Jul142022

Outsized Value of IHG points on my 24 nights trip to Europe

My recent trip to Europe included 11 hotel nights in Portugal, 9 in Greece, 2 in Spain, 1 in Canada and 1 in California. 20 of those 24 hotel nights were at IHG hotels. 12 of those 20 nights at IHG were booked using IHG points after I arrived in Europe due to necessary changes to our travel plans resulting from airline travel mishaps and testing positive for Covid-19 in Greece. I canceled 13 hotel nights from my original bookings after arriving in Europe in what had been a well-organized trip itinerary altered on the spot as unforeseen circumstances forced us to change our travel plans several times during our trip.

I redeemed 243,000 IHG points for 20 hotel room nights in Portugal and Greece.

243,000 IHG points can be purchased through IHG for $1,215 through July 15 and again through Daily Getaways 2022 on July 18.

When you need a room fast

9 of the 20 IHG hotel room nights we booked occurred within an hour of hotel arrival due to immediate changes to our travel plans. In Greece, after hanging out all afternoon in and around the pools of the Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki drinking Mythos beer and dining on seafood salads, we took a video monitored rapid antigen test required for our return flight to Portugal the following morning. We were shocked to see our test strips turn positive. We had not been feeling ill at all.

After contacting the front desk staff at Hyatt, we were informed that we had to remain in isolation for at least the next 6 nights. We could stay there at the Hyatt resort for a nightly rate of 330 EUR or relocate and isolate in another hotel, as long as we left the Hyatt that evening. The high room rate and the high prices for food at about 100 EUR per day at the isolated Hyatt property helped me make my decision quickly. And I did not have 56,000 Hyatt points to burn on the spot, even if there were rooms available for points.

I opted to move to the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki in the city center for an 8 night stay at a points rate of 9,250 IHG points per night. IHG is selling points at the rate of $5 per 1,000 points for three days over the next week making the price of 9,250 points of $46.25 per night for our stay at the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki.

The other unplanned IHG hotel night was due to Air Canada losing our return flights reservation booking in their computer system. These were two round trip tickets I purchased in October 2021 for $461.07 each through the Air Canada website. After 2.5 hours waiting for a new ticket to be issued to make our flight to Montreal, we were only approved for a ticket reissue 25 minutes before the delayed flight departure time. There was no time to pass through security to catch the flight.

We were rebooked on Air Canada to fly the following day to Toronto, requiring a night in Lisbon (IHG points) and an additional night after landing in Toronto (Choice Privileges points) with our arrival in San Francisco scheduled two days later than our original ticket.


The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
    – Robert Burns, Scottish poet 1759-1796

Last October I pieced together our three week travel itinerary for a trip to Portugal assuming that staying in one country would be the smart thing to do since Covid restrictions and testing requirements could potentially increase the cost of travel for every country Kelley and I visited. As it turned out, by the time June 2022 rolled around, Portugal was one of the last countries in Europe to still have a negative Covid test requirement in place for vaccinated travelers from the USA arriving by plane.

Also, it turned out Portugal was the country with the highest rate of Covid-19 in Europe and second highest rate in the world for the two weeks prior to the start of our trip to Lisbon. Few people wore masks anywhere around Lisbon during our time there and many places were packed with tourists.

Greece was an addition to our travel plans to allow Kelley and I to retain our Aegean Airlines elite status. After spending more time in airport lounges this year due to flight delays compared to time on planes, maintaining Aegean Gold elite with Star Alliance Gold benefits seemed a wise investment. Four flight segments with 191.76 EUR round trip tickets Lisbon-Athens-Thessaloniki were all we needed to requalify for elite status. After missing our return flights to Lisbon due to Covid-19 isolation in Greece, the most economical way to get back to Lisbon was flying Aegean Airlines Thessaloniki-Athens-Madrid for $224 per ticket since Aegean flights back to Lisbon were running in the $500 one-way price range.

In a pinch, IHG points proved the most useful and economical of my hotel loyalty program options.

IHG points saved us nearly $1,200 off best available room rates at times of booking for the 20 nights I needed during our trip. I planned this trip last October and November 2021 and eight of the 20 IHG hotel nights we used were booked then. Several of the hotels I booked with points were no longer available during our trip or had doubled or even tripled in points cost by the time we were staying in Lisbon, Portugal.

The 243,000 IHG points I used for our summer trip can be replenished for $1,215 through the IHG points sale ending July 15 with another opportunity through the annual DailyGetaways sale on Monday, July 18. The advantage of the Daily Getaways sale is points purchased via that channel will not count against my annual purchase limit for points purchased through IHG/Points.com.

You can buy up to 500,000 points for $2,500 at $5.00 per 1,000 points during the current IHG points sale ending July 15.

You can buy up to 880,000 points during the Daily Getaways sale on Monday July 18 at $5.00 per 1,000 points.

My plan is to buy around 400,000 IHG points to replenish the points I spent on our summer trip and for other hotel stays during the past year. IHG is taking a prominent place in my hotel plans for 2022 and 2023 travel. I see many hotel deals in England, Netherlands and Poland that will provide significant savings on hotel stays making IHG my primary hotel rate savings program for the upcoming year of travel.

Breakdown of points costs for 20 IHG hotel nights in Europe

Below are the IHG hotels we stayed at on this trip with our cost in points and the room rates at the time we booked. Hotel reviews to come. This post is primarily about the opportunity to buy IHG points and the value I found in having IHG points for our summer 2022 trip.

Holiday Inn Express Lisbon Av. Liberdade – best location, smallest room.

Holiday Inn Express Lisbon Av. Liberdade – 4 nights at $60 per night.

  • 48,000 points with Chase IHG MasterCard 4th night free.
  • 2 Single Beds Room booked in October 2021.
  • 4-night room rate at time of booking was 631.95 EUR / $667.67 USD.
  • 48,000 points = $240.00 to buy this week.

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $427.67.

*NOTE: all hotel room rates in this post use the exchange rate: 1 EUR = $1.06 USD, which was the prevailing exchange rate during our trip.

Holiday Inn Lisbon has a rooftop wading pool. Largest of our IHG rooms in Lisbon.

Holiday Inn Lisbon – 1 night at $105 per night.

  • 21,000 points for one night.
  • King Bed Room booked 11 nights before stay.
  • 1-night room rate at time of booking was 168 EUR / $178.08 USD.
  • 21,000 points = $105.00 to buy points.

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $73.08.

Covid-19 isolation room at Holiday Inn Thessaloniki, Greece. Main regret was not booking two single beds. I’ll always remember this room for days of tuning out and turning on with Grateful Dead. Also, ordering online beer and food deliveries made isolation quite tolerable.

Holiday Inn Thessaloniki , Greece – 8 nights at $46.25 per night.

  • 73,000 points with Chase IHG MasterCard 4th night free rate.
  • Queen Bed room booked 1 hour before stay.
  • 8-nights room rate at time of booking was 624 EUR / $661.41 USD.
  • 73,000 points = $365.00

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $296.44.

Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport large room in airport hotel with great AC.

Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport – 1 night at $75.00.

  • 15,000 points IHG points rate.
  • 2 Queen Beds room booked 4 nights before stay.
  • 1-night room rate at time of booking was 92.68 EUR/$98.24.
  • 15,000 points = $75.00

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $23.24.

Hotel Indigo Madrid Princesa, great location, poorly working AC on hot night.

Hotel Indigo Princesa Madrid – 1 night at $105.00.

  • 21,000 points IHG points rate.
  • King Bed room booked 5 nights before stay.
  • 1-night room rate at time of booking was 142.53 EUR/$151.07.
  • 21,000 points = $105.00

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $46.07.

Holiday Inn Express Plaza Saldanha – fantastic AC on days when Lisbon topped 100 F, but only hotel room of our trip without a  refrigerator meant a lot of beer and food runs in the heat.

Holiday Inn Express Plaza Saldanha Lisbon – 4 nights at $52.50 per night.

  • 42,000 points IHG points rate.
  • 2 Single Beds room booked October 2021, then rebooked in February after price drop.
  • 4-nights room rate at time of booking was 458.81 EUR / $486.34
  • 42,000 points = $210.00

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $276.34.

Holiday Inn Lisbon Continental AC inadequate for 100 F. temperature and tiny TV. Nice hotel lobby and bar.


Holiday Inn Lisbon Continental – 1 night at $115.00.

  • 23,000 points IHG points rate.
  • King Bed room booked one hour before arrival.
  • 1-night room rate at time of booking was 156 EUR / $165.36
  • 23,000 points = $115.00

Hotel rate savings using IHG points = $50.36.

Total hotel rate savings at IHG hotels for 20 nights with room rates totaling $2408.17 dropped to $1,215.00 using IHG points. The ability to buy IHG points at $5.00 per 1,000 points for points stays compared to lowest available rates for hotels at time of booking saved $1,193.17 on these 20 hotel nights in Europe.

Our nightly hotel rate was only $60.75 for 20 nights with IHG in Portugal, Greece and Spain for June and July 2022 hotel stays. 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. Either Kelley is preternaturally patient and understanding, or you left some intense parts of the story out.

    Congratulations on your recovery! Both the trip and the virus, that is.

  2. I did a lot of bitching on Twitter the past month. I did not want to launch in a tirade as my initial post-vacation article on Loyalty Traveler.

    Detailed intense parts of our trip to come as I write articles about delayed flights, canceled flights and more delayed flights, Flixbus, sleeping on an airport floor, and living in isolation for a week in a hotel bed too small for the two of us. We have a California King at home and can turn over in bed without whacking each other.

    I don’t want to minimize Covid-19 impact for others. Our symptoms were relatively mild. I had a scratchy throat for about 48 hours and developed a cough that is only subsiding in the last couple of days after nearly three weeks. Kelley had milder symptoms, and her viral load looked to be far less based on the color of the stripes on our Covid-19 tests.

    Kelley and I both had our second booster vaccinations in April 2022. We were also good about wearing our masks inside buildings, in airports and on planes, except when eating and drinking during all the hours in the airport lounges and Holiday Inn Express hotel breakfast room during our first 4-night stay in Lisbon. Those places were very likely hot spots where we picked up Covid-19.

  3. Once you factor in the points and the cashback you could have earned, this becomes a bit less impressive. Can also combine with MasterCard 15% off rate.

    I am looking at 4x points from the promo (from night 15+), double points from Diamond status, 6% cashback (on portals such as topcashbackDOTcoDOTuk), plus a few extra percent off the room rate with the MC promo.

    In consequence, I see little value in buying points right now (especially with me being EU-based and the exchange rate in the crapper).

  4. @John – No doubt there is a good opportunity to pick up 106,000 IHG points this summer if you are spending $3,500 or so with most of that spend after staying 14 nights. As a Diamond member you can be earning 60 points per $1. This is one of the best IHG points earning promotions in several years.

    Points work out better for me since they are promotion independent opportunities for discount hotel stays with IHG.

    Assume I paid for the 20 nights at European IHG hotels listed in this article for $2,400. To keep math simple, assume each night cost $120 USD.

    $2,400 in room rates drops to $2,040 after 15% with Mastercard discount for EMEA hotels.
    6% cash back portal gives a rebate of $122. Out of pocket I pay $1,918 for 20 nights.

    My points earning rates are based on $2,040 in IHG hotel spend for 20 hotel nights = $102 per night. Again to keep math simple I’ll assume each hotel night earns points based on $102 room night.

    I am a Platinum elite (from Chase IHG Mastercard) earning additional 6 points per $1 on IHG spend.

    IHG Mastercard payment earns 10 points per $1 = 20,400 points.

    4x Promotion earnings:

    Night 1 = $102 spend = 1,632 points.
    10 base points per $1 on $102 room night = 1,020 points.
    Platinum elite 6 points per $1 = 612 points.

    Nights 2-5 = $408 spend = 13,608 points.
    4,080 base points.
    2,448 Platinum elite points
    4,080 (2x bonus points)
    3,000 (Mastercard bonus for 3 nights as part of 4x promotion)

    Nights 6-14 = $918 spend = 36,048 points.
    9,180 base points.
    5,508 Platinum elite points.
    18,360 (3x bonus points)
    3,000 (Mastercard bonus for 6th night as part of 4x promotion)

    Nights 15-20 = $612 spend = 28,152 points.
    6,120 base points.
    3,672 Platinum elite points.
    18,360 (4x bonus points)

    Total points earned on $2,040 IHG spend = 99,840 points.
    Actual spend – $1,918 after cash portal rebate.

    100,000 points cost $500 to buy.
    My 20 IHG hotel nights cost $1,215 to buy with 243,000 points.

    I still save $200 simply paying $1,715 to buy 343,000 points. Pay 243,000 points for my 20 hotel nights without consideration to significant rate discounts, cash back portals and lucrative IHG points earning opportunities. And I have 100,000 points available to book future stays.

    Reward nights are available for me to book now at good rates I see now with IHG points and 4th night free Mastercard rate.

    At a fixed rate of $5 per 1,000 points redeemed I can compare hotel cash and points rates and build my travel plans around places where I see good deals using points and lock in my room rates now. Promotions and rate discounts are unlikely to be a better value for my low spend travel style. And if they are I have that option to change my points booking to cash rates at the time I see a better value deal.

  5. IHG is offering great value in Japan now also. I booked IC in Osaka and Tokyo at slightly over 1.2 cpm for our March 2023 trips.Of course Japan might not be open by then but let us see 🙂

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