Hotel frequent guest programs are often an afterthought for many travellers. With careful use and keeping an eye on promotions however, they can save you a lot of money.

One of the benefits that’s on offer, is of course free nights, and you don’t need status to enjoy them. Many of the hotel chains in fact credit you with a stay for status purposes, meaning that the night stayed counts for your status level calculation. Others give you status benefits on a reward stay, including upgrades and club access or free breakfast, counting for valuable savings.

One of the features of Intercontinental Hotel Groups Rewards Club (formerly Priority Club) is a feature called “Pointsbreaks”. Like many programs, each hotel normally has a certain cost for a free night depending on its rewards category but under Pointsbreaks, they are all the same – 5,000 points. So what’s the catch?

Points Breaks are short term promotions, lasting typically two months at a time. A new list of hotels is published close to the expiry of the existing list, for instance we can expect a new one near the end of March. When the new list becomes bookable, you may need to act quickly, because once a hotel exhausts its allocation of special rooms for Pointsbreaks, it goes back to normal. For example, when the current list came out, the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu lasted 24 hours. This is not surprising when $40 a night is the cost for a room normally $200 plus!

Up till now all we have talked about is points, but how do we get a $40 room? IHG allows you to do points plus pay for hotel redemptions, but unlike other chains when you book you buy all the points. As an example, booking a room at various Holiday Inn’s in Beijing for 15000 points or 5,000 points plus USD$70. If you were to book that room you are effectively buying points to make up the missing 10,000. Once you cancel, 15,000 points are returned to your account, not a refund of $70USD. As a guide, keeping 5000 points in your account will enable you to “manufacture” as many points as you need at AUD$40 per 5,000.

An impulsive weekend away in 5 star luxury for under 50 dollars might be closer than you think, keep an eye on our “Pointsbreaks” discussion HERE.

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