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My wasted trip to Wandsworth for IHG’s Big Win

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We all get it wrong sometimes.  Just to show that we can all make mistakes, let me tell you the story of Monday afternoon and my wasted trip to the Holiday Inn Express in Wandsworth.

When IHG Rewards Club relaunched ‘The Big Win’ promotion this Spring, I ignored it.  I had no revenue stays planned and it was not worth doing a mattress run (ie checking in but not staying) to trigger the bonus.

I did have a night at InterContinental LeGrand in Paris.  This was booked on points, though.  A week before the stay, I switched it to cash and claimed a Best Rate Guarantee.  This should have also made the room free and non-points earning.  However, as I explained here, it did end up being treated as a Qualifying Stay.

This changed my Big Win dynamics.  If I did one night in London, anywhere, it would trigger 9,600 bonus points as I would have completed two ‘big city’ stays.

9,600 points is not enough for a mattress run, though.  However, I was also offered 20,000 points for using the IHG Rewards Club Black Visa to pay for a stay.  I decided to apply for the Visa card (again) and trigger both bonuses with one stay.

I booked the cheapest midweek London room I could find.  A £58 Advance Purchase rate at the Holiday Inn Express Wandsworth, a depressing location opposite a massive recycling dump and surrounded by a McDonalds, a B&Q and a massive road.

Whilst on holiday over Easter, a mix up led to the PIN on my IHG Rewards Club Visa being locked.  A new PIN was on the way in the post, but would not arrive before my Wandsworth trip.

Not to worry, though, because it is an Advance Purchase rate and the hotel will have charged me IN ADVANCE …. surely …..

No!  Disaster struck when I arrived in Wandsworth.  Out of the goodness of their heart, the hotel had decided not to bother charging my card in advance!  Perhaps it was hotel policy, perhaps it was because of my Platinum status or perhaps they just forgot.

On arrival, though, they asked me to pay for the stay.  And, of course, without the new PIN I couldn’t use my IHG Rewards Club Visa.  Goodbye to 20,000 bonus points.

To add insult to injury, the hotel forget to offer me my Platinum welcome bonus of 300 points and – more worryingly – I forgot to ask for it!

The stay is a not a complete disaster, of course.  I will earn about 13,000 points from it as the ‘two big city stays’ bonus of 9,600 points will trigger.  This means that I will just about break even given the £58 room rate and the cost of getting to Wandsworth.  I won’t be getting that afternoon of my life back though ….

IHG One Rewards update – March 2023:

Get bonus points: Click here for our article on IHG’s ‘2k Every 2 Nights’ promotion, which runs from 9th February 2023 to 14th April 2023. You can register here.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive an 80%-100% bonus when you buy IHG points by 21st March 2023.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (44)

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  • Oly says:

    I’ve had advanced stays not be charged and then they want me to pay at the hotel. I check my amex statement every time incase they have messed up. This mostly happens at Crowne Plazas and I am Gold status

  • Dominic says:

    While we are talking IHG – can I ask… are we still meant to get a free night for having the black card? I’ve forgotten about this and want to see if I can get it – can’t even remember how do to so….

    • Rob says:

      Yes, you get it at £10,000 spent. An evoucher is posted to your IHG account. My wifes posted fine recently although it took a couple of months from hitting the spend target.

  • BillyBleach says:

    Why didn’t you try and sign for the stay instead of pay by chip and pin?

    I have found many vendors still offer signature authorisation when chip and pin fails. When my US colleagues visit the UK and their cards do not use chip and pin, they are rarely refused service based on signature alone.

    • Andrew says:

      The merchant machine will not process a signature when it’s a chip and pin card (there is an electronic chip&pin ID on the magnetic strip) and alters the user to use the chip.

      Depending on the system, the merchant needs to enter a special override mode to force a signature – i doubt very many reception staff know how to do this. And if credit card processing is integrated in to point of sale systems I doubt its even an option.

      Often using the magnetic strip on a chip and pin hugely reduces the daily per card limit too (if i recall ours is £250-£500) – so you might not be able to cover a typical hotel bill.

  • Adam says:

    There There!… I know how that feels…. you’re doing a good job!

    Btw some card services offer you to check your pin online! Which was great cos I have 3 amex carrds and I forgot which pin to which card…

    • John says:

      You know what, I know the card companies don’t like it and it’s not exactly safe, but i use the same PIN for all my cards. Including debit and non-UK cards I have at least 30.

  • Toby says:

    It’s not a recycling dump. It’s a household waste recycling centre, a MRF and a Waste Transfer Station. It’s river served making it fantastic

    (Raffles will see my email address which will explain the love of this site)

    PS it’s a 3-4 minute walk to the railway station

    • Rob says:

      I know, I was a little unfair. We use it ourselves. Honestly had no idea there is a railway station there though!

  • Mr Bridge says:

    Raffles, why didnt you say that it had to be billed to the card details already provided, and you didn’t have that card on you. they could still have done the cnp!

    • Andrew says:

      That’s a really good point. Hotels are surely set up for “card holder not present” transactions…

      Against the hotel/merchant rules though 🙂

      • John says:

        Well he could have walked away from the desk and then he would have not been present. I’ve done it…

  • USATB says:

    they should have pre charged the card in advance as per their terms, naturally therefore….. you didn’t take the card with you when you checked in so had to use another means of payment due to the situation they put you in…

    surely worth raising with IHG

    • cmcbugg says:

      If you pay in advance then you must present the credit card on checkin. I had that problem with one of my big win runs where the credit card had been cancelled and a new number issued. I couldn’t present the card they wanted, and they had to go to all the effort of refunding the original card, and recharging the new card. This was HIX Croydon. Another lovely place (but at least it was only £39).

      • Chris says:

        Yeah HIX Croydon is the only IHG hotel I have been asked to produce the card used for payment. Always thought it strange.

        • Rob says:

          Happens abroad quite a bit.

          • Chris says:

            Well Croydon at times does feel like a completely different planet compared to neighbouring boroughs so yes I can fully understand it now

  • Luke says:

    I have just been sent this code – 4989. Worth a try.

    As one of our most valued InterContinental® Ambassador members, we’d like to offer you an exclusive opportunity to further enrich your travels. All you have to do is stay 7 nights and earn 10000 bonus points at an InterContinental Hotels & Resorts location or any of IHG’s 4700 properties worldwide. Register today and complete your stays between 15 May and 2 September 2014 to take full advantage of your offer. It’s one more way we like to reward our loyal members.

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