Originally, the date was January 14th, but now it shows 25th for some reason. What’s really bizarre is that IHG made no official announcement, this is a link that was dug up and posted by a Flyertalk member Lionheart No emails to members were sent out as of yet.
Here is my recent exchange on Twitter:
Michael, I’m not gonna hold my breath.
It drives me nuts when loyalty programs play this game. Sure, the hotel cash rates can and do go up without notice. In that case, I can choose to stay elsewhere or even stay home and keep the money.
But they are not handing out actual dollars that can be used towards groceries/power bill, but pseudo currency (aka hotel points) tied to recreational lodging. They are in full control of this currency and can manipulate it however they please. #NotAGoodAnalogy
Analyzing the actual announcement
I’m not even going to attempt to sugarcoat the latest changes. Sure, if you are going to Ufa (Russia), you are probably excited because some random property in the middle of nowhere will now cost 5,000 less points per night. And hey, there are probably some people who may want to burn their points in that manner.
For the rest of us, more mainstream-type travelers, it’s most certainly a devaluation or Hilton-ization as I’ve named it last year. No, IHG hasn’t introduced another category (yet), but many basic properties in popular locations now cost at least 50,000 points per night, that is if you can even spot award availability.
What I find totally laughable is how some Kimpton properties will now be a bit cheaper. Well yes, they will be. The problem is, they were overpriced to begin with after joining IHG. I don’t consider any hotel that runs at 65k points per night to be a bargain. If it drops to 60k points, it’s not something I feel like celebrating. Remember, IHG often sells points at 0.5 cents apiece. There is a way to acquire them cheaper via promotions, but that takes time and effort.
I can say with absolute certainty that golden days of IHG are behind us. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any bargains left, but you will have to work hard to snag them. Getting an overwater bungalow in InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora for 70k points is a deal of a century, but good luck finding award availability.
Even reserving a mid-scale IHG hotel in a popular location can prove to be a challenge. I wouldn’t rely on IHG for last-minute getaways, that’s for sure. Well, unless you are OK with vacationing by the highway in Kansas. No offense to my Kansas readers. I’ve never been to your state, and I’m sure it’s fantastic.
I think the long-term goal IHG has in mind is eventually moving all desirable properties to 45k points level or higher. Why? So you wouldn’t be able to use your renewal certificate that comes with IHG co-branded credit card, of course.
I’ve personally stayed in the last one several times. While not a luxurious property, it has a million-dollar location near one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
One property I recommend is Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort (see my detailed review)
In this case I don’t think the increase is unreasonable considering the fact that you can get a 2-bedroom/2-bath unit as a standard award. This is one of the better deals in IHG portfolio, though availability can be hit or miss. If you are going to Disney this year and have IHG points to burn, definitely look into it.
Here are few other hotels in Orlando vicinity that are going up in price:
As you can see, it’s a 12-20% increase via points, a considerable jump. The same goes for many other popular locations. As of January 25th, places like Washington DC will no longer have any decent family options that cost less than 45k points per night. This isn’t totally unexpected. In fact, a few years ago I predicted that this would happen. IHG was handing out points like candy then, and now it’s time to clear them off their books via currency devaluation.
Sure, the economy is doing well, but hotel prices haven’t increased 12-20% compared to last January. In short, IHG isn’t a program I would trust. Earn and burn. I’m looking for a way to dump my measly 45k points, but might hang on to them. After all, paying 40k points for Holiday Inn Lido Beach (that used to cost 25k points just four years ago) is no bargain in my book.
But I’m keeping IHG credit card… for now. Getting a hotel for $49 per night is still a good deal, even if that hotel is by the airport or highway. As I’ve said before, I try not to mix emotion into these type of decisions. If I canceled my IHG credit card, what good would it do? Would a large dysfunctional corporation take notice or care that I don’t want to stay in their hotel for $49 per night? I really doubt it.
This isn’t personal, it’s just business.
Leana is the 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.