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There are several posts on the new PointBreaks list, which allows us to book hotel rooms through March 31, 2014 for only $35 per night. Even if you’ve read those, read this. I’ve honed my strategy for getting $35 per night rooms quite a bit, and I want to share it, so everyone can have access to the best practices. Plus I’ve stayed in PointBreaks hotels several times in the last two years, so I want to say a word on their quality.

This post will tell you how to book any hotel on the list of IHG Reward Club’s PointBreaks hotels for only $35 per night, even the ones that ordinarily cost $200 or more per night like the InterContinental Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 3.17.54 AM
Phnom Penh is on my to-visit list!


And I’ll explain how to give yourself maximum flexibility to pick the exact dates you want as the trip approaches.

This or better for $35 instead of $100+ stretches your travel dollar

What’s my strategy to make the most of PointBreaks? What are the top properties on the newest PointBreaks list?

IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks

IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty program for InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. As we covered here, IHG Rewards Club normally charges 10,000 to 50,000 points for a free night depending on the property. But every few months, IHG Rewards Club releases a list of a select few hotels where you can stay for 5,000 points per night. That’s a 90% discount on some hotels!

The new list of PointBreaks hotels is good for stays now through 3/31/14.

We can stay at any hotel on the PointBreaks list for $35 just by using one loophole!

The basic premise is that IHG Rewards Club lets you buy 10,000 points for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point.

My PointBreaks strategy ensures I get all the $35 per night hotel stays I want with maximum availability of nights and maximum flexibility to change my plans. My strategy solves a number of problems.

Problem #1: Not every hotel is on the PointBreaks list.

Solution: There is no solution for this problem.

When a new list comes out, I check its end date then look at my Meet Up page to figure out where I’ll be between now and then that I might want a hotel. I also consider trips I haven’t planned, but have been mulling. And finally I look for the incredible properties that normally cost 50,000 miles to see if I want to take an impromptu trip.

I note all the hotels that I might want to stay at.

Problem #2: Not every night is available at hotels that are on the list–and what availability there is can disappear quickly.

Solution: Book award space now.

This leads to Problem #3.

Problem #3: I may want to change my plans later, but I may have to cancel the entire award to do that, costing me the chance at 5,000 point ($35) nights.

Solution: Book awards as a series of one-night stays.

If you think you want to stay at the InterContinental Phnom Penh for five nights before March 31 during a one week period, but you’re not sure which five nights, book 7 one-night stays.

Booking 7 stays will take under 10 minutes, and you’ll have the flexibility later to cancel the two you don’t want one at a time, leaving you the five consecutive nights you want. Then you can call the hotel to ask them to merge the five reservations or just show up and note to the front desk that all five are yours, and you don’t want to move rooms. They don’t want to move you either, since it increases their costs.

To book the 7 stays in this example, you would need 35,000 points, which leads to problem #5.

Problem #5: I don’t have any IHG Rewards Club points.

Solution: We can transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to have 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points. Or we can buy 5,000 points for $67.50. Once we have 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points, we can buy unlimited quantities for 0.7 cents each. Or you can earn up to 153,700 IHG Rewards points through their Big Win promo like I just did. (There’s a current Big Win Promo running too!)

The first step if you don’t have any IHG Rewards Club points is to get to 5,000. From there you can buy them cheaply. Ultimate Rewards points transfer in at 1:1 ratio in about 14 hours in my experience. You can make the transfer at by clicking the Priority Club Rewards link under the transfer points tab.

Then give your IHG Rewards Club account info and select the points to transfer in increments on 1,000.

You want to have 5,000 points after making the transfer. I feel bad moving Ultimate Rewards to IHG Rewards Club because Ultimate Rewards are worth almost three times as much as IHG Rewards Club points, but to be able to buy more IHG Rewards Club points for 0.7 cents, we need to have at least 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

Another way to get 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points that doesn’t burn Ultimate Rewards is to buy 5,000 for $67.50. Doing this instead of burning Ultimate Rewards is like buying 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for $67.50, which I would definitely do.

The last way is to quickly complete the Big Win promo.

Purchasing Points for 0.7 Cents

Once you have 5,000 points in your account, you can buy the rest of the points you need for 0.7 cents each.

The way to buy IHG Rewards Club points for 0.7 cents is to make a cash and points award booking then cancel it. Once you have an IHG Rewards Club account with 5,000 points, the next step is to book a 15,000 point award. Why? When booking a 15,000 point award, you are given the option to purchase the 10,000 point shortfall for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point. Here is such an award:

As you can see, this award costs 15,000 points or 5,000 and $70. Select 5,000 points and $70 and pay for the award. The confirmation screen makes it very clear that the $70 is going towards buying 10,000 points that would be immediately used to book the award.

After booking, immediately cancel the reservation online by following a link from the booking confirmation page. That brings you to this screen:

As you can see, my reservation has been cancelled. As you can also see in the top right, the points immediately credit back to my account. My account now has 15,000 points, 5,000 that I transferred from Ultimate Rewards or bought for $67.50 and 10,000 that I just bought for $70 while making a dummy booking.

If you need more points–say you want to make 7 speculative one-night bookings–then you repeat this step. For instance, I recently increased my account balance from 5,000 to 45,000 in two dummy bookings. I just showed the first. In the second, I selected the same hotel on a three-night cash and points booking. That booking cost 15,000 points (my new balance) plus $210 to buy the other 30,000 points needed. Then I cancelled that booking, and I had 45,000 points from a 5,000 Ultimate Rewards transfer and $280 in cash.

If $280 sounds like a lot of cash, don’t forget that my 45,000 points is enough for nine nights in a hotel.


You have to have 5,000 points in your account to buy points for 0.7 cents each. Buying points is a much better deal than transferring in your Ultimate Rewards that are worth way more than 0.7 cents each, but you may have to transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to start the point-buying fun.

Not all hotels are on the PointBreaks list. Not all nights are available as 5,000 point award nights at the hotels that are on the list. Check availability before buying points.

Make sure your account has 5,000 more points than you need for your speculative bookings. You always want a balance of 5,000 points at the end for your next round of buying points. It would be a shame to have to make another Ultimate Rewards transfer next PointBreaks list.

Best Hotels on the Current List

As usual, most of the hotels on the list are Holiday Inns or Holiday Inn Expresses and many are airport hotels. But there are a few gems:

There are also two South African hotels I stayed in during August 2013 at the PointBreaks price of 5k points per night.

The Sandton (Johannesburg) hotel is in the nice part of town–the business district–near a Gautrain station with easy connections to downtown Jo’burg and the airport. It is not particularly convenient to Soweto. At $35 per night, it’s a steal.

The Pretoria property is not quite as nice. It was a convenient location to explore the small city, and it connected internally to a shopping mall where I had a heaping plate of chicken and fries for less than $3. I would definitely recommend the hotel for $35 per night if you want to explore Pretoria, which is worth visiting just to see Freedom Park.

Any hotel on the PointBreaks list that coincides with your travel plans is a gem because there are very few ways to get an adequate $35-a-night hotel these days.

Example from Summer 2013

I scoured that summer’s PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincided with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I was in South Africa in August and there was a Holiday Inn Express in Pretoria and a Holiday Inn in Sandton (Johannesburg) on the list.

I booked three consecutive one night stays at the Holiday Inn in Sandton and three consecutive one night stays at the Holiday Inn Express in Pretoria.

The Sandton Holiday Inn goes for $117 per night, but I got the rooms for $35.

I used three of the six nights, and I canceled the ones I didn’t need within a few days of check in when I finally knew my plans. (Check the cancellation policy when you book as it varies by hotel, but you always have until the last few days at a minimum.)

Neither hotel was luxurious, but both had free internet and the Holiday Inn Express had a free hot breakfast buffet that saved me the cost of a meal.

Both hotels were clean and comfortable, so I was very happy with my stays as I reported in my post about saving 88% on my hotel bill in Stockholm.

Example from Summer 2012

I scoured that summer’s PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincided with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I would be in Krakow, Poland and the Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre was on the list.

I was in Krakow June 6 – 9, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. While the Krakow Holiday Inn was hardly the nicest property on the PointBreaks list, its cheapest room June 6 was 531 Polish Zloty, which was $153.

The first thing I did was search availability, and I found space June 6 and 8, but not June 7. I decided to book June 6 and 8, so I needed 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

I had zero IHG Rewards Club points in my account, so I transferred in 5,000 points from Ultimate Rewards. I bought 10,000 more points for $70 exactly how I outlined above leaving me with 15,000 points after I cancelled my dummy booking.

With my new points, I made two one-night bookings on June 6 and 8.

I noted the cancellation policy, which varies by hotel, in case I had to cancel. At the Holiday Inn Krakow, I just had to cancel by 4 PM the day of arrival.

I ended up very much enjoying the stay at the Holiday Inn Krakow, and I wrote about it in my Krakow, Poland Hotel Guide.


The new PointBreaks list is out from IHG Rewards Club. This is a list of hotels you can book for 5,000 points or $35 per night. The best way to take advantage of the list is to be active right now.

  1. Scour the list for hotels you may want to stay at. The list is organized by continent.
  2. Search for availability at those hotels for every possible night you might want to stay.
  3. Book now a series of one-night stays that cover the time periods when you may want to stay.
  4. Get the points you need for this by transferring in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards, then buying the rest for 0.7 cents.
  5. Note the cancellation deadline at each hotel. This varies.
  6. As your plans firm up, cancel the nights you don’t want before the deadline for a full refund of the points.
  7. Leave at least 5,000 points in your account to repeat this cycle on the next list.

I have booked a $153 hotel room for $35 using the techniques in this post. And there are much nicer, more expensive hotels on the list of PointBreaks hotels. There are InterContinentals that go for over $200 per night that you can get for $35 per night using the technique outlined in this post. And with my advanced techniques for holding availability that you can later fit your needs, you can be a master at staying in great hotels around the world for $35.

Which hotel will you stay at for $35?

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