Published in: Credit Cards | Jan. 10, 2019
By: Lyle Daly
As one of the world's largest hotel companies, IHG has quite a few places you can book when you send your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to its Rewards Club. Unfortunately, most of the redemption options don't earn you $0.01 per point, making them a poor value.
While transfers to IHG usually aren't a great use of Ultimate Rewards points, you may luck out and find a great deal you want to book. Or, if you already have an IHG Rewards Club account with some points you've accumulated, you could end up needing just a few thousand more to book a stay. In this guide, I'll show you how Ultimate Rewards to IHG transfers work, how to book award stays with the hotel brand, and other options to consider.
To make a transfer to IHG, you need an active Chase credit card in the Ultimate Rewards program, an account with the IHG Rewards Club, and at least 1,000 points. The following are Chase's current Ultimate Rewards credit cards:
There's a registration page for the Rewards Club on IHG's website, and membership is free of charge.
Chase makes transfers simple with its Ultimate Rewards site, and every point you send is worth one point with whichever partner you choose. Since transfers are one-way, you can't reverse or cancel them, so you'll want to have the booking planned out before you do a transfer.
When you're ready, here's how transfers to IHG work:
1. Visit your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
I advise accessing your account by logging in through the Ultimate Rewards site. If you currently have more than one Ultimate Rewards card, then you'll need to select a card. You'll be transferring the points from that card's balance.
If you're already logged in to your Chase credit card account, you can select a specific credit card, choose "See Balance" right under the "Ultimate Rewards" heading, and then select "Redeem Rewards." That's the procedure for personal accounts, while business accounts have a link to the Ultimate Rewards portal on the right side of the home screen.
2. Select "Transfer to Travel Partners" from the Ultimate Rewards home screen.
3. Go to the IHG Rewards Club listing in the Hotels section and select "Transfer Points."
4. Choose a recipient for the transfer.
You'll select the name of the recipient from a dropdown menu, and then verify the Rewards Club account by entering the account number.
Remember that besides yourself, the only other valid transfer recipient is an authorized user on your credit card account who is also a member of your household.
5. Decide how many points to transfer.
Chase has set its transfer minimum at 1,000 points. That's also the increment you must use for the transfer. For example, you could send 25,000 points, but not 25,500.
6. Confirm the transfer.
The last page in the transfer process breaks down where the points are coming from and where they're going. It also includes Chase's standard warning about program misuse and fraudulent activities. After you submit the transfer, it's final. Unlike with most Chase transfer partners, IHG transfers don't always process instantly. Instead, it could take up to one day.
From the IHG homepage, enter your destination, followed by the dates of your stay. You can adjust the number of guests or rooms if necessary, and then perform your search.
The search results will list all of IHG's hotels in that area, along with their prices in cash. To switch to the points prices, click the "Points" option right under your search parameters. There's also a "Points + Cash" option.
IHG lets you view hotels in either a list format or on a map, and it offers several filters to narrow down your results. When you've decided on a hotel, click "Select Hotel."
The next page is where you make your room selection. There will be points prices for rooms you can book using IHG points and cash prices for any rooms that you can't. Click "Select Room" on the option you want to choose.
This takes you to the rate selection, where IHG shows you the many different booking options. These typically include points, points and cash, and several different cash rates (advance rates, flexible rates, rates that earn bonus points, and so on). For points bookings, check the button next to that option and click "Select Rate." If you're not logged in to your IHG account, you'll be prompted to log in, and then you can check out.
And now, we reach the issue with IHG points. They're just not very valuable. You can rack them up easily thanks to IHG's generous rewards rate, and there are plenty of hotels you can book with them, but most redemptions will earn a mere $0.005 to $0.007 per point.
The only small saving grace of the IHG Rewards Club is PointBreaks, which is when select IHG hotels have award bookings available for 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 points. Participating hotels vary, but you can view the current options on the IHG site. There's a two-night maximum with these award bookings.
Don't expect PointBreaks to provide some spectacular value. Instead of getting $0.005 per point, you may get $0.01 to $0.0125, and even those deals get snatched up quickly. It's better, but not by much, which is why I recommend the next redemption method over points transfers to IHG.
The Ultimate Rewards site has a travel portal where you can search for flights and hotels, and then book them with the cash value of your points. Every point is worth $0.0125 if you're a Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Ink Business Preferred® cardholder. Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders get an even better deal -- $0.015 per point.
Although you're paying with Ultimate Rewards points, this counts as paying in cash to IHG, so you earn Rewards Club points on the stay. That means you get 10x points per dollar spent on most of the IHG brands, save for Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, where you earn 5x points per dollar spent.
So, not only are you getting a greater value by booking IHG stays through the Ultimate Rewards portal, but you're also earning IHG points in the process. You wouldn't earn those points on an award booking. Here's the drastic difference this can make:
Let's say you want to book a hotel for three nights in London. IHG has a Hotel Indigo there for either $341.50 or 60,000 points per night. If you transferred your Ultimate Rewards points to IHG, you'd use 180,000 points and earn just under $0.006 per point. Or, you could redeem enough points to cover the total cost of the stay ($1,024.50). It'd cost you either 68,300 or 81,960 points, depending on the Chase card you have, and you'd collect 10,245 IHG points, as well.
Coverage is an area where IHG is tough to beat. It has over 5,300 hotels in more than 100 countries, and the company's large portfolio of brands consists of everything from discount to luxury hotels. You probably won't have any trouble finding IHG hotels to book on your trips.
IHG has two credit cards with Chase that earn points in its Rewards Club. The first is the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Here's a rundown on that card's features and annual fee:
Just that free night each year makes the card worth the annual fee, since there are plenty of IHG hotels you can book that would cost more than $89. The signup bonus is also good for a hotel credit card and doesn't require too much spending. If you travel often and typically choose IHG hotels, then this card is worth having.
The second option is the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. It has many of the same features, with the following differences:
I can't imagine a scenario where you'd be better off with this credit card. It's only worthwhile to have an IHG card if you like the company's hotels. In that case, it makes more sense to pay the $89 annual fee on the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card so that you get a free night every year.
For the most part, you'll want to avoid transferring versatile Ultimate Rewards points to IHG. It's silly to get $0.005 per point on an IHG booking when there are so many transfer partners where you can do better. If you want to book an IHG hotel, go through the Ultimate Rewards portal and redeem the points towards the purchase that way.
This isn't to say that IHG award stays are a lousy deal. With the amount of points you can earn through cash stays and credit card signup bonuses, it doesn't take much to get free nights. But with Ultimate Rewards points, stick to booking through the travel portal or choose a better transfer partner.
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