You Can Buy Elite-Qualifying IHG Points During Booking — Should You? You Can Buy Elite-Qualifying IHG Points During Booking — Should You?

You Can Buy Elite-Qualifying IHG Points During Booking — Should You?

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IHG One Rewards members can purchase up to 5,000 points per night during booking. What makes this promotion interesting is that these points are elite qualifying.

We've taken the opportunity to dig into the promotion and see which types of IHG One Rewards members will benefit from this promotion and which members might find better value by buying points elsewhere.

Is it worth buying IHG points at checkout? Let's look at the numbers.

Buying at Checkout vs. Buying With a Bonus

This promotion makes the most sense for those chasing elite status in IHG One Rewards but also could be appealing for those wanting to build up a hefty point balance for a redemption at one of IHG's 6,000-plus worldwide hotels.

Purchasing up to 5,000 points per night at rates that vary depending on the property could instantly provide value for both groups, given that elite status is attainable starting at 40,000 qualifying points, and redemptions start at 5,000 points per night. However, one group would be better off buying at checkout, while another might find more value buying IHG points with a bonus or discount from regular sales. We'll look at the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong to walk through the math.

Aerial photo of the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong.
Credit: Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong

For a one-night stay in October, rates at the Hotel Indigo range between $151 and $197, accounting for the IHG One Rewards member discount. IHG presents three bookable options for the standard room — one of which requires a deposit while two don't.

1 King bed standard booking options at the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong.
Credit: IHG

The two choices not requiring a deposit offer the ability to buy up to 5,000 points per night. That same principle holds for all IHG hotels we compared when digging into this promotion. If it doesn't require a deposit, you can likely buy elite qualifying points while checking out.

You can purchase points on both short and long stays. We've seen the points offer (via pop-up message) appear for stays as short as one night and greater than ten nights, so there doesn't appear to be a defined minimum or maximum number of nights in which you can take advantage of the promotion — assuming you've selected an eligible rate.

Buy points option for the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong.
Credit: IHG

I'll select the middle room rate option for illustrative purposes at $183. Purchasing 5,000 points for $8 would hike the cost of my $183 per night booking — including applicable taxes and fees — to $226.81. While I'd walk away with 6,826 IHG One Rewards points from the booking, I would have paid $48.07 more than I would have with the standard, non-refundable member rate. Booking the cheaper rate would have netted me 1,826 IHG One Rewards points.

The difference between the two rates, aside from the value provided by being refundable, was effectively 5,000 IHG One Rewards points and $48.07. This difference equates to purchasing IHG points for 0.96 cents per point, which is more expensive than the value AwardWallet users typically get from these points, which is 0.69¢. Of course, points during booking are elite-qualifying, and that may change the value you assign to them.

Comparatively, you could buy IHG points with a bonus or discount. In a recent sale, purchasing 5,000 non-elite qualifying points would cost $67.50, but you'd end up with 9,000 points after the 80% bonus. That would reduce the cost to 0.75 cents per point. This rate is significantly cheaper on a cent-per-point basis than purchasing points during checkout.

Ultimately, rates that qualify for the promotion are frequently more expensive than rates that do not qualify. If you were to purchase points, it's essential to consider what you seek to gain from buying points – whether that be their elite qualifying activity or using points for redemptions.

Who Should Buy IHG Points During Checkout?

As we mentioned at the outset, two main groups of travelers would consider buying IHG One Rewards points during checkout: those chasing status and those who want to take advantage of redemptions.

For those wanting to redeem, buy points with a bonus (elsewhere)

Based on the math, travelers who want to accrue IHG points at a discount to redeem for hotel stays would be wise to avoid the point-buying promotion offered when booking hotel stays. If you buy points for around 0.5¢–0.6¢ apiece, you could save roughly 0.2 cents per point.

This is much better than adding the points to a booking at the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong. a

For those chasing status, consider buying elite qualifying points at checkout

For status chasers, the value proposition of buying points while booking differs from purchasing points outright. Points purchased during the booking process are elite qualifying, so the value obtained from reaching a new status tier might be worth the extra cost on a per-point basis. Tier benefits can be highly valuable, considering the wide range of perks, upgrade possibilities, and other amenities.

Paying extra for a stay to earn up to 5,000 status-qualifying points per night could be worth it to some IHG One Rewards members. Still, the value provided by status is subjective outside of standard benefits that carry a cash value, such as complimentary breakfast for select elite members.

Regardless, checking the math before paying up is worth the effort. Not every hotel offers the same rates for buying points during checkout. For example, the Dinso Resort & Villas Phuket has these costs:

  • 1,000 points: $7
  • 2,000 points: $7
  • 3,000 points: $29
  • 5,000 points: $43
Buy points option at the IHG Dinso Resort & Villas Phuket.
Credit: IHG

An extra 5,000 points per night is $35 more expensive at this property than at the Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong. Exercise caution before adding the points to your booking to ensure that chasing status won't inflate your final bill in a costly manner. Status chasers would be wise to judge buying points while checking out on a case-by-case basis.

Bottom Line

When booking an IHG hotel, you can purchase up to 5,000 points per night if you select an eligible rate. While it's always a good idea to accrue points, this selection should give you a pause and encourage you to think about what kind of IHG One Rewards member you are.

If you only want to take advantage of redemptions, purchasing points with a bonus and not through checkout is better. If you're on the verge of climbing an elite status tier or want to take advantage of a way to boost your qualifying points balance, purchasing points during checkout makes more sense. But check the math during each book, as pricing varies.

Where does buying these elite-qualifying IHG points during booking fit into your IHG status strategy? Let us know in the comments.

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