Hi, guys! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your winter break. I was sick as a dog with a massive infection, my father-in-law had a stroke (he is doing better now) and yesterday we found a poisonous copperhead snake in the backyard. Otherwise, everything is dandy.
In not-so-dandy news, IHG is up to its old tricks. It’s a new year and a new devaluation, er, category adjustment. Except, I don’t see the date on when the changes will go into effect. That’s why it’s imperative that you don’t delay redeeming your points if you have a specific hotel in mind.
You can see the full IHG announcement here As usual, it’s poorly formatted and hard to analyze. Which is why I recommend this excellent post on The Gate that breaks it all down according to color. Red=bad, green=good. This is “2018 IHG massacre for dummies”, and I mean it as a compliment.
Winners and losers
There aren’t too many surprises here. If your desired hotel is located in downtown area of a big city (New York, Boston, San Francisco), chances are, it will cost more in a near future. But wait! Some hotels already cost 60,000 points per night, so it can’t get any worse, right? I’m glad you asked.
Turns out, IHG is introducing a new category which will require 70,000 points per night. The program is inching closer and closer to Hilton in terms of astronomical points cost in popular locations. Except with the latter, when paid rates are low, the award rates will be reduced as well. Not so with IHG. Also, IHG award availability can be spotty if you don’t book far ahead.
To be fair, in some places the increase definitely makes sense. French Polynesia is a very expensive market and right now, you can still book an overwater bungalow in Intercontinental Thalasso Bora Bora property for a mere 60,000 points per night. That is if you find availability (good luck with that!) Soon it will cost 70,000 points, which is still a crazy hot deal.
The IHG properties in Moorea and Papeete will go up from 40,000 points per night to 50,000 points. It’s still a terrific value, especially if you accumulate points at a cheap rate. By comparison, Hilton program charges 80,000 points per night in its properties in Bora Bora and Moorea.
Of course, most of you are probably not heading to French Polynesia and are primarily interested in hotels in US, Mexico and Caribbean. It looks like Holiday Inn Resort Aruba-Beach Resort & Casino will go up from 35,000 points per night to 40,000 points. At a new rate, it could still be worth it during high season and holidays.
I was sad to see that Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive will go up from 40,000 points to 50,000 points per night. Ouch! We vacationed here in spring of 2017 for only 35,000 points per night, and enjoyed it immensely. If you’ve been thinking about going, now is the time to burn the points.
If you happen to have a Platinum status with IHG chain (via co-branded credit card), you will most likely get upgraded to a suite. I do think 40,000 points per night is a good deal for a family of four where kids are 12 and under. Unfortunately, it looks like Holiday Inn Express where we stayed at during our short New York getaway will increase from 15,000 to 20,000 points per night. I’m not surprised because I thought it was a very good value.
So, that’s basically the crux of the matter. If you see an unusually good hotel redemption, expect it to get gutted at some point. While these changes seem quite drastic, they are not really surprising to anyone who has been following IHG for the last four years or so.
The program had promotion after promotion where you could acquire points dirt cheap. Savvy people made sure to take advantage of them. As a result, we (miles and points folks) ended up with an unusually high supply of IHG points and chasing after few outsized redemptions.
There are some bright spots, of course. If you are planning to do a road trip and just need a hotel near a highway, chances are, you will still find something in 10,000-15,000 points range as long as you are flexible. IHG has a huge footprint, and there are many good deals to be had.
If you scroll all the way down in that article on The Gate I’ve linked to, you will see many hotels that will soon be cheaper as a result of the adjustment. I was surprised that Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando At Seaworld will go down from 20,000 to 15,000 points per night. This will be one of the best IHG deals in Orlando area.
Should you give up on IHG program?
It really depends on your travel plans. If you see a good deal that will not be affected by this devaluation, by all means, look into collecting IHG points. I tend to think that the worst is behind us and IHG has mostly adjusted everything it was going to adjust. That said, no-notice devaluations are not uncommon in any program. I saw one IHG hotel go up from 25,000 to 35,000 points per night, with no advance warning. That’s why I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket, as in collect IHG points with one property in mind.
Personally, at the moment I’m bearish on IHG currency and currently have only 23,000 points left. I’ve been ignoring recent Accelerate promotions and don’t plan to change course, especially in view of this latest devaluation. That said, I still think IHG points can be valuable under the right circumstances. If I see a way to acquire them dirt cheap, I will probably bite. What exactly is dirt cheap? For me, it would be a price of 0.25 cents apiece or less, which is about half of what IHG program sells them for.
It goes without saying that IHG co-branded credit card is still a keeper, even more so now. For $49 annual fee you get a certificate valid at any property, so devaluations won’t affect you at all. You also get other perks like Platinum status (possible upgrades) and 10% rebate on redemptions. I saw some commenters say that they plan to cancel IHG credit card because of this devaluation. Why? To send IHG a message? I doubt they will care. You will have to pry that card out of my cold dead fingers.
To sum it all up: life goes on, and devaluations are part of miles and points reality. There are much more important things to worry about. So, evaluate your upcoming plans and see if you can utilize your IHG stash while it’s worth more. Otherwise, I wouldn’t rearrange my life just to burn hotel points.
Readers, who is affected by this change?
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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.