IHG One Rewards

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Basics to IHG One Rewards Program

 

IHG One Rewards is the loyalty program for InterContinental Hotels Group, or IHG for short. It has been the black sheep of the major hotel loyalty programs, but it recently went on a revamp that has made major improvements and bring a lot more value towards its loyal customers. Currently, IHG One Rewards has become my secondary hotel loyalty program to compliment my main program, Marriott Bonvoy when I need a mid-to-upper-tier hotel stay compared to ultra-luxurious ones.

 

How to Earn IHG One Rewards Points

Earning IHG points can simply be earned by staying at IHG properties. You’ll be rewarded with the base 10 points per dollar spent excluding taxes and fees.

Having elite status grant you bonus points on top of the base points.

  • Silver Elite: 20% bonus points
  • Gold Elite: 40% bonus points
  • Platinum Elite: 60% bonus points
  • Diamond Elite: 100% bonus points

 

IHG One Rewards Credit Cards

Earning points is also possible through spending on co-branded credit cards issued by Chase:

The cards with annual fee gets you annual free night certificate worth up to 40,000 IHG points. It can be topped up with unlimited amount of points, which is more flexible than ones you’d get from Marriott or Hyatt.

 

IHG One Rewards Bonus Points Sale

IHG also consistently offer 100% bonus points sale throughout a calendar year that makes it worth buying IHG points towards your future IHG stays. You’d be effectively pay 0.5 cents per point where a fair value of IHG points would be around 0.65 cpp.

 

How to Redeem IHG One Rewards Points

IHG One Rewards Points are redeemable for hotel stays under the IHG brands. IHG mostly consist of mid-range to upscale hotel brands with few promising luxury brands like Six Senses, Regent, and its flagship InterContinental.

IHG Brands
IHG Brands

IHG One Rewards run on dynamic pricing model, but a fair value for redemption would be around 0.65 cents per point without the 4th night free benefit. This makes the constant 100% bonus points promotion that IHG run throughout a calendar year worthwhile to take advantage of.

 

4th Night Free

IHG credit card holders (only US-issued cards) can get the 4th night free when they book any IHG properties on points for 3 consecutive nights. This feature alone can make getting an IHG credit card very worth it as it would increase the value of IHG points. Also, it’s an easier threshold to reach compared to Marriott or Hilton’s 5th night free when booking hotels on points for 4 consecutive nights.

Yes, even the no annual fee IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card comes with the 4th night free benefit.

 

IHG One Rewards Elite Status

IHG has 4-tier elite statuses above the base membership.

IHG One Rewards Status Tiers
IHG One Rewards Status Tiers

IHG Platinum appears to be the sweet spot status for the IHG One Rewards program as it introduces room upgrades including suites, subject to availability. It is easily attained by having the Chase IHG One Rewards Premier (personal or business version). Alternatively, IHG Platinum can be bought for $200 by buying InterContinental Ambassador.

Earning Diamond will be challenging as there are no shortcuts provided by credit cards. It’s also the only status in IHG that gives free breakfast. However, you may want to keep a lookout on targeted promotions like buying Elite Qualifying Points at the end of a calendar year to reach Diamond. Make sure to weigh down the cost and your plan of stay for the upcoming year.

IHG status will apply immediately after reaching the requirements and will expire at the end of the following year on December 31st. Renewing will of course extend it to the next year.

 

InterContinental Ambassador

IHG has a sub-loyalty program specifically for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts with their Ambassador Program. InterContinental Ambassador can be bought for $200 or 40,000 IHG points that’s valid for 1 year. Sometimes, there may be promotion of bonus points to incentivize you to sign up for the Ambassador program. Renewals may also come with promotions as well in form of IHG points.

InterContinental Ambassador comes with special benefits that only applies to InterContinental Hotels & Resorts like:

  • IHG Platinum Status
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
  • Guaranteed one category room upgrade
  • 20 USD food & beverage credit per stay
  • Complimentary Weekend Night

 

Royal Ambassador

Royal Ambassador is the next and final tier of InterContinental Ambassador. It’s an invite only program for InterContinental Ambassadors after meeting a secret requirement, which mainly consist of money and/or nights spent at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in a calendar year. Royal Ambassadors come with all Ambassador benefits with further enhancements like:

  • IHG Diamond Status
  • Guaranteed 10am early check-in
  • Waived destination fees
  • Club InterContinental Lounge Access, or free breakfast if there’s no lounge
  • 50 USD food & beverage credit per stay
  • Invitation to Kimpton Inner Circle

 

Kimpton Inner Circle

Kimpton Inner Circle is the sub-loyalty program for Kimpton Hotels. If one is a Royal Ambassador, then they would also be invited to the Kimpton Inner Circle. Unfortunately, the requirement to get invited to Kimpton Inner Circle is just as dubious as Royal Ambassador, though it heavily implies to be quite hefty as you need to be at least IHG Diamond to be invited. Still, Kimpton Inner Circle will enhance your stay as IHG Diamond with added benefits that only apply to Kimpton hotels.

The benefits of Kimpton Inner Circle are:

  • Guaranteed 1 category room upgrade
  • Guaranteed 10am early check-in and 4 pm late check-out
  • Waived destination fees
  • Personalized amenities
  • Free night at participating newly opened Kimpton hotels
Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo Breakfast
Breakfast at Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo

IHG One Rewards Milestone Rewards

IHG has milestone rewards whenever you reach certain threshold of stays in a calendar year, starting from 20 nights. You’ll receive more milestone rewards after every 10 nights from then on until you reach 100 nights in a calendar year.

Amount of NightsChoices
20One of the following:

5000 points

2 food & beverage credit

1 confirmable suite upgrade
30One of the following:

5000 points

2 food & beverage credit
40Two of the following:

10000 points

5 food & beverage credit

1 confirmable suite upgrade

annual lounge membership
5010000 points

5 food & beverage credit
6010000 points

5 food & beverage credit
70Two of the following:

10000 points

5 food & beverage credit

2 confirmable suite upgrades

annual lounge membership
80One of the following:

10000 points

5 food & beverage credit
90One of the following:

10000 points

5 food & beverage credit
100One of the following:

10000 points

5 food & beverage credit

 

Which IHG Milestone Rewards are worth picking?

Points bonus is typically the default pick when you’re picking the milestone rewards except for 20 nights milestone which would give you confirmable suite upgrade certificate that would improve your chances of suite upgrades. The confirmable suite upgrades work on both paid or award stays. Food and beverage credit may work out better for those who plan to not leave the hotel they stay at. Each credit is valued at $20.

Annual Lounge membership provides access to the physical space and amenities inside the lounge. Brands that may come with a lounge in IHG are Regent, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn at rarer times. However, the Annual Lounge membership does not include benefits outside of the physical lounge space on Regent or InterContinental like free pressing, airport transportation, etc.

 

Transfer IHG Points Between Members

Transferring IHG points to other members can be done for free for IHG Diamond or IHG Business Rewards members. Members can receive up to 500,000 IHG points in a calendar year.

While getting IHG Diamond is challenging, IHG Business Rewards is far easier to achieve as it’s free to sign up for it.

Don’t let the Business Rewards name scare you into thinking that you won’t be qualified. The eligibility rules in the Terms & Conditions are self-explanatory.

IHG Business Rewards Eligibility
IHG Business Rewards Eligibility

Without IHG Diamond or Business Rewards membership, you’d have to pay $5 for each 1000 points transfer which can get very expensive, so make sure to sign up for Business Rewards before transferring points!

 

AAA & AARP Rates

IHG supports both AAA & AARP rates for discounts on your stays that come with flexible cancellation policy. The discounted rate will differ depending on the hotel, and sometimes AARP will have better rates than AAA and vice versa. It’s good to have both membership as both are pretty cheap and can potentially bring great return on investment.

 

Conclusion

These are the key basics you need to know about the IHG One Rewards program. The 4th night free is one of its strongest potential benefits to get and is a good incentive to get the IHG credit cards. This can be compounded with the fact that IHG constantly runs 100% bonus points promotion that allow you to stack the benefit.

IHG has vastly improved its program, though its top-tier status still couldn’t compare to other programs’ top status like Marriott Platinum, or even Hilton Diamond. While their luxury portfolio is not as vast as other programs, they can provide good value towards mid to upscale stays. IHG One Rewards can be a good fit for solo travelers, or for those who likes to leverage constant generous promotions for greater value.

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