Miles and Points Recap: IHG Program Gutting, Hilton Category Changes, Five Back Visa Card, Photo with Kangaroo and More

Some major news came out this week, so I decided to come out of my short sabbatical earlier than planned.

1) Well, the IHG sky is really falling this time! See this PDF file for category changes, new prices will be effective on January 15th. It’s sorted in a dysfunctional manner, by hotel brand, so it may take you some time to get a complete picture. USA got hit hard, hard, hard. I’m shocked, didn’t see it coming! I’m kidding, of course.

When you have so many points pumped into the system via various promos, eventually, the chickens will come home to roost. Obviously, I’m not making excuses for this brutal devaluation, just stressing that it’s dangerous to hoard hotel points, period. Popular destinations and big cities were hit the hardest, no surprise there. Several properties we stayed at in the past will also go up in price, albeit the change is relatively minor.

The cost will be 40,000 points per night instead of current 35,000 points at the following properties:

Holiday Inn Sarasota-Lido Beach

Holiday Inn Sanibel Island (hard to find award availability)

Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay all-inclusive

Some changes are downright idiotic, like increase from 25,000 points to 40,000 points at Holiday Inn Orlando SW-Celebration  You can easily book this hotel for $85 per night, a bit more during high season. Why oh why, IHG? We’ve stayed at this place a few times, back when it cost 20,000 points per night. I thought it was an OK deal, nothing special. And the rate doesn’t even include breakfast.

Orlando is overbuilt with many condos, resorts and timeshares. There is absolutely no reason why this old property should cost as much as a beachfront hotel in Sarasota ( located in exclusive upscale community). But then again, I’ve long given up on trying to figure out logic behind many decisions at IHG.

That being said, there are still many good deals to be had, but you will most likely have to compromise on location. Rather then looking to stay at a beachfront hotel, you may need to book a place that is 10 miles away. There are many decent IHG properties that cost only 10,000-15,000 points per night. Some are off the beaten path, a few are near a major metropolis. You’ll just have to search harder in order to find gems. If you plan to participate in new Accelerate promo, definitely take upcoming changes into consideration.

IHG co-branded card is still worth applying for. In the future, your points may not go as far as they do now, but the perks are worth it in the long run. You’ll still get anniversary night for $49 renewal fee, Platinum status, plus 10% rebate on award redemptions. The annual certificate is currently valid at any IHG property, so you would be immune to any upcoming devaluations. Availability can be spotty at the most popular properties, but if you book way ahead, you should be OK.

Bottom line: burn your IHG points now if your desired property will go up in price on January 15th. Don’t wait till the last minute because you may not find availability for your dates. Earn and burn those hotel points, always. (hat tip to Viewfromthewing)

2) In related news, The Gate  reports upcoming category changes in Hilton program, effective January 11th. Nothing too drastic, Hilton has already done their gutting few years ago. The property that caught my eye is Hampton Inn Cornelia It’s located at the base of North Georgia mountains and currently costs only 10,000 points per night.

The rate includes hot breakfast and you can fit four people in the room. I haven’t stayed at this hotel, but mentioned it before because it seemed underpriced on points. Well, apparently, the folks at Hilton program agree because it will soon cost 20,000 points per night.

3) Onemileatatime reports that SPG and Virgin America will cut ties after January 6th.  No surprise there. Why should you care? Well, if you like to collect Alaska miles, you should. That’s because you will be able to convert Virgin America Elevate points to Alaska miles on 1:1.3 basis. So, there is a very  limited window of opportunity to take advantage of this deal. Before you rush to dump your SPG points to Elevate, and then  to Alaska, read my post on all the cool things you can do with Virgin America currency

4) 100+ deals expiring at the end of December by Doctorofcredit. Nice round-up, check it out.

5) If you took advantage of super deal on Five Back gift cards from Giftcardmall (now dead), try going to your local CVS and purchasing $495 Vanilla Visa  with your $500 Five Back gift card. The five dollar difference is to cover the activation fee, or you can just use  a credit card for that. Hopefully, you’ll get $25 refunded to your Five Back card few days later, like I did (see list of other merchants). Sweet, sweet, sweet deal. I really wish I bought more of those cards at Giftcardmall. That’s an equivalent of buying real money at 8% off. Obviously, some work was required, but ROI on my time was insane.

6) Just wanted to share this photo with you. Before my son was off for winter holidays, they had various exotic animals brought to school. For only $10, a kid could take a photo with the animal. Yes please! I picked baby kangaroo, a.k.a joey.

My son was so excited when he got home. He kept saying: “the baby kangaroo had a diaper on!” He got such a kick out of it.  We are not in a position to take our kids to Australia any time soon, but we can pay $10 for a photograph. Heck, I’d pay $10 to hold a kangaroo!

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Author: Leana

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.

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4 thoughts on “Miles and Points Recap: IHG Program Gutting, Hilton Category Changes, Five Back Visa Card, Photo with Kangaroo and More

  1. Yay, you’re back! Fabulous picture! I would do it too- if you go to Las Vegas sometimes you can get lucky and have your picture taken with a BABY LION at MGM (I think – it was like 15 years ago) – I will see if I can find it and send it to you. 🙂

    • Oh nice! Yes, send it over, please. I would like to see it. My kids would love a photo with a baby lion. Obviously, they would freak out, too.
      We should be back to regular schedule soon. My family is going on a short getaway in a few days, but Nancy scheduled some posts for the beginning of the week. I just wanted to give heads up on this brutal IHG announcement. I think I may need to focus on Hilton from now on (via sign-up bonuses, of course).

  2. Stinks about IHG. They’ve been my main program for a while. I need to branch out. I’d like to hear your thoughts on other good programs to get into when you get back from your getaway. Thanks!

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