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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.

  • Aston100 says:

    Another thing I have noticed is that amongst the 25 nights I’ve got booked around the UK this year, the overall cash price for each stay is now lower than the points price (at time of writing anyway, who knows what the IHG random number generator will do tomorrow?).
    Combined with some deals on longer stays with breakfast included (but you lose 1 night deposit) I have moved some reward bookings to cash bookings and achieved a better outcome with breakfast included, points on my booking card and IHG points for my loyalty.
    As only a new lockdown will prevent me from travelling domestically, I see this as little risk.

    • Sean says:

      This only works if the value you have ascribed to your points in doing your comparison remains (in the longer term). If they have been reduced by 30% from Robs 0.4p to say 0.28p – then there is of course some risk (unless of course you only stay on Tuesdays!)

  • Judge says:

    So annoyed I’ve built up points in this scheme now. I only used reward points when the cash price was high, otherwise I stayed with them on a cash booking (and generated points). Now no point in that strategy, and therefore no point in being loyal to IHG.

  • Sam says:

    I’ve been watching hotels in several cities in Asia for a few weeks. The pricing has remained stable topping out under 30k for Intercontinentals (where there is availability). Still looks normal there

    I wonder if what we’re seeing is simply due to the higher demand from Europe/US?

    • meta says:

      Not for me. Redemption prices have been going wild at some ICs, though I admit cash prices more or less the same. Just rebooked one night at IC Singapore which saved me 10k and now 25k which is close to 22k I got last year when dynamic pricing was introduced.

      It means now I need to check all bookings every morning…

  • Si says:

    I know there will be a thousand examples of this but the logic is very much elusive…

    I booked 2 individual reward nights at Marlow CP for a local wedding this September. When I booked I “paid” 20k & 25k points. I kept an eye and it rose to 25k and 30k respectively (understandable). Last week it suddenly doubled in cash price and jumped to 60k per night…… all very excessive

    Anyway, just checked now and cash price has remained but now 34k per night….

    Seems very unnecessary volatile

  • ChrisC says:

    Will post this here as IHG related the AMB free night enrolement offer is back

    Enrole or renew between 15th April – 31st July

    Stay in an IC, Kimpton, Regent by 31st August to get voucher for upto a 40k stay

    Use thre voucher by 30th November

    (the detailed T&C is number 45)

    • Simon D says:

      I’m not sure I will be jumping at this offer given how badly it has worked this year. Legally I have had no opportunity to use the voucher and they refuse to extend it.

      • Anna says:

        I kept on at them and they’ve eventually given me 40k points to go away! (Another reader managed this as well, which is why I didn’t give up).
        OH didn’t manage the qualifying stay, so I’m not going to email Ambassador again and ask why new members are now going to be able to take advantage of this when current ones can’t!

        • Anna says:

          *Now* going to email Ambassador …

        • ChrisC says:

          I keep meaning email them about my weekend certificate.

          This could work out for me just not sure if it would be worth the 40k points (25k of which would be from the Spire points)

          No big rush to sign up so will keep it as an option.

    • Will says:

      With dynamic pricing up to 40k off a redemption would be much more appealing.

    • RogerC says:

      Anyone know, does one night of a two night stay with the second using the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night count as a qualifying stay for the voucher?

    • Urban Bard says:

      I just emailed the AMB crew. I saw this 1st on Loyalty Lobby:

      For me at least based in UK, Spire AMB this is total rubbish. They are still only offering me 15K points for a cash renewal of 200 USD, or 49K points to renew. I sent them links and screenshots of my account offer saying will you offer me this?

  • Will says:

    Seems like a IHG alert service notifying you when a redemption on a particular night is lower than a certain level would be a very useful tool…

  • AnotherUser says:

    It just seems really random. Aug 23 in Edinburgh (so very much peak season) the CP is 34k/night points and the Holiday Inn Express Leith is 21k/night. Those rates seem pretty reasonable for the time of year, but then the HIX City Centre is a daft 66k!

  • Magarathea says:

    Here is my experience over the last few days with IHG.
    I have recently booked a Dubai hotel for a multi night stay next year as one booking. I decided to try the new suggested system and cancelled my booking and made a number of individual night bookings to give me flexibility without finding the trip repriced if I made any changes. Bit of a pain in terms of work but hey ho!
    The following day the front desk of the hotel phoned me up to check these were real bookings and not some sort of scam. So, the hotels are going to find individual night bookings for multi night stays strange!
    Then this morning, I decided to look at the prices again and IHG seem to have changed their website THIS week. Previously, for a multi night booking the website showed the AVERAGE nightly rate for a multi night stay with total price at average rate, times number of nights. Now however they have changed this AVERAGE rate to a FROM rate. So, they show the cheapest rate for a multi night stay and you only see the overall price once you get closer to the final booking screens.
    However, the rates at my hotel have now come down by around 20% and one hour later, I have saved 50k points! That’s £200 for an hour’s work! In the rebooking process, I seemed to get frozen out of access from my default browser but a few different browsers later and it was all done!
    If the front desk phone me again I will reply that I am responding to “Dynamic pricing” with “Dynamic Booking”!
    Game the system and embrace!!!

    • Anna says:

      Dynamic Booking – love it! HFP readers fight back.

    • Aston100 says:

      Great response.

      The frozen browser thing happened to me when I was making multiple bookings. Had to change to a different one to continue.
      I guess it is a thing.

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