Earning Stories: IHG Rewards Club – 115,634 Points by utilizing IHG’s Accelerate and other bonus offers

Welcome to the another post in the Earning Stories series right here on Rewards Canada. Rewards Canada contributor Bill Wheatley shares his earning story of how he made the most of IHG Rewards Club’s Accelerate promotion. This is IHG’s quarterly bonus offer that is customized to each member with various tasks to achieve to earn bonus points. Bill’s story takes us through the Winter version that ended on April 30th but don’t worry as the next version of Accelerate launched on May 1st and you can make sure you try to maximize your earn like Bill did. 

I have been an IHG Rewards Club member for 20+ years. During this time, I have always utilized the various bonus opportunities that have been offered by IHG.  This has allowed me to achieve various levels of status with IHG. I was Platinum Elite for 2017 (after several years of Gold Elite). However, I was able to achieve Spire Elite status for 2018, the top tier offered by IHG. This requires 75 nights or 75,000 points. While my nights were less than 75, I was able to achieve this based on points.

To do this, there needs to be a clear understanding of which points are qualifying points and which are not. Any points earned through any of the promotions run throughout the year are not qualifying points.  This includes the Accelerate program, location coupons (such as the Recharge “Your Spirit in the West” 1,000 bonus point promotion), and elite status bonus points.

Qualifying points include all purchased stays, in-hotel purchases if charged to room and any purchase of nightly bonus points. As these are purchased (typically 1,000 points per night or 5,000 points per stay), they are applied as qualifying points for Elite status.  (These are IHG’s Bonus Point packages – click here for details on those)

For this winter’s Accelerate Bonus, I was able to achieve all but one of the goals (this being the stay 4 nights or more option). It is important to weigh out the values of each option based upon the likelihood of your ability to accomplish that particular goal and the value of the bonus points offered.

Based upon your travel plans, some of the goals may be difficult to meet. Staying at 6 different Holiday Inn Express locations can be a challenge unless you are in a major urban area. (Make sure you read the offer carefully. Staying at a Holiday Inn instead of a Holiday Inn Express won’t count towards your goal). Likewise staying 14 nights can be challenging depending again on your travel needs as well as the length of the promotion. The winter promotion was 4 months long (and required 13 nights) whereas the Spring 2018 promotion is only 3 months and requires 14 nights (based on my personal Accelerate offer). Of course, each offer is unique to each individual and will vary accordingly. I was able to achieve the requirements for the winter promotion, but don’t think I will meet the Spring promotion requirements based on my current travel schedule.

Of course, there are some very easy goals to meet. Just registering for the Accelerate Bonus will usually garner you 500 points. Usually there is a “Stay once” in addition to a “Stay in a particular month” option, both of which typically add 2,000 points each. The advantage is that both of these goals can be achieved with one stay. There is also a “Points & Cash” option which will award around 2,400 points if utilized. (Remember, you are using more points to complete this task than you will receive in return, so I would only recommend it if you are sure you can complete the requirements to obtain the bonus points for completing approximately 90% of the tasks). This option is usually in USD, so be mindful of the exchange rate too. The last option is to “Earn when you redeem”, typically this will gain you 1,000 points.  Again, what you are redeeming may outweigh the return, so keep this in mind.

This Winter’s Accelerate offer was well-suited to my travel needs. It is not often that that the offer fits in so neatly with your travel plans.  Below is a summary of my points earning for the January – April 2018 period.

Qualifying Base Stay            15,417
Elite Bonus Points (Spire)        15,417
Bonus Point Package            12,000
Welcome Bonus (not gift basket)     5,500
Hotel Promotion Bonus (certificate)      7,000
Points & Cash                  5,000
Accelerate Bonus Points            55,300
TOTAL                            115,634

As you can see, I was able to generate a lot of bonus points utilizing various offers and the Accelerate Program. However, of the 115,634 points earned, only 27,417 of these points (in bold above) met the requirements for qualifying points. But, even though not all of these were not qualifying points, I still earned enough points in 4 months to be able to redeem for 4-5 nights depending on the specific hotel redemption rate.

As a frequent traveller, I try to target my participation in various programs to a select few so that I don’t end up with a few points in a lot of programs (more commonly referred to as “orphan points”).

Related: To diversify or not to diversify – that is the question

However, I do belong to over a dozen points programs as you never know where you may end up and the brand of hotel/car rental etc.  that may be available to you. To that point, I recommend that you sign up for any program that you think may be of personal benefit. In addition, always accept any special promotions that are available to you even though you may not think it may not apply.  There have been various occasions where my plans have changed, and I was able to take advantage of a promotion I didn’t think I was going to need.

Related: Reminder: Always register for promotions as soon as you learn about them

You don’t have to be a frequent traveller to take advantage of this program. Below are the various tiers available and the qualifications needed. As the points do not expire, you can accumulate as long as you want.

In summary, the IHG Accelerate program has been very beneficial to me over the years; I have been able to obtain many tens of thousands of points which I have utilized on many occasions.  Even with the redemptions I have used, I still have close to 400,000 points in my account.  This program is very worthwhile and I highly recommend it to anyone who travels.

If you haven’t done so yet, you should make sure you register for the current version of the Accelerate offer:

IHG Rewards Club Accelerate: Earn 500 to 30,000 or more Bonus IHG
Rewards Club Points when you complete stays at IHG Hotels Worldwide.
Bonus varies by member  Full details, online registration and booking (Registration is required) May 1 – Jul 31, 18.

Already registered? Simply book your stay at IHG.com to earn your bonus points!

You can find this and many more IHG Rewards Club bonus point opportunities here!