IHG Priority Club Rewards recently introduced the option to redeem points or combine points and cash for flights on almost any airline, including domestic, international, low-cost and regional airlines. About this same time last year, Starwood began offering SPG Flights as a way for members to redeem points for flights and IHG’s Flights Anywhere program is very similar. With Flights Anywhere, there are no blackout dates and flights purchased with points are treated as revenue tickets by the airlines and (in most cases) are eligible to earn redeemable and elite-qualifying miles. You must redeem a minimum of 20,000 points for a flight award and if you are redeeming a combination of points and cash, you can use a slider calculator tool to determine the cash amount you will need.
Flight awards are currently only available for Priority Club members residing in the U.S. and you can log in to your account online to search for flights. The cost in points will fluctuate according to the airfare and includes taxes and fees. We found a roundtrip coach flight from Denver to New York City starting at 71,000 points. The fare for the same flight was around $240, which would make each point worth about a third of a cent each when redeeming for Flights Anywhere. A few other sample flights include a roundtrip coach flight from Chicago to Miami for 60,000 points or Dallas to Denver for 40,000 points plus $76. Coach, business or first class flights are available and you can redeem points for roundtrip or one-way tickets up to 331 days in advance.
A few caveats–do not expect to get a refund if you cancel your flight for any reason. Most Flights Anywhere tickets are nonrefundable and if you need to cancel your flight, your points will not be reimbursed and if you paid with cash and points, the cash portion will also not be returned. You may be able to get credit for a future flight with the airline, but don’t count on it. You can make changes to your flight but you will need to contact the airline directly and will be responsible for any change fees or fare difference. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1824 for more information.
Bottom line: You will most likely get more value for your points if you redeem them for hotel stays instead of flights. Members can book a stay at a $100 Holiday Inn Express for 15,000 points (value of around $.006 per point) and get twice the value of points used to book a $240 flight for 71,000 points (value of around $.003 per point). However, this additional option takes nothing away from the existing program and provides another way for members to use points, which we applaud. Members with a lot of points can now book a flight, hotel and car rental vacation package without spending a dime. Plus, you will earn miles for Flights Anywhere flights.