IHG’s Rewards Club Devaluation Hits Too Close To Home

Last Tuesday, IHG released a web page that showed changes for 2018 regarding the number of points needed to redeem a free night. As a reminder, IHG is the parent company of Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and many others. We like to stay at their hotels and I’ve written about how I find their hotel points to be some of the most valuable for our travels.

IHG hotels

IHG has over 5,100 hotel properties worldwide, so it’s understandable they’d need to make adjustments to the point chart. IHG tends to release the changes to the chart for the upcoming year right after Jan 1st, with the new rates taking effect shortly thereafter. Getting a look at this year’s changes, the number of hotels going up in price and the rate of how fast the prices are rising is worrying. IHG is raising the prices at over 500 of their hotels – that’s almost 10% of their properties. Of those, 325 hotels are going up 5,000 points a night and 184 hotels are going up a cringe worthy 10,000 points a night. They’re also reducing prices at almost 200 hotels, but all of those hotels are going down just 5,000 points and most are located outside of the U.S.  Ouch.

But wait, there’s more…

If that wasn’t enough, IHG also announced a new tier of hotels that will require 70,000 points a night (the previous high level was 60,000 points). It was just in 2016 that IHG introduced a new high level of 60,000 points which replaced the previous top rate of 50,000 points.

intercontinental-bora-bora
The InterContinental Bora-Bora will now cost 70,000 IHG points a night

I usually don’t worry about devaluations that much. They happen, I can’t do anything about it and I try not to put myself in a situation where I’m trapped if a specific hotel property gets more expensive. However, I wonder what I did to make IHG mad at me this year as they’ve managed to raise the cost of several hotels I like to stay at using my IHG points. It seems personal. 🙂

The sting is worse because I purchased 120,000 IHG points last year and haven’t used them. I figured I could always find a good redemption where they’d come in handy but I never needed to use them.

The only silver lining is that the prices will not be going up until January 16, 2018. You can book a room now and lock in the lower rate. Fortunately, there’s no charge to cancel a IHG award reservation so you’ll get back all your points if your plans change.

If you want to look at all of the hotels changing in points needed for next year, here’s the  IHG webpage or you can look at this easier to understand spreadsheet from LoyaltyLobby.

Here are just a few of the hotels we’ve stayed in that are going up in points:

Crowne Plaza Key West – La Concha 

crowne-plaza-key-west-4620666974-2x1

2017 Price – 50,000 points
2018 Price – 60,000 points

I liked this hotel and it does have a great location on Key West. However, charging as much as an InterContinental for this property is a little outrageous. However since Hyatt is getting 25,000 points for the Hyatt Centric, I’m not surprised IHG thinks they can charge an astronomical rate. I’m not stung by this one as much because I’d much rather stay at an independent hotel on Key West if I have a choice, but this is one more option that’s off the table for us.

 Crowne Plaza Times Square

Times Square Crowne Plaza

2017 Price – 50,000 points
2018 Price – 60.000 points

This is one of our favorite hotels to stay at in New York when taking a quick Broadway trip. The location is fantastic and the rooms are comfortable. We’ve even been upgraded to a better view because of my IHG Platinum status I get from having the IHG credit card.

While the 50,000 point value for this hotel was high, I gladly paid it last year for a two night stay. 100,000 points got me $750 worth of value (the cash price of the room). I even got 10,000 points back because of the 10% points rebate, also from having the IHG credit card.

Since you can buy IHG points for $0.575 when there’s a good promotion. I figure that 100,000 points “cost” $575 and using points saved me $175. Now that rooms here will cost 60,000 points a night, that’s a points equivalent cost of $690. Not much of a savings from the really expensive cash rate. At that price, I’ll look for a different hotel. In fact we’re already staying with Starpoints for our next NYC trip (booked before this devaluation) and taking advantage of the 5th night free SPG offers on reward stays.

Willard InterContinental

The Willard

2017 Price – 60,000 Points
2018 Price – 70,000 Points

While I’ve never stayed at this hotel, I let my dad use my IHG free night certificate here. The Willard is going to be one of the hotels in the new 70,000 point category. My dad loved the location of the hotel, right next to The White House, which is great for sightseeing; I just couldn’t see dropping that many points to stay here. The lobby and public spaces are wonderful but pictures of the room I saw were uninspiring. I’d just as soon drop by and look around (for free), which is exactly what we did during our last visit to Washington D.C.

While the increased points needed to book these hotels is disappointing, I understand. Rising prices are a fact of life and if IHG keeps offering promotions to sell points at a discount, the only reasonable outcome is for those points to become less valuable.

However, this hotel increasing in points needed for a free night is a mystery to me.

Holiday Inn London – Mayfair

Holiday Inn London Mayfair Room

2017 Price – 40,000 Points
2018 Price – 50,000 Points

The picture is of an upgraded “club level” room we received when staying here in 2016. I thought that 40,000 points we paid was way too much for this hotel and I think even more so that 50,000 points is a crazy amount to pay. It must be because of the location near The Ritz and Green Park but I’d much rather pay 40,000 points for the Hotel Indigo Kensington. It just goes to show that IHG’s points increases seem to be linked to the room rates that the hotels are able to charge.

Is there any good news?

Trying to be optimistic, I suppose I can squeeze some good news from this announcement. I guess the value of the IHG credit card free night certificate just went up when comparing to paying with a room with points. You’d be hard pressed to find a room that would cost less than the $49 annual fee the card charged.

Lets see, one more good thing?

The Candlewood Suites in New Braunfels, TX is not getting more expensive and will still only cost 20,000 points a night in 2018. That means we can make our trip to Schlitterbahn and I will not feel as guilty about using points to pay for the trip. It’s not Bora Bora but we like staying there and I might as well burn these IHG points before they become worth even less. If history has shown us anything, I’ll bet another 500 IHG hotels to go up in the number of points needed for a free night in 2019. Any takers?

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