The Sugarhill Gang once sang “Everybody go: Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn” in the classic song “Rappers Delight”. Well when your new consulting job requires you to take long road trips to far flung places like Deming, NM, a Holiday Inn might be just be your best option. Since it looks like these types of trips are going to be happening every month or so, I decided I really needed to figure out a points and loyalty strategy for staying in small towns. After some quick deliberation, I settled on joining the IHG Rewards Club.
Why I’m Joining The IHG Rewards Club
As you can imagine, places like Deming usually don’t have any Starwood, Hyatt, or Marriott properties. The main players in what I’ve dubbed the “clean roadside hotel” category are Choice Hotels, IHG, and Hilton Honors. I decided to eliminate Choice since they don’t have a high end brand for point redemption. That left Hilton and IHG. Admittedly I was completely unfamiliar with both as I’ve always been a Starwood or Hyatt loyalist. I settled on IHG for a few reasons. First, I felt their credit card is a much better product than Hilton’s. Second, the Holiday Inn brand is the largest in the country, so I knew there would always be one around when needed.
Signing Up For IHG Rewards
The sign up process is relatively simple and only takes a minute. One random, but kind of cool feature is that you just login with your email address and a PIN number. No weird username or password requirements. Maybe it’s not the most secure thing, but it sure makes it easy.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll find a relatively standard interface. It gives you your elite status progress, upcoming stays and the ability to update your preferences. 40,000 points or 40 nights to Platinum Elite seems like a lot of work. I’ll explain how you can cut the line and get there quick.
Earning IHG Rewards Points
The traditional way to earn IHG points is through hotel stays. Per IHG’s website, 10 IHG Rewards Club base points per eligible $1 USD spent at all:
Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts
Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts
Holiday Inn Express hotels
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
5 IHG® Rewards Club base points per eligible $1 USD spent at all:
IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
I know everyone has different credit card spending habits, but grabbing this card is a no brainer. The annual fee is only $49 and it includes a free night at one of more than 5,000 hotels on your yearly anniversary. That’s basically turns it into a no annual fee card as long as you are going to stay one night a year. Additionally the card automatically grants you Platinum Elite status. That’s a lot better than having to stay 40 nights or accumulating 40,000 points in a year. Platinum Elite status will get you:
- 50% Bonus Earning on Top of Base Points listed above
- Free Room Upgrades Based on Availability
- Guaranteed Room Availability
- Priority Check-In
Not bad for a $49 annual fee card that comes with a free night. You’ll earn 5x IHG points for every dollar you spend at IHG properites. 2x points for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1x points on everything else. I’m not sure I would use it for anything other than IHG stays. There are better options out there for everyday spend.
Spending IHG Rewards Points
Alright, now it’s time to be rewarded for all those Holiday Inn stays. As I mentioned before, I picked IHG in part because they have some higher end brands. The crown jewel of the IHG collection is the Intercontinental. My goal is to stay at Holiday Inn brands for work, and redeem points at Intercontinental properties for vacation.
One unfortunate part about IHG’s redemption structure is that they don’t have defined categories like many other programs. Therefore there’s no way to exactly know how much each property will cost you to redeem a free night until you search. Luckily the search feature is really easy to use. Most of the Intercontinental luxury hotels will be in the 50,000 – 60,000 points/night range. Typically these same hotels would retail for $300+ per night.
So my IHG journey has begun. My first stay is booked at The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Deming, NM. I’ll be sure to write a review in case anyone happens to care. More importantly I’m excited to get a feel for the brand, and the points earning and redemption process. Any questions about joining the IHG Rewards Club? Shoot my a line below and I’d be happy to help out.