I’ve been taking note of the common questions I get about IHG, and I get a lot since I live in IHG hotels from time to time. Hopefully this post answers all the questions left out in the Complete Guide to IHG Rewards points.
Normally I shy away from “is it worth it?” kinds of questions, but that seems to be what people ask. So here are a number of questions I get and my “no, it’s not worth it” answers. :-p
Canceling IHG Rewards Nights
IHG states the cancelation date when looking at rooms, when booking, and on the confirmation page. It’s always based on local time, and it’s usually something like 4pm the day before. If you cancel before then, you get all your points back.
In the rare event that it’s earlier than a few days, I make a note in my calendar.
Booking & Canceling IHG Free Nights Certs
Booking a free night cert is nearly the same as booking a hotel with points. The difference is that you need to find the free night page and then click book.
You have to log in, go to my acccount, and on the left you’ll see “free nights”.
Under free nights you’ll see how many nights you have (usually one from the credit card), expiration, and a button to book. From there it’s just like a normal rewards night booking process.
Cancelations work the same as rewards nights. If you cancel before the deadline, the free night instantly goes right back into your account.
What’s the value of IHG points?
I hate giving definitive values on points, so I’ll compromise.
The value of IHG points is whatever is lower: the amount it cost to buy them, or the cash alternative (doesn’t have to be same hotel).
You can constantly buy IHG points at 0.575 cents a point. This is because IHG sells their points with a 100% bonus, multiple times a year. So if you bought it at that rate, you could book at a 25,000 point hotel at roughly $144.
$144 for a 25,000 point hotel is a terrible deal. Really bad. It’s probably more than the cash rate and you wouldn’t be earning points. On PointBreaks it can be a good deal.
Anyways, I don’t see how your points could be “worth” more than the rate at which you can buy them… and I also see this as useless a “mind exercise” to real application as angry birds is to real life application. Just because you’re thinking doesn’t mean it’s productive.
Is Ambassador status worth it?
Not usually, but it depends.
If you’re not familiar, check out Explaining IHG’s Status System. But in short, it is a worthless status that is only good at InterContinental hotels.
Ambassador status costs you $200 (or sometimes 32,000 points).
Ambassador status gets you:
- BOGO (buy one get one free) weekend certificate for paid nights
- Guaranteed Upgrade
- 5,000 points
- A bunch of useless things like free water and fruit, movies, a newspaper (likely free online), and a crappy gift I usually leave behind.
Why these things are worthless
BOGO weekend cert – this is actually useful, but it’s still not as useful as it claims. In short, you have to book the BOGO rate, which is higher than the best flexible rate, and way higher than advanced purchase rates or AAA rates. And you only get one.
Guaranteed upgrade – This is one category type, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve seen IC hotels have tons and tons of room categories with minor differences. So even if it were multiple category upgrades instead of one, it would likely still be useless. Go from a “Standard room” to a “Classic room”, to a “Deluxe room”, to an “Executive room”, and still not get anything useful like lounge access or a suite.
Heck, you could still add “views” to the room title.
I think Ambassador status is really bad at delivering value, and decent at getting people to pay for something they won’t use.
After all, IHG is the only hotel chain which doesn’t give breakfast or lounge access as a benefit to any status. And remember, Ambassador (and RA) status is the only status that only works 4% of the time – meaning, Ambassador status only works at InterContinental Hotels, which is a small part of the IHG chain in terms of number of hotels. And remember, it’s the only hotel chain not to give benefits on award nights. Oh, and the status lasts 12 months, instead of the possible 24 months like other chains.
I mean… no, it’s not worth it.
Getting 10% back for renewing Ambassador status?
When you have been an Ambassador for a year they send a renewal offer, and normally it’s $150 to renew your status and you get the BOGO and 5,000 points again.
However, sometimes people are offered a 10% rebate of the points they used in the last 12 months when they renew for $200. Plus, you get 15,000 points.
It really depends on 1) if you already like Ambassador status, and 2) how many points 10% would get you.
For me, I don’t value Ambassador status more than $50, but 10% points would be a big chunk of points. For me, unfortunately Carrie’s account got more use, and I’d only get 10,000 points. Which means I’d get 10,000 points (from the 10%), 15,000 (for the $200 renewal bonus), and 5,000 (as an Ambassador benefit). 30,000 points, in my example.
For me, I’m on the fence but it seems barely worth it. After all 30,000 points for $200 is still $33 a night on PointBreaks, plus I’d get the BOGO.
Do you get upgrades on award nights?
Upgrades with Ambassador status on award nights?
In my experience, it’s been yes. Never meaningful, but I get an upgrade.
Upgrade with platinum status?
I mean… you really really need to not expect anything at all with IHG statuses. Very very rarely do I find a hotel like the Crowne Plaza Bangkok which gives breakfast and lounge access to Platinum members. Very rarely, and as someone who has spent hundreds of nights in IHG hotels… I feel like I would know. It happens, but don’t count on it.
Can you use IHG points for upgrades?
No. If you care about upgrades, check out Hyatt (or the Complete Guide to Hyatt Rewards).
Does IHG have a 5th night free?
No. But the credit card gives 10% of points used back… and to me that’s just as good as 5th night free given that most of my stays aren’t even 4 nights long.
Is it worth it to buy IHG points with a 100% bonus?
No, except in rare examples.
You will almost always pay more this way than if you just booked a cash rate that earns points.
And even the rare examples where it’s break even, you’re passing up earning potentially lots of points via the promotions.
Buying points can be worth it for PointBreaks in theory.
PointBreaks is a list of hotels for 5,000 points a night, and it can come out less than $30 a night. A great deal at some hotels. The problem is that you can’t predict what hotels are going to be on this bi-monthly list. So buying speculatively can come back to bite you if you end up using the points at a hotel when it costs you more.
Any thoughts on IHG buying Kimpton?
My first reaction was that IHG would make Kimpton a bland corporate hotel if IHG management takes over, which is likely. Like an exciting and expensive acquisition of a tech company by Yahoo… and then 10 months later the company doesn’t exist. And in terms of corporate blandness, IHG takes the cake.
That being said, I don’t spend any time thinking about it. I can’t use or earn points at Kimptons yet, so there’s no news since the announcement. Just nothing to think about it.
I hope this answers the rest of the questions, and again, if you’re interested in the actual ground rules of IHG, you need to check out the Complete Guide to IHG Rewards.