IHG recently introduced a 20,000 points purchase option for Points & Cash Reward stays at select hotels in the USA. This new 20,000 points option provides IHG credit card members with a limited time opportunity to buy points at the rate of $5.31 per 1,000 points, which is nearly a 54% discount on the regular minimum purchase price of $11.50 per 1,000 points through IHG Rewards Club.
This post provides a history of IHG Points & Cash rewards and how they have evolved since 2009.
IHG Points & Cash Reward changes since June 2009.
Ever since the introduction of IHG Rewards Club Points & Cash rewards, members have had the opportunity to buy points at discount rates compared to the normal purchase price of $11.50 per 1,000 points by booking a Points & Cash Reward, then canceling the reward stay. Million Mile Secrets dubbed this the ‘Points & Cash Trick’ back in 2011 and there were a number of people who slammed his post at the time assuming his blatant publicizing of the ‘trick’ to buy cheap points would get the option shut down. To the contrary, in an interview I did with Don Berg, IHG Vice President of loyalty in Oct 2013, I asked him directly about IHG corporate’s thoughts on people using the ‘Points & Cash Trick’ to buy cheaper points through IHG Rewards Club. His reply was something to the effect that there really was little concern about savvy members using this ‘travel hack’. In terms of the number of IHG points earned and burned worldwide among 70 million members, this Points and Cash Trick is a relatively obscure path to earn points used by a small subset of some of the most loyal members in IHG Rewards Club and readers who follow points and miles blogs.
Many of us in the travel blogging community knew about the ‘Trick’ from the time Points & Cash rewards were introduced in June 2009, but chose to keep it under the radar and Million Mile Secrets was one of the first blogs to blatantly advertise this feature with step-by-step directions.
When IHG Points & Cash Rewards started in June 2009 there was only the option to buy 5,000 points for $30 or 10,000 points for $60. The IHG loyalty program was called Priority Club back then. In November 2010 the first change was made raising the price of 5,000 points to $40 for Points & Cash Rewards. In May 2012 the price to buy 10,000 points increased to $70 and 2012 also saw an increase in reward night prices to a top level 50,000 points. This meant some IC hotels went up 46% in the cost to buy points using the IHG Points & Cash trick from $240 for a 40,000 points hotel to $350 for a 50,000 points hotel.
Nothing really changed with IHG Points & Cash until December 2015 when the option to buy 15,000 points was introduced and not surprisingly, the top end IHG 60,000 points standard reward night was implemented in February 2016 for a select group of InterContinental Hotels.
IHG Rewards Club Adds Points & Cash Reward 20,000 points purchase option at select hotels
After writing a post yesterday on the summer 2016 Points & Cash 15% discount on cash portion for IHG MasterCard members, reader Jack alerted me to the fact there is now the option to buy 20,000 points for $125 at select hotels. I assume this change was introduced sometime in the past eight weeks, since nobody mentioned it in this May 12, 2016 post on FlyerTalk about 15,000 points option with Points & Cash rewards.
At this point in time the option to buy 20,000 points for a Points & Cash Reward stay only appears to be offered in select major USA cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston and a couple of hotels in Los Angeles. There are probably more cities offering this rate, however, I did not find this option in most cities I checked like Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando, San Diego or any city outside the USA after checking London, Paris, Athens, Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, Dubai, Toronto, Vancouver and more.
In Los Angeles the option to buy 20,000 points is not offered at InterContinental Los Angeles with 50,000 points standard rewards, yet it is offered for Holiday Inn Express at 30,000 points for a standard reward, making a Points & Cash night available for 10,000 points + $125 (only $106.25 with the current IHG credit card 15% cash discount promotion).
Holiday Inn Express – North Hollywood-Burbank offers 20,000 points purchase option for Points & Cash stay at 10,000 points + $125.
The current IHG Rewards Club credit card 15% discount promotion for reservations booked July 8-Aug 7 for stays completed by Sep 30, 2016 drops rate to $106.25.
IHG Credit Card Members Opportunity until Aug 7 to Buy Points for $5.31 per 1,000 points.
Which brings me to my final point and re-evaluation of the IHG credit card member promotion for 15% off the cash portion of Points & Cash rewards booked July 8 – August 7, 2016 for stays through September 30, 2016.
My primary point in yesterday’s analysis of the 15% discount offer is I did not find this a compelling deal for my summer IHG hotel stays in Europe already booked as Standard Rewards, since I can redeem 75,000 points and save my cash until I need more points and then buy them with the Points & Cash Trick. Since I did not explain it earlier in this post, the ‘Trick’ is simply booking a Points & Cash reward stay during which time you buy 5,000 to 20,000 points per night towards the cost of the reward stay. The points purchase is nonrefundable, so if you cancel your reward stay, all the points go back into your account. While I have never heard of anyone having their account closed for this ‘trick’, I’ll insert the caveat of ‘do this at your own risk’. I have used the ‘trick’ many times, but never abused it flagrantly to amass hundreds of thousands in cheap points. I buy points as I need them.
Using the Holiday Inn Express Burbank as an example hotel, I can book a 4-night Cash & Points reward stay for 40,000 points and $425. If I cancel that reward stay, then I get back my 40,000 points and the 80,000 points I purchased. I will have acquired 80,000 points for $425 which is a purchase rate of $5.31 per 1,000 points.
Normal purchases of points through IHG Rewards Club are limited to 60,000 points in a calendar year at the following rates:
- $13.50 per 1,000 points when you buy 1,000 – 10,000 points. ($13.50 – $135.00).
- $12.50 per 1,000 points when you buy 11,000 to 23,000 points.($137.50 – $287.50). [It is cheaper to buy 26,000 points than 24,000-25,000 points].
- $11.50 per 1,000 points when you buy 26,000 to 60,000 points. ($299.00 – $690.00).
Currently there are targeted offers for member purchases of IHG Rewards Club points.
My account shows a 100% bonus on purchased points by July 18, 2016.
This is as good a sale as IHG Rewards Club offers for points purchases. This bonus promotion has the added feature of allowing a member to buy up to 120,000 points since bonus points do not count toward the annual 60,000 points calendar year limit.
However, even with this big 100% bonus promotion, the cost to buy 80,000 points is $460 all-in at $5.75 per 1,000 points. The great value of the IHG Credit card Points & Cash bonus is the limited time opportunity until August 7 to use the Points & Cash trick and buy points at the rate of $5.31 per 1,000 points.
I have a feeling I will make my first ever reservation for my hometown InterContinental The Clement Monterey this summer.
InterContinental Monterey Points & Cash rate = 40,000 points + $106.25 per night.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Cash & Points Award Nights (June 20, 2009).
Loyalty Traveler – Priority Club Points & Cash Rewards are now $40 to buy 5,000 points (Nov 19, 2010).
Million Mile Secrets – Use The Priority Club “Points & Cash” Trick To Save 76% Off On Hotels (June 7, 2011)
View from the Wing – The IHG Rewards Club Cash and Points Trick Just Got Even Cheaper (Dec 29, 2015). [15,000 points option at $90 introduced.]
Loyalty Traveler – 18 InterContinental Hotels rising to 55,000 or 60,000 points Feb 17, 2016 (Jan 29, 2016).
Loyalty Traveler – IHG introduces Points and Cash copay variability (Feb 2, 2016).
Loyalty Traveler – Deal or Not? IHG Rewards Club 15% off Points and Cash stays July 8-Sep 30 credit card members (July 9, 2016).
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Promotions Guide
Hotel loyalty program points and miles promotions for Best Western Rewards, Club Carlson, Choice Privileges, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, Ritz Carlton Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Wyndham Rewards.