How to find free nights with IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 10.46.33 PMInterContinental has a Best Rate Guarantee policy that if you find a hotel cheaper on a different site, you get a free night on that stay (even if the stay is one night). A while ago I wrote 5 Best Rate Guarantees with a Free Room and in it I essentially said that IHG was too strict when it came to approving claims. However, it was pointed out that things have changed and many people are having success at finding a booking free nights with IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee. Recently, I tried again and had some success. Twice. And it took 5 minutes to get a free night at an InterContinental Hotel!

Kayak has made it easier than ever to find cheaper rates. There are different kinds of functions on Kayak that will ensure your success in finding a BRG and I’m going to give away some of those secrets here.

As I said before, IHG can be notorious sticklers for matching up the exact room. As they should be, since some of their hotels are worth a pretty penny. And obviously if one rate includes breakfast and one doesn’t you’re comparing apples to oranges and missing the point of the BRG. You need to have the exact same room, including bed type, cancelation policy, etc… People get denied for all kinds of things, including denials for the lower rate having breakfast included. Also note, “the room price and the total room cost on the non-IHG website must be available in the currency of the hotel.” But we’ll talk about that in a minute.

Simply put you need to do this:

  1. Find a cheaper rate on a non IHG site.
  2. Book a room on IHG (I always book cancelable rates).
  3. Then submit a claim, via the online form or phone, giving your confirmation and the site where the cheaper rate can be found.
  4. If they find the cheaper rate on another site in 24 hours, you should get an email saying that your night (or a night) is free.

The Claim Form and rules can be found here.

 

So how do I find the rooms? And how has Kayak made this search easy?

1) Incase you’re unfamiliar, Kayak will search all kinds of websites and show you the lowest rates across various websites, including IHG. This makes it easy to compare IHG.com, Intercontinental.com, HolidayInn.com or whatever the hotel is to the other sites easily, as you’ll have the hotel’s home page price listed among the other travel sites and their prices

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 9.09.10 PM

So in this above picture, I can see that the hotel on IHG (Intercontinental) is more expensive than Kayak or Getaroom.

2) But Kayak makes this an even easier search by adding a search bar on the side called “Hotel Name” but you can also type in and search a hotel brand or chain.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 12.06.56 PM

Now I can simply type in “InterContinental” and select “all InterContinental brands” and see all the hotels with this free night policy (same can be done with Choice hotels or any brand really). Same thing with the other brands like Hilton and Choice. I can just view the hotels under the IHG brand, thus making my search for a free night using the IHG BRG that much easier.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 10.48.30 PM3) Remember it must be in the currency of the hotel. This is made very easy by changing your country in the top right. Now I can use Kayak Italy to search hotel sites that are good for finding Italian hotels. It should find sites that show the hotel in the local currency… the downside is that it will show in the local language. Look to see if the site can change languages but if not, Google (at least Google Chrome) can translate for you.

A little trick, especially for hotels in Europe, is to change to different countries with the same currency. If you’re determined to find a BRG for a certain hotel or city, the German Kayak might find other sites and options that also pull up prices in Euros. But in general if I don’t see a lower option the first time I move on. However, I’ve got the process down pretty quick and can check at different points in time leading up to my trip. My last BRG was for an InterContinental I actually checked on last week… but this week Kayak showed some lower rates leading to a free night.

 

A little warning: Just because it shows a lower price on this first page of Kayak results, doesn’t actually mean that the website named will show the claimed price. So click all the way through, see if you can actually check out with the price you’re about to claim you saw. Plus, you need to match up the room time anyways. But perhaps there are a few other warnings for BRG newbies:

  • By the time they check your claim submitted online, the price could have changed. So if it’s a real great deal and you’re excited about it, call and get it confirmed now. I prefer not to waste my time on hold though and this reinforces the need for cancelable rates.
  • There is a 24 hour limit. So it has to be booked and approved in 24 hours or it doesn’t matter.
  • This is a fickle process. There are different people and people make mistakes. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I’ve even canceled to rebook, simply so I can try again but reset the 24 hours I have to make the claim.

In the end if it doesn’t go the way you planned and you don’t get a free night, just cancel-you’re not out anything.

 

The thing about “stays”…

“Once a valid claim has been made and approved by IHG for a specific date, no further claims by the same person will be accepted for the same date. If members of the same household make claims for consecutive nights at the same IHG hotel or at different IHG hotels within fifty (50) miles of each other, only the Best Price Guarantee claim for the first night will be honored.”

They seem to have a thing about “consecutive nights” and households. They obviously keep track of that via your address listed on your Priority Club profile (assuming they keep track at all). But other than the consecutive night issue I believe you could book the same hotel at different dates. The wording also seems that two members of the same “household” could get two rooms on the same night. For us, we’d rather have two different nights. There are obviously ways around this, but the easiest is to sleep somewhere else for a night.

 

Why? Why would they give away a free night?

My initial thought is that it’s just overly generous but I do see the benefits. It’s two-fold. To some degree they want to encourage people to book on their own website so they don’t have to pay out to third parties. But also, I imagine that the hotel really does want to know if a third party is selling their rooms at a cheaper price. The screen shot of the IC Rome above is an extreme example where a third part is selling their rooms for over 100 Euros less than IHG. But even a $10 difference can add up. So by you finding these differences on other sites, they could potentially change the prices on those sites and save some serious money. If you get a $200 hotel free but save them from unknowingly losing $10 a room on Expedia, they probably come out ahead.

What do you think? Is it overly generous? Especially considering none of the other major competitors give away free nights (except for Choice which is a budget hotel chain)? Is this something too good to last? For a while it just seemed like they counted on their agents denying people, a win-win for them. Anyways, these are some of the ways I find BRGs with IHG and I hope you find them useful.

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31 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. Just a question. When you book a book cancelable rate. Do you compare with a cancelable rate from another site or you just compare the 2 lowest prices ?

    Reply
    • You must compare rates with the same rules; that means refundable compares to refundable.

      Reply
    • Thanks a lot. There is Intercontinental London Park Lane which costs £369 for a standard room on IGH and costs £366 on olotels. It is non refundable… Seems risky?

      Reply
    • The mere fact that the price could change would scare me. Also, does olotels charge in Euros or Pounds? Because if it’s a conversion, it won’t count. It’s riskier than I would go for, partly because I would never pay $500 for a hotel.

      Reply
  2. I see that the IGH website and Kayak/Booking.com use slightly different language for what appear to be the same room. IGH says Two Double Beds Deluxe Garden View and booking.com says Superior Double View – the descriptions sound the same but do the names have to be the same?

    Reply
    • If the despcription including the view is the same, it’s the same. But if Superior Double View seems to have a better view, like ocean view, it’s a no-go. But if the description is the same, it should qualify. Can’t hurt to fill out a claim (as long as it’s refundable).

      Reply
  3. Kayak does not have Australia and New Zealand as country choices. Which websites can I use to compare prices for hotels in those countries?

    Reply
    • I’m just not familiar with Australian search engines. But I would just use the normal Kayak search to see if there are differences. Then find an australian site. Google.com.au and search for that hotel. Not too sure though.

      Reply
  4. There is so much stinkin’ good information on this site that I almost can’t read it. Overwhelmed!!!! :) I’m afraid to redeem my points because I feel like I am missing some trick or something!!

    Reply
  5. What if the description on Kayak is very limited – for room type it just says “suite”. Does the description have to be more specific? The room type is in fact a “suite” but the IGH website also specifies the bed type (2 queen). thanks!

    Reply
    • Hard to say, and probably would depend both on the agent who views it and the hotel. If there is a standard room that is cheaper and the 2 queen is more expensive, then no. But maybe 2 queen is the only suite. Or 2 queen and 1 king are always the same price. Depends I guess. I try to match it up but don’t mind booking, filing and canceling if denied.

      Reply
  6. Do you have book the cheapest room to qualify for the BRG? For instance, I prefer a king bed room which is usually a few $ more than a queen bed room. Will they still match it if I was to find a cheaper rate for the king bed?

    Reply
    • No, it works with king beds. If you book a king and find the same room, same bed type cheaper elsewhere – book and claim.

      Reply
  7. Just thought I would share a wonderful experience with IHG’s best price guarantee! I was looking to book the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes which was a wopping EUR694 per night for a standard room on an advance purchase rate including breakfast. I thought I’d have a play and see if I could find a lower rate elsewhere so I could get a night free (I was NEVER going to pay EUR694!). It was obviously risky given that it was non-refundable though. I found a rate on Hotels Click for EUR569 including breakfast (all other third party websites were EUR694 too). So I rang IHG’s best price guarantee customer service team, explained that I was looking to make a reservation on the IHG website but first wanted guidance as to whether my claim would be valid – the customer service operator checked the Hotels Click website, and even though there were a few minor differences (Hotels Click was partially refundable – 10% charged until day of check in, whereas IHG was non-refundable, and Hotels Click wrongly referred to breakfast as continental and the room as ‘classic room’ rather than ‘standard room’), the customer service operator advised that the claim appeared to match. I then made the booking on the IHG website while he waited on the phone, and then he processed my claim! I received an email within minutes saying my first night would be free and second night would be charged at EUR569 including breakfast. Woohoo!! Going to do this more often!!

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s awesome. I don’t ever call because I don’t want to spend more than a minute booking a hotel (something I do almost every day (plus I get shot down half the time for IHG BRGs)). But with a reward and risk that big, calling is definitely a good way to go. Yea, cuz if it’s non refundable I just skip it but I’ll keep this in mind.
      Thanks for sharing and good for you.

      Reply
  8. How do book a refundable rate to compare, when you check on Kayak, they only list the lowest price which is non-refundable?

    Reply
    • Kayak should have the option to “show more rooms” or something like that. But a commenter recently said that they called and asked if it would be valid and then booked while on the phone and got the BRG but confirmed ahead that it’s valid. I’m surprised they stayed on the phone.

      Reply
  9. Hi, good article. However, one query which springs to mind (I am completely brand new to all this) is that IHG state you must use the best available rate – this rate (on the hotel/dates I am checking for) is always AP (non refundable) – so I cannot risk doing that without some certainty that my claim would be successful. Is it a case of waiting until less than 7 days before travel to get a “refundable” rate as the BAR? cheers

    Reply
  10. In order to qualify for the IHG best rate guarantee, does the cancellation policies of the booking site and IHG have to be EXACTLY the same? I’ve tried many third party sites, like travelocity, booking, and priceline, and none of them have cancellation policies that are as good as IHG’s own policy.

    Reply
    • It has to be the same, maybe not to the minute, but similar. Yea, so some sites always have terrible cancelation policies, and I avoid those. Not sure why the typical sites would be so different. It could be the specific hotel. If it’s a day, I’d probably try. Much more and I wouldn’t bother.

      Reply
  11. Will it work to the Amex travel website which can only be booked with any Amex?

    Reply
    • That’s a good question. Is it something you have to be logged in to use? Or can anyone go and use it? If the first, no. If the second, I can’t imagine why not.

      Reply
  12. I have so many questions! I am searching for hotels in Hong Kong and Tokyo in January.

    I found some great options that seemed to work but then considered what you said about changing the currency/country. When I changed the country on Kayak to Hong Kong and Japan, suddenly all the Kayak deals were gone and the prices on the IHG site were way lower. Is this normal? I have do it that way, right? I can’t use USD?

    Have you found that it’s better to find BRG’s way in advance of your stay, or last minute, or does it not matter?

    Reply
  13. Do you know how long it takes for 1. to hear back from IHG 2. to be refunded the money?

    Reply
    • Hear back for a BRG or about having to pay? BRGs 24 hours. With the problem with BRG not being honored – as soon as I noticed the bill I emailed them from my room. Before I checked out I was told it would be refunded. It took a month or so I guess.

      Reply
  14. hi can you please tell me how long does it take for IHG to reply our best rate guarantee claims ? or would they even reply us regarding the validity of our claims ? I would love to know approximately how long.

    Reply
    • Usually less than 24 hours. I’d say between 10-20 hours. :-p Unless it’s in a foreign language or something funky. Then up to 3 days.

      Reply
  15. I just had a claim denied because the cancellation policies were 2hrs different (kayak.com gave an extra 2 hours).

    Has this been your experience? If so, how do you ever get anything to match? I have never found any that have the EXACT same time. Would this usually work and I just got a bad rep?

    Reply
    • I can’t find a site that offer the same cancellation policies either. Anyone has a good site with cancellation that can be made the same arrival day before 6PM?

      Reply
  16. So here’s my two cents on the BRG from someone with multiple claims approved and multiple denied. While IHG may seem to have the most generous guarantee with a free night offered, in my opinion they are the most difficult to get approved claims from (vs. Marriott and Starwood, at least). It completely depends on who takes the claim. As the OP mentioned, some are VERY nit picky with refundable rates, meaning it must be refundable to the exact same time as the hotel offers. One website I’ve found that at least for some hotels has the same cancellation policy as the hotel is: Hotel Info (I think it’s international). I’ve had claims for Yeego.com both approved and denied because of the cancellation policy being more strict by a few hours. I had a claim for Elvoline.com denied because the agent said he/she was prompted to log in to verify the rate. I’ve had a claim for Amoma approved… I’ve found that international websites sometimes are slower to update rates so you might have luck there (Agoda is another international one).

    Does anyone else have good websites they’ve submitted claims on that don’t usually show up on Trivago/Kayak?

    I have two main problems with the BRG through IHG:
    1) Every single time I’ve submitted they’ve promised a free night and then later decided that they’re unable to adjust the rate and will reimburse me 4-6 weeks after stay. This is even when the stay is months away… so they have time to figure something else out but clearly don’t want to. So not only do I have to pay the higher rate up front, I have to trust that 4-6 weeks later I’ll be reimbursed without having to exhaust more of my time following up. Ignoring the time value of that money (sometimes $500+ because the InterContinental brands are expensive), I think this is complete BS because every other hotel chain has no problem adjusting rates when a claim is approved… why is IHG the only one not able to get its chains to adjust the rate? And WHY is there no phone number to contact the BRG department? They don’t always respond to emails and many of my submissions have been “lost” in cyberspace… thus I always email AND submit through the form to be sure the time doesn’t run out before the claim is evaluated.

    2) Not only does the lower rate from a 3rd party have to be available at the time of claim evaluation (and a confirmed reservation from that 3rd party verifying the rate apparently isn’t enough), but the rate you booked on IHG’s website must also still be available. If there’s a lower rate on IHG’s website they will not look at your confirmed IHG reservation, but instead they’ll compare it to what’s currently available. I’m currently working through this issue with them because this seems ridiculous and not at all the intention of the guarantee. What about non-refundable rates or rooms that are sold out? I don’t think it’s fair that they can choose whether to look at your reservation’s rate or what’s currently available on the website. I understand that for Starwood (which allows you to submit a claim before booking) they might compare to the current website’s price, BUT IHG makes you book before submitting the claim so what’s the point of that reservation if they’re not going to use it?

    I think I’m mainly frustrated because I feel like this is “bait/switching” people and the guarantee that is plastered all over IHG’s website really isn’t honored in the intention with which it was created.

    I’d welcome any insight you might have.

    Reply
  17. Hi Drew – can’t find how to contact you directly. I’m wondering if you think BRG is still worth it. I found a rate, but the lowest price from the Best Available Rate search is obviously the Advance Purchase one which doesn’t have a cancellation. My question is (because I can’t remember from when I did it before). Does that actually matter? What’s your experience been recently. I’ve gotten a few BRGs successfully, but it was before the IHG Club Rate existed.

    3. Did you choose the lowest price from the Best Available Rate search results for your reservation?
    A guest must book the lowest available hotel room price through the Best Available price search – for the type of accommodations sought – in order to qualify for the Best Price Guarantee.

    Reply

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