All the Free Travel Perks You Can Earn As an IHG Rewards Club Member (Video)

Like airline miles and credit card points, hotel points are an essential part of any traveler's loyalty strategy, whether you spend a few nights (or a few dozen) in hotels each year.

You can earn and redeem hotel points for stays around the world, but many hotel companies also field co-branded credit cards that help you rack points up even faster, enjoy elite-style benefits during your stays, and even receive free anniversary nights in some cases.

With over 5,700 hotels in nearly 100 countries across the globe, InterContinental Hotels Group is one of the largest hotel companies in the world. Here's how to make the most of its rewards program.

What is IHG Rewards Club?

InterContinental Hotels Group is a massive entity that now comprises 16 distinct brands under its umbrella.

Its luxury labels include InterContinental Hotels themselves, plus Regent Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which it recently acquired (and which has not yet joined the loyalty program). IHG's boutique brands include pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, quirky Hotel Indigo, and fitness-focused EVEN Hotels. The workhorses in its stables include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn's various iterations, and Candlewood Suites, among others.

Regent hotel
Courtesy of IHG

IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty program for all of them. Though it might be hard to keep track of so many different chains at first glance, in the end, it means it is easier than ever to earn IHG Rewards Club points wherever you happen to be traveling in the world, no matter what type of budget you have.

How to Earn IHG Rewards Club Points

The fastest way to earn IHG Rewards Club points is to stay at associated hotels. Members earn 10 base points per dollar spent on room rates and other purchases like dining and spa treatments at all of IHG's brands except Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites, where you only earn five points per dollar. IHG Rewards Club points expire after 12 months of no account activity, so you must either earn or redeem every year to keep your points alive.

To help with that, members can earn even more points on everyday spending with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase. Its sign-up bonus varies, but usually ranges from 80,000 to 140,000 points, which is enough for several free nights at most of the company's hotels, and nearly enough for two nights even at top-tier luxury properties like the InterContinental Hong Kong or the InterContinental Paris – Le Grand.

The card earns 10 bonus points per dollar on IHG purchases and two points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. It earns a single point per dollar on everything else. Every year you renew it and pay the $89 annual fee, you receive a certificate that can be redeemed for a free night at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night. Cardholders enjoy automatic Platinum elite status with perks like room upgrades and bonus points, and can take advantage of a fourth night free on award stays of four nights or more, which is a generous discount. The card waives foreign transaction fees and will even reimburse you for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years.

As a last resort, you could consider purchasing points, which normally costs $13.50 per 1,000, but this pricing is exorbitant, so avoid it if possible.

How to Redeem IHG Rewards Club Points

IHG Rewards Club members can redeem their points in a variety of ways, including for hotel stays. Free award nights mostly cost between 10,000 and 70,000 points each, depending on the hotel. For example, the Holiday Inn Amsterdam costs 30,000 points per night (instead of $130 to $280), while the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa costs 70,000 points per night (instead of around $1,150).

Sometimes rates that are a combination of cash and points are also available. A night at the InterContinental Sydney, for instance, costs around $250 to $500, or 65,000 points. But there are also options to reserve it for 60,000 points plus $30; 55,000 points plus $60; 50,000 points plus $89; or 45,000 points plus $115, in case you want to spend a little cash and save some points for a later redemption. This type of mixed redemption does not tend to yield a lot of value for your points, so it's better to reserve a stay either all with cash or all with points.

Aside from award nights, IHG Rewards Club members can redeem points for gift cards, digital entertainment such as eBooks and movie rentals, or merchandise including golf equipment, kitchen appliances and magazines. However, you only get around $0.25 to $0.05 in value with such redemptions, so don't be tempted.

IHG Rewards Club Partners

IHG Rewards Club has several interesting partners for both earning and redeeming points. The program is a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer points at a ratio of one Ultimate Rewards point to one IHG Rewards Club point instantaneously, which is a fast and simple way to top up your account. Note that you cannot transfer IHG Rewards Club points back into Ultimate Rewards points.

IHG Rewards Club members can also score discounts and bonus points by booking car rentals through one of the program's agency partners and applying IHG-specific coupon codes.

By booking an activity through the IHG Trip Extras portal, such as guided tours and day excursions, you can earn 1,000 bonus points. Members who sign up for the IHG Rewards Club Dining program can earn 1,000 bonus points for spending $30 within 30 days at any of the thousands of participating restaurants around the country, and then earn between one and eight points per dollar on dining after that.

Members can convert IHG Rewards Club points into airline miles with 40 partners including Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United. The conversion ratio with most airlines is 10,000 IHG points to 2,000 airline miles, so you are spending five hotel points for every airline mile you end up with.

Alternatively, members can opt to earn airline miles with over 40 partners instead of hotel points on their stays. As an example, you could earn two American Airlines AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at most IHG hotels, or 500 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles per stay.

Elite Status Tiers and Benefits

IHG Rewards Club members who spend a certain number of nights at IHG properties each calendar year can earn elite status, which confers benefits such as room upgrades, in-room spa credits at some properties, bonus points-earning opportunities, free drinks, and more. Paid stays as well as award nights count toward elite qualification.

The program currently has three levels of elite status, starting with Gold, which you earn by staying 10 qualifying nights or earning 10,000 elite-qualifying points ($1,000 hotel spending). Gold status confers 10% bonus points on stays, late check-out, priority check-in lines and a welcome amenity.

The next tier is Platinum status, which is earned with 40 qualifying nights or 40,000 base points ($4,000 at IHG hotels) in a calendar year, but is also a standard benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Members at this level earn 50% bonus points (so 15 points per dollar spent at hotels), plus a better shot at room upgrades, guaranteed room availability 72 hours out, and the ability to rollover elite-qualifying nights above and beyond the elite tier you earn from one year to the next to get a jump on your status in the following year.

The top tier is Spire Elite, which requires spending 75 nights or earning 75,000 points ($7,500 spend) in a calendar year. At this level, you enjoy 100% bonus points on stays (so 20 points per dollar), the best chance at room upgrades, and better check-in amenities.

As an IHG Rewards Club member, you can also purchase InterContinental Ambassador membership for $200 or 40,000 points per year to enjoy benefits specifically at the 200 or so InterContinental Hotels & Resorts around the world. The perks for this program include a guaranteed one-category room upgrade, one free weekend night on a stay of two nights or more each year, Platinum status with IHG Rewards Club in general, guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out, up to $20 in restaurant and bar credits for every stay plus a general 15% discount on food and beverage purchases.

Six Senses hotel
Courtesy of IHG

Pros and Cons of IHG Rewards Club

IHG Rewards Club has plenty of features to recommend it. The group's global footprint is enormous, with over 5,700 hotels around the world where members can earn and redeem their points. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase is also a great all-round travel rewards card thanks to its bonus earning potential and perks like a free annual award night plus Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement.

As for drawbacks, hotel awards can be expensive, ranging up to 70,000 points per night just for standard rooms. Although the company is beefing up its luxury portfolio with acquisitions like Regent Hotels and Six Senses, the bulk of its hotels are more middle-of-the-road options like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, which means you might not be able to redeem your points for world-class stays at aspirational properties.

Intercontinental hotel
Courtesy of IHG

How to Sign Up

Joining IHG Rewards Club is free and only takes a moment. Just being a member will get you complimentary internet when staying at IHG properties, so you might as well sign up here.

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