. I usually decide whether to book a paid rate or redeem points based on how many points are in my account, whether there are any current IHG hotel promotions for paid stays and whether I’ll be getting one or more fourth-night rewards if I redeem IHG points.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh.