Travel Tricks

Hotel Promotions: Trading Money for More Money

I recently spent six (6) nights in Australia to attend a conference for work. I chose to stay at the Crowne Plaza – Surfer’s Paradise as I have status with IHG as a holder of the IHG credit and the rates were actually a bit better than the rate that was offered at the conference hotel. After booking, I decided to check my IHG Accelerate offers for the four-month period from September to December. As luck would have it, this stay helped me achieve four (4) of my goals. If you’re not familiar, IHG Accelerate is a promotion where IHG gives all members a series of goals to achieve each period and, if you achieve these goals, you earn bonus points potentially worth hundreds of extra dollars. Here were my goals for the end of 2017:

Stay once (2,000 points)
Stay 5 nights (10,000 points)
Stay for a weekend – 2 nights (4,000 points)
Stay in an international property (8,000 points)
Pay for a stay using the IHG credit card (1,500 points)
Stay at 2 Crowne Plazas (8,400 points)
Stay at 3 brands (19,200 points)
Achieve 6 of the 7 goals above (22,000 points)

I accomplished the first 4 goals with my stay in Australia so since I was two-thirds of the way to achieving the 22,000 point bonus, I explored the remaining 3 goals to see if there was something I could easily reach in just a few weeks. Staying a 3 different brands probably wasn’t going to happen but paying for a single night at a Crowne Plaza with my IHG credit card would earn me an additional 9,900 points and help me earn the 22,000 point bonus. So I started to look up Crowne Plazas around Philadelphia and found one for about $95 for a night and booked it. It seemed weird to book a room where I intended to check in and maybe never even open the door to the room but to pay $95 to earn 31,900 points (plus the points from the stay and the additional points from spending on my IHG credit card) was an easy decision. And as luck would have it, I was able to let my good friend stay in the room as he needed it to take his son to a doctor’s appointment!

Feeling pretty excited about how I had just worked the system, I checked my IHG Accelerate offers for the first 4 months of 2018 and found some new goals that would be relatively easy to achieve. Here were my new offers:

Stay once (2,000 points)
Book a Bonus Point Package Stay (6,600 points)
Pay for a stay using the IHG credit card (1,500 points)
Stay 5 nights (10,000 points)
Achieve 3 of the 4 goals above (19,900 points)

It turns out that it’s pretty easy to reach the first 3 goals with just a single night and earn those points along with the 19,900 point bonus. So I looked through my travel plans and during my forthcoming trip to South Africa, I had booked a night at an IHG hotel for 15,000 points. I checked the rate if I paid cash and the Bonus Point Package cost about $125 but would earn me another 30,000 points!! Again, I would also earn the points from my stay which includes a 1,000-point bonus for the package I paid for and points for spending on my IHG credit card. So I canceled my original reservation which I booked with 15,000 points and booked the new reservation with my IHG credit card. So in the end, I’ll spend about $125 to earn 34,000 points and get my original 15,000 points back. Not bad!!

The lesson here: Pay attention to special offers. They can be incredibly lucrative and each of the major hotel chains offers some type of quarterly promotion (some are definitely better than others). In this case, I paid $220 to earn about 65,000 points!! Coincidentally, I had been looking at some hotels in Amsterdam for later in the spring and IHG has a new hotel that costs about $350/night… or 30,000 points. So I basically traded $220 for over $700!!


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