IHG Rewards Club used to advertise that their points NEVER expire, but suddenly made an U-turn last year (read more here) that you would need to have minimum of one transaction every 12 months to keep them alive.
When hotel or airline loyalty program issues points or miles to your account, they have to assert a monetary liability on their books for the possible future redemption cost. By expiring points, they can lower the future liability and potentially to make an accounting gain.
You can access IHG’s web page for various redemption options here.
Note that some of these redemption options are country specific and the merchandise selection can vary as well.
Here are the easiest way to keep the points alive:
1. Have a stay at IHG affiliated hotel
You could have a stay at lower end brands such as the Holiday Inn Express sometimes for $20 to $30. You could also earn bundle of points if you do that during one of the promotions that IHG Rewards Club has continuously.
2. Redeem points for a stay
You could always redeem for a stay 12 months out at a hotel requiring 10,000 points for a night and cancel it close to the stay date. These have counted towards the activity in the past, but IHG could always program their system to catch this kind of behavior.
3. Use online shopping
You can earn points for shopping at various online merchants. You should perhaps use the mall for one transaction that you would have done anyway and extend your points balance in the process.
4. Redeem for digital rewards
This is probably one of the cheapest option. You could choose to redeem for the cheapest digital reward option that is available and extend your points by a year. Note that this is not available in all markets.
5. Purchase points
If you haven’t used your points for a while, it doesn’t make sense to purchase more of them.
6. Redeeming for a gift card
Redeeming points for a gift card doesn’t make too much sense BUT if you have no plans to stay at any IHG hotels anytime soon, this could be a reasonable option to burn your points. You would get some value out of them.
7. Donate points
The monetary value per point when used for donations is very low. Could be an option for some, however.
8. Redeem point for miles
You can redeem IHG Rewards Club points to number of airlines miles. This can make sense if you redeem the with a premium airline such as Singapore Airlines and use the miles for international business or first class flight.
9. Redeem amenity points
IHG Rewards Club elite members get amenity points at many IHG brands. Usually these are scratch cards that you use to deposit the points to your account. If one of the family members or friends get these, he/she can donate one to person with expiring points.
10. Redeem points for merchandise
The monetary value associated with one point is low. But if you can find something you would have purchased anyway, it can make sense rather than let the points expire or the value to devalue over the years. You can access the IHG product catalog (including plenty of Apple) here.
Above are some ideas to keep dormant IHG Rewards Club account’s points from expiring. The digital download would probably be the easiest redemption option, although the option seems to be down at the time of writing this.
I have couple of family accounts that received the points expiry email yesterday. I’ll probably have them each to stay at cheap HIX over the next few months. The points earned from the current Accelerate promo would offset the cost (and the points extension thus would be free).