PSA: Keep Checking IHG Award Prices for Price Drops, Then Rebook or use Free Night Certificates

Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is going well.  I have an upcoming trip to New York City and have been planning my hotel stays for a few days.  I really like the Kimpton brand that is part of IHG Rewards and there is a Kimpton Muse Hotel in New York City that is close to Broadway and Times Square.  I have 3 IHG Free Night Certificates from my Chase IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and my old Chase IHG Rewards Plus Credit Card (no longer available) that are good for award redemptions up to 40,000 IHG Points.  When I searched for award nights in November through January, I noticed point prices ranged from 31,000 IHG Points per night up to 73,000 IHG Points per night.  I looked at the same few days over a week period and noticed that the point prices would change from day to day, based on the cash price of the hotel on that specific night.  In this post, I will share the point prices and the cash prices I observed over the next 3 months and share my thoughts and findings.  I will also show you how to use your IHG Free Night Certificates and use the fourth night free benefit.

Image source: https://www.ihg.com/kimptonhotels/hotels/us/en/muse-hotel-times-square-nyc/ntcme/hoteldetail

I checked every night at the Kimpton Muse Hotel from today (November 7) through January 31, 2022.  I looked at the point prices and the AAA cash prices to determine the cents per point (CPP) to see how much value you would get out of each IHG Rewards Point.  Some days over the next 3 months were not available on points or with a AAA cash price, so I left those out of the below chart.  I then highlighted in green all the nights that were 40,000 IHG Points or below that could be booked with IHG Free Night Certificates.

As you can see, between now and the end of the year, there are only 3 nights that are bookable for under 40,000 IHG Points per night.  However, in January 2022, there were 22 out of 31 days that were bookable for under 40,000 IHG Points per night.  And remember, these are the prices as of today (November 7).  If you check prices tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or in January, I can guarantee that the prices will change (sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse).

I then decided to graph the points price per night for the Kimpton Muse Hotel from November 7 through January 31.  January 2022 has most nights below the 40,000 IHG Points price line.

I then decided to graph the paid rate vs. points price for the Kimpton Muse Hotel.  At this specific hotel, it looks like paid rates and points prices are very closely related.  The cutoff for 40,000 IHG Points per night is just over $250 per night.  Therefore, if the price of the hotel drops below $250 per night, the number of points required to book the hotel should also drop to 40,000 IHG Points per night or less.

Using IHG Free Night Certificates

For my upcoming trip to New York City, I had 3 IHG Free Night Certificates that I wanted to use, so I searched for a 3 night stay.  The first 2 nights were 35,000 IHG Points and 38,000 IHG Points per night, but the last night was 41,000 IHG Points.  I decided to use my 2 IHG Free Night Certificates on the first 2 nights and use 41,000 IHG Points for the last night. Over the next week, I kept searching for that last night to see if the points price dropped.  After 6 days, the price dropped from 41,000 IHG Points to 40,000 IHG Points.  I then cancelled my reservation for the last night, received the 41,000 IHG Points back into my account, and then booked the last night with my last IHG Free Night Certificate.  My persistence paid off!

Using IHG Points for 1-3 Nights

I selected a random 4 night period and looked at the points price and cash price from January 12 through January 15 (checking out the morning of January 16).  As you can see, the first 2 nights are 35,000 IHG Points and 40,000 IHG Points per night, respectively.  While the second 2 nights are 41,000 IHG Points and 48,000 IHG Points per night, respectively.  If you are planning on redeeming IHG Points for a 1-3 night stay, I recommend booking each night as a separate reservation.  Then keep checking the points price every day to see if the price drops.  If it does drop, cancel that 1 night reservation and rebook under the lower price.  The hotel can link the reservations together so you will not need to check in and out every day or move rooms.  Just make sure you book the same room type every time to make the process easier.

Using IHG Points for 4 Nights with the fourth night free benefit

If you need these 4 nights, have at least 116,000 IHG Points, and have the Chase IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, you can take advantage of the 4th night free benefit that comes with this credit card.  As a reminder, the fourth night free benefit is not a 25% discount off 4 nights, you literally get the fourth night for free.  To use this benefit, search for a 4 night stay using points.  The points price in the square will be crossed out and a new, lower price will appear beneath.  Click the Select Room button to continue.  You will then see a highlighted Cardmember Discount price at the top.  To see the actual discount, click the Rate Details link on the left side of the screen.

As you can see, the first night in 35,000 IHG Points, the second night is 40,000 IHG Points, the third night is 41,000 IHG Points, and the fourth night is free.  By using this benefit, you are saving 48,000 IHG Points on your 4 night stay.  This works out best if the fourth night is the most expensive night of your stay.  If this benefit was only a 25% discount on your whole stay, you would only save 41,000 IHG Points (35,000 + 40,000 + 41,000 + 48,000 = 164,000 x 25% = 41,000).  You will see the same breakdown on the last reservation page before you confirm the reservation.

If you have any questions about using IHG Free Night Certificates or the the fourth night free benefit, please leave a comment below.  Have a great weekend everyone!

14 thoughts on “PSA: Keep Checking IHG Award Prices for Price Drops, Then Rebook or use Free Night Certificates

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  2. Ron

    Something to be aware of when using IHG points to book an award reservation: Some hotels will return your points, in the event you cancel your award booking, but charge your credit card the monetary value equal to 1 night stay at such hotel for the room type you book. The monetary value is equal to the published room rate for the type of room you booked at the time you booked. In short, it’s really not freely cancelable at all once you book it. Moral of the story: Pay close attention to the fine details for each booking. Don’t assume award booking with IHG comes with the automatic ability to cancel the reservation for free as it nearly bites me.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Ron, thanks for the heads up, that sounds really sneaky by the hotel. I usually note the cancellation period (usually 1-2 days before check-in) and make sure that I rebook my reservation outside that cancellation period. Do you have an example of an IHG hotel that does this type of charge if you cancel your award night?

      Reply
      1. Ron

        I was trying to book an award stay for next May at the HIEx in Bedford, IN. I did a follow up live chat sesssion with an IHG agent who confirmed that under certain circumstances like a special event (what special event is going on in rural southern Indiana next May is still a mystery to me) an IHG property is indeed allowed to make award booking non cancelable. So this is a corporate policy, not a rogue hotel. Something to be aware of all the same, though

        Reply
        1. Grant Post author

          Hmm, that is so strange. I’ve never ran into that policy but I will make sure to double check the cancellation policy for future IHG reservations to ensure I don’t get burned by that policy.

          Reply
          1. Ron

            Weird and quite sneaky on the part of IHG, IMHO. The wordings on the cancelation policy is so confusing as the top paragraph directly contradict the last paragraph and both turned out to be accurate!! I think they should highlight this special policy whenever its in effect so that people don’t get caught.

          2. Grant Post author

            I agree 100% that IHG should highlight this special policy. Even better, they should get rid of this unfair policy in the first place.

  3. Ali V

    Is the pandemic over in your country? How are you guys doing all of this traveling or are you a medical professional?

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Ali, I am in the US and the coronavirus pandemic is still here. I’m vaccinated and wear a mask when I travel to be as safe as possible. Hopefully you can start traveling soon :)

      Reply
  4. MIchael R Karpiel

    If you also have the old Chase IHG Select card you get 10% points rebate roughly 20-30 days after your stay has posted.

    Reply
  5. Carl

    Staying in Waikiki for the New Year in Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hyatt Place.
    They require a 1 month cancelation policy, fyi. Not sure if it’s just during the holiday period.

    Reply
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