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A hotel stay at any one of IHG’s roughly 6,000 properties worldwide, including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental properties, is certainly one of the best ways to use IHG Rewards points (or build up your balance).
But it’s not the only way to use them. IHG points are transferable, meaning they can be converted to other points programs, including frequent flyer miles with IHG airline partners. And if you hold points through other programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you can transfer those over to IHG.
Here’s how to get the most out of IHG’s partnerships and transfer opportunities.
» Learn more: Your complete guide to earning IHG Rewards points
When to transfer IHG points
While a hotel stay is generally the best way to redeem IHG points, you can also transfer IHG points to airline partners or someone else.
Transferring points out of the IHG program can be useful if:
You don’t plan on staying at an IHG hotel anytime soon.
You need to maintain account activity to keep your IHG points from expiring (note: points expiration is currently paused through Dec. 31, 2022, in light of the pandemic).
You desperately need some frequent flyer miles to book a flight deal.
On the other hand, maybe you are planning an IHG hotel stay sometime soon, and you need more points to book your room. You can transfer points into your IHG account from the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program. Keep reading to learn more about all of IHG’s transfer partners, including how to transfer your points and whether it’s worth it.
You may be wondering, "Can I transfer IHG points to airlines?" Absolutely. IHG has partnerships with nearly 40 airlines, allowing you to exchange 10,000 IHG points for 2,000 airline miles (in the majority of cases). United, American, Delta, British Airways and Qantas are just a few of the airlines where you can turn IHG points into air travel.
How to transfer IHG points to airline miles
If you’re trying to book a flight today, we’ve got bad news. It can take up to six weeks for transferred IHG points to post to your frequent flyer account.
To transfer IHG points to airline miles, you must call the IHG Rewards Club Service Center (sorry, you can’t do it over the web). That phone number is:
In the U.S. and Canada: 1-888-211-9874
In Mexico: 001 800-272-9273
You’ll have to provide your name and account numbers for both the IHG Rewards Club and your frequent flyer program of choice. The name on your IHG profile and on your airline frequent flyer account must be an exact match (though an IHG representative told us they can change your name on your account to match your name on your airline account). Ahead of making the call, check the name on file with your preferred frequent flyer program to know whether you’ll have to go through this extra step.
From there, just wait it out — it usually takes about four to six weeks for a transfer to be completed. Compared with other loyalty program transfers, that’s quite a long time. If you need points in a hurry to book a flight, don’t count on IHG points to get you there.
Is it worth transferring my IHG points to airline miles?
Full disclosure: Transferring your IHG points to airline partners generally isn't a good redemption. Not only is it a cumbersome process, but also the value you get from transitioning IHG points into an airline currency significantly reduces their value. Use this option only if:
You need to top off a frequent flyer account to book a flight.
You don’t anticipate staying at an IHG property again, so your IHG points would otherwise go to waste.
Chase Ultimate Rewards®
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to IHG points at a 1:1 ratio. This means that several credit cards — not just the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card — can help you build up an IHG points balance. Non-IHG credit cards that could help you include:
How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to the IHG Rewards program
It’s easy to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards® to IHG. Log in to your Ultimate Rewards® account and navigate to "Transfer to Travel Partners" button on the menu.
From there, you’ll be redirected to a page that lists all of the Chase transfer partners (there are many airlines, plus a few other hotel companies). Select "IHG Rewards club," click "Transfer Points," enter the number of points to transfer and you’re done.
Point transfers must be made in 1,000 increments, so this option won’t work if you’re trying to burn a few leftover points.
Most point transfer requests process by the next business day, but Chase warns it could take up to seven business days.
Once points are transferred, they can’t be refunded and the transaction can’t be canceled. This is a one-way deal; even though you can give Chase points to your IHG account, you can’t send IHG points back to Chase.
Is it worth transferring my Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to IHG Rewards?
While it’s certainly possible to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to IHG Rewards, this is only a ho-hum exchange of currencies. Chase points convert to IHG points at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that you would need to transfer 10,000 Chase points to have enough for a free award night at one of IHG’s lowest-priced properties.
Let’s say you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Since 10,000 Chase points are worth $150 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ portal, this transfer would generally only be worth it if that 10,000-point room otherwise cost more than $150.
NerdWallet values IHG points at just 0.8 cent, so you’re generally devaluing your Chase points when going that route.
Contrast that with other hotels — like Hyatt. NerdWallet values those points at 1.9 cents. Since they also transfer 1:1, transferring Chase points to Hyatt is generally a far better value than transferring to IHG.
» Learn more: 5 best Chase transfer partners — and 4 to avoid
Friends and family
Can you gift IHG points? Yes, but at a cost. The member authorizing the transfer must pay $5 per 1,000 points transferred (and payment can only be made through an accepted credit card).
How to transfer IHG points to friends and family
Like transferring airline miles, the process of transferring IHG points to friends and family can be done over the phone through IHG’s customer service number:
In the U.S. and Canada: 1-888-211-9874
In Mexico: 800-272-9273
But you have another option: You can transfer points directly online via IHG’s point transfer page. You’ll need your number, as well as the IHG number for the person you’re transferring to.
Can I transfer IHG points to spouse?
Absolutely. Just follow the steps above and you will be able to score the IHG friends and family rate for your husband or wife, too.
Is it worth transferring my IHG points to someone else?
We value 1,000 IHG points at roughly $9. If you net out that brutal $5 transfer fee, you’re left with about $4 in points value. If you’re really not going to use your points for you, but you know someone else who can use them, then you might go for this option. But in most cases, this isn't the best redemption, especially if you believe that $5 in a fungible currency (cash) is more valuable than $9 worth of points that can only be spent at IHG hotels — which very well could be the case.
Earn even more IHG Rewards points through partner programs
IHG partnerships and programs offer more ways to earn points. The more points you earn, the more points you’ll have to transfer for flights and more.
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a fantastic option to quickly earn tons of IHG points, especially if you have a lot of spending planned at IHG hotels. You’ll earn 10x for every dollar you charge on the card at IHG hotels, on top of the 15x points you’ll earn by being a Platinum member with IHG — another perk that comes with the card.
Plus, you’ll earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Every year that you renew the card, you get a free night at an IHG hotel, so pack all of this into the $89 annual fee and you’ve got one heck of a card.
» Learn more: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards
Book meetings or business hotel rooms through IHG Business Rewards
The IHG Business Rewards program allows you to earn points into your own personal account when you book rooms, events and meetings for others. You’ll earn 3 points for every $1 spent every time you book room, events and meetings, with no minimum qualifying spend. Points also count toward your personal IHG elite status.
If you work in a job where you can book rooms or event space for others, this could be an easy way to rack up tons of points for rooms you’re not even personally staying in.
Sign up here to enroll in the IHG Business Rewards program.
IHG + Hertz
As a member of the IHG program, you’ll get two benefits when you book an IHG car rental with Hertz. First, you’ll get a discount of up to 35% off base rates for the car rental. Second, you’ll get 1,500 or more points with each rental.
One-day IHG Hertz rentals earn 1,500 points, and each additional day earns another 500 points on top. If you’re a Spire Elite IHG member, you will even get Hertz Gold Five Star elite status.
And yes, Hertz plans to be around for a while. The company says its recent bankruptcy filing was a way to restructure its debt as it continues with business in the age of the pandemic and beyond.
Eat at IHG Rewards Club restaurants
If you eat out with any regularity, chances are you’ll come across a restaurant that participates in the IHG dining program. Simply by linking your credit cards, you’ll be able to automatically earn points and miles for every dollar you spend at the restaurant.
The best part is that you don’t have to do this in conjunction with any stay. Tonight, you could head out with your friends or family and earn points on a restaurant.
To make sure that you’re eating at a participating restaurant, head over to their page and search for restaurants in your area. There, you’ll see all the spots that will allow you to earn extra points with your meal. Chances are that your favorite neighborhood restaurant is on the list.
To sweeten the deal, if you spend $30 in the first 30 days (and complete your online review), you’ll earn an additional 1,000 bonus IHG rewards on top of anything you would normally earn at that restaurant.
» Learn more: Your guide to earning bonus points with hotel promotions
Order food through the IHG Grubhub portal
Food delivery app Grubhub has a deal with IHG where they’ll deliver food to IHG hotels in the U.S. Of course, they’ll deliver to your home (or practically anywhere else in an area they serve), too.
Through Grubhub’s partnership with the hotel group, you'll earn 500 IHG points on your first Grubhub order, then 250 points for every order after that. That’s not a bad deal on your meal, considering we value 500 IHG points at about $4.50 and 250 points at $2.25.
Go to the IHG Grubhub page and enter the hotel's address. You’ll see the restaurants that will deliver to where you’re staying.
Buy Apple products
If you’ve got some Apple product purchases in your future, you might as well earn some extra points as a perk.
Now for every iPad, iMac, MacBook and iPhone that you buy (up to five) you can earn 4x IHG points. Head over to this dedicated page first, enter your email and IHG number, then shop.
The bottom line
The best way to earn and redeem IHG points is through hotel stays. But that’s not always feasible. You might transfer your IHG points to a frequent flyer program if you need the miles to book a flight.
Transferring points elsewhere is almost never the best use of IHG points if your goal is to get the maximum dollar value. However, it can make sense under the right circumstances. If you need a few more points in another program to take advantage of a great redemption, or if you just don’t see yourself staying at an IHG hotel anytime soon, you might as well transfer them somewhere where they won’t collect virtual dust.
Meanwhile, look to IHG’s partnerships to quickly accrue more points. Ordering food through IHG’s Grubhub portal is a way to slowly build up your balance. And while it’ll take a whole lot of takeout to amount to a free IHG hotel room, it’s not a ton of effort and is almost always worth the extra step. Pay attention to the brands you’re renting cars from or ordering food at, as those can also offer easy, low-effort ways to build up your IHG points balance.
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 2021, 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