An Introduction to PointBreaks

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I’m always excited when it’s time for the PointBreaks list to come out. If it weren’t for IHG’s PointBreaks list, the cheapest IHG stay would be about 10,000 points and would get you into the cheapest Holiday Inn.  But thanks to PointBreaks, the cheapest IHG stay can be had for 5,000 points and can get you something as nice as a 5 star InterContinental.

This has become such a huge part of our strategy for increasing the longevity of our travels.  We spent 17 nights in a row at the InterContinental Kiev, an incredible 5 star hotel with some of the best lounge desserts I’ve ever had.  And two years ago we used this same sale to stay 8 nights in a row at the InterContinental Fiji for our anniversary.  Both of these hotels often go for $400 for a standard room.

What is PointBreaks

PointBreaks is a list that IHG publishes roughly every two months of hotels all across their brands that are bookable for 5,000 points a night for the two months that follow.

The PointBreaks list can be found here, though for now it will show the last list: from August 31- October 31.  (Nothing too impressive left there, as these lists only release a certain portion to the sale and the best options go first.)

Planning it out

PointBreaks is the kind of sale you need to act fast on, or rather, plan fast.  Since the rates are only bookable for the two month span in which they appear on the list, you can’t really plan ahead more than that.

Also, if you want to get the best deal out of the PointBreaks list, you have to act fast because the nicest hotels go first.  As I said, each hotel only releases a certain amount of availability to the sale and once it’s booked it’s gone.  It’s not like some things where it gets booked up fast and then availability opens back up as people cancel.  That doesn’t happen here.  Once it’s booked it’s gone and if someone cancels their PointBreaks reservations, it doesn’t get rereleased at the sale price.  Once booked, regardless of whether the reservation is maintained, it’s gone.

Also, obviously your best value is with the nicest hotels on the list.  Drew and I look for InterContinentals and Crowne Plazas first, in part because we love the central locations these brands often offer (and the 5 star quality is awesome of course too!)  If you find a Holiday Inn on PointBreaks…well…that’s still 50% off.  But if you find an InterContinental the deal is even better.

How can you get points for your PointBreaks stays?

Here are three options for earning IHG Rewards.

  1. Paid stays stacked up with promotions
  2. Purchasing points
  3. Refunding a Cash + Points room

1.) Paid Stays stacked up with promotions

To be honest, we get most of our points with paid stays that we stack up with promotions so that our points earnings are awesome for each stay.  That’s something you can read morein this post: How to Earn IHG Rewards Points, but I’ll give an abbreviated intro in here as well.

First of all, having the IHG Rewards card and paying for your stays with that card can already earn you a nice chunk of points per dollar spent, but the way to really earn big is to sign up for promotions found on this thread on FlyerTalk. The thread basically lists a whole bunch of promotion codes that you can try to apply to your stay.  I say “try” because it’s a bit trial and error meaning that you’ll have to plug in a ton of codes and not all of them will work.  Really you should work backwards by testing the more recently added promo codes found on the last page of the thread found here. Copy the codes and plug them in here.

2.) Purchasing Points

Just as IHG offers the PointBreaks list, it also offers occasional points-sales.  For instance they had a sale earlier in the year that offered a 100% bonus on buying points.  The best sale they’ve offered comes out to about $28 per 5,000 points.

3.) Refunding a Cash+Points room

One of the easiest ways is to just refund a room booked on cash and points, essentially buying 10,000 points for $70.  With PointBreaks stays coming out at 5,000 points each, you can think of that as a $35 stay, which isn’t bad for an InterContinental or Crowne Plaza.

  1. Sign onto IHG.com
  2. Book a refundable rate using the cash and points option, as shown here.
    Screen shot 2013-10-29 at 10.29.50 AM
  3. For the best rate with this strategy, select the “10,000 points +$70” option, or rather, the option requiring the least amount of points, and book the room.
  4. Once booked, turn right back around and cancel the room.

What happens is this:  IHG will refund the points, but instead of refunding you $70, they’re just going to refund another 10,000 points to your account.  So, you’re not going to see that $70 again, but you’ve just essentially purchased 2 nights on PointBreaks. You’ll simply get refunded the amount of points the hotel would have costed if you had paid entirely in points.

Update: Note that no matter what hotel you choose, if you select the least points option as recommended, you are going to earn the difference between the all-points cost and the points you spent.  Understand that you will be refunded the amount of points your hotel would have cost with the all-points option.

For example the rate below would earn 10,000 points for $70.  (15,000 points – 5,000 points = an earning of 10,000 points)

Screen shot 2013-11-20 at 1.31.48 PM

With this option however, you’d only make 5,000 points.  (10,000 points – 5,000 points = an earning of 5,000 points.)

Screen shot 2013-11-20 at 1.34.06 PM

 

 

Why it’s worth learning about

This is the point I really want to drive home.  PointBreaks are awesome.  Awesome for affording 5 star hotels we wouldn’t be able to otherwise and awesome for achieving lengths of stays we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.  It’s incredible.  Just look at how often PointBreaks comes up in our stats page.  Pretty much any time you see a stretch of IC nights. 🙂

 

18 Comments on “An Introduction to PointBreaks

  1. I’m not sure if you covered this somewhere else, but I’ve seen you mention lounge access at the ICs. And I’m vaguely remembering something about Drew being a Royal Ambassador. I’m wondering if you could share how he got that status — do award stays count towards qualification? Thanks – really enjoying the content so far – particularly the transparency re: costs.

    • We got RA status by receiving a Royal Ambassador referral certificate. When IHG invites a person to be Royal Ambassador, that person gets a referral certificate. Those certificates often get traded. Award stays don’t count towards qualification and no one really knows what gets a person invited to be an RA but I think the estimate is around 60 nights or something.

      Glad you’re enjoying the content! 🙂

      • ohh, you are a Royal Ambassador… thats cheating a little bit :)) no wonder you get club access all the time.. plus a free minibar 😉 you’d spend probably much more on food&bev if you only got an Ambassador status (which is possible to buy)

        • That is exactly why we are so into these PointBreaks stays lol! 🙂 You’re absolutely right. I actually have a post in my drafts that I haven’t published yet about how having status helps our budget. (free food, free wifi, free minibar) IHG is actually much more reluctant than the other hotel chains about giving lounge access to their top tier elites so it’s definitely not a guarantee, we just kind of cross our fingers. Or sometimes we email ahead of time to ask if it’s something their willing to give us instead of a suite upgrade.

  2. Hi,
    I was wondering how far in advance can you make these reservations? Is it only for the two months that the sale is available?
    Many thanks.

    • Yep, it’s definitely a last-minute type of thing. When the list posts, you can book the rates for the following two months. So this most current list (which has posted just today but has not yet opened for booking) will be bookable for dates from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31st. So really you can’t book ahead of time beyond that.

  3. Hi Carrie:
    Thank you for educating me the pointbreaks deal. I want to expirement the pointbreaks deal tomorrow but I do not have any IHG point yet (just applied the credit card yesterday). I assume I can not use Refunding a cash + points room method to acquire points since I do not have any to start out with(eventhtough I will canceled the room immediately). Is that right?

    Also, based on your example above, is it better to book the room with 15,000 points + $40 since once I cancel the room, I will get 15,000 points by paying $40 vs 10,000 points with $70. Am I missing something?

    Thanks for helping.

    • Well, you’re right you can’t do the points+cash thing until you have some points, but you could transfer just enough points in from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio, let’s say 5,000, then you could buy 5,000 points the traditional way from the website. That would give you just enough to do the points + cash strategy.

      Also, if you did the 15,000 + $40, you would not get refunded an extra 15,000 points, you would get refunded the original 15,000 points you paid plus an additional 5,000 points. So you would be paying $40 for 5,000 points. However, doing the 10,000 points plus $70 option, you would get your original 10,000 points plus an additional 10,000 points refunded, meaning that you would have 10,000 points for $70. That’s $35 per 5,000 instead of $40.

      Thanks for your questions and good luck with the PointBreaks stays! (It’s an awesome list)

  4. HI Carrie:
    I got it. Since the room requires 20000 point and if I cancel, I will get a total 20000 back, less the cash value.

    Thanks for suggesting transfering points from Ultimate Rewards and buying points from IHG. Will explore the process.
    Thank you!!!

  5. Hi Carrie:
    How do you book the pointbreaks hotel? Click the pointbreaks hotel list but it only gives the regular points required for reservation, not the 5000 points. Missing something?
    Thanks

    • Drew had problems with that today too. It wasn’t open for booking until today but even when they were supposed to be open, Drew also ran into problems getting the sale price this morning. He waited a few hours and then it worked. Is it still not pricing correctly for you? Perhaps they were late with updating all of the prices? If it continues to price incorrectly I would email IHG or post on their forum.

  6. Hi Carrie,

    For the point and cash I’m kinda confuse , I went to check a Tokyo hotel and it had the option 40,000 + $70 , does that mean if I cancel I get 40,000 point back to my account? And then I check hotel in Cape Town , is 5000 + $70….

    • Well, actually this strategy will earn you the difference between the full points cost and the points cost you selected. So the Tokyo hotel you’re talking about is 50,000 originally, so you would be refunded 50,000 points (10,000 more than what you paid with the 40,000+$70 option, for an earnings total of 10,000 points.) And for the Cape Town option, the original cost is 10,000 points, so your refund would be 10,000 points, 5,000 more than what you paid with the 5,000+$70 option, therefore earning you 5,000 extra.

  7. HI Carrie,
    Last time I stayed at an overseas IC they gave me 2000 reward points for my entire 5 week stay. That’s less than two nights in a Chicago Holiday Inn. What gives? Do you get normal reward points for overseas IC stays? Am I being hornswaggled? I know I’m avoiding IC’s from now on unless it’s an award stay.
    Cheers!

  8. Hi Carrie,

    I was excited to see the new PointsBreak list because I followed you and Drew’s advice and got the card, got an 80K points match and so I had tons of points… but… the hotels are no longer 5K per night?!?? Does it usually sell out that quickly? Thanks!

    • Unfortunately the good hotels do tend to sell out really quickly :-(. Sorry you missed out on the hotel you had in mind! They give a preview list and sometimes if we see a hotel we know we’ll want to book, we literally watch the website like a hawk for it to publish and book A.S.A.P

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