Bits: IHG 100% ‘buy points’ bonus, Amex Plat adds more lounges, Hilton Japan flash sale

News in brief:

100% IHG Rewards Club ‘buy points’ bonus – three days only

IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – has brought back its ‘100% buy points bonus’ promotion.  It is as generous an offer as you will ever see for IHG points.

The page to buy points is here.  The deal runs until midnight New York-time on the 19th.

Here are the standard purchase rates which do NOT include the bonus:

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $12.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points

You receive a 100% bonus with any order of 5,000 points or more.  With a 100% bonus, you would be able to buy 120,000 IHG points for (at current exchange rates) £535.  This assumes your credit card has 0% FX fees.

Here are a few examples of how this deal may work.

At the top end of the IHG Rewards Club portfolio, you have InterContinental properties which top out at 50,000 – 60,000 points per night. That’s what you would pay for InterContinental Le Grand in Paris or the InterContinental Amstel in Amsterdam.

With a 100% bonus, IHG is effectively selling you a night at a 50,000 point property for £223 all-in.  A 60,000 point hotel would be £268.  At the bottom end, the points for a 5,000 point PointBreaks night would cost just £23.

The continual devaluation of some top IHG properties into the 60,000 points category makes this offer less generous than it was.  The fall in the value of the £ also makes this deal worse – although if you are redeeming for hotels in the USA or a ‘pegged’ country like the UAE it nets off.

The maximum number of points you can buy per year is 120,000 (ie 60,000 plus the 60,000 bonus).

You can buy via this link.

InterContinental Times Square

American Express Platinum adds new lounges

If you have an American Express Platinum charge card, you can benefit from a new deal signed with ‘Escape’ lounges, the small airport lounge company owned by Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

As well as the ‘Escape’ lounges in its UK airports, MAG also operates Escape-branded lounges in the US.  These are at Minneapolis, Oakland and Bradley International (Hartford).

Effective immediately, these lounges can be accessed – with up to TWO guests – with an American Express Platinum card issued in any country.

Oakland will be of interest if you are looking at the Norwegian or British Airways services from Gatwick.  Aer Lingus is now serving Hartford.

Full details can be found here.

Conrad Tokyo sign

72 hour Hilton Japan flash sale

I wouldn’t normally mention a niche sale like this, but given the large volume of Japan coverage on Head for Points in recent weeks I thought it tied in.

Until 19th May (sale ends 2pm UK time), Hilton is offering 50% off Best Available Rate for various hotels in Japan.  This includes the Conrad Tokyo pictured above which I reviewed here.

Stays must be completed by 30th December.  Bookings are non-refundable so the discount is not genuinely 50% (a non-refundable room is always cheaper than Best Available Rate) but there will be some decent savings to be had.

Full details can be found on the Hilton website here.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Bits: Avios / Tesco competition, register for the new Starwood promotion
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  1. Whenever you redeem points for a stay you can buy 10,000 points for $70. Isn’t this a better deal?

    • mark E says:

      If you buy 5,000 points and get 5,000 points free , you pay $67.50 for those 10,000 points, so the 100% bonus deal is cheaper than the redemption deal.

    • Depends on timing of these offers, but if you redeem part points does the stay then count as a cash sale? Earning points, options for adding on a discounted breakfast, status perks being recognised? (question marks, as not sure of the answers!)

      • RussellH says:

        No, technically you are buying additional points and then using just points for the stay, not a points + cash purchase.

        So no points for the room, but you do get points at your normal rate for food and drink, plus your choice of welcome drink(s) or welcome points.

        Got my first weekend stay towards my accelerate target this coming weekend – it will be interesting to see whether I get offered two free drinks, as I have done for my last three IHG stays, or whether I have to argue the toss!

        • Got it, its still a points booking, and not cash and points like other hotel schemes, oh well.

          On a few occasions i have had to haggle to get 2 drinks vouchers and not just the 1 that was offered.Then there was the time the bar was closed for a private function, took a ‘negotiation’ to be served

          Best benefit of having IHG Spire was the time i was in the process of being checked in and someone tried to push in waving a gold IHG card, she was asked to wait, then the member of staff thanked me for being Spire etc etc.

          One time was in KL where i was queued up at check in and a member of staff basically asked what i was doing there (dont think my flip flops matched the decor, and it was a points run for accelerate) and then wandered back behind the desk (ignoring me), queue the check in screen showing me as Spire and 3 members of staff trying to check me in, and the CS Supervisor giving me her business card!

  2. Roger says:

    OT-Heathrow Rewards
    With new account opening (Assuming it takes simple phone call to transfer HR points to my main account from a new account opened for this offer), if I spend £150 for Currys/PCW GC at Dixons Travel would I get 3000 HR points?

  3. Can’t you already use escape lounges via Priority Pass which you get with the Platinum card?

  4. James says:

    Will platinum Amex have priority over PriorityPass and lounge club? Often at stansted there is a sign saying near capacity and currently not accepting lounge club or PriorityPass

    • Can’t use those in the US Escape lounges (if you could, it wouldn’t have been much of a benefit!)

  5. Genghis says:

    How does one gain entry to the Escape lounges with Amex Plat? Is the card swiped or not (nudge nudge wink wink)?

    • Doubt anyone has tried it yet. For security reasons I doubt it is swiped.

    • The last time that I was in the manchester lounge it was all done on paper. The front desk said that they were expecting an upgrade of the systems though, so before the upgrade you will be fine, after it is not sure.

  6. Mark e says:

    I’m considering upgrading my Amex Gold for Amex Plat. Does anyone know how long it would take for me to be able to take advantage of the upgraded Lounge Club benefits?

    • Genghis says:

      You get Priority Pass with Amex Plat. If you applied today and accepted straight away you’d likely have your PP physical card by Monday. If you have a trip sooner, others e.g. @Polly have reported getting login credentials then using the app.

    • mark2 says:

      We did it recently (deferred decision); I would say ten days max.

  7. Hilton Sale – i tried this out yesterday for the Tokyo Hilton (in December), and was offered the 50% rate, note taxes are added on at checkout. When checked against the Amex Travel website, Amex was cheaper – and that was before taking the £50 card offer available with Amex Travel.

    Lost all interest in using points with IHG, even with top status they fob you off with some strange ‘upgrades’ and then charge full cost for breakfast, as opposed to discounted rates offered when booking cash. IHG points are getting a bit like nectar points for me, my preference is now for Hilton (Diamond status and great status perks) or new found Marriott status thanks to SPG (good perks also, including breakfast or lounge access).

    • Brian says:

      Agree. Never really understood why this site is so positive about IHG, even if one can earn lots of points through promotions. Haven’t used my IHG points for ages, simply because other chains offer so much more in every respect.

      • Graeme says:

        I’d have to disagree, using those easily acquired points has given me more than £750 of quality hotel nights in Helsinki in the autumn. I’d be delighted to source my breakfast elsewhere and see a bit more of the city too..

        • its not just about breakfast, its about how they don’t provide status benefits when staying on points. It doesn’t compare well to Accor, Hilton or Marriott who have always provided me with full status benefits (whether they are supposed to or not). Also, at check in at IHG hotels in Asia the first thing they do is remind me that its a points stay and can’t provide a room upgrade! Therefore, whilst i have status with almost all other hotel chains it means IHG remains at the bottom of the list. Also, on cash stays IHG still don’t like to provide status benefits such as room upgrades, one paltry drinks voucher for 2 guests (!), no guarantee of lounge access.

        • Alex W says:

          For me I have always got the same IHG benefits whether redemption or cash – including room upgrade. The lack of breakfast is a bug bear but that’s regardless of cash or redemption. Alternative is go elsewhere, stay at a HIX or at IC and have your ambassador fruit plate for brekkie 🙂

          I agree though, Hilton and Marriott have been excellent, always free brekkie and usually an upgrade too. Accor though has been crap at recognising Plat status and I avoid them like the plague.

        • I’ll be blowing a stack of IHG points at The Strings, Tokyo. Granted I will save a small fortune when compared to cash! For this i don’t mind stepping out to the Dean and Deluca next door!

        • Graeme says:

          I hope you enjoy those stays, and don’t get me wrong, I know what you mean about recognising status. But for me the ease of accumulating a stack of points to redeem and have real cash savings drive my IHG loyalty. Like everything it’s horses for courses and differing priorities.

    • the_real_a says:

      Agree with IHG – although points are easy to acquire and typically i use them for low or mid range hotels outside of London. I’m not a big breakfast eater and certainly cannot justify £15 for a pastry although i do enjoy checking mails and taking a leisurely coffee in the morning. Thus i do value the free breakfast at hilton highly. Sometimes the cash price of a HI / HIE is outrageous in the places i need to be so the points are a real cash saving. £150 for the HiE in Swindon for example…

      • Graeme says:

        I assume you get the breakfast at HIE even on redemption, better not say its free after they were forced to remove that claim..

  8. I used the Hilton sale to book hotels for my upcoming trip in July. I booked the Hilton Tokyo for two nights, the Hilton Nagoya for one night and the Conrad Tokyo for two nights. All of these were good value versus best prices available elsewhere. I also wanted to book an airport hotel for my final night, but found that the Hilton Narita Airport, was more expensive than booking on (and would have worked out as more given the fees on paying in JPY rather than GBP).

    It’s also worth noting that I checked the prices on aggregator sites before the sale went live and they were higher than they currently are, so if you’re comparing the prices in the sale to those on the aggregator sites, it’s worth noting that they’re likely to revert higher once Hilton’s flash sale is over.

    • Harkirat says:

      I booked four nights at Tokyo Conrad and 3 nights at Okinawa Hilton for November and the value was much better than anywhere else I could find. Plus have Gold status via Amex Plat I will get the free breakfast and possible upgrade. I was think of cancelling my four nights at the Marriot for the Hilton in Osaka again in November and when I checked in the morning at 7AM the price was approx 20,000JPY per night and when I had made my mind by in the evening, the price was back up to 28,000JPY implying the price moves has more people take the offer. Indeed the Conrad in Tokyo for my dates now is about 20,000JPY dearer than when I booked yesterday.

      • Brian says:

        I think you will find that the increase in price is simply the hotel site’s cookies sneakily realising you are interested in the hotel and thus putting up the price. Happens all the time when you look at a hotel, but don’t book, then return to site later. If you use a different browser, you’ll probably find the price is as before.

  9. Fraser says:

    I looked at the IHG offer but am well off for points with them now, and to be honest the rate is not that good at the high end. I paid £750 cash for 4 nights at the Intercontinental in Sydney last month, but at 60,000 points per night, it would still be over £1000 in this offer – you’d need either a really expensive hotel or a really cheap one for it to make sense. I bought last year (for £475) but was then saving anywhere from £25 to £120 per night v the cash rate during Euro 2016 in France.

    One word of warning re the IHG Accelerate promotion. I completed ALL my targets last quarter, but for my final hotel night, the stay didn’t post. After I rang them, it posted after a couple of weeks – but the other targets (including a “bonus package” stay which this was) still didn’t post…despite the “bonus points” appearing on the account. They then disputed that I had made two bookings via the App and claimed they were via a mobile web browser, so do be careful – I did use the app but it seems some devices or mobile OS do not recognise as App stays and you may need to have a vigorous debate with them. They didn’t even recognise my F&B stay and needed me to scan and send the receipt from the hotel to prove I had completed this spend too.

    These promotions are great when they work, but having to spend a long time on the phone to get them to provide the points once you’ve done the required spend makes me rethink if it’s really worth the hassle versus my usual preferences of Hilton, Radisson or SPG where the upgrades are all better.

  10. Fenny says:

    Given my Accelerate targets for the quarter, I’m more interested in buying the points than trying to fit in with the requirements. I’ve not got any stays planned and most of my Accelerate targets require 2 weekend night together. I’m Gold to the end of the year anyway and will retain status if I go for the new CC, so unless I decide to go anywhere for my birthday, I CBA to manufacture stays just to hit the targets.

  11. Genghis says:

    IHG related. Has anyone stayed at the IC in Porto? Opinion? What’s recognition of SE and AMB?

    • NigelM says:

      Didn’t stay there, but a tip for Porto (we discovered a couple of days too late!) is to stick to bottled water 🙂

    • Genghis, we stayed at the IC Porto (using points) and received an upgrade of one level to a nice room overlooking the square. Unfortunately, there was a rock concert on the Saturday night (think it was the festival of St Joan). The hotel was small for an IC and service/ location was ok. We spent another 2 nights at the Crowne Plaza which was further out of town but were upgraded to the “Diplomat Suite”, possibly the best upgrade I’ve had on points. Give the IC a try but check for festivals…

  12. Does buying IHG points count towards activity to keep the account alive? Need activity on the account before the end of June, but not likely to get a stay in before then.

  13. Aliks says:

    OT , but does anyone know if JAL restricts avios redemptions on routes to Seoul (ICN)?

    I can see Narita NRT to Seoul ICN for 15,000 avios plus £45 return, but nothing available, ever for Kyoto KIX – ICN

  14. Damm, missed this 100% Bonus. Need points to part pay for room in August. Not sure how much I can max out my CC card spend. Any idea how often they do the 100% bonus? Not used one this year, so could max it out for IC stay.