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Our Chase IHG Rewards Club credit card was the second dedicated hotel card either of us signed up for, but the one I’m most excited about. Of course like all these programs, you can earn points not only by staying at IHG properties, but also by renting cars, going on cruises, or by going to restaurants, bars, and clubs, etc. Check out the IHG partner page here.
But, like most of these programs, the fastest, easiest way to earn free stays is by applying for the IHG Rewards Club World MasterCard. We love this card for lots of reasons, #1 being the Annual Free Night at any IHG property worldwide. Think Bora Bora, London, Fiji, New York City. I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who wouldn’t love to stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora. Well there’s an easy way to do it on the cheap if you’re willing and able to get the credit card.
Greg and I both applied for this card in September and met the $1,000 minimum spends within 90 days, earning us 80,000 points each. The standard offer is only for 60,000 bonus points, but a bit of searching on the web turned up an 80,000 point deal. Card benefits include:
- Annual Free Night at any of the more than 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide.
- Automatic 10% rebate on all IHG point redemptions, up to 100,000 points back each year. So if you redeem 80,000 points, you get 8,000 points back.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Platinum Elite status as long as you’re a cardmember.
Spending with your IHG card earns 5x points/$1 spent at all IHG hotels, 2x/$1 at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1x/$1 on all other purchases. The $49 annual fee is waived the first year, and is worth its weight in Annual Free Nights for subsequent years.
So how do you use the card to stay in one of those bungalows?
I’ll use myself and Greg as examples. We both got the IHG Rewards Club World MasterCard, earning us 80,000 points and an Annual Free Night each. Using cash & points and the free night, we could get three nights each in an overwater bungalow, so six nights total booking with two separate reservations.
1st night: Greg’s free night
2nd night: Greg’s 40,000 points + $70
3rd night: Greg’s remaining 40,000 points + $70
4th night: My free night
5th night: My 40,000 points + $70
6th night: My remaining 40,000 points + $70
Total for 6 nights = 80,000 points + $280. The overwater bungalows can be anywhere from $700-900/night, which obviously we Warckens would never pay even if we were millionaires, but by using our IHG MasterCard, booking through a cash portal site, and with our annual 10% points rebate, our stay could actually cost us 70,600 points and $257.60. That’s 5 points/ $1 spent at IHG hotels, 8% cash back through Mr.Rebates.com, and 8,000 points back with our annual rebate. Cash back portals constantly change their rebate amounts, so it pays to check every one you’re a member of before you make the reservation, just so you get the best deal. Check out my cash back portal post here.
Of course this scenario is all based on a perfect reservation with a wide-open calendar, but we travelers know better than that. It certainly helps to book award flights and hotels as far out as possible to get the most selection. A year is a good amount of time to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip like Bora Bora happen with miles and points. Don’t be discouraged! Flexibility always helps and patience is a virtue. You could turn a $20,000 South Pacific trip for two into a 160,000 points + 150,000 miles + a few extra dollars for meals and souvenirs South Pacific trip for two. Greg and I booked our Paris dream hotel with points two days before we checked in with nary an issue.
But I always use those overwater bungalows as an example. How about some different motivation?
Crowne Plaza New York City- Times Square. 45,000 points/night, or 35,000 points + $70.
For only $49/year this card is worth applying for and worth keeping. In fact, this is one I’d recommend to everyone because there are so many IHG properties around the world, they offer Point Breaks for just 5,000 points/night, the minimum spend is very doable at only $1,000 within 90 days, and points are super easy to accrue, which I’ll talk more about in my next post.
Get to traveling already!
p.s. This post was written when the 80,000 point deal was still available through Chase. If you didn’t get the deal but still want all those points, check out our blog post on buying IHG points for cheap!
p.p.s. Some of the award night values may have changed since original publication.