Book your free nights NOW – IHG Rewards Club devaluation coming on 14th January

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(EDIT: at the last minute, IHG changed the implementation date to 25th January)

IHG Rewards Club, the Holiday Inn / Crown Plaza / InterContinental loyalty scheme, appears to have (accidentally?) posted the list of hotels changing reward category this year online.

You can see the list here (PDF).

Assuming that the list is correct, it isn’t decimation but it isn’t too great either.  The headline news is that:

the changes take place on 14th January

only about 15% of IHG’s 5,200 hotels are impacted

80% of the changes are increases, usually by 5,000 points

there is no change to the 70,000 points cap and no new hotels go into the 70,000 point category

Here are a few of the 41 UK changes:

Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport – up from 15,000 to 20,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Camden Lock – up from 40,000 to 45,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Express Limehouse – up from 30,000 to 35,000 points per night

Crowne Plaza Leeds – up from 25,000 to 30,000 points per night

Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre – up from 35,000 to 40,000 points per night

Holiday Inn Wembley – up from 25,000 to 30,000 points per night (this hotel was 10,000 points per night until quite recently – I reviewed it here)

On the upside, the Holiday Inn Express Wigan, pictured below, drops from 20,000 to 15,000 points per night.  The Holiday Inn Express Norwich and the Hotel Indigo Cardiff also drop by 5,000 points.  These are the only UK reductions.

IHG Rewards Club 2019 devaluation category changes

Some sample European hotels:

Crowne Plaza Brussels Le Palace – up from 30,000 to 35,000 points per night

InterContinental Berlin – up from 35,000 to 40,000 points per night

InterContinental Dusseldorf – up from 55,000 to 60,000 points per night

Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam – up from 50,000 to 55,000 points per night

Looking at some other InterContinental properties:

InterContinental Mendoza, Argentina – drops from 25,000 to 20,000 points per night

InterContinental Sydney – up from 60,000 to 65,000 points per night (the other IC also goes up)

InterContinental Melbourne – up from 55,000 to 60,000 points per night

InterContinental Toronto Centre – up from 40,000 to 45,000 points per night

InterContinental Budapest – up from 35,000 to 40,000 points per night

InterContinental Dublin – up from 50,000 to 55,000 points per night

InterContinental Tokyo Bay – up from 50,000 to 55,000 points per night

InterContinental Porto – up from 45,000 to 50,000 points per night

InterContinental Los Angeles Century City – up from 60,000 to 65,000 points per night

InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta – up from 40,000 to 45,000 points per night

An unintended side effect is that, because the 70,000 points cap remains in place, InterContinental hotels are now MORE attractive in some cities than they were.  Why would you spend 55,000 points on the Hotel Indigo Paddington when the InterContinental Park Lane is ‘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.

And look at spending vs redeeming ….

As it happens, IHG Rewards Club has been running generous bonus point promotions for the last few yearsthe 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 will retain my valuation of 0.4p per point for IHG Rewards Club points, given that only 12% of hotels are increasing in price.  Admittedly this may still be a touch too high as it implies a £280 per night price for a top InterContinental – albeit at peak dates you will see pricing well above that in New York, Paris, London etc.  Midweek dates in June at InterContinental New York Times Square are already $460 plus tax ($534 including tax but ignoring the resort fee, so £420.)

Looking at hotel credit cards,  the free IHG Rewards Club Mastercard continues to return 0.4p per £1 on this basis, given an earning rate of one IHG Rewards Club point per £1.

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

You have just over a week to book at the current rates before pricing go up, assuming this list is accurate.  As points bookings can be cancelled without penalty, you should look to lock it any nights you need now before the changes – and make a note to rebook any redemptions at hotels which are getting cheaper.

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

Big thanks to Lionheart on Flyertalk who found the list and did the headline number crunching.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. OT Completely off topic here – does anyone know if you can hire a car in the USA and take it over to Canada and return it in Canada? Failing that how can we cross over from the USA at Niagara Falls – I know the road goes over the Peace Bridge but can taxis take you across – this would be to pick up,another hired car to stay and fly back from Toronto and not a day trip so we’d have all our luggage.

    • I crossed the border by taxi about 15 years ago, having taken a train from NYC to the US Niagara Falls station.

      I had pre booked a Canadian Taxi. The driver wouldn’t take payment in USD and I had to get some CAD from an ATM when I got to the hotel on the Canadian side. Suggest you contact a Taxi company in Niagara Falls CA for advice.

      If you do cross by road and fly home from CA, ensure that US Immigration record your exit from the US.

      https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/history-search used to be useful for checking that your exit had been recorded correctly, but it no longer seems to be working? Not for me anyway!

      You don’t need an ETA to enter Canada by road.

      Check with the rental agencies about collecting a car in the US and dropping it in CA. I have taken rental cars from Canada across the border, but returned them to Canada. Canadian Customs cared more about the car ownership on the return than US Customs did on leaving.

    • I just did a one way dummy booking with Avis. It appears possible. Might be worth pricing up both options.

      • Thanks Nick – I tried Avis earlier and couldn’t get it to work – dummy picking up in Chicago and dropping at Toronto. Will do a bit more research.

        • OK. My dummy was Seattle to Vancouver which was not a problem.

          I just tried ORD to YYZ at Avis.com and it came up as sold out.

          I tried ORD to YYZ at Avis.ca and its possible but costs thousands!

          So maybe try different companies to see if anyone does it at a reasonable price, but it may be that leaving a US car in Canada means they have to transport it back. Sounds like you may need to switch cars at the border.

        • Got my bridges wrong – the Peace Bridge is at the Buffalo crossing!

        • Thanks Nick – I have family in Toronto area so may need to call in a favour and get them to come get us and leave the car in USA. Will keep researching though.

  2. I see that Orlando appears to have been hit quite hard with a number of properties in the area seeing inflation on the points required.

    Having said that, I can’t see the one that I have booked for next summer on the list, Holiday Inn Express and Suites S Lake Buena Vista, that I reckon is a steal. Booked 4 nights for 80,000 points. Flexible rate is $736 for the 4 nights. Non -flexible was coming in at around $700. At today’s rates that works out at over 0.7p per point.

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