For all the crap that’s over hyped, this should actually be hyped. So I’m going to appologize for doing two posts in a row on the topic… but I’m loving it.
I called and confirmed that the 2 free nights you earn can be used at any IHG property.
Not only that, but I “confirmed” that it’s virtually the same as the credit card night. Meaning, it’s a basic award night. I only mention this because the China Dreams promotion gave a free night that basically couldn’t be used anywhere. Then again, agents are only trained to do their job… When I asked about expiration, she asked her supervisor and the answer was, “you’ll be able to see when it shows up in your account.” Yea, thanks. My guess is one year.
And while each person is targeted with different promos, anyone can create an account and they’ll get a promo that’s 2 free nights in 3 cheap paid nights (plus 4,500 to 10,500 points (plus whatever points they’d earn anyways)).
Now think about that. Remember “Faster Free Nights” with Hyatt? One free night anywhere after two paid stays, with a max of 2 free nights from four paid stays. This is better. 2 free nights from a possible 3 paid stays.
And this promotion is even better in other ways. 1) More properties, and 2) more lower end properties to earn with. I have seen $50/night IHG properties. I actually stayed at one that was $42 after taxes in Bali. But I won’t assume anyone has access to these cheapos going forward.
Announcing my owning this promo
But first, before I tell you all how awesome this promo could be by showing examples… I’m going to announce my attempt to do this as cheaply as possible. I will go after the promo as smart as I can, show you how many points I earn and at what cost. And eventually I’ll be able to show how I use the points. This will allow us to see the math on both sides of the promotion and see how good a promo could be. Real examples, not just hypotheticals.
But I’ll run some numbers on hypotheticals and then get back to this.
The Promo Anyone Can Get
I’ve tested and tested and the basic promo is:
- 3 nights
- 2 saturdays
- 2 Holiday Inns
- Book 2 direct
- Download and book on the App
This will either get you:
- 4,500 points AND 50,000 points OR two free nights
- 10,500 points AND 50,000 points OR two free nights
Some other accounts that aren’t new get ones like:
- 40,000 points AND 15,000 points OR two free nights
Understand that you get points for completing goals and you get one big bonus for completing all the goals. The bonus for completing all the goals is also points OR you can take two free nights at any hotel. Even if you take the two free nights, you keep all the points that are bonuses for completing individual tasks.
Basically, I put everything into a spreadsheet and said, which account has what goals. Then made a separate area that said what do I have to do in order to do this in as few nights as possible. Knowing that a stay could qualify for multiple goals, a Holiday Inn stay on a Saturday booked direct, can knock out part of most of the goals. So the answer for a basic account is:
- 2 Holiday Inn Stays on a Saturday
- 1 free night (booked on the App)
- 1 Holiday Inn Saturday
- 1 Holiday Inn
- 1 Saturday
Last time, Holiday Inn Express did not count as Holiday Inn (and vice versa). Also, I’m not sure but I’m thinking Holiday Inn resorts or anything that doesn’t say “Express” will be counted as a Holiday. As the terms in conditions talk about stays
“at InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo®, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites®, EVENTM or HUALUXE TM hotels worldwide”
Running the Math
60,500 points (Into the Nights promo 10,500 + 50,000) + 4,500 points (on spend) + 10,000 points (on promos).
The basic account could yield 75,000 IHG points for $300 and 3 nights. Could be more or less points, and the cost could be more or less, but this is a good estimate.
75,000 points could get you 15 free nights with IHG PointBreaks. That’s $20 a night. And if you count the 3 paid nights, that’s $16.66 for the 18 nights.
But let’s assume you’re like me and while PointBreaks gets you more stays, the big stays bring up your average. My average redemption is about 9,000 points a night.
Therefore $300 would get you:
- 3 paid nights (to complete the promotion)
- 8 free nights
A realistic look is $300 getting you 9 nights, an average of $33.33 a night.
Taking the two free nights
Two scenarios: the first is that you’ve gotten the beginner promo (listed above), and the second is the one my wife got.
34,000 points + 16,000 points OR 2 free nights.
This is a no brainer, take the two free nights! If it’s 16,000 points or 2 free nights, even I, the cheapest of cheap, would certainly take the two free nights. Because it’s unrealistic to do better than 8,000 points a night with IHG. Totally possible, unrealistic for that to be your average. You can’t count on finding 5,000 point hotels. You can count on finding 10,000 to 50,000. In which case, 2 free nights is way better than 16,000 points.
The aspirational side of things
Again, when it’s 34,000 + 2 free nights… simply a no brainer. But even if it’s 4,500 or 10,500 + 2 free nights, it could still be a good deal.
Going back to a $300 cost, for some it may be worth it for the 2 free nights alone.
Here, I’m going through the map and unchecking all but the top couple categories. Then I’m going to run some prices. Here are some of the prices I saw:
- InterContinental Bora Bora = $1,000 a night
- InterContinental London Park Lane = $600
- InterContinental Sydney = $400 a night
- Intercontinental Paris Le Grand = $400 a night
- InterContinental Hong Kong = $300 a night
- InterContinental Tokyo = $300 a night
- InterContinental Davos = $300 – $600 a night
Now I’m not saying the value of your free night cert is $600 x2 because you’re going to the IC London. I don’t operate like that, and I’d say the value is whatever money you’d save. But try to find a hotel in downtown London for $150 a night. I checked Kayak’s 3 star hotels and sorted by distance (showing downtown hotels first) and they were $170 – $500 pre-tax on the first few pages.
Plus you get points on the stay, plus the fact that the stay you paid for has value.
Planning this out
Looking at stays coming up, I see a number of Holiday Inns in my path, and some on Saturdays… these are the things I need most. One for $76, one for $60, one for $125. I’m really truly thinking $100 is realistic for me.
With our promotions:
- I could easily earn 128,000 points
- and 4 free nights anywhere
- via 9 paid stays
- for $900
This is before promotions of other kinds, and I could very well earn more than 128,000 points.
But lets assume my average redemption is 9,000 points- that’s 14 free stays. This could potentially mean: 9 points stays, 4 free night certs, and 9 paid stays = 22 stays for $900. That’s $40 a night… which is higher than I typically go for, but understand that this is before all normal (and steroid) earnings. The sweet spot would be above and beyond earnings.
And why it’s worth it to me, even at $40/night
I’m confident I’ll come out even better than $40/night, which I guess is still fine because it’s less than we paid in rent when living in Charlottesville. But regardless this promotion provides something that I have yet to measure…
Free nights anywhere.
Because despite spending 24 straight nights in PointBreak hotels this month for 5,000 points a night, my average redemption is double that. Because as I said, 2 nights at the IC in Paris and 1 night at the IC in Davos for 50,000 each is 150,000 points. That’s more than I’m spending for 24 nights in IC hotels on PointBreaks.
And see, some people think I only go where it’s cheap. That’s not true. I love cheap places because those are generally more farflung, foreign and interesting places to me. But when we spent 6 months in Europe, we went everywhere. Paris, London, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Berlin, Hamburg, Kiev, etc… It just happened to be that I went to Kiev when it was on PointBreaks. I have that flexibility to go where I want when I want. So when a place that intrigues me is cheap, I go during that time.
However, I still go where I want. And some of the places I like to go are expensive. I’ve been to Hong Kong maybe 7 times in the last two years and will be going again in November. And guess what, I love being downtown no matter where I am. And the IC (which is the best view in Hong Kong) is 50,000 points or $300.
What are we to do? Pay 50,000 points, $300, stay somewhere further away, or avoid Hong Kong. Well, every time we go we end up paying a ton of points. In the last two times we paid the IC on points and the Grand Hyatt on Points.
Wow. That was long winded.
All that to say, free nights have a higher value. I’m saving 50,000 points by using a free night cert.
Instead of avoiding Hong Kong, I can still go and still lower my rate.
I can easily complete a 60k promo with 3 stays, right? Let’s just focus on the promo numbers, 3 nights and the 60k bonus. I know I can find a $100/night hotel, but what do I do when I find a $50/night hotel I don’t need? Like I could stay with family, but man, they do live near a $50 hotel. Would it be worth staying there even though I don’t need to?
The question is the value of the paid nights.
$300 for 60,000 points + 3 needed nights.
$150 for 60,000 points + 0 needed nights.
The question is about when you need nights next. Do you have 3 stays coming up, and would you be able to get them for less than $50? If yes, then go ahead and complete a stay and take an unneeded vaca. But if you wouldn’t have made a stay in the first place, then you’re double paying.
My only problem is having enough free Saturdays in 2014.
I’m in love. This seriously could be the best hotel promotion ever. Yet, it’s not as straightforward as say “faster free nights” used to be.
Hyatt’s faster free nights got you 1 free night from 2 paid stays, or 2 free nights after 4 paid stays.
Club Carlson gave 50,000 points after 1 paid stay. My first go or two at the Club Carlson 50k promo (which started in early 2011) we completed it way before there was ever a buy-one-get-one with the credit card. If so that would have been the best ever.
As it is, Club Carlson is not as big, and their hotels aren’t as nice. In terms of actual value (free nights) it was just as good though.
But this IHG promo is the best.
10,000 points AND 2 free nights from 3 paid stays. Or Carrie’s account is 34,000 points AND 2 free nights from 3 paid stays. In terms of free night output, this is just as good as the Club Carlson promo (considering my average redemption is 9,000 points). And then consider that IHG has more than twice as many properties as Club Carlson and Hyatt combined.