15 Best Ways to Earn Lots of IHG Rewards Points [2021]

Palacio das Cardosas Intercontinental Hotel, Portugal - an IHG Property

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As one of the largest hotel loyalty programs in the world, IHG Rewards allows members to earn points for stays at more than 6,000 IHG Hotels & Resorts properties. These points can be redeemed for reward hotel stays and other awards.

Here are great strategies for maximizing your IHG Rewards points so that you can quickly build up your balance. After all, the more points you accrue, the better redemptions you will qualify for!

IHG Rewards Program

IHG Rewards homepage
Earn points and redeem them for a variety of travel awards with IHG Rewards! Image Credit: IHG

1. Join IHG Rewards

Sign up for the IHG Rewards to start earning points immediately. In fact, if you enroll during your stay, you get an automatic 1,000 points for that stay! You can also enroll for free on the IHG Rewards website or by contacting the service center. Then earn 5x or 10x base points per $1 for future hotel stays, depending on the property.

The graphic below shows how many points you can earn per $1 spent at each hotel:

IHG Point Earnings
Image Credit: IHG

You’ll earn points for charges to your room — such as food, drinks, laundry, and in-room movies — even if staying on a rewards night redemption.

It takes 2 to 4 weeks to receive your permanent IHG Rewards card, but you can print the temporary card right away. Points won’t expire as long as you redeem or earn more within 12 months.

Hot Tip: IHG has a new partnership with Mr and Mrs Smith, a curated selection of some of the world’s best hotels, and select properties are now eligible for members to earn and redeem IHG Rewards points.

2. IHG Credit Card Welcome Bonus

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card helps you accrue IHG Rewards points, including a sign-up bonus to get you started. Plus, you earn 25x points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Not only does the card usually come with a welcome bonus, but it includes tons of benefits like an annual reward night and complimentary elite status.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; then 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommend (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $89 thereafter

Hot Tip: Not sure if the IHG Premier card is right for you? Check out our analysis of all of the IHG-branded credit cards.

3. IHG Credit Card Bonus Categories

Make purchases with the IHG Premier card to earn points. For instance, earn:

4. IHG Rewards Elite Status

ClubGold ElitePlatinum EliteSpire Elite
Collect Points or MilesXXXX
Exclusive Rates (Your Rate)XXXX
Dedicated Customer Service Phone AssistanceXXXX
No Blackout Dates for Reward NightsXXXX
Reward Nights Count Towards Elite StatusXXXX
Free InternetXXXX
Extended Check-OutXXX
Elite Members’ Points Don’t ExpireXXX
Priority Check-InXXX
Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points10%50%100%

IHG Rewards members start at Club status — unless you have the IHG Premier card. With this card, you automatically qualify for Platinum Elite status (and all the benefits) for as long as you are a cardmember.

Using your IHG Premier card is a great way to keep your points from expiring as well. Since you get automatic Platinum Elite status, your points won’t expire as long as you have the card.

2021 Update: All elite nights earned in 2020 have been rolled over to 2021 and elite requirements for 2021 have been reduced by 25%.

The table below shows the bonus for each status as well as how to qualify:

LevelBonus2021 Qualifying Points2021 Qualifying Nights
Gold Elite10%7,0007
Platinum Elite50%30,00030
Spire Elite

The top status level, Spire Elite, comes with a host of great perks. One of the best perks is being able to pick a Choice Benefit — 25,000 bonus points or gifting Platinum Elite status to another member. Once you qualify for Spire Elite status, you can select a benefit immediately by logging in to your account.

With all the bonus points and points rebates at your disposal, it can really add up:

  • 2x to 25x points for using the IHG Premier card
  • 5x to 10x points for being an IHG Rewards member
  • 10% to 100% status bonus

Hot Tip: Rewards Nights count toward elite status, so you earn points toward achieving a higher status while enjoying your reward night!

5. Join the Ambassador Program

There’s actually another way to get elite status in the IHG Rewards. Join Ambassador for $200 and you’ll get automatic Platinum Elite status, plus a guaranteed 1 category room upgrade, extended 4 p.m. check-out, a certificate for a reward weekend night, and more.

Transfer Chase Points to IHG Rewards

6. Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Ultimate Rewards is the only credit card loyalty program that partners with IHG Rewards. That means you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to IHG Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, starting at 1,000 points.

Due to how valuable Chase points are, we don’t recommend cashing in all of your Ultimate Reward points for IHG Rewards points. However, this can be a fantastic option if you need to top off your points balance to have enough for a certain redemption.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card, which is currently offering a 60,000 point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The card earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more. Enjoy a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, and other travel benefits such as excellent travel insurance coverage, including car rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a very rewarding card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This premium card will get you access to 1,300+ airport lounges. as well as a number of other card benefits. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee. As an extra bonus, until 12/31/21, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit.

Earn big with this card, earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® card - A solid, no annual fee card that earns you a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 5% cash-back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, and 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Then earn 3% cash-back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash-back on all other purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - this is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year; as well as a number of other benefits.

Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, plus 1x on all other purchases — with no limit to the amount you can earn. All for an annual fee of $95.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card - Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, plus 2% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card - Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase made for your business.

Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. There's no annual fee.

IHG Rewards Rental Car Partners

7. Rent a Car

Need a rental car? Consider booking with one of the following programs that allow you to earn IHG Rewards points for your rental.

CompanyPoints Earned
Avis125 points per day
Budget125 points per day
Dollar125 points per day
Hertz125 points per day
Thrifty125 points per day

Other Opportunities to Earn Points

8. Trip Extras

With IHG Trip Extras, members can earn 1,000 points every time you book an activity through the Trip Extras portal. Trip Extras gives you the option to books tours and activities, restaurants, transport services, excursions, and other experiences.

9. IHG Rewards Promotions

IHG Rewards posts special deals online throughout the year for members. These member offers include additional bonus points for stays, double bonus points, and discounts. Be sure to keep an eye out for the quarterly IHG Accelerate offers that can dramatically increase your point balance by completing tasks like booking a stay through the app or staying at multiple brands.

earn point with ihg rewards club offers
You can earn bonus points for various offers that IHG may put out from time to time. Check-in periodically to see what is available. Image Credit: IHG

10. IHG Rewards Dining

Earn points for dining out when you enroll in the IHG Rewards Dining program and dine at one of more than 10,000 select restaurants around the country.

You can join for free and register with a credit or debit card. Then earn up to 5x IHG Rewards points per $1 just for registering your email address, and 8x points per $1 after your eleventh dining experience.

11. Protect the Environment

Bet you didn’t know you can earn IHG Rewards by conserving water and energy!

That’s right! Earn 500 points by declining housekeeping services at participating hotels. You must stay at least 2 consecutive nights to qualify.

12. IHG Meeting Rewards

IHG Rewards Club Meeting Rewards
Add more points to your IHG Rewards balance by joining the Meetings Rewards program. Image Credit: IHG

Become a meeting planner with IHG Meeting Rewards and earn points for hosting qualifying events.

You’ll earn 3 points for each $1 spent on meeting space, food, beverages, and even guest rooms.

Host 1 event to become a Gold Elite member (10% elite point bonus) or 2 events to become a Platinum Elite member (50% elite point bonus).

13. Purchase Discount IHG Rewards Points

Are you close to an award but still need more points for the redemption? You may be able to buy IHG Rewards points at a discount.

Every so often IHG Rewards offers targeted promotions to members. For example, you may be able to take advantage of a 100% bonus on purchases between 5,000 to 100,000 points — the 100% bonus doubles whatever denomination you purchase.

14. Shop With Apple

When you buy your new Apple products through IHG, you can earn 4x points for every $1 you spend on qualifying products. Simply visit the IHG/Apple partnership website, sign in to your IHG Rewards account, and start shopping.

Your points will be deposited in your IHG account after the Apple 30-day product return period has passed.

15. Transfer IHG Rewards Points to Another Member

Family at beach
Pool points together for the whole family. Image Credit: Pixabay via Pexels

IHG Rewards permits you to transfer your points to another member, or have them transfer points to you! Best of all, there is no limit. You must transfer in 1,000 point increments, but there is a $5 fee per 1,000 points. This could definitely get expensive if you’re transferring a large number of points, so be sure to calculate whether the added cost is worth the redemption.

Final Thoughts

Credit card bonuses, elite status bonuses, promotional offers, and so much more. IHG really does offer plenty of ways to earn IHG Rewards points.

Simply pick the strategies from this post that work best for your needs and you will be on your way to earning plenty of points for an award night in no time!

Frequently asked questions

How does the IHG Rewards work?

IHG Rewards is a free hotel loyalty program. Members earn points for staying at participating hotels as well as making purchases from travel and non-travel partners.

How many IHG Rewards points can I earn per stay?

Earn 10 points per $1 spent at all avid hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, EVEN Hotels, Holiday Inn Club Vacations Holiday Inn ExpressHoliday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, HUALUXE Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton HotelsRegent Hotels & Resorts, Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, and voco Hotels.

Earn 5 points per $1 spent at all Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Earn 600, 1,300, or 2,000 points per stay at ANA partner hotels.

With elite status, earn bonus points for your stays too. Plus, if you use the IHG Premier card, you’ll earn 25 points per $1 on top of other earnings!

Can I earn miles instead of points at IHG?

Yes, you can choose to earn miles instead of points for hotel stays.

How long does it take for points to post to my IHG Rewards account?

Expect points to post to your account within 7 business days.

How can I keep track of my IHG Rewards points?

You will receive an IHG Rewards eStatement bi-monthly. You also have access to your account online.

Is there an IHG Rewards credit card?

Yes, the IHG Premier card earns 25 points per $1 spent at IHG hotels, 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else purchased with the card.

When do IHG Rewards points expire?

Your IHG Rewards points will expire if there is no activity on the account for 12 months. Just earn or redeem once a year to keep current.

What is Spire Elite status?

You can earn Spire Elite status with a minimum of 55 nights or 55,000 elite qualifying points in the 2021 calendar year.

Although Spire Elite status comes with many perks (including 100% bonus points), one of the best benefits is the Choice Benefit program. Spire Elite members can select either 25,000 bonus points or gift Platinum Elite status to another member!

Is the IHG Rewards free to join?

Yes — anyone can join the IHG Rewards and there is no cost to do so.

How many IHG points do you need for a free night?

Standard award nights with IHG range between 10,000 and 70,000 IHG Rewards points per night.

Keep in mind that IHG has offered quarterly PointBreaks promotions in the past where hotels are discounted to anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 points from their original price.

Jarrod West

About Jarrod West

Jarrod first became fascinated with the world of points and miles as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank. On his first major award trip, he spent 3 months traveling through Europe, financed nearly entirely with points; while flying in premium cabins and staying in 5-star hotels along the way. Now, he is on a mission to help others realize their travel goals and upgrade their travel experiences. Jarrod has been writing about credit cards and travel loyalty programs for 4 years, and his work has been featured by Travel and Leisure, Matador Network, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.

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  1. wesley wilson March 18, 2018

    It has become increasingly harder to find any IHG Resort Hotels that will allow you to use IHG points to pay for a room. I have even had a IHG hotel that had many rooms available deny me the option of using reward points to pay for the room. Their reasoning was they only had a few rooms that points could be used as payment, and those rooms were taken. With nearly 1 million points, I’m doing good to get an upgraded room. Not feelin’ the love!


  2. Mister Estrada August 7, 2018

    I have been a IHG Platinum Eilte member for 18 months and noticed hotels increasing the amount of points required to stay and even some hotels, like the Holiday Inn Resorts disappearing from the annual Free Reward Night list when trying to book your free night night. You need to accumulate and use your points quickly or the depreciation factor will render your points useless since last year’s 10,000 point hotel is now going for 15,000 or 20,000. I now have the new IHG black card…Premier Club, we’ll see if anything changes… or I’ll just have to switch to another hotel group credit card… nice post by the way….


    • Thanks for this info Mister Estrada!


      • Lucienne CHU October 7, 2018

        Hi team,

        I just joined the IHG programme online and am still waiting for my IHG Card to be posted out to my home address . I am going to visit China soon and already booked three nights at Crowne Plaza Foshan . My enquiry : how can I earn the IHG points as I don’t have the card yet ? If I show my online IHG membership number to the Crowne Plaza when I arrive there, would they allocate the points I earn with this booking ? Or do I have to print out the temporary card to record the nights? I will then visit other cities in China. I am sure I can easily pass the 10 nights required during this trip .
        Hence your advice is really appreciated. Thank you and cheers.



        • Hi Lucienne! Fortunately you do not need your physical IHG membership card to receive credit for your upcoming stays. If you call IHG, they can add your membership number to your reservations. Their phone number is 1(800) 621-0555. You could also email them. It is possible to add it at the hotel but it is best to do it in advance as you will then be able to access all of your reservations online in your account and assure you receive credit. Be sure to have your membership number with you during your trip in case the hotel does not have it on the reservation and check your statement when you check in/out to make sure your IHG membership is on it. I hope your trip goes well.


  3. Terry R Wood June 10, 2019

    I have been an IHG Rewards member for 15 years. It was my go-to when traveling on business. Unfortunately something has gone wrong here. Points are practically worthless now. I still have the IHG rewards credit card and I do get an “free” anniversary night for the $89 annual membership fee but there is really no other benefit anymore. Over the last several years it has cost me more to stay loyal to IHG. Today I am trying to book a room in Salt Lake City, just as someone off the street a standard room can be had for $97.22. For me to stay with points would cost me 30,000 points. I recently loaded up for the year on points like I usually do when I am sent an offer to purchase, but to buy 30,000 points cost me $172.50. I do have the option to split the bill by paying cash and buying points. I can get that same standard room for 15,000 points (which cost me $94.50) plus $105.00 cash.
    Someone has let this ship go astray???


    • Hello Terry and thanks for your comment. You are using a very specific example and in the case you mention, it would be better to pay cash for the room. As you are probably aware, being a long term IHG Rewards member, even with the increase in redemption costs, it is still possible to find great value using your points. A night at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, for example, can be secured for 70,000 IHG points but can cost $700 per night to pay cash. The Intercontinental in San Juan, for 50,000 IHG points, can run $350 or more per night. PointBreaks specials have even allowed me to secure a Holiday Inn Express in Madrid for 5,000 points per night. Also, sometimes purchasing points is not always the best value. During promotions you can pick up 100,000 points for $500 which does bring the cost down somewhat but even then, it does not always make sense without a specific redemption in mind that will maximize the value. Thousands of points can also be earned for no additional cost during a promotion such as Accelerate. So yes, while there are plenty of situations where using points is not a good deal, like the one you mention, there are still plenty of great reward redemption options to be found with IHG points.


  4. Hi, has anybody recently stayed at an IHG property in Greater China (Mainland, HK, Taiwan)? If so, did you have a choice of either Points or a Drink voucher as welcome amenity gift? I was told today by the Intercontinental Xiamen that Points are no longer offered in Greater China as a welcome amenity gift. Any recent experience proving that statement right (or wrong)?


  5. My wife just became a Platinum Elite IHG member and currently, I am Gold Elite. I was looking to transfer the 50k points I have from my Gold account to my wife’s account but IHG is requesting $250 to transfer the points. This seems outrageous to me. I would be interested if anyone has any other methods/success stories to work around this?


    • Hi Ed,

      Unfortunately, the only way to transfer your IHG points into your wife’s account is to pay the $250 transfer fee. However, we would advise against doing so as that high of a fee would negate most of the value you would receive from just using the points through your own account.

      Thanks for reading!


  6. Peter Seeley August 23, 2019

    I’ve been a loyal IHG member for more years than I can think of. Most of my points have come from the credit card and business hotel stays.

    Recently stayed in a Crown Plaza through work and just had confirmation of points earned, none! When did I miss the fact that you can no longer earn points through bookings with company travel agencies? Why would they do this? We still make a choice which hotel/chain to stay with. May just have to look at alternative loyalty schemes!


  7. Edward Temoney December 12, 2019

    Is paying for the Ambassador option worth it?


  8. You might want to mention that the credit cards are only available to less than 5% of the world’s people. Those who recide outside of the US cannot apply.


  9. The IHG rewards club that gives 5x or 10x points per dollar spent DOES NOT WORK if you chose the Points & Cash option. You will be charged the amount they state on site per night for converting into points, but you will only receive 1 point per dollar spent even though you’re spending the money for a stay at their hotel.


  10. You caution against (blindly) transferring points to another member due to the high cost of $5 per 1,000 points transferred. However, my transferring $1,000 points to my wife for $5 (500 cents for 1000 points = 0.5 cents per point) is the same as her capitalizing on a great IHG purchase promo — buying points for 0.5 cents per point. And this transfer can be done anytime, not just during IHG’s promos. And this $5/1000 point transfer rate is in effect for quantities as small as 1,000 points, whereas one often has to buy a lot of points in order to get the best rate of 0.5 cents per point. So I don’t see how this transfer rate is bad, at all. Am I missing something?


    • Hi Chuck,

      If you need to move a small number of points to another account in order to make a booking possible, then it can definitely make sense to do so.

      However, if you have the option to buy points at 0.5 cents per point instead, then that would likely be the better option. This is because when you purchase points, you’ll receive new points that you did not have before. When you transfer points, you’re just paying money to move points you already have from one account to another.


  11. With 84k Available points and gold elite how many free hotel nights would that be?


    • Hi Susan,

      It depends! IHG award nights vary from hotel to hotel. Award nights usually range between 10,000 to 70,000 points per night. So 84,000 points could get you anywhere between 1 to 8 free nights, or even more if you use the 4th-night free benefit from the IHG Rewards Premier card!


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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