IHG Announces 2018 Hotel Category Changes

Pretty much every year we see hotel programs re-evaluate which hotels should be in which category in terms of point redemptions. The first do this for 2018 was Hyatt, and you can read the article about those changes here. Those of us in the travel community are always scared to read these changes, and the reason for our trepidation is because of changes like IHG (aka Holiday Inn group) just announced.

499 hotels are getting more expensive on points

192 hotels are getting cheaper on points

As usual, these changes are not going in a good direction for travelers. I never have a problem with changing hotel point redemptions to better fit the normal price of the hotel, but there’s way it should be 499 going up and 192 going down. You can go here to find the full list of hotels changing categories.Intercontinental New York Barclay-going to 70,000 points per night

To make matters worse, IHG has introduced a higher point redemption for top-tier hotels. The highest point redemption for IHG has been 60,000 points, but that is being increased to 70,000 points. This is a huge devaluation to me at what mostly amounts to the luxury Intercontintenal properties getting more expensive. Honestly, this change hurts worse than the hotel category changes.

Several dozen hotels are increasing from 40,000 to 50,000 points per night. If you plan on staying at these properties for one night, that’s not a terrible thing overall. But what if you plan on staying there for 4 nights? With the increase you lose a full night compared to the old rates!

Here’s a specific example that shows how these changes could affect travel:EVEN Times Square South-moving from 40,000 to 50,000 points per night

Elizabeth signed up for the IHG credit card when it was offering an 80,000 point bonus. We used those points last week to stay at the EVEN Times Square South for 40,000 points per night. Our total cost of the stay was completely covered by the credit card sign up bonus, but that hotel is now increasing to 50,000 points. So truthfully, in effect we would not have chosen to stay there to only get one night. And even more truthfully, it means we would have stayed WITH ANOTHER CHAIN in the same area because it would have been a better redemption for us.

Both Intercontinental Hotels in San Francisco are moving from 60,000 to 70,000 pointsIntercontinental San Francisco-moving to 70,000 points per night

Several Holiday Inn/Expresses in San Francisco are moving from 40,000 to 50,000

4 of the IHG hotels in Panama City, Fort Walton, and Pensacola are moving from 40,000 to 50,000Holiday Inn Express Panama City Beach-moving from 30,000 to 40,000 points per night

It looks like nearly all IHG hotels in Manhattan and downtown Washington, DC are moving up in category while very few are standing pat. I did notice the Crowne Plaza Washington, DC doesn’t look like it’s on the list. I couldn’t find any in those two cities that are getting cheaper, which is expected.

As expected, hotels would not get cheaper on points if they are a travel destination. The ones moving down in points are likely small city hotels or are on the sides of interstates. For example, I did notice that at least 30 IHG hotels in Florida are getting more expensive and in a quick look I couldn’t find but 3 getting cheaper. That example should get the point across!Holiday Inn Express and Suites Naples-I-75 is moving from 20,000 to 15,000 points per night

Last year, IHG announced these changes and let you book at the current rate until January 15th. If that is the case now, you should go ahead and book one of these properties if you plan on traveling to them using points. Remember, you can always cancel the points redemption in the future if you decide not to go!

Should these keep you from pursuing IHG rewards in the future? I don’t think so. The IHG credit card from Chase is a wonderful deal to only have a $49 annual fee while getting a free night at any hotel. Realistically, these category changes make the credit card even more valuable. However, I don’t think it’s going to be as easy to get great redemptions with points unless you are using the quarterly PointsBreaks put out by IHG.