Last year IHG launched its new IHG One Rewards loyalty programme, which covers Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental, Holiday Inn Express etc.
We were very pleasantly surprised with what IHG has done with IHG One Rewards. Our full review of IHG One Rewards is here. Suddenly, IHG has a loyalty scheme which can genuinely compete with Marriott and Hilton.
The bad news is that to earn top tier Diamond Elite status – which is what you need for free breakfast and the best upgrades – will now require 120,000 status points per year. This is a lot, by any standards.
There is a way of short cutting this, however.
If you are looking to earn status in IHG One Rewards, one of the easiest ways of doing it is by booking ‘bonus points packages’.
There are other ways to get easy status-qualifying points, as this HfP article explains, but the methods are fewer than they were.
When you are search for hotels on ihg.com, you will often – but not always – come across a situation like this:
In this example, you are paying an extra £19 for 5,000 IHG One Rewards points. This is virtually worth doing just for the points – I value an IHG point at 0.4p, so you are getting £20-worth of bonus points.
Note that the 5,000 bonus points are awarded per night. For a long stay, the bonus will add up.
These points also qualify for elite status
This is the real reason why you may want to book a ‘bonus points package’.
As well as counting towards booking a free night, the points you earn are ‘elite qualifying’. This means that they count towards status renewal or promotion.
Because the bonus is per night, you can easily earn a substantial number of points.
Annoying, IHG has now removed the explanatory box on the website which confirmed this. Until earlier this year, there was a ‘?’ check box which said this when clicked:
Does the maths work? Possibly
Let’s imagine that you would naturally earn 37,500 IHG One Rewards base points per year, based on 30 nights at £120 each (£100 excluding VAT, which is $125 at 10 base points per $1).
Based on the costs above, buying 5,000 additional points on 18 of those nights would cost you (£19 x 18) £342
This would get you 90,000 additional base points which, when added to the 37,500 base points you will earn naturally, triggers top tier Diamond Elite status.
Here’s the key thing. We value an IHG One Rewards points at 0.4p. This is easy to achieve when redeeming. This means that the 90,000 points you have bought will get you (90,000 x 0.4p) £360 of future hotel stays for which you paid £342. Your Diamond Elite status was effective free.
If you are smarter on your redemptions and can average 0.5p per IHG point when redeeming, the 90,000 points you purchased will get you £450 of free stays. You’ve made a £100 profit on the £342 you spent and earned Diamond Elite.
Remember one thing though ….
When you read about IHG One Rewards, you will see references to guaranteed club lounge access and guaranteed ‘confirmed in advance’ suite upgrades.
These are NOT status benefits. They are ‘Milestone Rewards’, triggered when you do a specific number of nights. The key guaranteed benefit of Diamond Elite is free breakfast with the potential for ‘if available’ upgrades.
Whilst buying bonus points packages via the route we explain above IS a good way of getting IHG One Rewards status, it does not unlock all of the benefits of the programme. To earn Milestone Rewards – explained in this HfP article – you need to do ‘heads in beds’.
IHG One Rewards update – February 2024:
Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not running a global promotion at the moment, but some members were sent targeted offers for their stays in February and March
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.
IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 7th March 2024. Click here to buy.
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.