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Hotel rewards and frequent flyer miles are, generally speaking, two separate things. But more and more frequently, airlines and hotels are partnering up. They are allowing passengers and guests to transfer miles and points from one travel rewards program to another. And while that may seem like a convenient resource, things are not always what they seem. Let’s break down whether the IHG and AAdvantage partnership is worth utilizing.
IHG and AAdvantage Partnership
To be clear, this doesn’t include transferring credit card points or miles to IHG or AAdvantage. Transferring points or miles from credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Premier Rewards Gold card to frequent travel programs is often a smart move, especially when you have an expensive stay or flight coming up. However, transferring points and miles from one frequent traveler program to another is a whole different story.
IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) is up there with Marriott Bonvoy as a major travel rewards program for hotels. Their lineup of hotels includes Holiday Inns, Kimpton, and Crowne Plaza, to name a few. When you’re a member, you earn rewards for every stay in a participating hotel. Like frequent flyer programs, you can also buy points to put toward stays.
New cardholders can also earn 125,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. For the first 12 months, new cardholders can also earn 40x points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. After that, you will earn 25x points per $1.
Additionally, you can earn 4x points on all other purchases for the first 12 months. After that, you will earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
A one-night stay at a category 1 hotel costs about 10,000 points. Occasionally you can even book a night for half that at one of the select properties on the IHG PointBreak list. Most reward nights, however, hover in the 30,000-40,000 range in more popular destinations. The points you get are actually only valued at just over half a cent. So it would make sense to transfer them to a more valuable platform, right? Maybe not.
American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth closer to 1.4 cents per mile. You can earn up to 70,000 miles with their available suite of credit cards, and they are some of the best airline credit cards. Many domestic flights start around 12,500 miles each way, though there are certainly more costly options. You can earn AAdvantage miles by eating out, shopping online, even taking surveys. But if you’re just shy of enough miles to book an award flight, should your transfer IHG points to your AAdvantage account?
IHG and AAdvantage Miles
For starters, the exchange rate for IHG to AAdvantage isn’t favorable. You can only transfer a minimum of 10,000 IHG points at a time and that only gets you 2,000 AAdvantage miles. That’s decreasing the IHG point value of $60 to $28. Of course, if you purchased those 2,000 AAdvantage miles, it would cost $60, but the fact remains that IHG points are worth over twice as much toward hotel stays than American Airlines flights.
In addition to the point devaluation, transfers can only be requested by calling the IHG customer care line. Once processed, it will take four to six weeks to show up in your AAdvantage account. That means if you needed a few extra miles for a last-minute flight, you aren’t getting them from your IHG Rewards account.
Fortunately, IHG Rewards points don’t expire (as long as there is account activity once in 12 months). If you have elite status, points never expire.
When Is a Transfer Between IHG and AAdvantage Worth It?
There are a few circumstances when transferring points between IHG and AAdvantage might still be worth it, but not many. If your IHG reward points are about to expire and you’re not planning a stay before they do, you might as well transfer them. Likewise, if you’ve joined another hotel loyalty program and don’t think you’ll stay at IHG hotels in the near future, go ahead and transfer. Otherwise, points are more valuable for free nights as opposed to flights.
Transfer Special Offers Fall Flat
Now through May 31, 2018, IHG and AAdvantage have a special going that allows you to collect 25% extra miles when you transfer IHG Reward points to your AAdvantage account. That equals 2,500 miles for every 10,000 IHG points you transfer. While that may seem like a good deal, those miles are still only worth $35. That’s still less than the IHG points are worth on their own.
Earn Miles From the Get-Go, Still a No-Go
Another option IHG offers is the ability to earn airline frequent flyer miles instead of IHG Rewards with every stay. That includes AAdvantage miles. But again, the point values fall. AAdvantage members will only earn 2x miles per dollar spent as opposed to IHG’s 25x points per dollar. The means you’d be sacrificing value.
But Is This IHG and AAdvantage Special Worth It?
However, May 15 through July 31, 2018, IHG is offering up to 4x miles if you choose to collect AAdvantage miles instead of IHG Rewards. That means instead of the 2x miles per dollar you’ll earn the rest of the year, you’ll get 2 plus an additional 4x miles per dollar on every stay.
A Few Examples and Breakdowns
At Crowne Plaza Hotels you’ll get the base 2x plus 6x miles as a bonus. Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites still only earn half that, with 1x miles plus 2x bonus miles.
- Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts: 2 base miles and 6 bonus miles / $1 USD
- InterContinental® Hotels & Resort : 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Hotel Indigo®: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Holiday Inn® Hotels: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Holiday Inn Express® Hotels: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Holiday Inn Resort®: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations®: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- EVEN® Hotels: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Hualuxe® Hotels & Resorts: 2 base miles and 4 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Staybridge Suites®: 1 base miles and 2 bonus miles / $1 USD
- Candlewood Suites®: 1 base miles and 2 bonus miles / $1 USD
This changes things. Instead of collecting 200 AAdvantage miles worth $2.80 per $100.00 spent, you’ll get 600 miles worth $8.40 at most properties. Stay at a Crowne Plaza and you’re looking at 800 miles worth $11.20. That’s an IHG and AAdvantage transfer worth making.
You can earn up to 15,000 miles during this period, but you do have to book directly through IHG’s website, not through an online booking site. Make sure to set your IHG Rewards Club earning preference to American Airlines AAdvantage before you book.
While this special partnership does actually net IHG and AAdvantage members a good return on investment as far as points and miles are concerned, it only lasts a limited time. Make the most of your stays this summer, otherwise, keep your IHG Rewards for hotel stays.