Many hotel loyalty programs make adjustments to award stays periodically. Hilton does so quarterly, while Hyatt now seems do it without any notice to their members (ahem). Well, IHG Rewards Club has released its annual category changes for 2018, and it looks like a blood bath.
Changes to IHG Rewards Club Categories
A total of 499 hotels will be going up in price by 5,000 to 10,000 points each. On the other hand, a total of 192 hotels will be going down in price by 5,000 points a night (no hotels are going down by more than that). Not a single one of those is going down to the lowest category, which costs 10,000 points a night.
To be fair, IHG is a huge chain with a big footprint across the globe. However, even with 5000+ hotels in their portfolio, that still means that almost 10% of all IHG properties will see a price increase in 2018. That’s pretty dramatic.
The vast majority of properties affected by this change are in the United States, with 437 properties either going up or down in price. Meanwhile, 34 hotels in Canada will see a price hike or cut. In greater China, more than 40 properties will see a price change.
Top Category Now Costs 70,000 Points a Night
And as if that wasn’t enough, IHG is also (sneakily?) increasing the cost of a top-category hotel. Specifically, some hotels will now cost 70,000 points a night, a 17% hike from the previous cap of 60,000 points introduced less than 2 years ago.
Many of the “points and miles favorites” are receiving a price hike. For example, both InterContinental hotels in Bora Bora will soon cost 70,000 points a night, instead of the current 60,000.
A number of high-end properties in major cities will also see a price hike. For instance, the InterContinental hotels in Hong Kong, Paris (Le Grand), London (Park Lane), San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York will all cost 70,000 points a night.
There is no denying that this is a pretty long list of hotels that will undergo a price cut, but it’s not totally unprecedented. It’s worth mentioning that for 2015 and 2016 we have seen a list of changes closer to 400 hotels, and for 2017 a total of 653 hotels (link to PDF) underwent a price change. This will be the largest scale update yet.
Perhaps what is most bothersome is the increase in price for hotels in the highest category. IHG top category hotels used to cost 50,000 points just 2 years ago, until IHG introduced a 55,000 and 60,000-point tiers in February 2016. In less than 2 years, we are seeing a 40% increase in price for the most “expensive” hotels. There is also no mention of redemption for Kimpton hotels, even though the Kimpton Karma rewards program will be folded into the IHG program this year.
IHG has not made a public announcement about these changes yet, so it’s yet to see when they will go into effect. However, last year’s changes went into effect January 15, 2017. If you have a property in mind you might want to visit this year, I’d make the booking sooner rather than later.