Starting Out The New Year With a Mattress Run – IHG Accelerate 2016

IHG has consistently been doing targeted hotel promotions over the past year or so of varying qualities, but I always register to see whether or not it’s worth pursuing.  The latest IHG promotion is Accelerate 2016 and takes place from the beginning of the year until the end of April.  Registering only takes a minute (maybe 2 if you don’t have an IHG account yet), but it’s worth doing because everyone’s offer is potentially different.  These offers are almost always the most beneficial if you are going to be staying at hotels anyway, but sometimes it even makes sense to book a room or two even if you don’t need it, aka mattress running.  Becky and I took advantage of a similar promotion towards the end of 2014 that ended up getting us 4 “free” hotel nights at the NYC Intercontinential, and I analyzed a fairly lucrative offer for new members in 2015 that we didn’t end up taking advantage of.  This time, the offer was good enough that we’ve already booked the room!  I’ll break down what we’re spending and how many points we’re earning in the process below.

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My Targeted IHG Accelerate 2016 Offer

As I mentioned above, every person has the potential to have an entirely different offer for this promotion, and the only way to find out what yours is is to register here.  This time, my offer was really good while Becky’s was absolutely terrible, but it’s been the exact opposite in the past.  I’ve had the IHG credit card for just over a year (I paid the $49 annual fee to get a free night at any IHG property) and even made a few paid stays last year, while Becky has never even earned an IHG point (although she did just get approved for her own IHG card, so I can’t say that much longer).

I’m sure IHG takes this information into account with each promotion offering, but it’s anyone’s guess as the exact way they determine who gets the better ones.  Here’s the fairly lucrative offer I received:

ihg_accel_2016_offer

Analyzing the Offer

The individual tasks aren’t worth very much points, but the 29,500 for completing 3 out of 4 caught my interest.  The next step was to figure out the easiest way to complete the big bonus which turns out to be possible with a single two-night stay!

“Stay Once Get 5,000” is covered by any stay, “A Bonus Weekend Stay” is covered by a specific 2-night stay, and “Spend on your IHG Rewards Club Credit Card” just means I have to book and pay using the card.  That means a weekend stay of 2-nights in which I pay with my IHG card will yield an even 40,000 points.  Plus, if I can make it work in January, I’ll even get an additional 5k to go with it!

In addition to the current Accelerate promotion, there is also the Priceless Surprises campaign going on that I talked about recently.  In addition to earning random prizes for each stay (or mail-in entry), you are also rewarded 1,000 IHG points for the first stay before the end of the promotion on February 15th.  As I have yet to complete any paid stays since the promotion started back on November 15th, I’ll be able to earn this 1k point bonus at the same time I complete the Accelerate 2016 tasks.  Hotel promotions that overlap like this are key to look out for if you really want to stretch your point earning to the max.

Now that we know what the earning can look like, it’s time to find an open weekend and see what the prices are for hotels in the area.

Finding the Cheapest Hotel

I haven’t found a creative way to scrape hotel rates from IHG yet, but they do offer a fairly useful “Find Hotels Along a Route” feature.  By putting in a starting and ending location, IHG will list all of the properties somewhat close to the route between them which can then be sorted by price.  If you’re simply looking for the cheapest property within a certain driving distance, this is probably the best way to do it:

ihg_along_route

 

I like to start with a wide search before narrowing it down just to see what’s available, so in this case I went North to South from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC to capture pretty much all IHG properties within a few hours drive.

ihg_portland_vancouver

 

To sort by Rates, switch to the “List View” tab and change the “Sort By” drop-down menu to “Rates”.  For the particular weekend I selected in January, there are several places with rates below $90 per night.  That just might be low enough to justify a mattress run!  Let’s check the math.

ihg_route_rates

Selecting the Best Hotel For Us

Unlike airfare rates which are required to include all taxes and fees in the “advertised price”, hotels will often quote just the base rate in searches and comparisons.  By clicking through for the 3 listed above, we can get a better idea of what our final out of pocket cost might be:

  1. Holiday Inn Express: Portland East, Total Cost = $186.04 (1,640 base points earned)
  2. Holiday Inn Express: Bellingham, Total Cost = $190.30 (1,720 base points earned)
  3. Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Langley, Total Cost = $206.88 CAD ~= $148.68 USD (1,300 base points earned)

As you can see, the hotel across the border in Canada is by far the cheapest property to stay at for the purpose of pure mattress running, but this is the point where I like to consider whether or not we can get any value out of the hotel stay.  We were just in Portland a little over a year ago (also for a sort of mattress run), so I’ll toss that one out in favor of something new.  We have some friends up in Bellingham we haven’t seen in a while, so that’s a pretty good excuse to swing a mattress run in that direction.  Vancouver is usually fun, but the Langley hotel isn’t particularly close to downtown and would require an additional 35 minutes + border crossing each direction.  The friends won out over $40 and 2 extra hours in the car for us, but I’ll break down the math for both.

Crunching the Numbers

As an IHG credit card holder, I get automatic Platinum status which is good for 50% bonus points on stays and often comes with a check-in bonus of an additional 500 points per stay.  Since I’ll be paying with the IHG card to complete the promotion, I’ll also get an additional 5 IHG points per dollar spent.  That totals to 15 points per base rate dollar spent on the hotel and an extra 5 points per total dollar spent on the stay (including taxes), plus a 500 point bonus.

Mattress Running Breakdown: Langley

  • Regular IHG Points Earned: 1,950 (1,300 base + 50% bonus for Platinum status)
  • IHG Points Earned from Credit Card: 745
  • Check-In Bonus Points: 500
  • Points Earned from Accelerate 2016 Promo: 45,000
  • Points Earned from Priceless Surprises Promo for First Stay: 1,000
  • Total IHG Points Earned: 49,195
  • Total Spent: $148.68
  • Pure Mattress Running Cost: 0.30 cents/point

Mattress Running Breakdown: Bellingham

  • Regular IHG Points Earned: 2,580 (1,720 base + 50% bonus for Platinum status)
  • IHG Points Earned from Credit Card: 950
  • Check-In Bonus Points: 500
  • Points Earned from Accelerate 2016 Promo: 45,000
  • Points Earned from Priceless Surprises Promo for First Stay: 1,000
  • Total IHG Points Earned: 50,030
  • Total Spent: $190.30
  • Pure Mattress Running Cost: 0.38 cents/point

Both of these numbers yield a pretty good return on the cost by acquiring IHG points at less than 0.4 cents per point, but don’t fall into the trap of buying points simply because they are cheap!  If you don’t have a plan to use them, tying up your money in points is probably going to be a bad investment.  On the other hand, if you have hotel stays scheduled already or can get some other utility out of a couple hotel nights it might be worth considering going out of your way to complete the promotion.

In our case, creating a small little weekend vacation to visit friends just over an hour away definitely has value for us AND we’re going to walk away with potentially more value in points than what we spent!

Looking at it another way, the ~50k IHG points can be used to book a night at any IHG property in the world!  That includes the many Intercontinental properties as well as IHG properties located in exotic locations, potentially even all-inclusive resorts!  Locking in a night at these types of properties that normally go for $400+ at a cost of less than $200 can definitely be a good deal IF you’ll use them.  You’re certainly not forced to blow them all in one place though, and IHG frequently releases Points Break properties that only cost 5,000 per night!  The points earned above would then be good for 9-10 nights at various properties around the world!

 

Have you checked your targeted IHG Accelerate 2016 offer yet?  It just might make sense to book a couple rooms somewhere near you and reap the rewards on a different vacation down the road.  The final decision will be a personal one, but you should at least crunch the numbers to see what’s possible!


8 thoughts on “Starting Out The New Year With a Mattress Run – IHG Accelerate 2016

  1. Hey I live in Bellingham so would be happy to host a drink or two somewhere here in town. We have several great breweries! Get in touch if you want to whenever it is you come up this way. I think you can see my email address from your end on the thing, right? if not, let me know and I can send it.

    1. I’ll hit you up with an email if we have a free afternoon/night during the weekend we’re there. Thanks for the offer!

  2. My offer was for 86,500 points and and it looks like I was targeted in an effort to get me to become an ambassador AND try more brands (I’m in Intercontinental fan). I became an ambassador with points (hope that counts) and will pick up 31.200 points just for staying at three different brands. They are already booked and I should be able to complete all 8 challenges easily.

  3. With everything combined, my offer was 118,000 points after 5 nights. We have 4 IHG hotels w/in 15 minutes of driving and the cheapest was pricing out at $85 a night with all taxes. One stay is done and the next two are already booked. We did decide to spend an extra $9 to switch our last stay to a new HIExpress so we can try the pool. Money well spent since we often utilize the pointsbreaks.

    1. That sounds like a crazy offer, how many nights are you typically paying for in a year? Business travel?

      If you’re utilizing the points break properties as well, it sounds like you’re getting the best of both worlds. Nice work!

  4. After searching all hotels at a popular location in May, and only finding rooms at Holiday Inn, I booked a night for $300. I’m new to IHG Rewards so I’m paying cash. If I were to book locally next weekend at $73 a night (with your offer as an example) I could pay approximately half the cost of the May room and use points to pay for it? Will they let me re-book using points is my main question. I still need to see my offer and do the math.

    1. That’s correct!

      The primary caveat is what promotion you were offered and how many nights you’ll actually have to stay to complete it. If it’s like the one I showed above, it would save you a lot of money on your hotel night in May, but an offer that required 5+ nights probably wouldn’t be worth it. The second caveat is award availability for the night in May along with how many points it costs.

      You can book the night with cash now with a flexible cancellation policy and rebook it later with points as long as the award availability is there. Depending on the property, it might be really easy to find availability all the way up to your night or it might be difficult to find availability months out. It’s highly dependent on demand for the specific property and time of year.

      When flipping low cost nights towards a promotion into high end redemptions lines up though, it can be an amazing deal! Hopefully you can make it work.

      Don’t forget you can currently just write out 94 letters and get at least one free night for ~$50 and a small time investment:
      http://moneymetagame.com/travel-hacking/earn-hotel-nights-with-pen-and-paper-ihg-priceless-surprises/

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