How many years should I pay for IHS if on Exceptional Talent route?

So I see that I can apply for ILR after 3 years for Exceptional Talent.

However, I also see that once the visa expires, you need to extend, and prove that you earned money in your field (odd requirement but ok).

If I pay for 3 years, is there a possibility I will technically have to extend my visa while applying for ILR? If so, just pay for 4 years? Since I have to wait 3 years before applying for ILR, but my visa would then be expired at the end of year 3.

Option 1: Pay for 3 years, save the money. Apply for ILR in the thir
Option 2: Pay for 4 years, less potential headache

What did everyone else decide?

If you are sure you will be in the UK to meet the residency requirement of at least 189 years, you can do 3 years. If you will be doing a lot of traveling or have dependants the 5 years is better.

For ILR you can apply a month before your visa expires.

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Thanks @Francisca_Chiedu helpful as always!

Do the 3 years of > 6 months have to be consecutive? Thinking maybe getting 5 in case i get called back to US

Also, how to prove time away from UK is work related if needed? Heard that wont count against time away