Are You as Perplexed by IHG Points & Cash Reward Pricing as I am?

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IHG Rewards Club has been e-mailing targeted members with details of a short promotion that will run until 26 October, 2017. Selected members can receive a 25% discount when booking a reward using Points & Cash. You can access details of the promotion by clicking here.

One of the earliest “travel hacks” I can recall using is the Points & Cash cancellation trick. And it definitely is one of the longest-running travel hacks that hasn’t been shut down.

If you find yourself short of IHG Rewards Club points, you can simply make a Points & Cash booking. You must pay the cash portion at the time of booking. Then, if you should subsequently cancel the booking, you will receive your refund in points. Essentially this works out to a cheap way to buy points, and I suspect that most readers are well aware of this loophole.

So even though my role is normally to ENLIGHTEN readers about loyalty programmes, I must admit to being entirely perplexed by how IHG is managing Points & Cash. Check out the options for this upcoming Saturday night in Birmingham.

10,000 points for $48.75 (£37.15) – pretty good deal

The Crowne Plaza next door has different ideas though…

10,000 points for $60 (£45.70) or 15,000 points for $81.75 (£62.25) – not nearly so good

The Holiday Inn has something different to offer:

10,000 points for $52.50 (£40)

And if you keep scrolling down the list of IHG hotel options, you’ll find seemingly random pricing. Eventually you’ll get to this:

10,000 points for $45 (£34.30)

So, if you find yourself short of IHG Rewards Club points, you should book the hotel offering the lowest price for “buying points” as part of a Points & Cash reservation. After a day or two you can cancel that unwanted reservation, receive the points refund, and book the hotel you actually need.

But if we jump back up to that first Holiday Inn Express and book a two-night stay for this weekend, the price shifts again.

Now we are paying $45 (£34.30) times two (£68.60) for 20,000 points


Confused? Me too. Obviously the solution is simple enough – to look around for the hotel offering the cheapest version of Points & Cash.

But I like to understand WHY quirks like this exist. It can’t be due to the individual hotels, since they never see the cash portion (paid in advance to IHG corporate). Is IHG trying to be clever with some kind of linkage between paid rates and Points & Cash? Perhaps.

But all I see is a big travel company taking advantage of loyalty programme members who don’t know any better. (if only all 100 million IHG Rewards Club members read InsideFlyer!)

What about you? Do you have any theories about why this discrepancy exists?


  1. Scott says

    I was on IHG site the other day , its said they are going to have a flash sale and that people with the app would get first pick . I didn’t have the app so ive now downloaded it but i dont know when the sale is supposed to start , do you have any information on it or will you be running a story on it ?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      A flash sale on what? Right now we’ve got the Points & Cash “flash sale”. As for regular paid rate sales, I don’t really track those – especially if I would have to give up 8-15% cashback by booking via the app – but I can’t recall seeing anything of note. Perhaps one of the other contributors might have picked it up.

  2. Rob Rixon says

    I saw the sale but I’ve already booked at the increased 15% at Indigo Hotels (handy that I am staying in Edinburgh and the client has a Corporate Rate with them too!) until the end of the year and have no use for Points & Cash Reward nights within their timeframe.

    Another mail has literally just dropped in though for 100% more points when you purchase 5,000 points or more. Offer ends on 3rd November…

    • Craig Sowerby says

      It seems to me that Quidco and Topcashback are taking turns offering an “exclusive” increased cashback rate.

      It can be hard to remember not to re-book a lower room rate though, when you’d miss out on the higher cashback, plus any cashback transaction bonus you’ve already locked in…

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