IHG Rewards (partially?) reverses awards devaluation

IHG Rewards has rolled back last week's unannounced devaluation, at least somewhat. With dynamic pricing, however, we'll never know for sure.

A week ago, IHG quietly increased the number of points required for award nights at numerous hotels worldwide. 

While some properties were affected more than others, the upshot was that the highest award cost went up to 120,000 points (from 100,000 previously), and some Holiday Inn Express hotels (IHG’s cheapest brand) were now pricing at more than 70,000 points per night- for context, that was IHG’s highest award category a mere five years ago.

But there’s a further twist in the tale…

IHG Rewards reverses devaluation

InterContinental Singapore
InterContinental Singapore

As reported by various Boarding Area blogs, IHG has apparently reversed course, and hotels are now pricing closer to their previous levels (although with dynamic pricing, it’s hard to say whether this is a partial or complete reversal- you’d have to check every property and date to know for sure). 

Let’s look at some examples from Singapore. When the devaluation happened last week, I took data points for a weekday in October at every IHG property in Singapore (I went with October because some hotels are still closed for SHNs right now). I sampled the same date again today, with the following results:

PropertyOldLast WeekToday
HIX Serangoon12,500 22,00017,000
HI Atrium15,00016,00016,000
HIX Orchard Road15,00022,000 21,000
Hotel Indigo Katong17,50045,00045,000
HIX Clarke Quay17,50022,00019,000
HIX Katong17,50027,00018,000
HI Orchard City Centre25,00044,00038,000
Crowne Plaza Changi25,00029,000 29,000
Regent Singapore27,50031,000 31,000
InterContinental Singapore37,50035,00036,000
InterContinental Robertson Quay50,00042,000 42,000

There have definitely been some price decreases for Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties (although they’re still higher than the prices before), but what’s interesting is the trend with the Regent Singapore, InterContinental Robertson Quay and Hotel Indigo.

  • The Regent Singapore has stayed the same as last week, which makes me think it wasn’t affected by the devaluation at all
  • Hotel Indigo is still pricing at 45,000 points, a massive increase from the 17,500 last year
  • InterContinental Robertson Quay actually decreased in price last week, and that lower price has been maintained

Again, the difficulty with dynamic pricing is that even though I’m searching for the same dates as before, I can’t say for sure whether prices have changed because of tweaks in the algorithm, or because of real-world factors like occupancy and bookings. 

Other blogs have compiled data points from various cities which generally suggest that prices have reverted to their original level (although not in all cases). So this may have all been much ado about nothing, but if anything, this incident is yet another reminder not to hoard points of any kind- especially not in a program that doesn’t have a published award chart. 

I think OMAAT’s objection to IHG’s dynamic pricing sums things up perfectly: 

Here’s the thing — if IHG Rewards Club wanted to switch to full-on dynamic award pricing, then fair enough, that wouldn’t be totally unreasonable. The issue is how IHG has gone about it.

IHG claims that the cost of reward nights will be dynamic just like the cost of stays at hotels when paying cash. There are a couple of issues with that, though:

  • If pricing is truly dynamic, then the program shouldn’t have blackout dates, but rather the number of points should simply reflect the price; IHG Rewards Club is one of the only major hotel loyalty programs to have blackout dates
  • If pricing is dynamic, then why isn’t it actually correlated to the cash rate of a hotel stay? It doesn’t make sense if a hotel charges $200 on two different nights, but one night it would cost 40,000 points, while the other night it would cost 60,000 points

Essentially IHG wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants pricing to be dynamic when it’s convenient, without offering the flexibility that usually comes with dynamic pricing.


Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

It’s hard to say what exactly happened. My theory is that IHG did indeed devalue their program, but didn’t fine tune the algorithm properly, leading to massive price increases at certain properties. Then came the backlash, and the algorithm was adjusted to tone things down.

The problem is: I don’t know what the new baseline is, nor does anyone else. It could be that prices used to be X, went up to 2X, then got adjusted down to 1.3X. Without an award chart or a supercomputer that can crunch data from every date at every property, it’s anyone’s guess. 

So tl;dr, those of you holding IHG points can breathe a sigh of relief. But confidence in the program is surely shot by now, and you might want to start looking for ways to burn your points and exit. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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