Is It Better To Earn Miles Or Points From Stays At IHG Hotels?

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Some people lack the inclination to learn about hotel chain loyalty programmes. If you use hotels infrequently, you may believe that you will never accumulate enough points for a complimentary night’s stay somewhere (or find a worthwhile use for them before they expire). As a result, you may choose to earn airline miles rather than hotel points.

With IHG – the hotel chain that encompasses Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and other brands – you can choose to earn airline miles or hotel points for your stay. In general – although there are some exceptions – you can earn:

  • 10 IHG points per US dollar spent (before tax)
  • 2 airline miles per US dollar spent (before tax)

You have many airline programmes to choose from…

And at first glance, it appears that you don’t lose anything by choosing miles, since the 10:2 ratio is the same ratio that will be applied if you choose to convert 10,000 points into 2,000 airline miles.

What You Don’t Get When Choosing To Earn Miles

Tier Bonuses

If you don’t stay at hotels very often, you might assume that you will never earn elite status with a hotel chain. However, there are plenty of ways to pick up some level of elite status from credit cards etc. With IHG in particular, you can “buy” Platinum status by spending $200 to become an Ambassador member.

In any event, if you choose to earn miles, you do NOT earn a tier bonus. This can be quite relevant:

  • Silver elite – 20% bonus points
  • Gold elite – 40% bonus points
  • Platinum elite – 60% bonus points
  • Diamond elite – 100% bonus points

Promotional Bonuses

Hotel chains such as IHG regularly run bonus point promotions. At the moment, you can earn 2,000 bonus points after every second paid night at an IHG hotel (click here for details).

When you choose to earn miles for your IHG stays, you become ineligible for any promotional bonus points.

It’s Easy to Keep IHG Points from Expiring

Because of the value of tier bonuses and promotions, it definitely makes more sense to accumulate points – even if your ultimate goal is to convert them to airline miles.

One common fear is that an infrequent hotel user will see their points expire before getting around to using them (or before accumulating the 10,000 points needed to convert them into airline miles). With IHG, you must have activity in your account once every twelve months. Luckily you can remain active without staying at a hotel – some members even resort to spending a few points on a digital download they may or may not use.

What About American Airlines Loyalty Points?

I was inspired to write this article by somebody on Flyertalk who was accumulating vast amounts of AAdvantage Loyalty Points from IHG stays. At first glance, it might possibly make sense to earn AA miles instead of IHG points, if only because conversions of IHG points to AAdvantage miles do NOT count as Loyalty Points.

But when you choose to earn AA miles directly from each stay, those miles do indeed count as Loyalty Points.

And, for what it’s worth, you can also earn Loyalty Points by visiting the American Airlines online shopping portal en route to the IHG website. The standard earning rate is another 2 miles / Loyalty Points per US dollar spent.  You do still receive those shopping portal miles, regardless of whether you choose to earn points or miles from IHG.

Bottom Line

If all that you care about is American Airlines AAdvantage elite status – and you don’t have the time or inclination to earn Loyalty Points in more cost-effective ways – then an infrequent IHG hotel guest might just want to set their IHG One Rewards account to earn AAdvantage miles.

But everybody else should simply accumulate IHG points. Even if your only interest in the loyalty programme hobby is airline miles, you will end up with more miles if you accumulate IHG points and convert them later…

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