IHG is running a promotion on points purchases, where you can buy points with up to a 100% bonus. This offers runs until November 16, 2016, and might be targeted, though everyone I asked was eligible. IHG allows you to buy up to 60,000 points per year, excluding any bonus. Under this promotion, you can basically buy IHG points for 0.575 cents a piece.
The bonus is tiered, so you would have to buy at least 16,000 points to receive the 100% bonus. I would’t consider buying points with less than a 100% bonus, for reasons I will explain below. You can max out on this promo by buying 60,000 points, which after the bonus, means you are paying $690 for 120,000 IHG points.
At 0.575 cents apiece, this is the lowest rate at which I have seen IHG sell their points. I personally value IHG points at 0.4 – 0.5 cents each, so this is not a drop everything and buy situation. IHG recently devalued their award chart, by adding new tiers, so reward nights now cost between 10,000 and 60,000 points.
Should You Buy IHG Points With a 100% Bonus?
There are of course ways that would make buying points worth it. Let’s say you are buying points to redeem free nights at the very top hotels. You could think of it as paying 60,000 * $0.00575 = $345 a night for any IHG hotel, subject to availability of course. This could translate into very significant savings at high end hotels like the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora. A paid stay would cost over $600 a night, but you could redeem 60,000 points for it, which would cost just $345 under this promotion.
I will admit that it’s easy to use Bora Bora properties as a poster child for good redemptions, but it’s a good example to illustrate how much value you can derive from buying points. Here is another example, where you can redeem 60,000 points for the InterContinental Hong Kong, or pay HK$2,888 (~$373) for the night. On the surface it doesn’t seem like that good of a saving, but there are reasons I would consider redeeming points over paying for the night.
For starter, you don’t pay taxes on award stays. When all is said and done, the InterContinental Hong Kong example above would actually cost over US$400 for an advance purchase rate; buying points does represent some savings. Additionally, award reservations are refundable (with very few exceptions). This is actually one of the major reasons I like using points over cash, since I have tremendous flexibility if plans change or if I find a better deal elsewhere.
Finally, if you have a Chase IHG card, you get a 10% rebate on redeemed points, up to 100,000 refunded points per year. This means that a 60,000-point night would only cost you 54,000 points, or $310 if you buy points with a 100% bonus.
Of course, you won’t earn points on award stays, so there is opportunity cost to redeeming points over paying cash. You earn 10 points per dollar spent at IHG properties (except for StayBridge Suites and CandleWood Suites, where you earn half that). This means for a $400 stay, you’re forgoing at least 4,000 points. But then again, you could “buy” them back at just $23 under this promo.
New PointBreaks List is Coming Up
One of my favorite uses for IHG points is their PointBreaks promotion. Every few months, IHG will release a list of hotels that you can redeem for just 5,000 points per night. A new PointBreaks list will be coming out on or before October 31, 2016. You can decide if there’s any property on there that suits your fancy before pulling the trigger.
But just as an example, from August to October, you could redeem a free night at the InterContinental Mendoza, Argentina for just 5,000 points a night. When you buy points at 0.575 cents a piece, that means you’re basically paying just $29 for the night—that’s an incredible value!
However, keep in mind that you can also buy IHG points at 0.7 cents a piece on a day to day basis. You do this by booking a “Cash and Points” stay, and then cancelling the reservation. This is because IHG’s “Cash and Points” is essentially just you buying the necessary points when you book the stay, and IHG will refund you the points (not the cash) when you cancel.
This is the lowest price I have seen IHG sell their points. As always, I think you should do the math yourself to see whether you can justify buying the points. In my experience, on average redeeming points that I bought represented only a ~15% saving over the advance purchase price. However, I like the flexibility of using points, since I cancel fairly last minute. It gives me a way to secure something reasonable, but allows me to back out if something amazing pops up last minute. I also have the Chase IHG card, and have valued and utilized the 10% rebate over the years.
If you are solely looking to book PointBreaks, I would hold off on buying points until you see the list (which should come out on or before October 31). If you are short on points, using the “book and cancel” strategy to accrue points would probably be smarter. That way you won’t have to keep a huge stash of points, and will still be able to take advantage of the good deals.
This promotion ends November 16, 2016, and IHG allows you to buy up to 60,000 points per year. You can buy IHG points here.