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How does the new IHG Rewards points pricing vary at the same hotel?

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On Wednesday we ran a detailed analysis of the new IHG Rewards hotel redemption pricing.

My conclusion is that there has not been a wholesale devaluation, and there has not been a move to revenue-based redemptions. The link between room rate and points price is weak. This applies irrespective of the market position of the hotel.

You can read more about this if you click here.

Today I want to look at something different. Instead of looking at 38 London hotels on the same day – as I did on Wednesday – I want to look at the same London hotel across 31 days.

I picked Holiday Inn Camden Lock, host of two previous Head for Points reader parties. I like this hotel, partly because many rooms overlook the canal and partly because you can be in Camden Market within 60 seconds.

Here is how the pricing works for July 2021. The cash price is the IHG ‘member rate’ for that day.

The numbers below are points for a standard room, the ‘member rate’ cash price for a standard room and the ‘pence per point’ calculation.

  • Thursday 1st – 67,000 / £159 / 0.24p
  • Friday 2nd – 62,000 / £147 / 0.24p
  • Saturday 3rd – 67,000 / £159 / 0.24p
  • Sunday 4th – 54,000 / £142 / 0.26p
  • Monday 5th – 65,000 / £182 / 0.28p
  • Tuesday 6th – 38,000 / £218 / 0.57p
  • Wednesday 7th – 38,000 / £203 / 0.53p
  • Thursday 8th – 53,000 / £167 / 0.32p
  • Friday 9th – sold out / £137 / na
  • Saturday 10th – 64,000 / £190 / 0.30p
  • Sunday 11th – 34,000 / £179 / 0.53p
  • Monday 12th – 25,000 / £142 / 0.57p
  • Tuesday 13th – 27,000 / £157 / 0.58p
  • Wednesday 14th – 28,000 / £159 / 0.57p
  • Thursday 15th – 48,000 / £139 / 0.29p
  • Friday 16th – 57,000 / £134 / 0.24p
  • Saturday 17th – 64,000 / £151 / 0.24p
  • Sunday 18th – 49,000 / £116 / 0.24p
  • Monday 19th – 50,000 / £123 / 0.25p
  • Tuesday 20th – 25,000 / £135 / 0.54p
  • Wednesday 21st – 45,000 / £135 / 0.30p
  • Thursday 22nd – 44,000 / £117 / 0.27p
  • Friday 23rd – 50,000 / £139 / 0.28p
  • Saturday 24th – 54,000 / £155 / 0.29p
  • Sunday 25th – 42,000 / £106 / 0.25p
  • Monday 26th – 43,000 / £119 / 0.28p
  • Tuesday 27th – 25,000 / £134 / 0.53p
  • Wednesday 28th – 42,000 / £134 / 0.32p
  • Thursday 29th – 40,000 / £114 / 0.29p
  • Friday 30th – 47,000 / £123 / 0.26p
  • Saturday 31st – 61,000 / £147 / 0.24p

When you look at a list like this – for the same hotel – you see how crazy the new system is.

  • the points range runs from 25,000 points to 67,000 points
  • the cash range runs from £106 to £218

However, the cash price has very little relation to the points price.

The most expensive date – £218 – is one of the cheapest for points, needing just 38,000.

On another date, we have a room going for 61,000 points which is only £147 cash.

The ‘pence per point’ range runs from 0.24p to 0.58p.

Points pricing doesn’t seem to be totally random but it is not closely correlated to cash either. There appear to be clusters, where you get a run of 4-5 days of similar points pricing.

Between 12th – 15th July, for instance, the points cost is very low at 25k / 27k / 28k. However, the average cash price for those three days – around £150 – is higher than virtually every night in the 2nd half of the month.

What does this mean for you?

If you want to fully maximise the value of your IHG Rewards points, you may need to switch hotels each night. This is clear from the data above.

Unfortunately, IHG does not have a calendar on its website which shows you the cash and points price in the same format as I do above. This means that you would need to do lots of individual searches to see where the best value was.

For example, if you searched from 19th-21st July, the IHG website will show you a points price of 37,500 per night. What you can’t see easily is that one night is 25,000 points and the other is 50,000 points, which may impact your decision.

If IHG had decided to ‘do an Accor’ and announce that 1 point was worth exactly 0.4p, members would at least know where they stood. It would have destroyed the value in the programme (Accor Live Limitless does not exactly excite its members as there are no opportunities for outsize value) but at least you would have known where you were.

You are now in an even worse position, because you have no idea what your stay will cost. Fancy earning some points during May for a 5-star hotel in Boston in July? Good luck getting a firm idea of how many points you will need.

Imagine if Caffe Nero gave you one stamp per coffee you bought, but didn’t tell you how many you needed for a free coffee. You fill up a card with 15 stamps. Each day you need to walk into the shop and ask how many stamps are needed for a free coffee that day. The answer could be between 10 and 30 (roughly the range IHG is using) and bears no relation to the cost of a coffee. Would you put up with that? Would you even bother collecting the stamps on that basis?

Hilton got it right, IHG got it wrong

Hilton moved to a similar system a couple of years ago, but with a key difference.

Hilton has retained caps. They are not published, but regular users know that you will never pay more than a certain amount for a certain hotel. This has two advantages:

  • you know, in the worse case scenario, how many points you will need
  • you can get outsize value at peak times

The idea of linking points to cash rates is not totally stupid. When you put hotels in fixed price categories, there are some properties which never get any redemption business because they are so cheap for cash.

Under a flexible system, like the Hilton one, hotels which are cheap for cash are cheap for points. This helps spread out redemptions across a broader number of hotels.

IHG has done neither of these things:

  • there is no link between cash price and points price, so it won’t do anything to fill hotels with points guests at cheap periods
  • there is no cap on redemption pricing, so members have literally no idea how many points they will need

What makes even less sense, as I explained yesterday, is that the amount that IHG pays the hotel is fixed unless the hotel is full. This means that the dispersion in points pricing we see above has no logic to it.

IHG One Rewards update – July 2024:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.

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.

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 (97)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Crafty says:

    Good analysis – bad system. This will turn off a chunk of people from bothering with the scheme.

  • Anna says:

    Some hotels seem to have just increased points prices full stop. I’ve been tracking the IC and Kimpton Nine Zero in Boston for next March and they’ve both increased by 20k and 25k respectively (to 60k and 85K). Fortunately I should have 3 cc free nights to book all but one night with which will feel like pretty good value when I come to redeem them!

    • ChrisC says:

      Oh I liked the Nine Zero when I stated there a couple of years ago.

      Good location very close to the common and the T.

      Nice rooms and lovely staff.

  • Froggitt says:

    “Unfortunately, IHG does not have a calendar on its website which shows you the cash and points price in the same format as I do above.”

    Surely there is a clever HfP member who can scrape all this data daily into a table, that Rob can then publish here?

  • Paul Pogba says:

    With these parameters you’re getting a mean redemption value of 0.34p, a devaluation of 15% on the HfP benchmark of 0.4p. I might try and run the numbers on a US hotel where there are fewer restrictions on travel. The HI Camden is probably experiencing suppressed demand due to the lack of international tourists and domestic visitors.

    • tony says:

      I did that with a random HIEX in Pittsburg next week. Was 14k points every night except Saturday when it was 17k. Rate was a static $140 a night before taxes.

    • N says:

      the mean is meaningless

      nobody is staying at these hotels for 30 days

      • Paul Pogba says:

        It’s a representation, for some people a random full week is what they’d use the points for, for me I’m more likely to redeem points at the weekend. Filtering out Friday, Saturday, Sunday redemptions I get an average value of 0.28p.

    • Rob says:

      That’s not what 0.4p means.

      Our 0.4p is ‘what you can reasonably expect to get on a good day’ – ie you should expect to see less than 0.4p a lot of the time, and be happy pulling the trigger at 0.4p on a redemption because it is top of the range.

      On that definition, nothing changes.

      If the average across 30 days was 0.4p then I would be increasing my target valuation to 0.5p.

      • Paul Pogba says:

        I thought in previous articles you’d said you were a buyer of points at 0.4p as you should be able to beat that at the right properties. The averages look like it’s getting harder to beat that 0.4p and thats before you get to the uncertainty discussed in this article. The changes look negative to me but I also don’t see a better alternative for non-Amex spend.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Every single scheme has sweet spots and crap spots.

          You should only use points when the value works for you!

          Im pretty liquid so I won’t redeem unless I’m beating Rob’s valuations by about 10-20% (you earn points on cash plus money back portals)

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Or if the additional flexibility is important

            there is value in the fact points bookings are usually fully refundable and cheapest cash rates often aren’t (COVID-19 has changed that slightly but it won’t last forever)

  • Brian W says:

    If you run a search for a calendar week, it shows you the average points rate for those 7 days as you state, however, when you click through to the rate selection page there is a link on the left hand side of the page that then shows you the rate for each individual date within that week if you click on it. Saves doing loads of searches this way to achieve a daily breakdown 👌🏻

  • Mikeact says:

    I guess you’d have to pretty dedicated or plain stupid to “switch hotels each night”.

    • Froggitt says:

      I guess you don’t remember the bonus points schemes from around 2010 to 2015……

    • ChrisC says:

      The most I’ve done over a weekend is one hotel on a Friday and a second for Saturday and Sunday nights and that was when they had their cumulative target bonus scheme and one of the targets was to stay in 3 separate brands and this was a way of getting me 2 of the 3.

      No way am I taking up valuable holiday time unpacking and packing and schleping around a city to save a few points.

    • The real John says:

      I frequently switched hotels every night to renew my Hilton status. It’s not hard if there are two hotels next to each other

      • Rob says:

        Was very common back in the ‘faster free nights’ when, for eg, SPG would give you a free night valid anywhere (no limits) for every 5 stays or so.

  • David S says:

    How could you even design and test a computer programme that does this to the pricing as even amongst the readership there isn’t any consensus on what is trying to be achieved other than p***ing your loyal customer base off

  • Aston100 says:

    I mentioned something last night in the chat thread.

    Points and also Cash prices are changing daily at some properties I have booked.
    A good example is a property in New York that I have booked for 10 nights on points.
    I have cancelled and rebooked it as 10 individual nights, and saved about 5%
    A couple of the nights dropped by about half whilst others dropped by only 1k or 2k, but others went up by upto 5k, but still led to an overall decrease in points requirement over the 10 nights combined.

    I am going to check prices everyday.
    If individual nights drop in price again, I can cancel and rebook those without having to block cancel the entire booking.
    At present, I have achieved 0.67p per point because the cash prices seem to have no bearing on the points prices, as pointed out in this article.
    I expect to achieve even greater value per point over the coming months if IHG continue to refresh prices by rolling a dice.

    My main takeaway from all this is that all rewards nights bookings need to be booked as a bunch of individual one night bookings and then checked regularly for price changes. Ask the property to combine them all nearer the time.

    • Gavin says:

      Quite a lot of work having to check the price every day for several months, and potentially rebook many times! I’m in a similar situation and it’s very annoying, I just want a good value flat rate redemption.

      • Aston100 says:

        So what I’ve done is taken a screenshot of the rate breakdown which shows the nightly rates and total price.

        I am running a daily search on that property on those dates and comparing the rate breakdown with my screenshot. This takes under a minute.

        If I spot any dates where the price has dropped, I intend to cancel and rebook just those specific date(s) only. This may take two or three minutes per change, but is worth it in my opinion.

        • Alan says:

          Good plan for multinight stays to save checking each one individually 👍

    • ChrisC says:

      I checked some of my bookings last night.

      Some of the rates had dropped and some had gone up but TBH nothing excessive a (few thousand either way and I will rebook where the savings are worth it (I’m going to work on at leaat a 1k saving per booking.

      I usually check on a weekly basis. Daily would be too much.

      It;s the cash rates not changing that are puzzling

      In May the de Witt in Amsterdam has cash rate of £157 for a Wed and Thursday night but points are 28k and 54k respectivly giving redemption rates of 0.56 and 0.290 respectivly per night but over 2 nights the rate is 0.383

      I think people need to look at these things in the round i.e. their total stay rather than the per night figures.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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