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IHG currently have an offer on points+cash bookings for Platinum Elite members, giving a 12% discount on the cash required. This offers results in the CHEAPEST DOLLAR RATE I’ve ever seen for buying IHG points.
I received the 12% discount as a platinum elite. However there is 10% discount being offered to Gold elites, and 15% if you happen to be a Spire elite.
For those unfamiliar with points+cash bookings, these are bookings that allow you to pay on a part points / part cash basis. For example, if a room normally requires 60,000 points for an award night, you will be offered a range of options to use differing amounts of points, making up the rest with cash. The normal rates are:-
- 60,000 points
- 55,000 points +$40
- 50,000 points +$70
- 45,000 points +$99
- 40,000 points +$125
The bottom option results in you paying $125 for 20,000 points, or 0.625c per point. However, platinum members are currently seeing this:-
20,000 points now only cost $110, or 0.55c per point. That is the cheapest dollar rate I have ever seen for purchasing IHG points. The current poor $-£ exchange rate means each point costs 0.42p.
If you book a night and then later cancel it, you don’t get 40,000 points + $110 refunded. You get 60,000 back into your account. This is what is known as the points+cash+cancel trick, something that IHG clearly knows about as it’s been going on for years. So it’s a not-so-secret way of buying points at a discounted rate.
So is it worth buying points ?
Buying points in this manner can work out considerably cheaper than paying cash for a hotel. Remember, you really need to compare it to a flex rate, as reward night bookings are cancellable.
For example, Manchester hotels are always very expensive on any Saturday night which coincides with Man Utd playing. A quick test of one such Sat, the 19th of Nov, shows that a city centre Holiday Inn Express is £206 best flex rate, or 25K points. At 0.42p per point, you can buy the points for that reward night for £105, virtually half the cash price of the room.
The Crowne Plaza right next door is £260 best flex or 35K points. 35K points can be had for £147, making the room £113 cheaper than the comparable cash price. It’s worth noting that on the Sunday night, the Crowne Plaza cash flex rate is £105, so it’s actually cheaper to book using cash.
I wouldn’t be silly with the above and start doing loads of cash+points bookings and cancellations. Although IHG seem reasonably tolerant of the occasional such booking, one would imagine they crack down on anyone flagrantly abusing it. Accounts have been known to be closed in the past for other abuses.
However it’s a useful trick to have in your armoury, especially with this 12% cash discount. The discount runs from now until Sept 18th, for stays up to Nov 30th 2016.