What to do with IHG Priceless Surprises points

At this point I assume everyone who is planning to participate in the IHG Priceless Surprises promotion has done so, which means you either are or will soon be in possession of roughly 50,000 IHG Rewards points (assuming you scored at least one or two 1,000 and 2,000 point prizes).

If, like me, those 50,000 points are your entire IHG Rewards balance, then three possible approaches to redeeming them suggest themselves.

At the low end: PointsBreaks list and more remote properties

Everyone knows about the IHG Rewards PointsBreaks list, a rotating list of properties which can be redeemed for just 5,000 points per night. It's always worth a quick glance on the off-chance that you're planning to visit an area with a participating property. I was living in Brno one summer when the Holiday Inn there was on the list and considered simply moving in for 5,000 IHG Rewards points per night!

Besides that promotional list, there are properties which belong to the lowest rungs of IHG's award chart. If you're passing through Sheridan, Wyoming, why not stay at the Candlewood Suites for 10,000 IHG Rewards points per night?

Your Priceless Surprises points haul will even get you 5 nights at The Lodge At Eagle Crest Holiday Inn Resort in central Oregon. The place looks nice!

In the middle: Category 4 and 5 properties

Category 4 IHG Rewards properties cost 25,000 points, meaning your 50,000-point Priceless Surprises haul will get you 2 nights at places like the Intercontinental Presidente Merida in Mexico, the InterContinental Mar Menor Golf Resort & Spa in Spain or the InterContinental Bucharest.

I always find it annoying when bloggers treat being married as a travel hack, but if you participated in Priceless Surprises with a partner/child/dog, you might have enough points for 4 nights at one of those properties. That begins to sound like a real vacation, or at least a long weekend.

Unfortunately, 25,000 IHG Rewards points isn't even halfway up the IHG Rewards chart, and most centrally located or desirable properties are going to be more expensive than that. One popular option to widen your options is purchasing additional IHG Rewards points for as little as 0.6 cents each. Buying an additional 15,000 points at that rate would get you above 60,000 points, allowing you to book 2 nights at a Category 5 property like the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa or InterContinental Kuala Lumpur.

At the top: Category 11 properties

Meanwhile, 50,000 IHG Rewards points isn't even enough for one night at top-tier IHG Rewards properties after their February 17, 2016, devaluation. After that date, you'll have to buy an extra 10,000 IHG Rewards points to get up to the 60,000 points required for a single night at properties like the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa or InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora.

Alternatively, if you had a willing partner, you could imagine both applying for the IHG Rewards credit card and receiving 80,000 IHG Rewards points each. If you were willing to wait until your first account anniversary to receive two additional bonus night certificates, you'd end up with enough points and certificates for a six-night stay between the two of you. That wouldn't be too bad a redemption for a $49 annual fee and $46 in stamps per person.

That Rube Goldberg machine requires you to assume, of course, that IHG Rewards won't devalue again before your plans come to fruition!

Other redemptions

Of course, if you don't actually have any upcoming hotel needs and just participated in Priceless Surprises on a lark, you may just be looking to cash out your points at a profit. In that case, you could pick up two $50 Walmart gift cards for 40,000 points, or transfer your IHG Rewards points to airline miles at a 10,000-point to 2,000-mile ratio.

Buying 10,000 miles for $46 and a few hours of work may not sound like a great deal, but it's better than letting your IHG Rewards points sit in your account unredeemed. After all, your least valuable point is always the one you don't redeem.