What are 145,900 IHG Rewards Club points worth?


That’s my potential haul from the Big Win promo this fall and so I started looking at what it would take to net that many points. Keeping in mind that lately my only IHG stays have been the BRG type, I think it would take quite a value proposition to make me actually shift some stays in that direction, but the 145,900 number is pretty big so I actually am sortof considering my options. Here’s how I get to 145,900:

  • Try one and done: Stay 1 night – 1000 points
  • Stay more & earn more: Stay 5 nights – 10,100 points
  • Explore our brands: 3 Brands – 33,000 points
  • Book with us: Book 2 stays online – 3,600 points
  • Live the city life: Stay in 2 different big cities – 18,000 points
  • Win in a weekend: Stay 2 Saturday nights – 7.200 points
  • Win big: Complete all 6 – 73,000 points

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At a minimum I’m looking at three different stays, each in a different brand totaling five nights and two of them must be on a Saturday. Plus two of them must be in different major cities (New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Vancouver, Montreal, Mexico City and San Paolo; Chicago has hotels listed as participating but isn’t on the T&Cs as a valid city – UPDATE: Chicago is supposedly being added back in to the T&Cs). Among other things, I don’t actually have any plans to be in any of those cities over the next few months, though at least I live in NYC so that’s one I could book on a Saturday night somewhere in the area and check one off. I’m also going to be passing through LA in September but not staying there. I could possibly get a phantom stay in but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to get from the airport to the hotel and back during the layover to make that work.

Even assuming that I could hit all the targets, I’m still not completely convinced it is a smart move. The cheapest NYC and LA stays I’m seeing are ~$150/night all-in. I have a couple others potentially where I might actually need a stay coming in at an incremental $20-40/night over the other options in the area so I’ll only count the incremental cost there. Still, I’m looking at roughly a $500 investment to get at the points. That’s definitely less than it would cost to buy them via IHG/points.com or the refund trick and also way more than I could buy per the T&Cs (IHG says 40k annually but seems to be willing to sell me 60K). So I should absolutely do it, right??

Except I’m still not convinced. Using the $7/1000 points rate from the “trick” I come up with the following stay values based on the IHG categories:

  • 5,000 points (PointBreaks) = $35 per hotel night.
  • 10,000 points (category 1) = $70
  • 15,000 points (category 2) = $105
  • 20,000 points (category 3) = $140
  • 25,000 points (category 4) = $175
  • 30,000 points (category 5) = $210
  • 35,000 points (category 6) = $245
  • 40,000 points (category 7) = $280
  • 45,000 points (category 8) = $315
  • 50,000 points (category 9) = $350

If I knew I’d have a bunch of PointsBreaks redemptions in the near term then the value would be hard to beat; I’d get enough points for nearly a month in IHG hotels with this promo at that redemption level. Even at three Category 9 nights it would seem that I’m roughly doubling my “investment” to try for the promo. But that only really works if I want to spend that much on the hotels anyways. And I rarely do, especially at the upper level. With the $20-40 premium I noted above for comparable nights – a number which I find to be the case relatively consistently with my trips – the value of the points is actually diminished for me from those peak levels.

So instead of realizing ~$1000 in points I’d feel like this would really only be ~$750 at most for me. That’s still a sizable “profit” but I’m having trouble convincing myself it is worth the effort in time and incidental expenses to hit the numbers. And if I’m not going to get it all then I’m really only looking at ~40,000 points and that’s really not worth it to me.

So, how’s my math? Did I miss anything? Should I do it anyways? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think.

Also, a quick warning to everyone looking to cash in on this yourselves: Read the fine print. ALL of it. There are rules specifically for some of the individual “tiles” which are different than commonly accepted ideas, like resort “stays” only counting if they are three nights. Or Chicago hotels listed as participating in the “Live the city life” category even though Chicago isn’t a valid city in the T&Cs (UPDATE: Chicago is supposedly being added back in to the T&Cs). Be VERY careful on this one.

Finally, of marginal note is that IHG has included a “badges” aspect to this promo. For stays at the different brands, logging on to their website or sharing the promo via Facebook/Twitter one can earn badges in the promo microsite. I’m not entirely clear on why they’re doing that, but it seems they are. Not nearly the same level of execution as JetBlue has in their Badges promo.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

11 Comments

  1. I’m in the same boat and have determined that my particular set of offers isn’t worth it. I’ll probably earn some of the points along the way, but definitely not all of them. Kudos to them for at least making it interesting.

  2. Going out of your way to these fulfill these gimmicky offers is generally a terrible idea. You will end up spending so much more money (and time/effort!) than you would have otherwise.

    Furthermore, hotel points are massively overvalued to begin with due to:
    *devaluation risk
    *expiration/unused risk
    *illiquidity
    *limitations (can only use for one specific hotel chain, and often for limited dates)
    *cost of add-ons (when staying at a chain hotel, especially a high-end one, you will spend far more on add-ons such as parking, wifi, tips, food/drinks, etc than at a locally owned one)
    *time/effort to manage points
    *lack of earning potential (an equivalent amount of cash can be invested)
    *price anchoring (just because a hotel lists room at $800/night doesn’t mean it’s actually *worth* that – yet for some reason people consistently make this mistake when estimating the value of their points)

  3. I’m going for it. Though I can’t earn as many points as you do, my $/point comes out to be about the same. I’m all for high-end redemptions so even though this won’t be “free,” it’s still a great value for me. Plus, I tend to travel to Asia more, so IHGs there are properties I want to stay at.

  4. Wow I can’t earn half the points they’ve offered you (and that’s with 2 more nights required!) but IHG are cheaper where I’m going (there are TONS of them all over Europe) so I’ll probably go for it. By comparison the Marriott offer is of zero interest and we hardly have any Hyatts (and not that many Starwood). Wonder what Hilton will offer?

  5. Not really worth it for me… my total would only be 77,600 points, but I have to do 9 nights for the one promo. I’m sitting on ~350k points, so not as much of an incentive for me, as you only need 5 nights and get double the points I would, much better deal for you.

    Here’s how my offer broke out:

    •Try one and done: Stay 1 night – 1000 points
    •Stay more & earn more: Stay 9 nights – 8,000 points
    •Explore our brands: 2 Brands – 12,000 points
    •Survey the win – 100 points
    •Book with us: Book 2 stays online – 4,000 points
    •Live the city life: Stay in 2 different big cities – 7,200 points
    •Win in a weekend: Stay 2 Saturday nights – 4,800 points
    •Spend it to win it – 1,500 points
    •Win big: Complete all 8 – 39,000 points

  6. I think it might not be worth it, even with the potential windfall, unless you’re 100% sure that you’re going to hit all the goals at that price.

    Remember, IHG has had a couple of promos this year with bonuses for buying points, and you could have hauled 100k points for $575 with the one that ended yesterday.

    I think if you set off without a plan and spend $300-400 and get only 40k points because you didn’t complete the whole thing, it’s a terrible waste — unless it’s not your money or you had the stays planned anyway.

  7. can we use points stays to fulfill this promo?

    or do only paid stays count??

    thanks in advance

  8. Did you ever manage to confirm or rule out if Chicago is a valid city in the IHG Big Win promo?

  9. My set of offer tiles adds up to 78,600. Fortunately, due to business travel, I’ll only have to pay for either 1 or 2 stays out-of-pocket. THat makes my participation a no-brainer. Otherwise, I agree that it doesn’t make sense if you’re having to pay for all the stays yourself.

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