When Hotel Promotion Turns Sour Rather than Sweet

I’m sure you’ve heard about IHG Accelerate promotion. If you just came across our little hobby, you’ve only got 9 days to complete it. I recommend you at least register and check your set of offers But you may want to think twice on whether or not to participate. This is a cautionary tale of how a lucrative promotion can quickly turn into a dud.

I’ve mentioned before that I was going to complete my husband’s promotion. We already planned to do a getaway without kids, which meant we would only need to add one stay in order to get 40K points. Here is the set of tasks:

ihg points pluas cash

Sounds easy enough, right? Stay two separate nights, and the bonus is yours. Plus, there is no requirement to pick a specific brand, which gives more flexibility. I really don’t like to do mattress runs because I’m cheap and a control freak. I want to be sure that the stay is indeed registered.

And yet, here we are, 9 days left, but no stays are showing on the dashboard. That’s because I booked “points+cash” rate twice and ended up canceling it both times. In the process, I bought 10,000 IHG points for $80. When you book “points+cash” rate, you can select various levels. One of them is saving 5,000 points in exchange for $40. However, when you cancel, you don’t get the money back, but get points redeposited instead.

I would never purchase IHG points at that rate, but in this case, the promotion made it worth it in my mind. Unfortunately, when you have small kids and a hardworking husband, things don’t always work out  as intended. The first time I had to cancel our IHG reservation was due to my children getting a stomach bug and throwing up all over the house. Going to a hotel just didn’t seem wise.

Oh well, at least we got the points back. This Friday my husband and I were supposed to go to Fort Myers which is 1.5 hours from our house. In the last few days, he started complaining and saying that he didn’t feel like driving so far for just one night. He has been working nonstop for the last two weekends, and   this Sunday he’s got a major project scheduled yet again. He was very nice about the whole thing and said he was willing to do it anyway. But it just didn’t seem right.

So, I ended up canceling my reservation…again. And I bought 5,000 points for $40…again. I speculatively value this amount at $13 max. So, here we are. I have paid $54 so far, and have nothing to show for it. Well, since I used IHG co-branded credit card, somehow it triggered one of the requirements, as you can see on the dashboard.

Since I sank all this cash, of course, I’m too stubborn to stop now. I’m gonna get my 40K points, darn it! So, I booked a 1-night getaway for my in-laws for the next weekend and put them as additional guests. The cost is only $75 per night and I went through Ebates to get cash back. One night down, one to go.

Fortunately, there is an IHG hotel about 40 minutes away from our town. It costs only 10,000 points per night, so with Points+Cash rate it came down to 5,000+$40. The drive is easy, breakfast is included, so we are going on our couple getaway after all. My husband was quite relieved and happy with the compromise.

Not sure if I’ll have anything interesting to share from the trip, so stay tuned. Obviously, I’m referring to stuff appropriate for a family blog!



I probably should have done mattress runs

It honestly would have been easier, not to mention, cheaper to just go ahead and book some stays and check-in over the phone. Many times, you can find rates of $55 per night all-in in certain US cities, so two nights would run at $110. I would have saved myself the aggravation,  plus would pick up extra 5,000 points from January bonus offer. See my post for tips on doing  IHG mattress runs over the phone and pitfalls to avoid.

However, since I wanted a quick getaway with my spouse anyway, it made more sense to go with an actual stay. I think. My in-laws are supposed to check in on the last day of the promotion. I hope no one gets sick and ends up canceling, otherwise I’ll shoot myself. 🙂

Watch out for hidden costs of the Hobby

One of my biggest pet peeves is the use and abuse of the word “free” when it comes to miles and points. And if I’m being honest, I probably contributed to this travesty. As you can see from  the above example, when/if I end up redeeming IHG points from the promo, my future hotel stays will be anything but free. Sure, I’ll try to leverage them in the most advantageous way possible (cough, PointBreaks, cough), but the cost  is still very real.

The thing that gets me is that we are not in good shape financially to do this sort of thing. But buying points cheaply is addictive, and I just can’t help myself at times. Well, my goal from now on is to avoid getting hotel points till I use up what I already have. IHG seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, and between our five accounts (including in-laws), there is usually a targeted offer worth pursuing. Even then, I would rather sign up for a credit card bonus (Hilton points or whatever) than part with my most precious points: cash.

It’s extremely easy to fall into the hoarding trap. I consider myself a mild hoarder when it comes to IHG currency. I’ve been able to get great value from this program, but I’ve paid a lot into it as well via all these promos. I haven’t been keeping track, but maybe I should have. I think it would be quite an eye opener.

My speculative buying price used to be  0.3 cents per IHG point. At that rate, I can get a beachfront hotel in Florida for around $100 all-in during holidays, which is a good deal. Still, it’s a 100 freakin dollars! Add restaurants  and entertainment, and we are talking some serious cash for a weekend getaway.

It’s an interesting predicament. Having miles and points definitely makes it easier to justify doing extra trips. After all, you’ve got your stash just sitting there, so why not use it? It’s all well and good till you have to dip into your real emergency fund (more on that later). Travel with family is a wonderful gift, but at some point it’s important to ask yourself: am I jeopardizing other, equally  important goals? I guess I’m still searching for that healthy balance.

Of course, depending on your plans and the amount of points you have, your situation might be completely different. It could very well be worth it to participate in Accelerate or other  promos. But I recommend you sign up for IHG or another hotel credit card bonus instead, if at all possible.

Readers, did you ever participate in a promotion and end up regretting it later?

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4 thoughts on “When Hotel Promotion Turns Sour Rather than Sweet

  1. I wholly sympathize!
    BTW, you should check Cashbackmonitor more often – there are generally better cashback sites for IHG than Ebates


    • @Uri I’m glad I’m not the only one who wrestles with this thing. When is “cheap” actually too expensive? Everyone will have a different answer, but I do know that for me, some changes in thinking are needed. I’ll have another post on this topic, but the gist of it is: we have been living beyond our means, and it’s my fault.
      As far as Ebates portal goes, this was just an example. I did check http://www.evreward.com and it was the best option at the time. But I agree, payout fluctuates and many times, other portals will have a better rate.


  2. Pingback: Boring/Perfect Weekend Getaway with My Husband | Miles For Family

  3. Pingback: Well, I Thought I Was the Miles and Points Expert in the Family… | Miles For Family

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