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IHG Rewards Club, the (main) loyalty programme for hotel brands Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn etc, have just announced changes to the number of Points required for award nights. In total 400 hotels are affected, with roughly half requiring more Points after the changes take effect, and half requiring less.
The new rates come into force on 17th February, so if you’re thinking about making an award booking at any of the affected hotels, make your reservation before then if the hotel is going up in price, and make it after if it’s going down. If you make your booking before 17th February you will pay the current rate, regardless of when your actual stay is.
You can take a look at the full list of changes here.
If half are going up and half down, why is it a devaluation?
Firstly, the hotels that are going up are mostly in expensive places where using Points can save you a lot of money (London, Hong Kong, San Francisco etc). The hotels going down are a little more off the beaten track (unless relatively obscure Chinese cities are your thing – in which case you’re in luck!).
Secondly, until now the highest category hotels have required 50,000 Points, but IHG have introduced two higher categories, requiring 55,000 and 60,000 Points per night. That’s a 20% devaluation for some of the best IHG redemption options.
I might have missed some, but the hotels that will cost 55,000 are:
- Intercontinental Sydney
- Intercontinental Melbourne
- Intercontinental Rome
- Intercontinental Washington
- Intercontinental Boston
Hotels jumping to 60,000 are:
- Intercontinental Cannes
- Intercontinental Paris – Marceau
- Intercontinental Paris – Le Grand
- Intercontinental Bora Bora – Le Moana
- Intercontinental Bora Bora – Resort Thalasso Spa
- Intercontinental Hong Kong
- Intercontinental London – Park Lane
- Intercontinental Monterrey
- Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
- Intercontinental San Francisco
- Intercontinental Alliance Resorts “The Venetian”
- Intercontinental Alliance Resorts “The Palazzo”
- Intercontinental New York Times Square
The changes continue a pattern we’ve seen for a few years now, with hotels in popular cities like London, Paris and New York requiring more and more Points.
From a UK perspective the trend is the same, with London bearing the brunt of the negative adjustments. The Crowne Plaza hotels in Kensington and The City are going up to 50,000 Points each, and all the Hotel Indigos in London will increase by 10,000 Points.
The fact that there will be Holiday Inn Express hotels in the capital demanding 40,000 Points a night is, frankly, ridiculous. On the other hand, I would never have redeemed 35,000 points for them anyway, so it doesn’t really make much practical difference.
How bad is it really?
Devaluations are disappointing, but also inevitable. However, a 20% increase for hotels I’ve personally used Points to stay at quite recently and enjoyed (Intercontinental Park lane, Hong Kong, Boston, Paris Le Grand) is a bit of a slap in the face. That said, compared to some of the brutal devaluations other loyalty programmes have made in the past (yes, I’m looking at you Hilton HHonors!), it’s not terrible.
Overall, I don’t think these changes are unexpected or hugely unreasonable. They have definitely lowered my valuation of IHG Points a bit, but compared to the number of Points other hotel loyalty programmes charge for their top hotels, IHG Rewards Club still looks quite good. When you factor in the regular generous bonus Points offers, IHG remains one of the best hotel chains for earning Points at relatively cheap hotels and then using them at expensive ones.