For years we have listed IHG points as being worth 0.57 cents each. This was based on the average redemption value reported in 2017 by a company that no longer exists (Pointimize). For details about point values for different programs (and how we think about them), see: Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).
IHG used to have fixed award prices for each property. Regardless of the cash price, the free night award price was fixed. As a result, points were worth more when cash prices were very high and points were worth less when cash prices were low. This is no longer necessarily true.
In May, IHG introduced dynamic award pricing. This means that point prices are no longer predictable. The point price is simply whatever IHG decides it is for any given property on any given date. In general, when cash prices are high, point prices are high and when cash prices are low, point prices are low. But there’s no obvious formula that ties the two together. To figure out what point prices are worth, it was necessary to collect data…
In order to make the data collection manageable, I limited my data set as follows:
- I picked 7 major hotel markets in the United States: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Seattle
- Within each hotel market, I scanned Trip Advisor for the top 3 IHG hotels based on user ratings. The idea is that these are hotels that people are most likely to look for and so data collected for them may be a better indicator of what points are worth than if we looked at all hotels, including unpopular ones.
- For each of the hotels identified above, I recorded the cash price and point price for three different dates:
- Weekday: Wednesday September 16 2020
- Weekend: Friday October 16 2020
- Holiday Weekend: Friday November 27 2020 (day after Thanksgiving)
- In the two instances where the hotel wasn’t available for both cash and points, I picked a different date to record both. For example, for the weekday data, I found the next Wednesday in which both cash and point prices were available.
I realize that the above considerations resulted in a very small data set. It’s certainly possible that a larger data collection effort would lead to different results. At some point I hope to create an automated process so that we can get better estimates. For now, though, this is what we have available…
What are IHG points worth?
Across all of the collected data, I found the following:
- Median Point Value: 0.64 cents per point
- Mean Point Value: 0.67 cents per point
There are good reasons to prefer median or mean depending upon the situation, but these numbers are close enough that I think it’s fair to round the answer towards the middle. That gives us the following:
IHG points are worth 0.65 cents per point.
This value is significantly higher than our old RRV (Reasonable Redemption Value) of 0.57 cents per point, so we’ve updated the IHG RRV to 0.65.
If you’re interested in checking out different slices of the data, continue on…
Average by city and by day type
There are several interesting data points in the above table:
- In some cities (Chicago, LA, and to a lesser extent, New York), points are worth much more on weekdays than weekends or holidays. This is due to the fact that the hotels charge much more cash-wise, but IHG seems to cap the top point price.
- Seattle appears to be a terrible place to use IHG points. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the top three rated IHG hotels in Seattle are Kimpton hotels?
Average by brand
As you can see above, IHG’s Kimpton brand was the most often represented brand in this dataset. This is because Kimpton hotels tend to be rated very highly in Trip Advisor and, as detailed earlier in this post, I only looked at the top 3 rated hotels in each market.
In the previous section I speculated that Seattle hotels might have offered poor point value because they were all Kimpton hotels, but that theory didn’t pan out. Across the dataset, Kimpton hotels perform very close to average on the cents per point measure. Meanwhile, Hotel Indigo looks bad, but with only 2 properties in the data it’s hard to draw conclusions.
We don’t have a lot of data to go on here, but I’m convinced that IHG doesn’t discriminate point values by hotel brand. I don’t know what magical formula they use, but it doesn’t appear to vary by brand.
Best and Worst Values
Minimum by city
Above are the lowest cents per point values in each city. I don’t have data to back this up, but I suspect that the minimums were worse before IHG moved to dynamic pricing. In other words, it’s still possible to get bad value for your points (as low as 0.4 cents per point, for example), but I think that the low-end is better than it used to be.
Maximum by city
Above are the highest cents per point values in each city. As you can see, it’s possible to get as high as 1.29 cents per point value, but that’s quite an outlier. It’s much more common to see high watermarks around 0.75 cents per point. In other words, you can easily do better than the 0.65 average, but you’re not likely to do a lot better except in rare circumstances.
All the data
Here’s the full data set:
[…] ，等於美金 $121.21，也就是說 IHG 1 point = 0.8 cent 。根據我們travel hacking 老手 frequent miler 估價 IHG 1 point = $ 0.65 cent […]
[…] In this particular case, the Advance Purchase rate would cost $300 including taxes and fees, so using a certificate valid for properties charging up to 40,000 points is good value as that works out as 0.75cpp which is above the Reasonable Redemption Value for IHG Rewards Club points. […]
Another interesting observation is that the points cost for given dates can change over time. So, much like with cash rates or Southwest Airlines flights, it’s worth checking back every once in a while to see if you can rebook at a lower rate. I recently saw one of my reservations go from 20k when booked last week to 17.5k now, so I rebooked it.
Are the values different for smaller cities – toledo, racine, boise, redding? or foreign Oaxaca, cambridge, leiden?
I don’t know. I haven’t checked yet.
Hi Greg, do you think it makes sense to include some international locations in the data too? Like London, Paris, Tokyo, etc to see if international RRV numbers are similar to US numbers?
Great idea. We’ll wait for your post that gives us the details….
Yes it makes sense, but I would keep those results separate. The reason is that all of the other RRVs are based on the assumption that redemptions are for US-travel (we had to make assumptions in order to get any meaningful numbers at all).
Hi Greg, that makes sense. I just listened to the recent podcast where you discussed this post and said you only used US cities to keep the RRVs consistent across all hotel and airline programs. I did like Nick’s idea to include IHG resorts (maybe in Orlando, Las Vegas, Anaheim, Hawaii, etc). I’d be curious if including those resort locations makes any difference to IHG RRVs. Have a great day.
Greg, I have been tracking reward night costs at certain properties for a specific date, and even though the cash price is constant (and maybe even has gone down), the points price is creeping up. I do not know if that is because we are getting closer to the date, but I would bet IHG set too high of a value at first to excite everyone about the value of the points, and are now dropping it down to reflect better a more diluted value.
Yes, another blog noted that a number of award prices shot up after the initial launch of dynamic pricing. Luckily my data points came after that happened. That’s not to say that they won’t continue to creep up. They might. I want to rerun this type of analysis periodically to account for that possibility