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Big IHG Rewards Club devaluation on the way with top hotels up 10,000 points

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IHG Rewards Club, the Holiday Inn / Crown Plaza / InterContinental loyalty scheme, has (accidentally?) posted the list of hotels changing reward category this year on its website.

You can see the list here.

It is, frankly, a bit of a nightmare.

Here are a few UK examples:

InterContinental London Park Lane – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

Crowne Plaza London The City – up from 50,000 to 55,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Mayfair – up from 40,000 to 50,000 points per night

Hotel Indigo Liverpool – up from 30,000 to 40,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Maidenhead Windsor – up from 25,000 to 35,000 points per night

On the upside, the Holiday Inn Northampton, pictured below, drops from 25,000 to 20,000 points per night.

Holiday Inn Northampton

Some sample European hotels:

InterContinental Amsterdam – up from 50,000 to 60,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Amsterdam Arena Towers – up from 25,000 to 35,000 points per night

InterContinental Paris Le Grand – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

InterContinental Bordeaux – up from 45,000 to 55,000 points per night

The rises are not across the board.  None of the InterContinental or Crowne Plaza hotels in Germany or Portugal are changing, for example.  Five hotels in Turkey see 5,000 point falls.

In the US there are also rises for the key InterContinental properties amongst others:

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

InterContinental Boston – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

InterContinental New York The Barclay – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

InterContinental New York Times Square – up from 60,000 to 70,000 points per night

The unintended side effect is that these InterContinental hotels are now MORE attractive than they were, because a random 10,000 points has also been added to cheaper hotels in the same cities.  Why would you spend 50,000 points on the Holiday Inn Express New York Chelsea when the IC’s are ‘only’ 70,000 points?

To be fair ….

Hotel loyalty schemes SHOULD devalue.  

Most people don’t accept this, but it is logical.  They give you points based on what you spend.  As inflation pushes up the cost of rooms, and so the number of points awarded per stay increases, you should expect the number of points needed for a redemption to go up in parallel.  This keeps the ratio of ‘number of stays needed to get a free night’ in balance.

The problem is that the points required for redemptions always seem to increase well above inflation.  It wasn’t that long ago – 10 years? – when you could book any InterContinental hotel for 30,000 points per night.

Look at spending vs redeeming ….

As it happens, IHG Rewards Club has been running generous Accelerate bonus point promotions for the last few years – the current one is outlined in this article.  It has been relatively easy to accumulate large numbers of bonus points.  Most of us would be worse off if redemption rates stayed the same but IHG stopped all of its promotional activity.

Whether promotions like Accelerate cause redemption inflation is another question of course.

Valuation

I have historically used a valuation range of 0.4p to 0.5p for IHG Rewards Club points.  Going forward, I will move to a flat 0.4p per point.  That may still be a touch too high, since it implies a £280 per night price for a top InterContinental – albeit at peak dates you will see pricing well above that.

Looking at hotel credit cards, the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa is now far more valuable than the IHG Rewards Club MasterCard.  I value the two Hilton points per £1 from the Visa at 0.66p (0.33p each).  This compares to 0.4p for the one IHG Rewards Club point per £1 earned on their MasterCard.

It is still worth getting the free IHG credit card, of course, because it gives you permanent Gold status in IHG Rewards Club.  Just don’t spend on it.

The IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard remains a decent deal at two points (worth 0.8p) per £1 spent.  The £99 annual fee can be justified by the free Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club and the free night at any hotel you receive for spending £10,000 in a year.

Dates

We don’t know when this new pricing will take effect.  I would expect IHG to give a few weeks notice so there is no need to make any panic bookings.  That said, as points bookings can be cancelled without penalty, you should look to lock it any nights you need now before prices go up.

I recommend you take a look at the list of hotels changing price (click here) on the IHG website and see what bookings you may want to pencil in.

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

Comments (89)

  • On the plus side, several of the UK Crowne Plaza’s outside of London have dropped from 30,000 points to 25,000 points. Particularly the Crowne Plaza at Felbridge which has recently been brought over to the IHG brand and is going through an extensive refit, all of the rooms and common areas are complete as of November and the Spa and Pool will be completed by the end of January – looking forward to booking a break there sometime soon.

  • Alex says:

    After spending ~£10,000 last year on my standard HSBC credit card (paid off in full every month), I’ve been working my way through your website to find the best rewards card to switch to – with preference for a Hotel rewards card over an Airline one as I only travel to Europe 1-2times/year

    I made my decision on the IHG Premium Matercard last night and was going to apply for it today… Very glad I saw this beforehand! Back to the drawing board

    • Rob says:

      To be honest it is still the best Visa / MC at least in year 1 – 20,000 points (worth £80) plus Platinum status plus a free night worth £250+ potentially for spending £10,000. You won’t beat that.

    • the_real_a says:

      With that kind of spend its wise to think about diversification. Even if IHG plat is your main card, you could easily hit Hilton Gold too, and AMEX (Gold) transfers into Club Carlson at excellent rates. Creation (IHG) are also known to be very stingy on credit limits, i got 10% of the credit limit i have with MBNA so you might find yourself in need of another CC anyway.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        I have found Creation to be inconsistent more than stingy. Over the last couple of years I have applied for three cards with them, and they gave me credit limits of £2500, £7000, and £5000. (My financial circumstances were much the same in all cases, but the number of credit cards and total approved credit did vary). Over the same period I applied for four with MBNA, and they were very consistent (£6300, £6300, £6000, and £6000).

  • Andy says:

    Slightly OT (and something I know has been covered in comments before but can’t find it now). What have been people’s experiences/strategy for not paying the 2nd year fee for the Creation IHG Premium Mastercard but still managing to get the free night voucher?

    I am sure I read that I need to not spend on the card after the renewal date so they can refund the fee when I cancel once the free night voucher hits my IHG account. Is that right? Would really appreciate some clarification.

    • BrianN says:

      You need to cancel before the first statement is generated (in the new credit card year) and do not spend on the card during this period.

      Your voucher is guaranteed to be received if you spent the £10k in the first year.

      • Andy says:

        Brilliant, thank you very much Brian. I probably would have waited for the first statement so you’ve saved me a few quid there!

      • EwanG says:

        Agree with BrianN – in addition (and although I am keeping my card), I found the free night certificate arrived in my account when my anniversary statement was produced.

        The £99 fee was billed on the next statement, in the new card year.

        Gives you some flexibility about when you call them to cancel your card and doing so is very quick (I cancelled my white card this morning, very efficient call).

    • Rob says:

      That’s right, there is a full article on this on HFP somewhere, written with the direct co-operation of Creation.

    • the_real_a says:

      I did this in the summer. Painful.

      The customer service team were briefed and i had notes to the effect i would definitely get the voucher, however it didnt post. The customer service agents (petulant teenagers) will always fob you off telling you its all IHG`s fault. The only way i got action was to raise as a formal complaint. There is a back office team that “sends emails” to IHG to get it manually posted.

      Also to note – if you cancel before the statement creation date (not to be confused with card anniversary date) then you forfeit all of your last months points.

  • The Original Nick says:

    Holiday Inn Chiang Mai is going up from 10000 points to 20000 points. That’s a big jump and was well worth the stay at 10000 points but not 20000 points. You can usually get a room for around £40-£50. I’ve stayed there quite a few times even before it was an IHG property.

    • JamesB says:

      I remember when those cash prices were less than half that too but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. At the tine it seemed incredible they could sell rooms in such a hotel at that price.

  • Jamie says:

    OT, apologies if answered elsewhere, I have a Virgin Atlantic Black card up for renewal soon, what will happen with the annual fee if the card is likely to be pulled? Thank-you!

    • Rob says:

      Based on the BMI cards you will get a pro-rata refund of the fee when MBNA closes the cards. You won’t get a pro-rata refund if you voluntarily cancel once the Virgin Money cards are live.

      • Jamie says:

        Thanks Rob that makes sense! I will probably cancel sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed for a decent Virgin Money offering.

  • Todderz says:

    What else can you do with IHG points (eg swapping for airline points) and do any of them now begin to approach a 0.4p value?

    My next 4 stays will get me 0.61p, 0.93p, 0.7p and 0.74p and I nearly always get 0.6 or higher, so still a pretty decent return from credit card spend.

    • Todderz says:

      I don’t mean approach, I mean “compare favourably against” 0.4p as opposed to 0.5p

      • Genghis says:

        Nice. Assuming you’d pay that. I redeem if I’m getting above about 0.4p otherwise I would never use all of the points I accumulate.

    • Rob says:

      The more you have the less flexibility you have! My wife and I are on about 600k between us so have to lower our threshold a bit or we’d never spend them.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        Sound advice, you have written about countless times. I am a poor student. Now I have 400K IHG points and 800,000 Avios and the missus wishes to lie on the runway at LGW to reduce my CO2 emissions I am going to have to get creative in the burn and not earn. Not sure I can kick this habit of points collection. Can you do an article on therapy for travel addiction?

  • JamesB says:

    Accelerate tip (might have been mentioned previously but I do not recall seeing it):
    Stay the wedkend including a Saturday night” does not require the two consecutive nights to be at the same hotel, it can be two separate stays at different hotels on consecutive nights.

    • EwanG says:

      Good tip, thanks.

      Another tip:
      My points had not automatically posted for the Q3 2017 Accelerate promotion “book and pay for one stay using your IHG credit card” even though it had been more than 8 weeks since my stay.
      Chat added these points easily and I recommend other HfP’ers check if theirs are missing too.

  • pointsarb says:

    Happy New Year all!

    OT But IHG related. Does anybody know if a paid Ambassador certificate weekend stay is a qualifying stay for the purposes of collecting IHG points please?

    Have completed my stay however my IHG account shows it as non qualifying so wondered if this is the norm?

    Thanks!