IHG Pointbreaks: One of the Best Kept Secrets in Travel

The IHG PointBreaks promotions are one of the best deals (and best kept secrets) in the world of travel. Here’s how it works: every quarter, the Intercontinental group releases a selected list of hotels around the world that are bookable with 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 points—a fraction of the normal rate.

The list usually includes 200+ hotels, distributed both geographically and across the range of IHG brands (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, etc.). The current batch of hotels are bookable through October 31, when a new roster will be announced. They range from modest establishments in far-flung locales to upscale accommodations in major cities. There are eight Intercontinental properties on the list this time around, including Cleveland and Miami Doral for 15,000 points. When you consider that IHG points are generally valued at half a cent each, that works out to $75 for a room at a top-flight hotel.

Is there a catch? Not really. You’ll have to be a member of the IHG Rewards Club, which is free to join. It helps to have travel plans to one of the destinations on the list, although there are times when the bargains will be tempting enough to inspire you to make those plans. And of course, you need some IHG points to spend. Let’s look at some of the ways you can collect them.

The fastest and easiest method of accumulating points is to sign up for the IHG Premier World Elite Mastercard from Chase. The hefty signup bonuses have ranged as high as 125,000 points recently, and usually hover around 80,000 for spending $2,000 in the first three months. The earning rates are impressive: 10 points per dollar at IHG properties (except for five points per dollar at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites), an additional 10 points per dollar for being a cardmember, and double points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. The card comes with Platinum status, which confers a host of benefits along with a 50% point bonus for stays. The annual fee is $89. One of the significant perks of the card is the ability to earn your fourth night free on award stays (compared to the fifth night free with either Hilton or Marriott).

Other methods of earning IHG points include:

  • Rent a car with Hertz and receive 1,500 for each rental, plus 500 points per day.
  • Sign up for IHG Rewards Club Dining, which is also free and gets you 1,000 points. When you register a card and visit a participating restaurant, you receive five points per dollar spent, and eight points per dollar starting with your 11th dining experience.
  • Buy new Apple products through IHG and be rewarded with four points per dollar spent.
  • Register for promotions such as the quarterly Accelerate, which gives members a targeted set of goals based on their travel patterns. Typical steps may include completing one or more stays, staying at two or more brands or purchasing points; completing all your goals can bring in as many as 40,000 points.
  • Speaking of purchasing points: IHG runs frequent promotions where you can buy points at a discounted rate, or with bonuses up to 100%.

In a pinch, Chase Ultimate Rewards points (earned on cards such as the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Plus Business) may be transferred to IHG. Given that Ultimate Rewards points are worth far more than IHG points, however, you’d probably want to save this one as a last resort.

No survey of IHG Rewards would be complete without a mention of the famous “points and cash trick,” which has existed for nearly a decade. When used properly, it allows you to purchase IHG points at a low rate (anywhere from $0.05 to $0.07 per point). Here’s how it works: when you make a points and cash booking, you’re effectively defraying some portion of the award rate with your cash payment. If you cancel that reservation, you won’t get the money refunded to you—IHG will rebate the full amount of the award points, as if your reservation had been booked at the regular award rate.

This allows you to “buy” the points at a discounted rate, but there are some caveats. For starters, you need to have the necessary amount of points in your account. You also have to double-check the cancellation policy, and (most importantly) remember to cancel the reservation by the required date. If you follow those simple safeguards, the results can be rewarding. Example: Book a room at the Intercontinental Atlanta for the weekend of January 10-12. The normal reward rate is 45,000 points, as opposed to 25,000 plus $115. When you cancel the reservation you’ll receive the extra 20,000 points for your $115, or 5.3 cents per point, which compares favorably to most of the point sales IHG offers on a regular basis.

Bottom Line: IHG PointBreaks are an excellent way to snag rock-bottom rates on selected hotels, and IHG points are relatively easy to earn. The next updated Point Break list comes out on October 31.

Source: frugal travel guy

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