Your Guide to Booking Award Nights With IHG Hotels
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With about 6,000 properties spanning more than a dozen brands around the world, IHG is a leader in hotels. Through its IHG One Rewards program, the company rewards its loyal guests handsomely. Thanks to a generous reward structure and bonus point promotions, frequent travelers can easily build a collection of points to cash in for free hotel stays. Even those who don’t travel as often can earn points through other avenues.
Once you’re ready to cash in your points for free nights, here is what you can expect from booking with IHG One Rewards points:
How many IHG points are needed for a free night?
While IHG One Rewards no longer publishes an award chart, members can cash in points for free nights starting at 10,000 points. There are no blackout dates, so you have many redemption options. How does this work? No matter what status member you are, if you have the points and they have availability, you can redeem your points.
IHG has more than a dozen hotel brands to choose from, including:
Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.
Holiday Inn Express.
Holiday Inn Hotels.
Holiday Inn Resorts.
Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
Six Senses is one of the newest brands to the IHG family, having been acquired in 2019 by InterContinental Hotels Group. While there are more than a dozen Six Senses properties worldwide, IHG One Rewards members currently are only able to earn and spend points on stays at the following locations (though more Six Senses properties will be progressively added to IHG's loyalty program over time):
Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand.
Six Senses Laamu, Maldives.
Six Senses Botanique, Brazil.
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam.
Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia.
Six Senses Fiji, Fiji.
How many IHG points will I earn on hotel stays and how can I use them?
IHG members earn 10 points per $1 spent at all hotels, except for Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. These properties earn 5 points per $1 spent.
Don’t have enough points for any of the categories? You can use a combination of points with cash, as long as you have a minimum of 5,000 points. You’ll spend a bit more as the categories rise, as shown in this example of booking a Category 11 property.
IHG’s brands span from budget properties to luxury, and you can redeem your points for some good options, if you do your homework.
For example, you can redeem points at the InterContinental Shanghai Pudong for 30,000 points per night, Mexico City for 35,000 points, Porto for 50,000 points, or New York City for 70,000 points.
Need more points? Loyalty is rewarded
IHG rewards loyal travelers with extra points. Base members earn 5 points per $1 spent at Candlewood and Staybridge Suites and 10 points per $1 at all other brands. If you reach elite status, you can earn bonus points when you stay at IHG properties. Here are the qualifications to reach elite status and the bonus points you'll earn:
For lovers of IHG’s luxe Intercontinental properties, Ambassador awards — which are given out annually to members who pay for an upgraded status tier called IHG Ambassador — can be used at over 200 properties around the world. Ambassadors receive IHG Platinum status, guaranteed room upgrades, as well as a $20 dining credit per stay.
Royal Ambassadors, an invitation-only status tier for IHG Ambassador members who spend and stay a ton with IHG, are provided two category room upgrades, club lounge access, $50 nightly minibar credit (up to $200 per stay) and a free night at InterContinental properties, to name a few...
If you need to plan an event, IHG One Rewards offers an additional 3 points per $1 spent — up to $60,000 — for booking event spaces or meeting rooms. This is a big incentive for those planning meetings, as it’s one of the highest returns for business spending in loyalty programs.
Earn more points with the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is currently offering a generous sign-up bonus in addition to accelerated point earnings: Earn 175,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
» Learn more: Find the best hotel credit card for you
This card charges an annual fee of $99, but it also gives you up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA precheck fee credits every 4 years. The card also grants you Platinum status, along with a free anniversary night and the fourth night free when booking with points.
Those who have an IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card also get the fourth reward night free. Essentially, this translates to a 25% saving on four-night bookings.
» Learn more: IHG Hotel Card review: Free nights on a silver platter
How else can you use IHG points? Let us count the ways
The best use of your IHG points is on hotel stays. However, if you have points to burn, there are other ways to spend your points.
IHG has partnerships with airlines, allowing you to convert your points to airline miles. Points will convert to most airlines at a rate of 10,000 points for 2,000 miles, including Delta, British Airways, American and United.
Outside of travel, IHG points can be used mainly for shopping, including:
Redeem points with IHG Rewards Club for kitchen tools, jewelry, magazines, electronics, sporting goods, apparel, gifts and more. IHG even offers DNA kits from Orig3n and 23andMe. There is also a category of rotating items available for 10,000 points or less.
Gift cards for nationwide retailers, such as Lowe’s, Best Buy, Target, AMC Theatres and Apple.
Donations of 2,500 to 10,000 points to nonprofits like Goodwill, American Red Cross, Care, Prince’s Trust and Youth Career Initiative.
One-of-a-kind Access experiences. From concert tickets to special events, you can redeem points for entertainment around the world.
Just keep in mind that these redemptions don't tend to deliver as strong of a value as using your IHG points on actual hotel room nights.
The bottom line
IHG properties are plentiful in popular travel destinations, and the awards are easy to comprehend. That makes them a worthy investment for travelers.
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