IHG Rewards Club plays a major part of my strategy for affordable hotel stays in Europe next month. I used IHG hotel points for eight nights in Brno, Czech Republic and Clermont Ferrand, France on PointBreaks reward nights at 5,000 points per night. I used 35,000 points for InterContinental Geneva and my last free night credit from Into the Nights 2014 promotion for InterContinental Le Grand Paris.
There is an acquisition cost for 75,000 IHG Rewards Club points and my free night credit earned from last year’s IHG Rewards Club ‘Into the Nights’ promotion. This post attempts to detail my acquisition costs for points and redemption value for reward nights next month.
IHG Rewards Club ‘Into the Nights’ September 1-December 30, 2014
I remember one morning last September sitting in a charming boutique hotel room at Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion in Oslo, Norway as I attempted to register for IHG Into the Nights, only to receive repeated error messages.
My original IHG Into the Nights offer changed six weeks into the promotion from one requiring a minimum three hotel nights to an offer requiring either seven hotel nights or two hotel nights in two countries outside the USA.
I ended up staying in two airport hotels at London Gatwick and Dublin, Ireland on my trip to London via Ireland last Thanksgiving with total hotel spend of $235 USD to complete my Into the Nights tasks. I earned two free hotel nights and 27,500 points. I am IHG Rewards Club Platinum elite as an IHG MasterCard member.
InterContinental Park Lane London
One of my free nights was redeemed last month at InterContinental Park Lane London. The published rate for that hotel room night was 382 GBP = $595 USD.
Next month I am booked into InterContinental Le Grand Paris. The advance purchase rate for the hotel is €450 = $490 USD.
IHG Into the Nights cost $235 for my two hotel nights in London and Dublin last November. Besides the two airport hotel nights I needed, I earned two free luxury hotel nights in London and Paris from that promotion.
I also earned 27,500 IHG Rewards Club points. Those points were a large portion of the 75,000 points I spent for the other nine hotel nights next month. One of the benefits to know about being an IHG Rewards Club MasterCard holder is all IHG Rewards Club points redemptions receive a 10% points rebate. I will get 7,500 points back from the points redeemed for nine hotel nights in Europe next month.
InterContinental Geneva is 35,000 points per night. I purchased 10,000 points for $70 and redeemed 25,000 points for a room with published rates at $313 USD.
How much did I spend for ten IHG Reward nights in Europe?
This is a tough question to answer. At the high end, I might have paid as much $70 per 10,000 points for all the Points and Cash rates I have booked in the past couple of years. 75,000 points would have cost $525, if they were all purchased as Points and Cash reward nights.
I have only had the IHG Rewards Club credit card for one year. I signed up for the card as one of my IHG Into the Nights tasks. The sign up bonus was 60,000 points. Essentially, those were free points. I have paid no interest on my IHG Rewards Club card.
Holiday Inn Brno, Czech Republic = $112.75 USD per night x 4 nights = $451 USD. Room rate in local currency = Kč 2,803.00 CZK.
Holiday Inn Clermont Ferrand France = $111.35 USD per night x 4 nights = $445.40. Room rate in local currency = € 102.50 EUR.
IHG PointBreaks reduced the room rate from $900 for advance purchase nonrefundable room rates to 40,000 points for eight hotel nights.
Using the IHG Cash and Points trick allows the purchase of 40,000 points for $280. The ‘trick’ is the option to book a four night hotel reward stay and purchase 40,000 points for $280, then cancel the reward stay. You keep the purchased points. $280 is quite a savings when points are used for $900 in PointBreaks reward nights.
In general, I don’t think of standard reward nights with IHG as a good value at most hotels. For example, InterContinental Geneva at 35,000 points is a $245 room night when buying points at $70 per 10,000 points. That is a discount on the published room rate, but there are better deals to be found in Geneva. I might change that hotel night to a paid night at another hotel, if I can get a room for around $100.
In summary, I redeemed 75,000 IHG Rewards Club points and one free night credit for ten reward nights in Europe. These room nights are equivalent to $1,700 based on the lowest rates available for my hotel stay dates.
My our of pocket expense for the ten nights was $70. My acquisition cost for the other 65,000 points could be calculated as no additional money spent, since I earned most of these points from the IHG credit card sign up bonus. Even at a high valuation of $70 per 10,000 points, the acquisition cost for 75,000 points is $525 for $1,700 in room nights.
One of the value opportunities of most hotel loyalty programs is the ability to book a luxury hotel and splurge. I get great value from most of my points redemptions, but I also like comfort and convenience for my hotel stays.
InterContinental Geneva is the same 35,000 points price as the Holiday Inn Express Geneva Airport. I need a flight out of Geneva Airport in the early morning, but I’d rather spend my day luxuriating in a city hotel instead of an airport hotel. InterContinental Geneva is not a good redemption value overall, but at $70 out-of-pocket for the hotel reward night, the InterContinental Geneva is a nice splurge for me before a morning flight.
Gary Leff wrote a response today to US News & World Report hotel loyalty program rankings report released this week. Which Hotel Program is Really Best: Would You Agree With These Rankings? IHG Rewards Club comes out #5 in the U.S. News report.
In Gary’s article, he links to his own 2014 ‘in-depth’ piece on hotel loyalty program comparisons. What Hotel Program is the Most Rewarding for Your Nights? The Answer May Shock You. (June 26, 2014).
I’d argue that Gary’s chart is incorrect in listing IHG Rewards Club as 10,000 points per night for the cheapest redemption. IHG PointBreaks have been consistently offered year-round for several years and 5,000 points is their cheapest redemption reward night. It makes sense to me to compare IHG PointBreaks nights to Hilton HHonors category 1, Club Carlson Category 1 and SPG category 1. There are more IHG PointBreaks hotels offered through the year than all those category 1 hotels combined in Hilton, Club Carlson and SPG.
Promotions make all the difference
Promotions make all the difference in hotel loyalty program comparisons is the primary argument I have made for years on comparative ranking of hotel loyalty programs. The steady stream of hotel loyalty program promotions is the basis of my Loyalty Traveler blog. IHG Rewards Club has offered far more lucrative promotions in the past year than any of the other chains, with the possible exception of Club Carlson.
My focus for paid stays in 2015 has been Club Carlson where I racked up around 100,000 points on triple points with 3-night hotel stays in winter and other Club Carlson bonus points promotions for around $800 in hotel spend. Those points have me booked for four nights in Amsterdam next winter with a redemption value around $900.
IHG Rewards Club offers good value on a budget
My $235 in hotel spend to earn free nights through the fall 2014 IHG Rewards Club ‘Into the Nights’ promotion at London InterContinental Park Lane and Paris InterContinental Le Grand are proof to me that IHG Rewards Club offers good value for a budget traveler.
I won’t have lounge access or free breakfast at the InterContinental hotels in Paris and Geneva as an IHG Rewards Club Platinum elite, but I don’t like eating in luxury hotel restaurants anyway. I’ll grab an apple from the lobby and head to the market for breakfast and meals. I need a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Pampering is not my travel style, unless it comes at no additional cost to other hotel options.
Spending 40,000 IHG points for eight nights at Holiday Inn in the Czech Republic and France are sufficient proof to me that IHG Rewards Club is a valuable hotel loyalty program.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Share Forever summer promotion good for house hunters (May 10, 2015)
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Rewards Club Share Forever promotion assessment (April 22, 2015)
Loyalty Traveler – Closing out IHG Into the Nights before Set Your Sights on 2015 (Jan 2, 2015)
Loyalty Traveler – Completed my IHG Into the Nights in 2 nights for $235? (Dec 8, 2014)
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Into the Nights fiasco deconstructed (Oct 29, 2014)
Loyalty Traveler – Dealing with IHG Into the Nights Fiasco (Oct 26, 2014)
Loyalty Traveler – My IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights offer (Sep 5, 2014)