Bits: 100% IHG buy points bonus (and prices cut!), Hainan to launch China to Ireland & Scotland, Cobalt Air to launch Athens

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News in brief:

IHG’s latest ‘100% buy points bonus’ ends tomorrow – and it has cut prices

IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – is running another flash sale this week for a 100% bonus when you buy over 5,000 points. It is as generous an offer as you will ever see for IHG points.

The page to buy points is here.

Interestingly, IHG has reduced the price at which it sells points.  This is logical, given the recent increases in redemption rates, but I have never seen anyone do it before!  The standard prices, before the bonus, are:

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points (price unchanged)
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points (was $12.50)
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $10 per 1,000 points (was $11.50)

The bonus rates are:

  • No bonus when you buy 1,000 – 4,000 points
  • 100% bonus when you buy 5,000 – 60,0000 points

With a 100% bonus, you would be able to buy 120,000 IHG points for (at current exchange rates for $600) £427.  This assumes your credit card has 0% FX fees.  This is substantially cheaper than the £515 it would have cost back in December – partly due to IHG’s price cut and partly because the £ has strengthened.

At the top end of the IHG Rewards Club portfolio, you have InterContinental properties which top out at 60,000 – 70,000 points per night. That’s what you would pay for InterContinental Le Grand in Paris or the InterContinental Amstel in Amsterdam pictured below.

With a 100% bonus, IHG is effectively selling you a night at a 60,000 point property for £213 all-in.  At the bottom end, the points for a 10,000 point PointBreaks night would cost just £36.

You should look at this if you have a ‘buy points’ target for your Accelerate promotion – although it makes more sense to buy 5,000 and get the bonus than buy 1,000 for no bonus.  If you are topping off your account, it is also a good deal irrespective of the exact cents per point cost.  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.  The offer ends TOMORROW, 22nd March.

Hainan Airlines to launch non-stop China flights to Ireland and Scotland

Later this year Hainan Airlines is going to connect Beijing to Ireland and Scotland with their first ever direct flights on this route.

Hainan Airlines will offer a four times weekly service Beijing-Dublin-Edinburgh-Beijing on Thursdays and Sundays and Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin-Beijing on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Before you ask, it does not seem possible to book Dublin-Edinburgh on its own.

The airline will launch the first flight on 12th June operating an Airbus 330-300.

Dublin Airport’s Managing Director Vincent Harrison said, “Hainan’s new Dublin-Beijing route links not just our two capital cities, but also our two countries. It is great news for tourism and trade and this improved connectivity will create new jobs throughout Ireland”.

In addition Hainan Airlines is launching thrice-weekly flights from London Heathrow to Changsha later this month with recent prices as low as £1,190 for a return flight in business.

Everyone who books a flight via the Hainan Airlines website by December this year will automatically get Silver Status in their loyalty scheme – though this will only be useful on Hainan Airlines flights as they are not part of a major airline alliance.

Cobalt Air Business Seat

Cobalt Air to launch London to Athens

Speaking of new routes, Cobalt Air has a new twice-weekly service from London Gatwick to Athens starting on 31st March.

Andrew Madar, CEO, Cobalt Air commented:

We are delighted to have this opportunity to widen our footprint in European aviation and commence direct London to Athens services at the end of this month. The travelling public has taken the relatively young Cobalt brand and its ethos to its heart. Our presence in Athens is already strong due to our existing services to Larnaca and Pafos from the Greek capital. We are very excited to bring additional competition and attractive fares to the London to Athens route.

The flights will be on Tuesdays and Saturdays with fares starting at £49.  Business Class is pictured above.

You can learn more about Cobalt Air on their website here.  Their full route map is 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.)

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Comments

  1. mark e says:

    Great article thanks , I cant recall seeing points this cheap to obtain before.

    I think that there is a slight calculation error in the article -10,000 point PointBreaks night would be nearer to £36 by my calculations .

  2. Michael says:

    O/T: Does anyone know if you cancel the Amex PRGC are the two loungeclub passes still valid?

  3. Does buying points count towards spire elite?

    Do accelerate points count towards spire elite?

    If i remember correctly are there bonus points for hitting spire elite?

    • Genghis says:

      No. No. Yes – 25k.

    • Hi John to answer your questions:
      – purchased points do not count towards status
      – accelerate bonus points do not count towards status
      – yes there is the option of taking 25,000 points or you can gift platinum status to a person upon achieving spire

      Off the top of my head only these count towards status:
      – base points earned via stays
      – bonus point packages
      – credit card spend
      – virgin points transfers

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi John to answer your questions:
      – purchased points do not count towards status
      – accelerate bonus points do not count towards status
      – yes there is the option of taking 25,000 points or you can gift platinum status to a person upon achieving spire

      Off the top of my head only these count towards status:
      – base points earned via stays
      – bonus point packages
      – credit card spend
      – virgin points transfers

      • Andrew says:

        Matt is correct about the bonus point packages – it can be a cheap and easy way to add points and status: I’ve been offered multiples of 1000 points for £5 at HIX when booking which is cheap for the points anyway and on top of that, status points for the 1000s too.

    • Credit card spend (not sign up bonus), Virgin transfers and hotels offering bonus points packages are the only way to get Spire credit. Last year I did it on card spend (tax bill), year before was Virgin transfer. This year may well be another Virgin transfer.

      • Alex W says:

        Or just renew ambassador and retain Spire that way…

        • Down the Back says:

          Hi Alex,

          I already have Spire and last year I bought ambassador, if I renew the ambassador this year are you saying I will retain Spire even if I haven’t stayed 75 nights ? If the answer is yes, is this how it is supposed to work or is it a bug ?

          Thanks

          DtB

        • ^ I would like to know the answer to this too!

        • Genghis says:

          It’s a bug I think. Spire year is calendar year. AMB year is 1 year from when you bought it. So assuming your AMB renews in November 18, you can renew AMB and you’ll retain Spire until November 19 without the 75 nights / 75k points.

        • I thought that had been fixed?

        • Down the Back says:

          It would be good if somebody could confirm the next time they renew Ambassador if the Spire status is changed for a year as well. I will not be able to confirm until Nov 18 as Genghis the psychic correctly predicted above 🙂

          Regards
          DtB

        • Where does it say when Spire runs out as I can’t find it anymore just Ambassador expiry?

        • I renewed Ambassador last month by paying $150. My account is showing both Spire Ambassador and Spire Elite “virtual” cards under Membership Materials and my account shows me as “You are Spire Ambassador”.

          My account also shows:

          IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite Benefits
          As a valued Spire Elite member, we want to thank you for your loyalty with selected benefits from IHG Rewards Club and our Partners.

          So, my Ambassador renewal also renewed Spire Elite. Interesting, the Spire Elite card has no expiry date but Ambassador shows Feb 2019.

      • Andrew says:

        Not forgetting you can also achieve Spire by actually staying at hotels for 75 nights, like I do.

  4. Andrew M says:

    It’s sad that we need to rely on foreign airlines to link our capital city to the rest of the world.

  5. Crafty says:

    Points to get 100% bonus must be targeted – I can have the bonus for buying only 5,000 or more

    • Ah – about to say that I don’t get the bit about ‘although it makes more sense to buy 5,000 and get the bonus than buy 1,000 for no bonus’ whereas further up it says no bonus for purchases below 20k. Maybe that’s something to do with it?

  6. Maciek says:

    The lowest I can see the flights to Changsha is 1400-ish…

    • I think the £1100 was a promo, we only mentioned it to flag up that they are willing to be aggressive and people may want to keep an eye on the route.

  7. That’s an interesting points price for some of the mid-range hotels in expensive cities, even – 120 k points would get you 3 nights in the HIX New York midtown, which can get up to £200 a night at peak times.

    Though I am never sure if it actually goes for that much when I see it priced like that for September at this time of year. Is that just to catch the people who absolutely must have a room booked now traveling on business? Will it actually drop nearer the time?

    Is the key to reasonably-priced New York hotel rooms booking early or late?

    • September is the peak business travel month as everyone kicks off in earnest post summer. Don’t expect deals.

      • Andrew says:

        Not just business travel.

        There’s all the Grandparents who have been spending the summer child-minding and are in desperate need of a break. Then there’s everyone who doesn’t have kids who are off as soon as the school holidays are over.

        • Yes, only looking at Sept right now because it’s off-peak for BA – got a LLoyds upgrade voucher and c. 65k avios, so enough for an off-peak Club to New York but not for peak. I’ll have a free night from the IHG mastercard but it won’t post until my card year anniversary, which is June sometime I think but I’m not sure when it’ll actually turn up in my account, and peak BA dates kick in after the first week in July. And of course you can’t book too last minute for reward nights or you run into availability issues.

          But if I drop £400-odd on IHG points now then I’m locking myself in to the chain and a redemption when I might be better off using that cash to pay for hotel nights directly – especially if there’s a good promo on.

          Hmmmm.

    • FlyingChris says:

      Also interested in knowing this. We’re got a 5 night trip planned for NY next April and thinking of using IHG as will have a free night voucher and 70k-ish of points to use already. Presumably in a city like New York will be hard to be out of pocket if purchased the max 120k for essentially an all in cost of £210 a night Vs cash prices (+taxes) for either a Kimpton or IC? What’s a realistic price for New York? Presumably reward nights you don’t pay the tax?

      • The ICs in New York are 70k points are night and so are most of the Kimptons – I think one of them shows up at 65k. So you’d still be short some points – though you could use points and cash.
        There doesn’t seem to be all that much availability for the Kimptons.

        • FlyingChris says:

          Reading on FT seems to be possibly an IT glitch not showing Kimpton availability at the moment – but clicking through they show availability on points. Still a year away so time to collect more IHG points to plug the gap – but in theory £210/night for buying (almost) 2 nights of points seems a good deal at these properties? Certainly don’t expect them to be any cheaper on a flex rate in April near Easter?

  8. Graham Walsh says:

    Just looking at Dubai for example with IHG points offer, IC hotels, they are only 45k a night or £158 peak season, so not great value buying saying 45k plus 45k bonus as you are looking at £183 with the points. Really need a 50-60k property to make it work I guess.

  9. Rob, I know this is from Mail Online, the home of rubbish travel stories but…

    Thai’s found a pretext for banning obese people from business.

    Terrible if you’re sitting in economy and they end up beside you, admittedly.

    And, yes, I know some people have medical conditions. But if you find someone spilling into your personal space, it’s usually the long term consequence of junk food consumption, rather than illness.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5525523/Thai-Airways-bans-obese-passengers-new-planes.html

    • Cate ⛱️ says:

      ‘Terrible if you’re sitting in economy and they end up beside you, admittedly.’

      Oh indeed! Tell me, is it true that economy passengers wash their socks in the lavs and put them out to dry on the armrests?

      • Not what I meant at all.

        Often fly economy in Europe, less often in North America.

        Overweight passengers unwilling to buy an extra seat – and instead spilling into neighbour’s already cramped space – is an increasing problem (and safety risk).

        Thai have done the right thing by business passengers, they should do the same for economy passengers.

        Other airlines should copy.

        This is not fat-ism, incidentally!

  10. If you buy IHG points, how long does ittake to show in your account as usable?

    • Instantly! I bought mine yesterday and they were there straight away.

      • Thanks. Unfortunately I left it too late and the last room at 40,000 for our dates in New York has disappeared.

    • I bought 26k points at lunchtime today followed by an email confirmation immediately, advising that everything had gone through ok. However, still none of the purchased points are showing on my account 6 hours later. Doesn’t look like you can rely on an instantaneous transfer each time.
      Am now dreading calling the IHG Helpdesk / Call Centre (at some point in the near future).

  11. Quick query for IHG ambassador, presume the guaranteed upgrade won’t get you into club lounge unless booked rate already includes it?

    • Genghis says:

      Correct

      • IHG is particularly rubbish about this. Some hotels will ‘upgrade’ you to a Club Room – identical to a normal room in almost every way – but then refuse you Club access because you were upgraded. Abu Dhabi did this to me. Others, to be fair, will let you use the lounge if you’re upgraded to a club room.

        • At Sydney they let me stay in my ‘upgraded’ Club room for nights not booked on the Club rate/booked on points, instead of making me move to a new room mid-stay, but only allowed me Club access for nights I had booked a Club rate – unless I paid the Club access supplement of 200 AUD.

          They’ve basically unbundled Club access from the actual room you book, so you can be in a ‘Club’ room without access but you can book any room and get Club access by paying the supplement. That might work for some people using points – if there’s 2 of you, you would normally buy the hotel breakfast and have a few drinks in the hotel bar of an evening, then you’d probably get your money’s worth.

    • Had the ‘upgrade’ to a club floor room, but no lounge access given. Worthless. Booking a room with club access, then getting an upgrade on that has reaped some decent rooms, often to a suite.

      • Depends on the hotel, I think – at some the upgrade is basically a better view.

  12. The Original Nick says:

    Slightly O:T, I’ll be staying at the IC Toronto Centre on points. Has anyone any experience of the Club Lounge there? I will pay for access if It’s worth it.

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