This article is our attempt to decide what IHG One Rewards points are worth. How should you value them?
Valuing miles and points is a thankless job. We have always published articles on what Avios points are worth, but that Avios article is so complex that it simply proves my point.
In the face of constant reader requests, however, I wrote this series of articles on how we value each of the major hotel points currencies. I am updating the series this month.
Here are links to the full series:
- What are Accor Live Limitless points worth?
- What are Hilton Honors points worth?
- What are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?
- What are Radisson Rewards points worth?
- What are World of Hyatt points worth?
The reason I have changed my mind after all these years is that I have found a methodology that works for me. It takes a subjective valuation and then explains the boundaries around it. Or, in plain English:
- I will tell you (without justifying it) what I think an IHG One Rewards point is worth
- I will tell you, on the upside, how far wrong I can be (which is good news)
- I will tell you, on the downside, how far wrong I can be (which is bad news)
- I will tell you what IHG One Rewards points are worth if you turn them into something else – usually airline miles – which effectively locks in a floor value
Why I think ‘range’ is important when valuing hotel points
When we look at using Avios for business or First Class flights, the ‘cash alternative’ is often a poor comparison. Most HfP readers don’t want to, or simply can’t afford to, pay cash for business or First Class flights. Their choice is Avios or nothing. Even if you can afford to pay, what are you comparing with? A cheap non-refundable sale flight? A pricier flexible ticket? The cost of an indirect flight, not on BA?
Hotels redemptions are different:
- you stay in far more hotels each year compared to the number of premium cabin flights you take, so you can be selective about when you use points
- you can usually afford to pay for a hotel if you choose not to use points
- there are far more options in the hotel market than in the flight market – most people only have a lot of miles in one airline programme, whereas you are likely to hold hotel points in multiple schemes
It is easy to sit on hotel points until you get a good deal
The net result of the three facts above is that it is easy to turn down a hotel redemption when it doesn’t seem like good value. You can pay cash or redeem via another hotel scheme instead.
Here is the crux of what I am trying to say. If you compare two hotel schemes:
- scheme A usually gets you 0.3p per point but if you are lucky you can get 1p
- scheme B usually gets you 0.4p per point but if you are lucky you can get 0.6p
…. scheme A may actually be the best.
Most people who try to ‘value’ hotel points don’t take this into account.
If you redeemed points for every stay you did, regardless of the cash price, scheme B would be the best. No-one does this though. In reality you can pay cash for your stays in scheme A until the day when a bumper redemption arrives and you can get 1p.
Here’s a real example. I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.5p as our article will show in a few days. If you do 20 Marriott hotel stays and use Bonvoy points for all of them, I think you will average 0.5p, give or take.
However, last week I spent five nights at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Venice, reviewed here. We booked two Junior Suites for 594,000 points in total. I got 1.0p per point, and this was a ‘real’ saving – I have stayed in these rooms before at this hotel and would have paid cash if needed.
Last October, I booked three nights at the Al Maha desert resort in Dubai. This got me 1.5p per Bonvoy point vs my 0.5p valuation.
These redemptions justified all of the Marriott stays where I paid cash rather than redeem for 0.5p per point.
What are IHG One Rewards points worth?
With our methodology out of the way, let’s take a look at what IHG One Rewards points are worth.
To keep things simple, we do not adjust for the fact that you would earn points back if you paid cash instead. This can have a noticeable impact when generous bonuses are running.
IHG One Rewards has historically run more generous promotions than the other major chains, but this has not been true since the pandemic.
The HfP average valuation of an IHG One Rewards point:
We are not justifying this valuation, except to say that I have looked at enough IHG One Rewards redemptions over the years to be happy with it.
The steep rise in hotel cash rates post pandemic has not impacted our valuation because IHG has now primarily moved to dynamic pricing, where the points cost is linked to price.
How high can value go on the upside?
Not very high, which is not good.
If you can get 0.6p per point then take it.
Over the two years, IHG One Rewards has been bringing in ‘revenue based redemptions’. In plain English, this means that the points required are linked to the cash price.
Hilton has a similar system, but Hilton was smarter. Hilton still has a ‘points price cap’ for each hotel, so you know that you will rarely pay more than 95,000 points per night at its top hotels, and proportionately less at mid-market ones.
IHG One Rewards appears to cap redemptions at 120,000 points per night. There are some exceptions to this, such as the Maldives hotels, but it holds in major cities such as New York and London.
This means, based on our 0.4p ‘fair value’ opinion, you can beat this if your hotel is selling for £480+ per night. Clearly this doesn’t happen often but it’s not impossible. Those are the nights when the best value is to be found.
Of course, even 120,000 points per night is a crazy figure at some brands. Here are two Holiday Inn Express properties I found at that level for a random New York search for September 2023:
When I started collecting IHG points, you could book ANY InterContinental hotel globally for a fixed 30,000 points per night. Other brands cost even less. Things have changed ….
You need to be clear that this is not premium ‘last room availability’ pricing. Hotels are still only obliged to make 5% of their rooms available for redemption. IHG is also still only paying hotels the usual peanuts figure for redemptions. On a stay at the Hotel Indigo Bath (reviewed here) I was given IHG’s receipt by mistake which showed they paid £32 for my room.
The Mr & Mrs Smith upside has now gone
IHG, until very recently, had a partnership with the Mr & Mrs Smith marketing group to feature some of their hotels on its website. Redemptions at these hotels got you a fixed 0.55p per point, far ahead of what you’d get at most IHG properties.
Mr & Mrs Smith was recently bought by Hyatt and the properties have gone from the IHG website. It has not yet been launched on the Hyatt website.
New hotels can often provide value
One trend that we have seen is IHG using redemptions to drive business at new hotels. It takes time for a hotel to grow demand, and IHG is keen to show the owner that the reward scheme can deliver guests. New hotels can often give you a superior ‘pence per point’ as a result.
That said, realistically, the best value you can expect from IHG One Rewards is 0.6p per point. If you are booking a hotel where your points are worth 0.6p, take it and pocket the cash saving.
How low can value go on the downside?
Low, but not disastrously so.
One upside of the move to revenue-based redemption pricing is that you will rarely get a truly terrible deal.
My London analysis in 2021 showed that 0.25p per IHG One Rewards point is about as bad as it gets.
That said, 0.25p is still 35% worse than our benchmark of 0.4p per point, so you should absolutely avoid redeeming at this level if at all possible.
If IHG One Rewards devalues hugely tomorrow, what is my escape route?
This is our floor price. What can you do with your points if IHG One Rewards devalues massively overnight?
With IHG One Rewards, the best value is to convert your points to airline miles or to gift cards. It doesn’t end well either way.
The conversion rate to Avios and other major airline currencies is 5:1.
If we assume an airline mile is worth 1p, then you are getting 0.2p per IHG One Rewards point in the worse case scenario.
If you redeem IHG One Rewards points for a UK High Street gift card it is even worse. The catalogue is here.
At the top end – it is worse for smaller balances – 52,500 points gets you a £100 voucher for a UK High Street store or restaurant chain. This is just under 0.2p per IHG One Rewards point, in line with what you get with a conversion to airline miles. This has actually devalued in the last 12 months – when we looked at this option in 2022 it was ‘just’ 49,000 points for a £100 voucher.
By redeeming for gift cards, you are losing 50% of the value compared to an average hotel redemption, and 66% of the value compared to a ‘good’ hotel redemption.
In summary …. what do we think IHG One Rewards points are worth?
- on average: 0.4p per point
- on a very good day: 0.6p per point – usually there is little ability to go beyond this
- on a bad day: 0.25p per point
- if you transfer out in a worse case scenario: 0.2p per point for airline miles or UK retailer gift cards
The lack of a pricing cap per hotel (ignoring the non-brand specific 120,000 points cap, which itself isn’t guaranteed) makes IHG One Rewards less attractive than Hilton Honors or World of Hyatt. Marriott Bonvoy also seems to be retaining some sort of caps at its priciest hotels. Not having a cap at the high end sharply reduces your ability to get outsize value.
There is no point saving up for a bumper redemption at a luxury resort. Revenue-based pricing makes those rewards no better value than your local Holiday Inn Express.
If you find that a certain hotel can get you 0.6p per point then you should pull the trigger, because you will struggle to do better. Any redemptions which get you 0.4p to 0.5p should be seen as acceptable.
IHG One Rewards update – September 2023:
Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.
New to IHG One Rewards? Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here..
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.