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With over 5,000 hotels and resorts worldwide, IHG is among the largest hotel programs in the world. Its diverse hotel portfolio and extensive footprint makes IHG One Rewards a valuable loyalty program for many travelers. Whether you're looking to use your points to stay in some of the top luxury hotels around the world or stretch your points to the max with cheaper redemptions, you'll find excellent options within the IHG program.
As with most loyalty programs, there are a few strategies that will help you maximize your rewards. Let's explore the best ways to get the most value from IHG points.
What are IHG points worth?
Before we jump into the best ways to redeem IHG points for maximum value, let's cover what IHG points are worth. We currently value IHG One Rewards points at 0.8 cent each.
Of course, everyone's “best use” depends on their own travel goals, but you can use this as a baseline value for what you should expect to get from your points.
» Learn more: IHG One Rewards: More value for the frugal traveler
Redeem IHG points for free nights
Whether you're looking to stay in overwater bungalows or budget hotels, redeeming IHG points for award nights (almost always) provides the best value. Award nights start at just 10,000 points.
Unlike other hotel programs such as Hilton and Hyatt, which offer upgraded room and suite award night redemptions, IHG only allows you to book standard rooms.
When booking an award stay, be sure to always compare the cash price of your stay to the points cost. As a rough guideline, you should aim to get at least 0.8 cent in value per point (based on our value above).
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with IHG hotels
Top off free anniversary night certificate redemptions
When you hold the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, you'll get a free night certificate each cardmember year valid toward a hotel night costing up to 40,000 points per night.
But what happens when the hotel you want is 42,000 points? The IHG One Rewards program is pretty generous when it comes to redeeming these things.
As of 2022, IHG lets cardmembers add unlimited points from their IHG One Rewards account to redeem the Anniversary Free Night at hotels above the 40,000 point level. Previously, if you used your certificate for a property that was only 38,000 points, that was 2,000 points of 'lost' opportunity cost. Now, you can max out the certificate's value. And while you might not booked something exactly at 40,000 points, you can book something that's more and use your remaining points to cover the rest — ensuring no point value is left on the table.
Get a fourth award night free
When you book a rewards stay of four or more nights, the price of the fourth night is free. Consider it a 25% discount when you book on points. That’s true whether you are redeeming points for a $50 budget hotel or a fancy $500 per night resort. And the benefit is uncapped, so you can use it as many times as you want.
IHG's fourth night free is also far more generous than competitors like Hilton and Marriott. For example, the Hilton Honors program offers a similar benefit for booking on points, but rather than fourth, it's fifth night free. Thus, you're only getting a 20% (versus 25%) discount when booking Hilton award nights, and your trip is less flexible as you'll have to stay at least five nights to take advantage of the deal.
Other ways to use IHG points
Although using IHG points to book free nights will almost always net you the best value per point, there are other options when it comes to using your points. These include:
Transferring IHG points to airline partners.
Redeeming points for gift cards.
Shopping IHG's online catalog of brand name products, jewelry or electronics using points.
In general, we recommend that you’re getting at least 0.8 cent per point in value. The reality is, though, that you won't. We only really recommend these redemption options if you really don't intend to stay at an IHG hotel anytime in the future.
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 2022, 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