About a year ago, I made a reservation for my upcoming trip to Niagara Falls in June of 2014. I saw a hotel in the area that was going for only 10,000 IHG points per night. I would need 2 rooms because my parents will be with us. Since I value IHG point at 0.5 cents each, it would be an equivalent of $90 per night since I get a 10 percent rebate with my Chase IHG visa.
The property didn’t have the best location or reviews, but was undergoing a renovation. Even though I didn’t have the flights booked yet, I decided to go ahead with the reservation since I was fairly certain as to the dates of the trip. Also, I saw a review that said that this particular property would leave the IHG chain very soon. I wanted to lock in my redemption before that happened.
What I didn’t expect was getting an email from IHG just 3 weeks later saying that the reservation was no longer valid. Apparently, the hotel was getting rebranded and decided not to honor the existing award bookings. It did say in the email that I could get my points back and call if I needed any further assistance.
My first inclination was just to cancel online and be done with it. With 2 small kids at home, I really don’t like to be on the phone if I can help it. They sense the attention being diverted away from them and start making it impossible to converse.
But I figured I would at least see if I could get some free IHG points for all the trouble. To my complete surprise, the agent offered to rebook us in any hotel in the area with no extra points required.
My eyes got wide and I went online immediately. I found Holiday Inn Niagara Falls for 35,000 points per night situated close to the Falls entrance on the American side. We could have gotten a Crowne Plaza in Canada, but alas, my parents would have to get Canadian visas.
I happily let the agent rebook everything. What I didn’t realize was that she first added the necessary points to my account and then made the redemption. Immediately, my diabolical mind saw an opportunity.
I can cancel this reservation and get back 70,000 IHG points per night for 2 rooms, or technically, 63,000 points, factoring in the 10 percent rebate. Those points are worth $315, which probably could have gotten us a luxurious house rental in the area on VRBO.
According to program rules, the reservation is refundable and you would be within your rights to cancel. And I was tempted to do just that, but it just didn’t feel right. So many times in this hobby our ethics are pushed to the limit. I have said before that I do my best to play by the rules. It doesn’t mean I’m always doing it perfectly. But I do know, if it doesn’t feel right, chances are, it probably isn’t.
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Picture credit goes to planet3.org
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.