Thanks to the IHG Rewards Club Priceless Surprises and Accelerate promotion (which are stackable, by the way), a lot of folks are going to end up with a nice stash of IHG Rewards Club points. Most of you are probably planning to use these points for free hotel nights, which is just one of many different ways to redeem IHG points. This brings me to an infographic recently published by IHG Rewards Club, which illustrates how millions of members have used their IHG points over the past year. The most popular redemptions were reward nights, followed by gift cards and merchandise. In the gift card category, most members preferred to redeem their points for coffee and home improvement store gift cards, while tablets were the top redemption items in the merchandise category.
I know what many of you are wondering: Is redeeming IHG points for gift cards and merchandise a good value? Most people value IHG points at 0.6 cents a piece, so it depends on whether the value of the points required for one of these awards exceeds the retail value of the item. Let’s look at some of the most popular items IHG Rewards Club members redeemed their points for:
- Apple iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi + Cellular 64GB Silver – 284,500 IHG points or $629
- Apple iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi 128GB – 271,500 IHG points or $599
If you were to purchase 284,500 IHG points at 0.6 cents each and redeem them for an iPad mini, it would cost you $1,707 – nearly three times the retail price of $629. The same goes for the 128 GB iPad mini model: Buying 271,500 points would cost $1,629, which far exceeds the $599 price tag of a 128 GB iPad mini with Wi-Fi capability.
- $50 Starbucks or Home Depot gift card = 20,000 IHG points
- $25 Starbucks or Home Depot gift card = 11,000 IHG points
- $100 Home Depot gift card = 38,500
- $200 Home Depot gift card = 77,000
At 0.6 cents each, 20,000 IHG points are valued at $120 while 11,000 points are worth $66. Redeeming $50 and $25 Starbucks or Home Depot gift cards at these rates will get you less than half the value of what it costs to buy the points (and the amount of value you should be getting out of a reward night).
Based on point valuation alone, redeeming IHG points for iPads or gift cards isn’t a good value for most people. That being said, you should always redeem your points the way you see fit. I once spoke with an IHG employee who redeemed her points for a new washing machine. This person received a great employee discount on paid hotel stays, so she valued her points differently than most of us would. When there was an opportunity for her to save money on a new washer by using her IHG points, it made sense for her because the savings from her employee discount were significant enough that she didn’t need her IHG points for reward nights.
There’s also the matter of how you personally use IHG Rewards Club points for free night awards. If you’re not maximizing your award redemptions and getting decent value out of reward nights, then a gift card or merchandise reward might seem like a better alternative. Do what works for you.
I, for one, will probably redeem my points for a reward night at a top-tier Category 9 hotel. Up until recently, I had my sights set on a week-long stay at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa, where a standard award night gets you into an Emerald overwater villa. At over $1,000 per night, the Intercontinental Bora Bora is great place to put 50,000 points to use. However, there is the issue of flying all the way out to Bora Bora and reports of giant tarantulas roaming around the island, so I don’t know how practical this trip will be (or safe, for an arachnophobe like me). In any case, I plan on getting at least 1 cent per value out of my stash of IHG Rewards Club points.
Have you ever redeemed IHG points for something other than a free night? Please share in the comment section.
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