IHG Guts Best Rate Guarantee, Eliminates Free Nights, Gives 24% Back in Points Instead

Hotel Best Rate Guarantees are mostly vaporware. Hotel chains want you to book directly through them because it costs them less to make a reservation themselves than it does to pay a commission to Expedia or other online travel sites (or travel agents). So they want you to believe you’ll get the best rate booking direct.

Best rate gurantees are largely a marketing claim rather than a promise, and they generally contain so much fine print and so many hoops as to be meaningless (on purpose).

One exception to that has been IHG Rewards Club which has had the most lucrative Best Rate Guarantee. They would actually give you the first night of your stay for free if you made a successful best rate guarantee claim. For one-night stays, that meant staying in hotels for free.

Intercontinental Boston

They changed their terms and conditions on Monday and now offer ‘up to 40,000 points’ based on the room rate you’re paying instead. They’ll match the price you find and give you 5 times the points per dollar earned. (HT: YHBU) Since I value IHG points at 6/10ths of a cent apiece that’s equivalent to a 24% rebate on spend.

And of course there are all the holes and traps, such as they won’t match any website that requires you to log in to see rates.

The British IHG site still shows the old terms for stays in the following countries Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. (HT: @fotograaf)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — With the number of people who game this, you can’t blame them for devaluing it. I’m surprised they don’t simply eliminate it. Does this really drive bookings to their site?

  2. @Gene they really just want to credibly claim they have a best rate guarantee, because otherwise they’d need to actually have the best rate…

  3. I tried BRG once. It ridiculous.

    They have a different check-in time- like 2pm instead of 3pm. Or a different room type, like “king deluxe” vs “king spacious”. One item different and BRG doesn’t apply.

    It’s a gimmick/gotcha bordering on fraud.

  4. It was impossible to game the IHG BRG because IHG never found a qualifying submission. In theory, the intent should be that if I can find a better rate, IHG should do something to make me still want to book direct. Instead, their terms and conditions were so onerous that it was impossible to qualify and there was no appeal. It was a total scam!

  5. IHG is on a role. Next stop: Pointbreaks nights for 10k points each. You heard it here first, folks!

  6. I would argue that IHG is now tied with Carlson as the worst loyalty program
    Perhaps only Accor is worse than these two
    Ihg offers no breakfast benefit no upgrade to suites
    And even Royal Ambassador upgrades at IC hotels to corner rooms which they
    try and pass off as studio suites
    But the worst insult is their peso like point currency when redeemed where hotels
    can not only deny the minimal elite benefits but can guarantee you the worst room in the house
    Hilton Starwood Marriott Hyatt all treat their members on award or revenue with fair greater respect
    Ihg now Blows badly and this devaluation makes it much worse than Hilton imho
    As for their rate guarantee most everyone here now knows to look elsewhere for the best rate
    They can only misrepresent the truth for so long

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