Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
A few weeks ago I wrote a beginner’s guide to the Accelerate promotion from IHG Rewards Club. You can re-read that post by clicking here.
As I mentioned in that prior post, IHG Rewards Club has a different approach to promotions; each member receives individual targets rather than a bog-standard double points or X points per night/stay. But another nuance to Accelerate is that you have ZERO incentive to stay more than the minimum required by your targets. There are two main reasons for this:
- You won’t earn any additional bonus points no matter how many additional stays you manage
- If you “over-stay” during one Accelerate period, your targets in the next version will be harder!
Since one hotel stay can help you meet various targets at once, the ideal scenario is to meet all of your Accelerate targets with the minimum number of nights. Travel hackers (and those who just enjoy puzzles) can take this practice to extremes. But with the help of my colleagues at InsideFlyer UK, I’m going to provide a number of examples based on our current targets.
As you can see, I can earn 61,400 bonus points (worth approximately £250) from meeting all 7 targets. I know from experience that they aren’t going to give me a UK credit card (nor do I want one) so I have to concentrate on the other six targets to earn a total of 59,400 bonus points.
The first step is usually to check the number of nights required for the “Stay More, Earn More” target. Almost everybody receives a target like this. In my case I am required to complete five paid nights in order to complete the target. This is also the maximum number of nights I wish to spend at an IHG hotel this period!
So, how can I squeeze my other targets into those five nights? Luckily I don’t need an advanced degree in mathematics this time around, as I must come up with:
- 3 stays at a Holiday Inn Express
- Stays in 3 different countries (excluding the UK)
- 1 two-night stay over a weekend
- 2 Bonus Point Package stays
Being an elite status junkie helps me here, since I automatically think “one-night stay” when I see the word “stay”. So I can easily meet my targets with a combination of:
- 3 stays at three different Holiday Inn Express hotels in three separate foreign countries
- 2 of those stays would be one-night stays that I would book using the Bonus Point Package rate
- The third stay would be a weekend, three-night stay
Alternatively, since I try to spend as little time as possible in Holiday Inn Express hotels, I could just have three one-night stays at three Holiday Inn Express hotels in three separate countries. (with two booked at the Bonus Point rate) Then I could have a two-night weekend stay anywhere at any brand.
It is worth noting that I want to avoid booking the Bonus Point rate on stays longer than one night, since that rate involves paying a higher rate for all nights, without the additional points being sufficient compensation much of the time.
Reasonably simple right? Of course three separate countries with a convenient Holiday Inn Express is far from straightforward for most.
The Inimitable “Young Fogie” Joseph Deeney
Joe has it easy…
Like me, Joe also has a “Stay More, Earn More” target of 5 nights. However, he doesn’t really need to bother since he only needs to complete 4 of 5 offers to earn the juicy 21,800 point achievement bonus. So he can choose to ignore that target and do this:
- Stay once… at any IHG hotel… on a Bonus Point Package rate… and spend $39 (approximately £30) whilst he’s there on food and drink.
That’s it! And when he gets home, he can spend 32,000 IHG points (or $200) to buy Ambassador status from Intercontinental. Joe will earn 35,000 bonus points from completing 4 of 5 Accelerate offers (plus an extra 2,000 points if he were to have completed his stay in September) for a net gain of 3,000 points and a year of Ambassador status (with its free weekend night certificate). Not bad.
He Who Shall Not Be Named
Another InsideFlyer UK contributor has a trickier set of targets with 49,100 bonus points on offer for completing all seven.
The target of a significant number of nights in a specific country – in his case Germany – can be a difficult one to manage unless it fits into regular travel patterns. So, taking the 5-night “Stay More, Earn More” target as his maximum, he could choose to complete his remaining targets with 2 two-night weekend stays at any IHG hotel, booked via the App. One of those stays would need to be paid for with his IHG credit card. (unless the already-completed stay qualifies, but is just slow to track on the Accelerate dashboard)
Alternatively, if Germany fits into his business travel patterns, he can skip the two-weekend target and simply stay once in Germany (minimum 3-nights) and one night anywhere else, with both stays booked using the App.
One disadvantage of these approaches, however, is that we want to use the App on the cheapest one-night stays possible, as the cashback offered by IHG through Topcashback is substantial; you can’t earn cashback on App bookings. So it might have made more sense to use the App when booking the one-night stay that has already taken place.
It can be quite fun trying to complete your Accelerate targets in the absolute minimum of nights possible. You also want to keep in mind the value loss from booking a Bonus Point rate or using the App more than necessary. Of course, if you only travel for business purposes this quest can be close to impossible. But if you travel frequently enough for pleasure, Accelerate is a great little puzzle for travel hackers to solve. If you’d like us to help you with that, list your current targets in the comments section…