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Why IHG One Rewards ‘bonus points packages’ get you elite status quickly – and effectively free

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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.

Why IHG One Rewards 'bonus points packages' get you elite status quickly

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:

Why IHG One Rewards 'bonus points packages' get you elite status quickly

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:

IHG base points buy points

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 – June 2024:

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.

Comments (48)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John says:

    Usually only available on the best flex rate so you are often paying more unless you really needed the flex rate

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      But it is a more complex sum. A few extra £s a night in say the CP LHR T4 on best flex contributed to achieving Diamond status which then saves you more than a few extra £s when staying at an IC in the US or Asia where breakfast may be ample and expensive.

  • G says:

    What John said, they’re often inly available on the flexible rate which is pretty inferior to most rates.

    The sweet spot, as I see it, is 40 nights a year for lounge access with a confirmed suite upgrade; whilst hitting diamond.

    • Phillip says:

      40 nights is Platinum, so no breakfast unless there is a lounge.

      • Nick says:

        Phil – you can get to Diamond at 40 nights by then using points or cash to take out Intercontinental Ambassador status which has the benefit of upgrading your IHG Platinum status to Diamond so you get the free breakfasts. You also gets free weekend night at an Intercon.

        • Phillip says:

          Not anymore Nick. As of October Ambassador no longer gives Platinum status, upgraded from
          Platinum or otherwise.

    • Andrew J says:

      Very few lounges about though

      • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

        And not all lounges serve breakfast.

        The CP Manchester City centre and the LHR T4 both have lounges but neither serve breakfast,

        • Phillip says:

          I appreciate not all, but some hotels (and that’s what I had at CP LHR T4 back in 2021) where breakfast is not offered in lounges, offer the restaurant breakfast as a substitute.

    • Julia says:

      From my experience lounge access isn’t guaranteed and I’ve been refused entry more times than let in with staff saying they’re either are or expect to be full. Relevant T&C here: ‘Annual Lounge Membership is available at IHG properties with a Club Lounge unless restricted due to renovations, closures, or other facility limitations.’

      • Dickie_H says:

        That’s really disappointing to hear Julia – what’s the point in aiming for a milestone, only to find that the hotels play fast and loose with the benefit!! Might you be willing to share with us which hotels have been the worst offenders for this?

        • Julia says:

          It’s the UK Crowne Plazas which seem to behind the curve. They’ve had a while now to learn the new incentives but they’re dragging their feet a bit. Perhaps it’s because inflation’s nibbling away at their profits and it’s an easy cull. It won’t stop me from going, they’re one of the few hotel chains where you can get kippers and haddock for breakfast if you’re diamond.

  • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

    I have a couple of mid week stays I need to do at the LHR CP. The network rail card code is excluded on those nights so for the same flexibility I’m prepared to pay the BFR rate and consider paying extra for the bonus miles.

    But what people need to do is check carefully the points / cash cost as they aren’t the same at every hotel and not every hotel offers the 5,000 option.

    And the costs aren’t linear. There is a substantial discount when buying the higher points numbers – the 5k option isn’t 5x the 1k option.

    And there are some inconsistencies as the screen shot demonstrated – it costs £1 more to buy 1k points than it does 2k points!

    • Phillip says:

      Even at the same hotel, the cost of the extra points can be different between rates and sometimes even nonsensical. An example I was looking at recently, the Indigo Belgrade…

      For Best Flexible Rate, the extra points offer is:
      1000/5 EUR
      2000/44 EUR
      5000/59 EUR
      3000/73 EUR (yes, that’s right)!

      For Best Flexible with Breakfast:
      2000/10 EUR (no other option available).

      As Rob says, you just have to do the maths, but I do agree under the right circumstances they are a value for money option to Diamond! You just can’t rely on a steady cost to plan ahead.

  • Sean says:

    Is there any news on IHG issuing a UK credit card, now that we have lost Creation?

  • Simonbr says:

    What a lot of us (who don’t travel for work) really need is a new credit card earning IHG points. Why hasn’t this already happened?

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      Because the last one worked out so well?

      From various comments I’ve seen it appears co branded credit cards are not the cash cows they used to be.

      • Simonbr says:

        It worked out very well for lots of us, and made us loyal to IHG brands during that period. The problem as I see it in retrospect was the interaction of Creation with Curve.

  • Hilda M says:

    Interesting 🤔 I never considered Bonus points before. Just made a booking for the newly renovated IC BKK: €6 for 5,000 points, whereas the new IC in Sukhumvit is asking for €70 per 5,000 !!
    Someone will be joining me – normally his room would be booked on points but no rooms available. I wonder can I opt for Bonus points for a second room ? Let’s see 😀

    • Phillip says:

      Yes, you can but not sure if they will count towards status in the same way that extra rooms don’t. A good one to investigate!

  • Davedent says:

    For anyone doing a mattress run an an IHG ( Bradford is the cheapest regularly £36/ night) ask for a ‘green’ door hanger – in exchange for not having your room made up you get an extra 500 points a night. Its the milestone rewards I’m after – 2 years lounge access and 2 confirmable suite upgrades really worth while. Diamond status can be extended by applying for ambassador midyear.

  • WaynedP says:

    About four years ago, they ran a bonus 5,000 points which I was eligible for on a booking with Southampton HI, but bonus pts never posted.

    Despite my sending screenshots of my eligibility the agent dealing with my complaint refused to credit the points because I hadn’t apparently saved the offer to my account (although there was no way of doing so, it was a bonus offer that was banner advertised attaching to certain hotels for certain booking types).

    Since then I am skeptical of any IHG bonus point offers, and despite being Platinum Elite (through Amex Plat I think) I can count on one hand the number of nights I’ve stayed with them in the past four years.

    Tons more in Marriott, and would book Hilton or Radisson and probably even Accor before IHG if no Marriott on principle.

    Silly mistake by IHG customer service agent to be stingy over 5,000 points which I will remember above all their subsequent marketing fanfares.

    • Julia says:

      I feel your pain Wayne and there are probably a lot of innocent people on here who have been similarly burnt, Radisson’s overnight devaluation comes to mind. Then again IHG seem to have a quick sharp kick in the never regions over the last couple of years and decided they needed us after all. The new changes and last year’s promotions have really been strong compared to other chains. Maybe worthwhile giving them another chance??

    • Rob says:

      They show as the rate type so it really shouldn’t be an issue – confirmation will say ‘Best Flex Rate With 5,000 Bonus Points’ or similar.

      • WaynedP says:

        I can see how posting my unflattering, own experience might be unwelcome in a paid-for IHG promotional article, Rob.

        As censor-in-chief, you are at liberty to remove it entirely, of course, if it isn’t deemed to sit well here.

        Wouldn’t be the first time this month.

        • Rob says:

          Wayne, we have made it very clear recently that anyone making libellous and defamatory false statements that we are paid for content which is not disclosed will be banned.

          Handy future tip: if you are going to defame someone, don’t do it via a work email address. Remember that you have libelled IHG as well as us.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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