We were in Easter Island with pretty much no wifi and a spotty, barely usable 3G data connection when we g0t an AirBnb notification saying our host had cancelled our reservation in Auckland. It was 1 week before we were set to arrive… Needless to say, we began to freak out because we did not know if we would get a strong enough signal to book anything and Auckland was our next destination. I have always heard of the “IHG Cash and Points trick,” but have never felt the need to use it. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll be explaining so don’t worry about it. I was finally able to get a wifi connection and I decided it was time to finally use the trick.
What I did
Up until a few days ago, the Crowne Plaza Auckland cost 25,000 points a night (it now costs 30,000), which is a pretty good points price for a nice hotel in a prime location in a big city. The problem was I didn’t have enough points to book the hotel.
I decided to check out the Cash + Points price. I could pay 10,000 points and $99 instead of 25,000 points to book a a night. This essentially meant that I was “buying” 15,000 points for $99. That is a pretty decent deal. That means I would be paying $0.0066 per point.
But you can do better…
IHG has different Cash + Points rates for different hotels. I have been unable to figure out any rhyme or reason as to which ones have different rates, so it is best to use trial and error. Eventually I stumbled upon Holiday Inn Express – Chicago NW – Arlington Heights. I still have no idea how they calculate the prices, and what I found stumped me (and still does). The Cash + Points prices seemed to be correlated with the cash price for the room on that day. If the room is cheaper (in cash) that night, the Cash + Points rate will also be cheaper. The screenshots below show some discrepancies.
In the third example, if you book the 10,000 points and $60 rate you are essentially “buying” 10,000 points for $60. That is an even better deal than I had before. If I did this, I would be “buying” points at a rate of $0.006 a point.
With IHG Cash + Points stays, you are not “buying” points – you are literally buying the points. When you make a Cash + Points reservation, you buy the points and then those points are instantly redeemed for the award night. I decided to book 4 nights at the 10,000 and $60 Cash + Points rate. This means I bought 40,000 points for $240. In my account you can see the 4 purchases for 10,000 points (1 for each night) and then see 20,000 points redeemed for each night.
The trick is that now you have a normal award reservation and thus can cancel the award and get the points deposited into your account. After I made the Cash + Points reservation, I cancelled the reservation and got 80,000 points back into my account. I now had 40,000 more points in my account than I had before. That gave me a big enough balance to book 3 nights at the Crowne Plaza Auckland.
With this trick, you can shop around to find the best Cash + Points rate you can find, make a booking at that hotel, cancel that reservation, and then use your newly acquired points for a reservation at the property you really want to stay at.
If I booked the Cash + Points rate directly at the Crowne Plaza Auckland, I would have been paying more per point. I would have paid $297 for 45,000 points, but instead I paid $240 for 40,000 points. The straight cash rate for the hotel was around $290 a night. By using the Cash and Points trick, we were able to have substantial savings on our stay. The only catch is that to take advantage of the trick, you need at least some points in your IHG account to be able to book a Cash + Points reservation that you plan on canceling.
I do want to note that IHG often runs promotions in which you can buy points with a 100% bonus. When they have these promotions, you can buy points for $0.00575 each. That is better than any rate that I was able to get with this trick. However, with this trick you can acquire points when you know you need them at a slightly more expensive rate, which in my mind is worth the difference in price. I do not like purchasing points when I do not have a specific use in mind. You never know when points can be devalued.
Have you been able to take advantage of the IHG Cash + Points trick before? Have any questions?