Yesterday, IHG released their changes for over 400 hotels with their point requirements. This is somewhat regular with hotels to do – have a change where they move a hotel up an award category or down one to reconcile the value that the property presents. IHG is the first one to do it this year and I honestly was not expecting it from many, if any, hotels for a while. With reports of the industry not doing as well as in the past and consolidation occurring (Marriott + SPG and Accor + Fairmont), it seemed to be too early of a time to do anything that could make those invested in the point system of these hotels to be thinking about moving on. Yet, IHG has decided to make the category changes – and even hike up their highest point requirements.
The IHG Credit Card Just Became More Valuable With The New Category Changes
The new changes to the points required for award nights will kick in February 17, 2016. Any rooms you book between now and then, even for stays after that, will book at the current levels. IHG made a point to say that the changes are for 5,000 – 10,000 points per night at these hotels. Many hotels are going up with some of them going down. Check out this link for a full page of the changes that will be occurring.
The good news is that this does not affect the Point Break hotels. These hotels that are released every two months will continue to cost 5,000 points per night, regardless of what they normally charge. So, that is good! Since I would guess that many customers that like to use miles and points really look for the extreme value in the PointBreak lists, this should help quite a bit with the changes.
The really bad news comes with the fact that IHG has increased their top tier awards from requiring 50,000 points per night to costing 55,000 points per night for some hotels and 60,000 points for other hotels. As you might guess, this change affects some of the nicest hotels in the IHG portfolio. Here is the breakdown:
New 55,000 Point Hotels (up from 50,000):
- InterContinental Sydney
- InterContinental Melbourne
- InterContinental De La Villa Roma (Rome, Italy)
- InterContinental The Willard (Washington, DC) – see a review of this great hotel here
- InterContinental Boston
New 60,000 Point Hotels (up from 50,000):
- InterContinental Carlton Cannes (Cannes, France)
- InterContinental Paris – Avenue Marceau
- Intercontinental Paris Le Grand
- InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora
- InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa
- InterContinental Hong Kong
- InterContinental London Park Lane
- InterContinental The Clement Monterey (CA)
- InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
- InterContinental San Francisco
- The Venetian (Las Vegas, NV)
- The Palazzo (Las Vegas, NV)
- InterContinental New York Times Square
That is quite a list and probably has just about every property that anyone would have thought to be aspirational under the IHG name! If you have plans to book at these with points, make sure you do it before February 17!
The IHG Credit Card Part
Which brings us to the title – that the IHG credit card just became more valuable. It is not because of the sign-up bonus but because of the anniversary benefit of this card – the free night at any IHG hotel. With an annual fee of only $49, that has always been a steal but now could save you as many as 10,000 points if you redeem for one of the new 60,000 point properties instead of just redeeming points.
As long as they leave the IHG credit card anniversary night alone, that card’s annual benefit is going to offer some huge value. Thanks to IHG devaluing their top tier of hotels, that benefit just became even more valuable than it was before, thanks to it remaining constant as a free night.
However, I would not expect them to leave it like that forever! I foresee them either hiking up the annual fee (which would still be a great deal depending on the property you redeem at) or, more likely, limiting it to a certain “category” of hotels – something like hotels through the 40,000 point level. Hyatt does that with their anniversary night so I would not be surprised to see something similar here.