For the past few years my strategy with IHG hotels is buy points when they are on sale for $5.00 per 1,000 points and book hotel stays with points rather than pay cash rates. I generally save 35% to 50% on the lowest flexible rate redeeming points for IHG hotels using IHG Chase MasterCard 4th night free benefit. On one or two night stays I usually save more than 20%. Even when earning 30 points per dollar on IHG hotel spend as a Diamond elite member, the 3,000 points earned on a $100 paid room night are only worth $15. I prefer a 20%-40% discount by redeeming points on a $100 per night IHG hotel rate.
IHG One Rewards has a summer 2023 promotion offering 2,000 points every 2 nights or 10,000 points every 4 nights for IHG stays worldwide through August 31, 2023. Members must choose only one of these offers when registering for this IHG promotion.
My general advice is simply buy IHG points for reward nights to get a better value room rate deal.
Cash vs. IHG Points rate comparisons
For this analysis I picked 5 hotels in five summer vacation destinations in the USA to compare cash rates to reward rates for a 2-night stay. Summer dates vary due to limited room availability at this time for these vacation destinations. Each of these rooms allow at least 4 persons so as to accomodate a family of 2 adults and 2 children or 4 adults with two beds.
- Anaheim, California
- Bend, Oregon
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Mackinaw Island, Michigan
- Savannah, Georgia
- Rate comparisons shown are for only two-night stays.
- All cash rates shown below include taxes and fees.
- One can assume if buying IHG points at $5 per 1,000 points is lower than cash rate shown for a 2-night stay in these hotel examples, then Chase IHG 4th night free stay will be even more favorable by another 25% or so savings.
- Points rates only apply to standard rooms, so this analysis is not valid for someone wanting a premium room at these hotels, like a larger room, specialty room or suite.
- For someone with IHG Diamond elite status and suite upgrade certificates, these factors weigh more heavily toward paid room nights than points room nights. Suite upgrades are only valid on paid nights.
Staybridge Suites Anaheim at the Park (2-night stay August 7-9)
Good to Know Tip – IHG Rate Calendar
Most of the hotels below did not have nights for points available on the first summer dates I chose. When there is no availability for an IHG hotel on the dates you pick, this provides a valuable opportunity to link to an IHG rate calendar showing points rates for other dates. Often I search for a date with no reward night availability so I can access the Points Rate Calendar and find when the lowest rates are available.
Better Deal: Points rate = 75,000 points = $375 to buy points at $5 per 1,000 points.
Cash Rate = $288 per night = $576 for 2-night stay in suite after taxes and fees.
Buying IHG points saves $201 on this stay for Staybridge Suites Anaheim at the Park.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bend South – Every weekend for Bend, Oregon is already booked for June, July and August.
Cash vs. IHG Points Comparison Holiday Inn Express Bend South
Better Deal: IHG Points rate = 40,000 per night = $200 per night x 2 nights = $400 to buy 80,000 points.
IHG cash rate = $285 per night = $570 for 2 nights.
Points save $170 on this 2-night stay at Holiday Inn Express Bend South. You would need to earn 34,000 points on stay to make cash rate a better deal.
There are several IHG hotels in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This town is close to the western entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Cash vs. IHG Points Comparison Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown June 27-29, 2023
Better Deal: IHG Points rate = 53,000 per night = $265 per night = $530 to buy 106,000 points.
IHG cash rate = $338 per night = $676 for 2 nights.
IHG Points save $146 on this 2-night stay at Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown.
*Note: The reason the 53,000 points rate is grayed out is due to my account not having 106,000 points at the moment. I redeemed 168,000 points last week for 8 nights in European hotels next autumn.
My plan is to replenish my IHG account buying IHG points during the June 2023 Daily Getaways sales by U.S. Travel Association.
Mackinaw City, Michigan
Cash vs. IHG Points Comparison Holiday Inn Express Mackinaw City July 18-20, 2023
Toss-Up: IHG Points rate = 49,000 per night = $245 per night = $490 to buy 106,000 points.
IHG cash rate = $281 per night = $562 for 2 nights.
IHG Points save $72 on this 2-night stay at Holiday Inn Express Mackinaw City.
As an IHG Diamond member I could earn 30 points per $1 paying the flexible rate with my IHG Mastercard for 10, 412 points on base rate $520.60 x (10 base points + 10 Diamond elite points) + 5,622 IHG credit card points + 2,000 points with IHG Earn 2K every 2 nights = 18,034 IHG points worth $90.
As an IHG Diamond member I could conserve 98,000 points ($490 value) by spending $562 while earning another 18,000 points to have 116,000 points for some other better value redemption.
The analysis favors redeeming IHG points for a base member only earning 5,206 points ($26 value) + 2,000 points ($10 value with IHG 2K for 2 nights) on $562 cash rate. Paying 98,000 points ($490 cost) is better than paying $562 to earn $36 in IHG points for $526 equivalent value. Using points saves $72 on cash rate, unless you want to conserve IHG points for another redemption or you have a plan to earn 10,000 points with 4 IHG nights this summer.
Kimpton Brice Hotel
Cash vs. IHG Points Comparison Kimpton Brice Hotel, Savannah July 18-20, 2023
Better Deal: IHG Points rate = 35,500 per night = $177.50 per night = $355 to buy 71,000 points.
IHG cash rate = $213 per night = $426 for 2 nights.
IHG Points save $71 on this 2-night stay at Kimpton Brice Hotel, Savannah. Still a 20% savings on cash rate when earning IHG points is not a consideration.
Bottom Line: I generally find buying IHG points at $5.00 per 1,000 points offers better savings than paying cash rates for most of my stays. This analysis ignores the benefit of 4th night free on points stays for Chase IHG Premier Mastercard members planning extended stays this summer.
Chase IHG Mastercard 4th night free is the benefit that allowed me to pick up 40 nights in 2022 and earn sevral IHG Milestone Awards like IHG lounge access through 2024 and 2 suite upgrade certifcates. Word of warning on suite upgrade certificates. Kimpton Brice offered the opportunity to buy bonus points per night when booking a cash rate.
Last December I was denied a suite upgrade when I applied my certificate to Hotel Indigo Krakow, Poland. The reason given was I had booked a bonus points package rate and that was considered a ‘hotel special rate’ preventing the use of the IHG suite upgrade certificate.
When it comes to the IHG Summer Promotion for 2,000 points every 2 nights or 10,000 points for every 4 nights, a leisure traveler on summer vacation is likely better off simply buying IHG points for $5.00 per 1,000 points during next month’s Daily Getaways sale and redeeming IHG points for award nights. USA and Europe hotel prices are insanely high this summer.