(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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.)