Ouch: IHG Increasing Award Night Costs In 2018, Top Hotels Will Cost 70K Points Per Night

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IHG Rewards Club doesn’t have a traditional category-based award chart. While IHG hotels have year-round award prices, they don’t belong to a specific category. Instead the cost of an award night is typically tied to which brand a hotel belongs to, and then there’s some variance within each brand.

It’s pretty normal for major hotel loyalty programs to adjust their award costs at some hotels on an annual basis. The logic is that the number of points required for a hotel is based on the average occupancy and average daily rate of the hotel, and there are all kinds of factors that can impact that, both micro and macro. So while not all hotels change category every year, it’s not unusual to see a few percent of hotels change categories.

IHG Rewards Club tends to adjust their award categories on an annual basis, and in both 2016 and 2017 we saw them adjust the number of points required for various hotels. While IHG Rewards Club hasn’t yet officially announced an adjustment to the number of points required for stays booked in 2018, FlyerTalk user Lionheart stumbled upon a page that seems to show the updated 2018 IHG Rewards Club award prices.

We don’t yet know exactly when these changes will go into effect, though my guess is that it’s likely this pricing will kick in within a few weeks.

As noted by Point Me to the Plane, it looks like almost 500 hotels will go up in price by 5,000 to 10,000 points per night, while almost 200 hotels will go down in price by 5,000 points per night. IHG has a total of about 5,000 properties around the world, meaning we’re seeing a price increase at ~10% of properties globally, and a net increase at ~6% of properties. We’ve never seen IHG adjust the cost of stays at so many hotels at once.

Perhaps the worst change is that IHG is increasing the number of points required for stays at their top hotels from 60,000 points per night to 70,000 points per night. It was less than two years ago that IHG increased the number of points required at their top hotels from 50,000 points per night to 60,000 points per night.

With these changes, InterContinental properties in Bora Bora, Boston, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Washington, etc., will cost 70,000 points per night, which is pretty rough.

I guess it’s not terribly surprising to see these changes. IHG has been offering tons of promotions and has been selling points, so I guess that’s the other side of that. To me this increases the value of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card even further. The card has a low $49 annual fee (waived the first year), and offers an annual free night certificate valid at virtually any IHG hotel in the world. Once these changes kick in, that free night certificate will be valid at a property that retails for 70,000 points per night. For example, I used my free night certificate last year for a stay at the InterContinental Hong Kong, which will soon cost 70,000 points per night.

What do you make of these IHG hotel award night cost changes?

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Comments

  1. I wonder if this will be in conjunction with bringing the Kimpton hotels system under the IHG umbrella. I’ve been considering a Kimpton in Europe and wanted to spend my free IHG credit card night there. The Kimpton operator told me they weren’t yet able to do that but she said some changes were coming early this year that would allow them to book rooms with those free night certs. Right now that hotel is 50K points; it will be interesting to see if the price goes up – I think I’ll go ahead and book one night with points while the rate is low, just in case it changes.

  2. So, will Status be recognized?

    To me this is a big problem with redeeming points for IC – not always honored

    Points are great value for Ambassador status along with Platinum w the great Chase IHG cc. Ambassador weekend 2-4-1 just used for staycation @Willard. Using cc free night w purchase second night (basically 2-4-1) at Sydney IC in couple weeks on #RTW18. Last year’s was London Park Lane

  3. IHG points have always been a joke, rivaling HHonors for their worthlessness. At least Amex gives something more than a 1:1 transfer ratio to make HHonors to make it into a relevant transfer partner; it’s currently trivial that you can transfer Chase points to IHG.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on the increases. Just booked several nights later this year at the InterContinental Bangkok to lock in the current rate.

  5. Billy Bob- did you even read the article? The IHG card is the one not to churn, because the annual free night can be worth up to 70K points. Why cancel, reapply and spend just to get an additional 10K of relatively useless IHG points? Used my free night at IHG Denang, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, IHG Tokyo, Carlton Nice, etc. Great value for $45/year

  6. @George- Churning will give you 70,000 points or more and not 10K points. Plus you will get the free anniversary night

  7. “With these changes, InterContinental properties in Bora Bora, Boston, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Washington, etc., will cost 70,000 points per night, which is pretty rough.”

    So basically every good property that I want to visit and use points instead of cash has gone up.

    Thanks IHG, I been spending exactly one night a year at your properties, while I go earn decent points at spg and hyatt.

  8. And they say there has been little inflation. Hogwash!

    Currencies of all kinds, including points, are headed for a severe inflationary adjustment in the next 5 years.

  9. Hilton has emblazoned them to pull this stunt but there is a big difference
    Its easier to earn points with Hilton Credit cards and their promotions
    IHG is all gimmick and one has to jump through a number of hoops
    There are even big issues with this first Hilton comes with breakfast guarantee at every property including Waldorf Astoria for Golds and Diamonds IHG offers nothing
    which makes this devaluation even more unacceptable then ever for frequent stay guests that which to stay loyal
    Hyatt SPG Marriott and Hilton are golden compared to IHG which will soon become a true stinker Sure glad i didn’t fall for their point sale
    For me this is the final death knell for IHG Rewards
    The program sucks and the point bonuses are all a giant Ponzi scheme with this kind of massive devaluation
    All their competitors offer far better value across the board

  10. For those of us that stay in rural/small towns, this likely will have minimal impact. We are loyal to IHG as they are usually the only game in town.

  11. Earning 1 IHG pt per dollar on everyday spend now makes the Chase IHG credit card the worst rewards card in the universe to actually swipe.

  12. @Tommy Trash – great point. I wonder if Chase looks at the spending data on the IHG card vs, say, the Marriott card and realize that customers aren’t actually *using* their product. With IHG points approaching 0.5 cents-per-point value, even the 5x on IHG hotel spend is lame. I expect a “refresh” for the card soon which mimics the Marriott card’s structure.

    Then again, does anybody actually spend money on the Marriott card?

  13. As usual, there is a lot of noise but very little signal. Award COSTS are determined by BOTH their raw costs in points and the ease/difficulty of earning the points in that denomination per $ spent.

    All this does is to bring IHG award costs, which were dirt cheap by any measure, up to part with those of the other major hotel loyalty programs, leaving Club Carlson as the cheapest program and SPG as the most expensive program. The costs of IHG awards have definitely been increased, and whether the change is a good thing for the program can be debated, but anyone who finds Hyatt or Marriott or Hilton awards “affordable” now would be a hypocrite to complain about the new cost of IHG awards, which are now about the same as those of those other programs…

    And to @Pat who wrote: “IHG points have always been a joke, rivaling HHonors for their worthlessness. ”

    Please do not comment about things you are clearly not knowledgeable enough to comment about.

    G’day!

  14. Who cares…points are useless for inspirational properties. Truy to get a night in their properties en Bora Bora and let me know….what a joke of a program

  15. Ihg needs to focus on reward availablity. Worst of any of the chains. I have a ton of points because I can’t find any value or award nights.

  16. 70k for Bora Bora – how much is SPG for bora bora? Way more and its the same 1x on an AMEX card for non bonus spend. People love SPG, but getting SPG points are tough. IHG’s card, their bonus packages on each booking, point sales, etc, all add up fast. The one thing missing from IHG’s program is breakfast for elites. I feel the same way for Hilton, people knock it but its so easy to earn hilton points (bonus mall shopping, etc) that even if a property is 50k in points whereas a similar SPG property is 25k, it is way easier to get 50k Hilton points vs SPG points. Not every point in every program is equal – you need to view the opportunity cost and the cost associated with accumulating the points.

  17. While HH pts are more or less at the same “valuation” as the IHG pts, the HH system now is essentially a revenue based system while IHG is still the “chart” system. This indeed makes the IC HKG at 70K a joke because for the basic room they give you, you often can book at a cash rate at about USD200 or below. Even at 60K it is a joke already.
    That said, IC HKG does acknowledge some sort of elite benefits. We burnt our Chase nights there 3 years in a row. Each time we got some sort of room upgrade though the one last Sept was the worst – the ground floor room with a patio, facing the construction with a path along the front of the patio that was closed on both ends for security reasons – so you could not even use the path to the pool area even though it led to there.
    Generous fruit plate was offered each night, plus the welcome drinks at the lobby bar. So no complain there – but for 60K and now 70K pts? No thanks.

    The Chase card is a 2 year iteration card for us. No reason to keep it more than 2 years once you are eligible to earn another bonus again. So for $49 for 2 certs, it is still a card to get, but NOT the card to put on any spend other than a stay in IHG property.

  18. So IHG spends their time increasing award rates rather than changing the stupid 4 digit code that has got several accounts hacked (including mine). What a joke!!!!!

  19. FLL – not sure how this is a churn/burn card. I’d rather keep the card and get a free night every year for $49 vs hold for 2 years, then not have for 2 years, then get another 80k sign up bonus. The 1-2 free nights you lost are better than the 60-80k sign up bonus?

    to me this is the one no brainer no churn cards. Any advantage to me would be so minimal I just hold it to help improve credit history/length, etc and get the “free” night aka $49/night. Since NYC is my back yard I guess I am lucky, if its late in the year and I did not use the free night yet the wife and I have a nice night out in the city and we go to the IC Times Square or IC Barclays, nice dinner, show, drinks, etc…Its very much worth the $49/yearly fee.

  20. All I can say is, UGH. A 20K devaluation in the span of two years? I’ve loved all the Intercontinental properties I’ve stayed at (Paris Le Grand, New York Barclay), they tend to be the most aspirational properties for me. Then again, with how generous their Accelerate promotions can be, this isn’t surprising. Let’s hope they come up with another elevator riding game soon!

    Billy Bob – you get the free night on your first year anniversary and every anniversary since then, so definitely not a card to churn.

  21. Why is everyone’s thinking about the relative cost of awards always so one-dimensional?

    Hyatt’s highest award costs 30K; Hilton’s costs 95K. However, one earns, on average, 3x more HH points per $ than one does WoH points. Therefore, HH and WoH awards cost exactly the same because 95K/30K is about 3, which is the same as the 3:1 relative EARN rates of HH-to-WoH points.

    I will repeat: HH awards cost 3x more but one earns, on average, 3x more HH points per spend than one earns WoH points for the same spend. The award costs for the two programs are, therefore, the same. The same applies to MR awards. The only program with award costs that are out of whack is SPG; their awards cost about an order of magnitude more, especially at their top “aspirational” tier hotels, than HH, MR or WoH (and now IHG) awards.

    Looking at the magnitude or size of “raw” award costs in points tells you nothing about the relative costs of awards. You need to also include the ease/difficulty of earning points per spend. Anyone who has ever done the math knows this, and yet bloggers keep perpetuating the canard that, somehow, the magnitudes of award costs in RAW points by themselves are meaningful. They are not!!!

    G’day!

  22. 1- we in Canada lost our Capital one IHG card in 2016 and has not been replaced with anything. It was a decent card and you could achieve Spire elite status through it.
    2- unfortunately Spire elite status means didly to Intercontinental hotels when you stay there on awards. They want you to buy ambassador status to be treated better.

  23. DCS apparently doesn’t understand what an “order of magnitude” means, as it is actually 10x. And no, SPG is not an “order of magnitude” more than other programs. But hey, keep at it – no one cares about Hilton, for good reason.

  24. Clueless, but at least the guy did not dispute the fact that SPG awards are, BY FAR, the most expensive out there, which would or should make the program the least rewarding for anyone who plays the game with a “full deck.”

  25. DCS, I only gain points through bonus or transfer partners. The signup bonus + chase UR points usually equates to 5 nights a yearfor me. Now tell me this, If I were to do hyatt bonus + 30k UR points a night or Hilton bonus +80k UR points a night, who would win.

    In IHG case, an anniversary night +100k was almost 3 nights in Bora Bora. Now it may not be worth it. I like how they did that 100% bonus for points purchase last month. It was nice tell tale sign of a deval.

  26. @chris — You provided an exception that affirms the rule. I almost always write from the big picture perspective because it allows more meaningful comparisons across programs. Individual circumstances vary too widely to make them the basis for across-program feature comparisons.

    I will always try to look at the picture…

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