The New IHG PointBreaks Promotion: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

As you might’ve seen, the new IHG PointBreaks list is out and represents a shakeup from previous PointBreaks promotions.

In the past, the PointBreaks list consisted solely of properties costing 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. The new list still has some 5,000 point properties, but there are two new levels – 10,000 points and 15,000 points.

InterContinental Kiev

InterContinental Kiev – bookable for 15,000 on the new PointBreaks list

This new setup is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some positives, some negatives and some downright terrible changes (for me personally.)

So here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the new IHG PointBreaks promotion.

The Good

To give IHG their due, there are some good aspects about the changes to PointBreaks:

5,000 Point Category Is Still Intact

Having some IHG hotels available for 5,000 points can still be a great deal, especially considering how easy it can be to rack up their points in one or two stays with the right Accelerate offer.

Maintaining the 5,000 point section of PointBreaks isn’t entirely positive though – see the Bad section below.

Good Properties On The 10,000 & 15,000 Point Lists

In recent years, the quality of the hotels included in each quarter’s PointBreaks list went downhill. There were very few aspirational properties and most weren’t located in convenient places if you wanted to explore a city.

This new list on the other hand has 10 InterContinentals, 8 Hotel Indigos and far more Crowne Plazas than had appeared on recent lists. Meanwhile, there are many downtown and city center hotels such as the Holiday Inn Helsinki, InterContinental São Paulo and Crowne Plaza Moscow.

This is also the first time in a long time that I’ve seen discounted IHG properties close to central London. Hammersmith and Wandsworth are both in great spots to take the tube and train respectively into the city, so potentially represent great value for 15,000 points.

The Holiday Inn Express London-Dartford on the other hand isn’t that convenient. Although it’s marginally inside the M25, in my opinion they’re playing it fast and loose with the “London” part of their hotel name.

Holiday Inn Express London Hammersmith

Holiday Inn Express London-Hammersmith – bookable for 15,000 points

The Bad

Very Few 5,000 Point Properties

This new PointBreaks list included just 33 properties at the 5,000 point level, less than a third of the quantity on recent lists.

Despite the inclusion of decent properties at the 10,000 and 15,000 point levels, that still represents a devaluation of PointBreaks and IHG Rewards Club points in general, especially when combined with the new 70,000 upper tier.

IHG Rewards Club made a point of emphasizing that the PointBreaks list was doubling in size to more than 200 properties. Strictly speaking that’s true, but it’s come at the expense of the 5,000 point level. 84% of the hotels on the new PointBreaks list cost more than they did under the old setup.

The Ugly

My Grand Plans For Our IHG Rewards Club Points Are Shot

Between us, my wife and I have ~540,000 IHG Rewards Club points. We’re currently on a 5 year, 50 state road trip and are trying to maximize our points with each major chain’s loyalty scheme.

With IHG, my plan was to only redeem our points for hotels on the PointBreaks list. Although a significant number of US properties on the old lists were Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites, that was perfect for us. Not only do both those brands have kitchens, but they’re also pet-friendly (we’re traveling with our dog.)

Our ~540,000 points would therefore have gotten us 120 free nights. That’s because both Shae and I have the IHG Rewards Club credit card by Chase which offers a 10% rebate when you redeem your points. Four months in hotels for free – other than pet fees – would’ve provided amazing value for us.

Another benefit was that when paying for stays at most IHG brands, we only needed to spend $180 to earn enough points for one night in a PointBreaks hotel:

  • $180 * 10 base points per dollar = 1,800 points
  • $180 * 10 points per dollar (Spire Elite bonus on base points) = 1,800 points
  • $180 * 5 points per dollar (by paying with the IHG credit card) = 900 points
  • Total = 4,500 points for a free night (when taking into account the 10% point rebate)

If future PointBreaks lists resemble the latest one, we’ll have very little chance of using our points in the way we’d hoped. At best, we’ll be able to use our points for hotels at the 10,000 point level. Our saved up points will still pay for 60 free nights, but that represents a 50% devaluation in our points. Ouch.

PointBreaks? More like HeartBreaks.

Staybridge Suites Pet Policy

Staybridge Suites employees laughing at my misfortune 😉

Overall Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about the revamped PointBreaks promotion. On a personal level, it’s terrible as it’s halved the value of our points.

I know that my wife and I are outliers though. The vast majority of people are unlikely to use their stash of IHG Rewards Club points at 5,000 point properties in the middle of nowhere.

From that perspective, these changes are probably a good thing. Although PointBreaks have been devalued in one respect, the inclusion of many 10,000 and 15,000 point hotels in locations that people actually want to visit is a positive change.

Sauna at the Crowne Plaza Ankara, Turkey - bookable for 10,000 points

Sauna at the Crowne Plaza Ankara, Turkey – bookable for 10,000 points

These changes remind me of IHG’s Last Minute Rewards. That’s a promotion they launched in May 2011 and which ran for several years. With that promotion, IHG released a list of properties each month requiring half the number of points compared to normal.

The new 10,000 and 15,000 point PointBreaks levels appear to work in much the same way as Last Minute Rewards. Most of the 10,000 point hotels that I checked usually cost 20,000-25,000 points. Similarly, the 15,000 point properties I checked usually cost ~30,000 points.

I only wish that they’d relaunched Last Minute Rewards with these 10,000 and 15,000 point hotels and continued releasing ~100 PointBreaks properties each quarter at the 5,000 level.

Question

What do you think? Does this change to PointBreaks represent a devaluation in your opinion? Or does it improve your valuation of IHG Rewards Club points as there are more hotels you’d want to visit that are available at the 10,000 and 15,000 point levels?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Those of us who regard it as a devaluation can then commiserate together.

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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21 Comments on "The New IHG PointBreaks Promotion: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly"

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Lance
Guest

I tend to agree with your view Stephen that this revamp = devaluation. I understand that “one size doesn’t fit” every traveler, but I was also a guy that would drive a bit further to some of these 20-30 minutes out of town Holiday Inn Express or otherwise (preferrably with a pool and breakfast for the kids) for 5000 points. Now I see some of those same properties on the new list, but simply bumped up into the higher categories. Oh well, since I don’t foresee taking to kids for a dip over winter in the Intercontinental Kiev hotel pool, back to the drawling board…

Arry
Guest

I feel your pain, big time! My wife and I bought, with real money, 1 million points each! Our goal was similar to yours, and now we are hopping mad at IHG, to say the least.

paul5795
Guest

Wow. One of the (unwritten) rules of travel hacking is never buy points or miles unless you have a specific, immediate redemption in mind. Unfortunately, you have learned that the hard way.

loungeabuser
Guest

If you got them when they were 25% off using cash & points and you have Ambassador status, you still got a good deal. You’ll be getting 20$% of the points used back (10% for the IHG card and 10% for the Ambassador status)

I bought a million this way. At the 60,000 level this made the cost of the top hotel $207 after rebates. So, now it’s around $230.

That’s still a good deal when you consider taxes…..and if you book a series of one night stays and actually check out and back in at the same hotel you should get the fruit platter every day.

I bought right around World Series time and used half the points in LA at the new Korean Air-owned downtown Intercontinental which was $899 or $699 on various nights.

What mystifies me is why any hotel would want to be part of IHG given the reimbursement rates for points stays .
I’ve been asked to sign for the reimbursement at several hotels (Johannesburg Intercontinental, Bedford NY Holiday Inn) and the hotel was getting $25-$53, less than 25% of their going rate.
It’s IHG corporate that’s making all the money here. That would piss me off as a hotel owner. The hotels have no control over the price at which UIHG sells points. If they only have to pay $53 on a 50k point reimbursement, they can afford to sell the points VERY cheaply and still make money on the backs of the hotel owners

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[…] Miler – The New IHG PointBreaks Promotion: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Jan 31). I concur with many of the sentiments expressed in this piece about the […]

Dave Naatz
Guest

Yes, points are devalued. I have had IHG rewards and a credit card for 20 years, both for work and leisure/family visits. 10 years ago 10-15k properties were the norm, maybe 20k for a Crown Plaza. Just booked a trip involving S FL and S CA, was amazed at how many 25-30k HI Express there are (granted this is high season). I haven’t compared it to other programs as I still have Marriott rewards but not used much in past 10 years since being IHG Platinum had too many perks. I asked a manager at a property we stayed frequently for family always with points how he got reimbursed and said it came from corporate, there was a formula on pts vs dollars back.

Blue
Guest

I’m going to guess they just ran out of properties willing to sign up for 5K and that this is really the first step in a ratchet up to 10K minimum.

Julie
Guest

Exactly. I’m betting the 5k properties become fewer and fewer until they’re non-existent. With the inclusion of Starwood properties into Marriott, they are looking more and more attractive vice IHG.

P
Guest

This is a devaluation in that IHG doesn’t think all those hotels they put in the 10k and 15k list can’t be worth only 5k. And yes, they probably added a few intercontinental in there just to show that one of their top brands can be had for under 20k and that this is not that bad. They even one in Moscow, a very big city, but hell is probably synonymous to Russian winter. No one would go there at the time allotted just because the points price is reduced.

P
Guest

I changed my opinion. This is a scam. hahaha

Anastasia
Guest

I never took advantage of PointsBreaks in the past because none of the hotels were anywhere I wanted to stay at all, not even close. The new 10K and 15K categories are ones I’ll actually have a use for – one of the New Jersey ones is just across the river from Manhattan, for example, and near a conference I’m looking to attend. It’s probably a devaluation compared to what PointsBreaks used to be a few years ago – but given how crappy their hotel offerings have been lately, I see this as an improvement.

P – Moscow in winter is certainly not warm, but there’s people who travel to places like Toronto or Scandinavia in the winter and who would absolutely be okay with winter temperatures in the city.

escot
Guest

Does this change to PointBreaks represent a devaluation in your opinion?

Massive — the latest, “final straw” blow amid the systematic degradation of the IHG program. (on top of really stupid, insulting accelerate promos, major rate increases, category inflation, etc. Manilla been hard at work killing the program)

Or does it improve your valuation of IHG Rewards Club points as there are more hotels you’d want to visit that are available at the 10,000 and 15,000 point levels?

NO! I’m seeing far fewer hotels available here in the states (Fla, VA, PA, MD & the Rockies)– and of the few that are available, they’re the same old, same old — except now they’ll be getting twice and thrice the points…

Would be nice if Drew & Carrie of TIF would come out of retirement and find a silver lining. Except maybe that’s why they bailed…. they saw this coming.

James
Guest

I’m probably not their target customer, but over the last few years my wife and I have been gradually moving from hotels to Airbnb and a few other like options. We made an exception for IHG because we could accumulate points so easily and use them to redeem for 5,000 pointbreak hotels when convenient during our travels. We prefer not to stay in ahotel anyway, so this is probably the end for us.

Julie
Guest

That’s okay if you’re not bothered by AirBnB’s politics. For us, I’d rather sleep on a park bench.

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[…] because we’re sitting on ~500k IHG Rewards Club points and they recently devalued how we planned to use them. However, buying points at 0.5 cpp can certainly provide value if you have a specific redemption in […]