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All is not lost: Here’s how I got more than 2.5x value out of my IHG points after the devaluation

April 06, 2021
14 min read
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IHG Rewards points are one of my favorite hotel loyalty currencies. After all, I've typically gotten excellent value when redeeming IHG Rewards points. I was also pleasantly surprised that IHG's introduction of dynamic pricing last year seemingly increased the value of my points. But, late last week, IHG Rewards changed its dynamic pricing algorithm. And now IHG Rewards program loyalists are finding higher award pricing for some stays.

However, despite the devaluation last week, I believe there's still plenty of value to be found in the IHG Rewards program. I've even booked five new IHG awards since the devaluation. So, today I'll describe the redemptions I've made since the devaluation, how IHG awards I booked before the devaluation would price now and five ways I'm still finding high-value IHG Rewards redemptions even after the devaluation.

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5 IHG awards I booked post-devaluation

I recently redeemed IHG points for several stays in New York City. (Photo by TomasSereda/Getty Images)

My husband JT and I typically redeem a lot of IHG Rewards points each year. So, we recently bought IHG points for 0.5 cents per point during a sale. However, I hadn't gotten around to redeeming all of the points we'd purchased for upcoming stays yet. So, when I learned of the devaluation last week, I figured the IHG points we'd just purchased had dropped significantly in value.

Luckily, I was still able to find high-value redemptions when searching last weekend after the devaluation. Specifically, I found two IHG reward night stays to rebook at lower prices and three new IHG reward night stays to book. Here's what I booked:

  • Hotel Indigo Williamsburg Brooklyn in August (four-night stay)
  • Points cost: 61,000 points (worth $305 based on TPG's valuations)
  • Best flexible rate: $844
  • Cents per point: 1.38
  • Holiday Inn Express Jamaica JFK AirTrain NYC in September (one-night stay)
  • Points cost: 12,000 points (worth $60, rebooked a stay that had cost 12,500 points)
  • Best flexible rate: $127
  • Cents per point: 1.06
  • Holiday Inn Express Dubai Safa Park in October (four-night stay)
  • Points cost: 36,000 points (worth $180)
  • Best flexible rate: $446
  • Cents per point: 1.24
  • Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in November (one-night stay)
  • Points cost: 28,000 points (worth $140, rebooked a stay that had cost 30,000 points)
  • Best flexible rate: $258
  • Cents per point: 0.92
  • Staybridge Suites Charleston Mount Pleasant in November (four-night stay)
  • Points cost: 63,000 points (worth $315)
  • Best flexible rate: $898
  • Cents per point: 1.43

The points costs for stays of three nights or longer include the fourth night reward available to cardholders of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card since my husband and I both have the IHG Premier. This perk effectively prices every fourth night as zero points when you book a reward night stay of three nights or more. Across these five stays, I was able to get a redemption rate of 1.29 cents per point (which is more than two times TPG's 0.5 cents per point valuation of IHG points).

Related: Why I often choose IHG and Choice hotels, despite limited elite perks

Comparing IHG award stays booked pre-devaluation to current pricing

I redeemed IHG points for a Hotel Indigo stay in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

I've been amazed by the high redemption value I've been able to get when redeeming IHG points during the last year. So, I've been speculatively booking IHG reward stays to guard against a potential devaluation. Thanks to these speculative bookings, JT and I already had ten IHG award night stays booked when the devaluation occurred last week.

As I discussed above, I rebooked two of these award night stays at a lower price. But, here's a comparison of award pricing when I booked versus current pricing for our other eight IHG award bookings:

  • Crowne Plaza Santiago in April (eight-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 75,000 points (worth $375 based on TPG’s valuations)
  • Current points cost: 78,000 points (worth $390)
  • Current best flexible rate: $913
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.22
  • Cents per point if booking now: 1.17
  • Hotel Indigo Milan Corso Monforte in June (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 66,000 points (worth $330)
  • Current points cost: 76,000 points ($380)
  • Current best flexible rate: $781
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.18
  • Cents per point if booking now: 1.03
  • Holiday Inn Express Paris Canal de la Villette in June (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 52,500 points (worth $263)
  • Current points cost: 54,000 points (worth $270)
  • Current best flexible rate: $468
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 0.89
  • Cents per point if booking now: 0.87
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Austin Downtown University in September (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 67,500 points (worth $338)
  • Current points cost: 96,000 points (worth $480)
  • Current best flexible rate: $756
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.12
  • Cents per point if booking now: 0.79
  • Holiday Inn Express Puerto Madero in September (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 52,500 points (worth $263)
  • Current points cost: 57,500 points (worth $288)
  • Current best flexible rate: $568
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.08
  • Cents per point if booking now: 0.99
  • Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong in October (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 45,000 points (worth $225)
  • Current points cost: 45,000 points (worth $225)
  • Current best flexible rate: $625
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.39
  • Cents per point if booking now: 1.39
  • Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay in November (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 52,500 points (worth $263)
  • Current points cost: 63,000 points (worth $315)
  • Current best flexible rate: $569
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.08
  • Cents per point if booking now: 0.90
  • Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong in November (four-night stay)
  • Our reservation: 45,000 points (worth $225)
  • Current points cost: 45,000 points (worth $225)
  • Current best flexible rate: $625
  • Cents per point for our reservation: 1.39
  • Cents per point if booking now: 1.39

As you can see, I got a redemption rate of 1.16 cents per point across these redemptions. And the redemption rate would be 1.03 cents per point if I booked these stays now. So, although the redemption rate is significantly lower, it's still double TPG's valuation of IHG points (0.5 cents per point).

Of course, it's also worth mentioning the nights we've booked with anniversary nights provided by the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Club Select card (no longer open to new applicants). In particular, I've used up to 40,000-point anniversary night certificates to book:

  • Four nights at the Crowne Plaza Paris Republique in July
  • Booked when these nights cost 30,000 to 40,000 points per night
  • Now, these nights cost 31,000, 40,000, 40,000 and 59,000 points (and hence one night wouldn't be eligible for the anniversary night)
  • Two night at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in October
  • Booked when these nights cost 40,000 points per night
  • Now, these nights cost 55,000 points per night (and hence wouldn't be eligible for the anniversary night)

So, I wouldn't be able to use our anniversary night certificates to book these stays if I tried to do so now. However, I might be able to snag anniversary nights at these properties by utilizing the strategy I used to book my two nights at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. I'll discuss this strategy in the next section.

Related: You can now redeem IHG points at Six Senses and get a fourth night reward

How to find value from IHG points post-devaluation

(Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images)

The recent devaluation and resulting high award night costs for some stays are frustrating. But, as the above sections show, it's still relatively easy to get more than double TPG's valuation when redeeming IHG points. So, here are five tips for getting excellent value from IHG Rewards points even after the recent devaluation.

Consider other properties at your destination

It's unclear how IHG's dynamic pricing algorithm sets award pricing. However, within the same destination, it's often possible to find high and low redemption rates bookable on the same night so, if you find yourself staring at an IHG redemption that would provide a low redemption rate, consider whether other IHG properties might be bookable for fewer points or offer better value.

For example, if you redeemed IHG points for this night at the InterContinental Hotels Singapore, you'd only get a redemption value of 0.37 cents per point.

(Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

But, you could stay on this same night at the well-located Holiday Inn Express Singapore Orchard Road for just 21,000 points and get a redemption value of 0.90 cents per point.

(Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

Or, if you want more luxury than the Holiday Inn Express can provide, you could spend the night at Regent Singapore for just 31,000 points. By doing so, you'd get a redemption value of 0.78 cents per point.

(Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

Likewise, you may want to consider properties outside the IHG Rewards portfolio for some stays. For example, even before the recent devaluation, none of the IHG Rewards hotels in Tokyo, Japan, fit my budget. So, I instead typically redeem Choice Privileges points in Tokyo or book a room through Hotels.com to earn Hotels.com Rewards.

And if you want to say in a popular destination with expensive paid nights, you may do better redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points or World of Hyatt points since these programs still utilize award charts. For example, instead of paying 70,000 points to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Springdale Zion Natl Pk Area on some dates this summer, you might find that Marriott's Category 6 SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park provides more value.

Related: My approach to hotel loyalty and why I’ve mostly ignored Hyatt, Hilton and Wyndham

Calculate your redemption value

If you want to get excellent value from your points, you should calculate your redemption value before booking an award. After all, there will be times when it makes more sense to use cash to pay for your stay instead of points. But, you may be wondering: what is the redemption value below which I shouldn't use points?

This is an important question. But the answer will vary depending on many factors, including your elite status with IHG, how many IHG points you have and the rate at which you can earn more IHG points. However, TPG's valuations and the rate at which you can buy points during the best sale each year are good starting points. As such, you may want to use 0.5 cents per point as the redemption value below, which you'll book a paid stay.

Related: Booking direct: How much value does IHG status provide?

Book early and check back

(Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

Most IHG reward night stays are fully refundable until close to your check-in date. And, when you cancel a reward night stay within the allowable cancellation period, IHG instantly returns the points you'd used to your account.

So, I recommend booking IHG award stays as soon as you start planning a trip. Then, you can search for lower award (or cash) prices periodically and rebook if you find a better price. I check all of my upcoming hotel reservations every couple of weeks for lower prices, but you may want to check more or less often.

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards Club should improve its loyalty program

Strategically position your fourth night reward

Cardholders of IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card get a fourth night reward when redeeming IHG points for stays of three nights or longer. IHG provides the fourth night reward by effectively charging zero points for every fourth night on reward night stays of three nights or longer. So, if one night of your stay is priced significantly higher than other nights, you may want to shift your dates to have the highest-priced award night be your fourth night.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier Card

Check daily for key redemptions

Finally, for specific redemptions, you may want to search for reward nights daily. While this might sound like overkill, an IHG Hotels and Resorts spokesperson confirmed to TPG last Friday that reward night prices can change daily. Likewise, we know IHG award pricing may increase or decrease based on demand, seasonality and other factors.

So, especially if you are looking to use your up to 40,000-point anniversary night for a property that only occasionally prices award nights at or below 40,000 points, checking daily will give you the best chance of booking your award. Checking daily is how I snagged two nights at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort using up to 40,000-point anniversary night certificates.

Related: 7 of the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Bottom line

As someone who frequently stays at IHG Rewards hotels and often redeems IHG points for these stays, I'm disappointed in this devaluation. It's particularly concerning that an IHG Hotels and Resorts spokesperson told TPG last Friday that "reward nights are not defined by categories or with minimum and maximum point amounts." After all, this means there's no official maximum to what an IHG award night might cost.

But, I think there's still excellent value to be found when redeeming IHG Rewards points. As the sections above show, it's still possible to get over one cent per point in redemption value. And since you can sometimes buy IHG points for as little as 0.5 cents per point, I'll continue to buy points as long as I can easily find redemptions that give me well over 0.5 cents per point.

Featured image by Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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