A FlyerTalk member Lionheart revealed what looks like a leaked look at IHG’s new award pricing for 2018 and it looks like we might be seeing a pretty substantial devaluation that could make redemptions a lot more expensive for top-tier properties. You can find the entire list of changes broken down by region here.
The 2018 IHG devaluation
According to PMTTP, approximately 500 hotels will increase in price by 5,000 to 10,000 while approximately 200 hotels will go down in price by 5,000 points. The majority of affected properties are located in the US. This is one of the biggest changes to IHG’s award pricing in recent memory and could be their biggest change as of yet. While it’s normal for hotel programs to change their prices on a an annual basis, it’s not very common to see a higher ceiling on awards along with so many price increases and that’s why this is big news.
Prices increasing for top-tier properties
The most concerning change to me is that several top-tier properties are increasing from 60,000 to 70,000. Properties like the InterContinental Hong Kong and others in several other major cities will now be that much more difficult to book with points (never mind the limited inventory some of these properties offered). It was only a couple of years ago that this the award price ceiling was at 50,000, so we’re looking at a 20,000 point increase in under two years.
I also don’t like to see the ceiling for awards increasing as other programs such as Hilton Honors have pledged a cap for their top properties at 95,000 (at least for the time being).
Since this is leaked information, we still don’t know when these changes will come into effect, although it’s very likely that we’ll see them come into effect in a couple of weeks (possibly January 15th). This means that you need to book these affected properties ASAP if they are going to increase, or in the event your desired property is decreasing, you probably want to wait until those changes come into effect (you should be able to rebook them at the changed price, subject to availability in any event).
Good news for the IHG credit card?
While the value of IHG points might be going down due to these changes, this also means that the IHG Rewards Credit Card (my top hotel credit card) is now worth even more. This is because it offers an annual free night that can be redeemed at any IHG property, even a top InterContinental that would otherwise require 70,000 IHG points.
On the other hand, it also means that a 80,000 point sign-up bonus won’t mean as much as it used to. Many decent properties in large cities are bumping from 40,000 or 45,000 to 50,000 making it much more difficult to book two nights with points. Also, transferring Ultimate Rewards to IHG becomes an even worse option than it was before with the devaluation.
Devaluations are always expected in this hobby but this one stings a bit more than others due to the top-tier prices becoming even more expensive and so many other properties increasing in price.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.