Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is one of the loyalty programs that I have been maximizing for years. From their generous quarterly Accelerate promotions, to the (now paused/discontinued) Point Breaks promotion, to a solid co-branded credit card, IHG has been a favorite hotel program of mine. I’ve even written a complete guide to IHG Rewards Club.
What I often look for with IHG is the opportunity to earn a large number of points from a single stay, which is sometimes possible with the promotions they throw at you. But I may have outdone myself with my most recent stay, as I earned the most points on a single night out of all my stays. Ever.
Discovering the 10K Bonus Points Package
I’ve long been aware that IHG offers bonus points packages when booking stays. These vary depending on the hotel property, but I find that higher-end hotel brands such as Intercontinental will offer up to 5,000 bonus points. Sometimes these are worth adding, sometimes not. It depends on the rate. The big benefit is that bonus point package points count toward elite status.
What I didn’t realize is that there are 10,000-point packages offered at some IHG hotels. I stumbled across this by accident when booking a recent stay at the Crowne Plaza Sacramento Northeast. The hotel is pretty dilapidated for a Crowne Plaza, but the rooms are decent. I’d stayed there once before, and rates are often good, which is why I was considering it again.
The cost of my stay went up substantially, though. I could have booked a night for just $87 before taxes. Instead, I chose to pay the following:
- Pre-tax rate: $169.00
- After tax rate: $194.77
Yes, it’s an expensive stay. But I was guaranteed to earn enough points that the cash cost would be offset entirely.
Stacking Up the Promotions
In addition to the bonus point package, I’d also be able to take advantage of more IHG offers. IHG has been running an unlimited 2X points promotion which will conclude at the end of the year. They also are offering 10,000 bonus points for IHG credit cardholders on your first stay if you pay with your co-branded credit card. This alone is already excellent.
But then IHG sent me another “Just for You” offer for 5,000 points for my first stay. All together, this is some serious points earning from one night. Here’s how the earnings broke down, all said and done:
- Base points: 1,690 (+1,690 elite qualifying)
- Platinum elite bonus points: 845
- Welcome bonus: 600
- 2X Promotion: 1,690
- 10K More When You Use Your Credit Card: 10,000
- 10K Bonus Package: 10,000 (+10,000 elite qualifying)
- Just for you: stay one night: 5,000
- IHG Premier Card 10X: 1,948 (+1,948 elite qualifying)
Total: 31,773 points. Elite qualifying total: 13,638 points. Even though I value IHG points at just 0.6 cent each, this is still an amazing haul. I essentially earned the cost of my stay back in points.
But Wait, There’s More!
The earnings from this stay are already awesome. But this stay would actually be the $20,000 plus 1 additional transaction that I needed for the IHG Premier spending bonus. This is another 10,000 points. It even shows up as such in my Chase card online account.
Truth be told, the bonus point package was part of a larger strategy to earn IHG Spire Elite status. This is something I mulled over several weeks ago. Qualifying for Spire Elite gives you a choice benefit, one of which is 25,000 bonus IHG points.
The original stay that would carry me to the Spire finish line fell through, but this Crowne Plaza one ended up being a far better option. The points earning alone is excellent. But the additional 25K and 10K gains are even better with a little more spend on the IHG Premier card. It required some Simon Visa Gift Card and other manufactured spending to get me to where I needed to be in terms of elite points. I won’t go into all the details, but I would like to be transparent with the final cost and value:
Total cost for earning IHG Spire Elite:
- Hotel stay: $194.77
- Grocery store MS: (-$4.50)
- Simon Mall MS: $78.31
Out of pocket cost: $268.58. One could argue that I need to include some opportunity cost for MSing on an IHG card, but I’ve not tried to include that.
Final rewards tally: 92,908 IHG Rewards Club points (worth ~$557). This includes the points earned from MS and my one night at the Crowne Plaza.
This is one of the best points hauls I’ve pulled in quite a while. All said and done, I’ve earned over 250,000 IHG points this year, starting with a massive bonus when I picked up the IHG Premier card. While I’m a Hyatt loyalist first, I’ve often found IHG to be a great backup option, especially in the U.S. and it has been nice to keep a healthy stash of points. Who knows…maybe we’ll be able to repeat our excellent beach vacation at the Holiday Inn Express Daytona Beach next year!