The Guide to IHG One Rewards
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IHG One Rewards, the loyalty program attached to the InterContinental Hotels Group, might pique your fancy if you’re eyeing a night at the ritzy InterContinental London Park Lane in the heart of London or you're dreaming of escaping to a private island at the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.
But the IHG One Rewards loyalty program encompasses more than just the luxurious InterContinental hotels.
With a family of 16 brands, including more affordable hotels like Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites, IHG One Rewards is actually one of the best hotel loyalty programs for the frugal traveler who wants options. After all, IHG has about 6,000 open hotels in more than 100 countries, not to mention it is still rapidly growing — 1,800 more IHG properties are due to open over the next five years.
IHG One Rewards launched in April 2022 as an overhaul to its previous loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club, adding new benefits including a milestone rewards incentive, free breakfast for elite members and a faster earn rate.
And those program changes are mostly good; in fact, IHG One Rewards ranks No. 2 in NerdWallet’s ranking of best hotel loyalty programs.
Here’s what you need to know about the IHG One Rewards program.
What are my IHG points worth?
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values IHG points at 0.7 cent apiece. You can use our IHG rewards points calculator to determine the value of your stash of IHG points with NerdWallet valuations.
To determine the value of reward points, we compared cash prices versus reward redemptions for hotel stays across several destinations and dates. We divided the cost in cash by the cost in points to determine a “cent per point” value for each room, then averaged this value across several searches. Read more about how we arrived at these figures.
To determine whether it’s a better deal to book a specific room in cash versus points, divide the cash value by the number of points required. Make sure you account for all costs, including taxes and pesky resort fees. From there, aim for award bookings that offer 0.7 cent or more in value from your IHG points.
IHG One Rewards vs. competitors: How it stacks in 2023
In NerdWallet’s annual rankings of best hotel loyalty programs, IHG comes in at No. 2. The first place winner was the World of Hyatt loyalty program.
IHG ranked especially high because it has low fees and is particularly pet friendly. Whereas the first place winner, Hyatt, tends to have ultra-high hotel fees, fees are less common at IHG properties. Many luxury resorts don’t charge resort fees.
Kimpton, one of IHG’s brands, doesn’t charge pet fees at all. Kimpton is also NerdWallet’s top overall hotel brand for pets because the hotel accepts pretty much any species of animal and often goes the extra mile to welcome pets with amenities such as pet beds, treats and pet waste bags.
Out of six hotel brands analyzed, here's a closer look at how IHG competed across categories:
Fourth in effective rewards rate.
Fourth in terms of elite status program.
Second in terms of fewest fees.
First in terms of pet-friendly policies.
How to earn IHG points
From stays at IHG hotels to ordering food via Grubhub, there are a myriad of ways to earn IHG points.
Stay at IHG hotels
IHG One Rewards members earn points on qualifying stays at IHG properties. You typically earn 10 points for every $1 spent at most IHG hotels, though you earn only 5 points per $1 spent at Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites.
Yet it doesn’t stop there. You earn bonus points based on your level of IHG elite status too. Spire Elite members earn a whopping 100% bonus on base points, so don’t overlook the power of holding status as the key to fast-tracked IHG points-earning.
Get an IHG credit card, which earn bonus points and other IHG perks
Chase offers two co-branded IHG credit cards, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card ($99 annual fee) and the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card ($0 annual fee).
While both earn oodles of extra points for spending at IHG hotels, if you stay at IHG even just once a year, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is almost always better given its benefits like automatic Platinum Elite status, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit and — perhaps best of all — a free night certificate after each account anniversary year.
Here’s how those two cards compare:
Points earned for hotel stays at IHG Hotels and Resorts worldwide
Up to 17x total points at when you combine IHG Card benefits with existing IHG Rewards Club member benefits.
Up to 26x total points at when you combine IHG Card benefits with existing IHG Rewards Club member benefits.
Earn 120,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Earn 175,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Free nights when you book using points
Get a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights.
Get a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights.
Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit
Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
Receive an anniversary night certificate good for a night at any eligible IHG hotel each year after your card anniversary.
Receive automatic Silver Elite status.
Receive automatic Platinum Elite status.
Transfer points to IHG through other Chase credit cards
Chase credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points allow you to transfer those points to IHG Rewards at a 1:1 ratio (i.e., 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points equals 10,000 IHG points). Those include the following cards:
If you also have the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom Unlimited®, points earned through those cards can be combined with any of the above cards and also transferred to IHG.
One note: NerdWallet values IHG points at 0.7 cent each, so you’re generally devaluing your Chase points when going that route.
Unless you need more points in your IHG account to take advantage of another offer that nets out to be a better deal (such as the fourth-night-free benefit that IHG credit card holders redeem when booking on points) or you’ve found an incredible IHG sweet spot redemption, this is not necessarily the best use of your points.
Shop with IHG’s partner programs
IHG has partnerships with other travel (or travel-adjacent) companies, including Hertz rental cars and food delivery company Grubhub. Book a Hertz rental car through IHG to receive a 1,500 point bonus and an additional 500 points per day. Order from Grubhub via IHG to earn up to 500 points.
How to redeem IHG points
In general, the best use of your IHG points is using them to book actual hotel rooms. NerdWallet values IHG points redeemed for IHG hotel stays at 0.7 cent each, which is far more than their value when redeemed for airline miles or gift cards.
Best IHG redemption option: Book free IHG hotel rooms
Standard award nights typically start at 10,000 according to the IHG award chart, though we’ve seen them go as high as 100,000 points (you’ll see those kinds of rates for something like that overwater pool villa at the InterContinental Maldives).
You know you’ve landed an especially good deal if the cash price is expensive compared with the points price.
A $250 room for 25,000 points is a good deal when paying with points ($250/25,000 points = 1 cent per point).
A $100 room for 25,000 points is generally a worse deal when paying with points ($100/25,000 points = 0.4 cent per point). You might be better off paying in cash in this instance.
Plus, when you book on points and hold an IHG-branded credit card, you’ll get your fourth award night free — an effective 25% savings on four-night bookings.
Paying for a hotel stay with a combination of points and money can also be a high-value choice.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with IHG hotels
OK IHG redemption options: Transferring to airline partners
IHG has partnerships with over 40 airlines, allowing you to exchange IHG points for airline miles in frequent flyer programs including United, American, Delta, British Airways and Qantas.
The process to transfer IHG points is fairly cumbersome, and often converting IHG points to airline currencies causes them to lose their value, so we don’t really recommend this option unless you’re desperate to offload IHG points (or really need a few more airline miles).
» Learn more: The complete guide to IHG partnerships and transfers
Bad IHG redemption options: Online shopping, gift cards
You can use IHG points to shop at IHG’s online catalog of brand-name products, jewelry, electronics, and gift cards from major retailers and restaurants, including Uber, Walgreens, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks and Home Depot. Then there’s the option to use your points to get magazine subscriptions, or for digital downloads of e-books, games, music and movies.
These are almost always pitifully bad redemptions, so we don’t recommend them. But if you really don’t anticipate traveling before your IHG points expire, redeeming points this way can at least keep your account active.
IHG One Rewards status
There are four tiers of IHG elite status (plus Club status, which you automatically get just for signing up for the IHG Rewards program).
You can earn IHG status through staying at IHG hotels and spending on certain IHG branded credit cards. You may als be able to earn it through an IHG status match.
How to earn status
Points earned per stay
Some of the best perks
Just sign up.
10 base points per dollar spent on qualifying hotel rates at most IHG hotels (5 points at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites)
Complimentary internet, exclusive member rates, no blackout dates for reward nights.
10 elite qualifying nights, or hold the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card.
20% bonus earnings on top of base points.
Points no longer expire for as long as status is held.
20 elite qualifying nights or 40,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year. Or, spend $20,000 in a calendar year on the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card.
40% bonus earnings on top of base points.
The above plus rollover nights for next year's status.
40 elite qualifying nights or 60,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year, or hold the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card.
60% bonus earnings on top of base points.
The above plus complimentary room upgrades and guaranteed room availability.
70 elite qualifying nights or 120,000 elite qualifying points, per calendar year, or spend $40,000 on the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card in a calendar year.
100% bonus earnings on top of base points
The above plus dedicated Diamond support and free breakfast.
Ultimately, the IHG Gold and Silver status tiers are nothing to write home about in terms of in-hotel perks. But if you're on a quest to rack up points, at least the bonus point returns can turn out to be pretty valuable.
Once you level up into the Platinum and Diamond elite tiers, your in-hotel experience really levels up in terms of the upgrades and goodies on the table.
» Learn more: Your guide to IHG elite status
IHG Ambassador: The elite status tier that you have to pay for
IHG is fairly unique in that it offers one more elite status tier of sorts — but no amount of frequent traveling will earn you this one. IHG Ambassador status is attained through paying a $200 membership fee (or 40,000 points). With it comes benefits ranging from small conveniences like complimentary mineral water to potential money-making freebies (like a free weekend night certificate at any InterContinental Hotels & Resorts property worldwide).
Other benefits of the InterContinental Ambassador program include:
Guaranteed one category room upgrade.
Automatic IHG Platinum Elite status.
Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout.
Single room rate for double occupancy.
If you stay at International hotels on weekends anyway, the free weekend night certificate can easily be worth the $200 membership fee.
» Learn more: IHG Ambassador status (and whether it’s worth it)
In April 2022, IHG added a new way to get even more perks based on how frequently you stay: milestone rewards. For every 10 nights you stay (starting at 20 qualified nights), you'll get to choose from one of the available milestone rewards, which vary based on what milestone you're actually at. And when you hit the 40 and 70 night milestones, you get to choose two milestone rewards instead of one (one of which is the potentially, highly-lucrative IHG Executive Club Lounge membership).
The IHG One Rewards milestone bonuses are:
20 nights: Choice of 5,000 bonus points, two food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each) or a confirmable suite upgrade.
30 nights: Choice of 5,000 bonus points or two food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
40 nights: Choice of two of the following: 10,000 bonus points, five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each), a confirmable suite upgrade or an annual lounge membership.
50 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
60 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
70 nights: Choice of two of the following: 10,000 bonus points, five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each), two confirmable suite upgrades or an annual lounge membership.
80 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
90 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
100 nights: Choice of 10,000 bonus points or five food and beverage rewards (worth $20 each).
You have 90 days from the time you reach the milestone to make your bonus selection. Typically, your reward is valid for one year from the point of selection (so you can save your room upgrade for a fancy hotel), except lounge membership, which is valid through the end of the year it was earned, plus another full year. Food and beverage rewards chosen in 2022 won't expire until Dec. 31, 2023, regardless of when the reward was selected.
As far as the food and beverage rewards go, they cannot be used in partial increments, so if you spend $18 at an IHG restaurant, you sacrifice $2 of value. If you spend $22 at an IHG restaurant, you'll owe $2 out-of-pocket.
Final thoughts on IHG One Rewards
If you want to join a hotel loyalty program but are on the fence about which one to join, IHG is quite possibly the one for you. IHG came in No. 2 in NerdWallet’s ranking of the best hotel rewards programs of the year, thanks largely to its low fees and solid rewards on hotel stays.
That said, IHG One Rewards' elite status is not as rewarding as what you’ll likely find through other loyalty programs. If you’re a road warrior who sleeps in hotels more often than your own bed, you might find other elite status programs more rewarding — especially when you get into the super-high status tiers.
But for people who like to travel for pleasure a few times a year and take the occasional business trip, the IHG Rewards program is well worth pursuing.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card