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IHG Rewards’ points pricing is pretty mysterious these days. When you want to use your points for a free night, there is really no way to tell in advance (on any given day) how many points will be required.
To be clear, I don’t mean the points required changes because the cash rates might have gone up/down – that would be ‘standard’ dynamic pricing and reasonably predictable. I mean that the cash rate can go down and the points rate go up, or vice versa. In some cases, the cash rate can stay exactly the same and the points rate can still jump around wildly, depending on the day of the week you look!
If you want a specific example of how unpredictable this phenomena is, here you go:
- A couple of months ago, I was going to use points to book a hotel in York. When I first looked, the cash rate was about £150 and the points rate was 25,000 per night. Given that I generally value IHG Rewards Points at 0.4p each and I’d be getting 0.6p per point in this example, I was very happy to book, but had to confirm some other things first.
- The next day, I logged in to my account in order to book. The cash rate was the same, but the points rate had more than doubled to 59,000 points per night.
- The next week, I checked again and the points rate was back down to 25,000 points per night. Obviously, I booked straight away.
- Now (after all sorts of fluctuations in the meantime), the points rate is a staggering 76,000 points – and the cash rate is still ~£150:
If you redeemed your points at that rate, you would be getting just 0.19p of value per point. That is less than half what I would consider fair value – utterly abysmal.
There is (sort of) a way around this…
I have argued before that I think it’s reasonable to stick with a 0.4p valuation of IHG Rewards Points, despite the changes. My reasoning was that although these ultra-bad value redemption options are common, in most places (and on most dates) there are other IHG hotels available at better redemption rates. On the occasions that isn’t true, simply pay cash or stay at a non-IHG hotel, and save your points for a better redemption.
I had forgotten one redemption option though, that really helps to provide a ‘floor’ value for IHG Points – redeeming for Mr & Mrs Smith hotels.
The reason I had forgotten (despite writing about it a couple of years ago), is that the results are always relegated right down to the bottom of the search page. If we use London as an example, you have to scroll past ~100 IHG hotels (including those that don’t even have availability), before you see the Mr & Mrs Smith options:
If you want to bring them up quickly, just click the filter button after your search and only select Mr & Mrs Smith hotels:
What is great about these redemptions (in addition to the hotels generally being quite interesting) is that, as far as I can tell, you always receive ~0.4p per IHG Rewards Point, when you compare the points rate to the cash rate.
For example, here are the cash rates for the first 5 hotels listed in London on a random date:
And here are the points rates for that same date:
- Cash rate: £273
- Points rate: 67,500
- Value per point: 0.404p
- Cash rate: £149
- Points rate: 37,500
- Value per point: 0.397p
- Cash rate: £210
- Points rate: 52,500
- Value per point: 0.4p
11 Cadogan Gardens
- Cash rate: £339
- Points rate: 85,000
- Value per point: 0.399p
- Cash rate: £189
- Points rate: 47,500
- Value per point: 0.398p
As you can see, the value you receive per point is always ~0.4p (there is a very slight variation because the points rates are always rounded to the nearest 500 or 1,000).
Which Mr & Mrs Smith hotels are available using IHG Rewards Points?
This is what makes the partnership really interesting.
It’s one thing to be able to redeem points at a decent rate in popular cities, but there are always plenty of accommodation options (whether using hotel points, cash, airbnb, etc) in those locations. Mr & Smith hotels provide options in places that are often a little more off the beaten track, or at the sort of boutique hotels you wouldn’t usually expect to be able to use hotel points from a major chain.
You can take a look at the initial list here (more have been added since, but I can’t find a more up to date list). Highlights include many of the Greek islands, Iceland, Cornwall, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Tuscany, Patagonia, South Africa, etc, etc.
Being able to consistently redeem IHG Rewards Points for 0.4p each at Mr & Mrs Smith hotels is a tremendous ‘back up’ option when trying to ensure that you get good value from your points. The fact that many of the hotels are beautiful and often located in places where you can’t often use hotel points, doesn’t hurt either!
0.4p per IHG Point might not be ‘outsized value’, but it is what I have long considered to be ‘fair value’. Hopefully, IHG won’t change it in the near future…
Have you used IHG Rewards Points to book a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel yet?