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Award travel devaluations and negative changes to loyalty program or credit card benefits are always tough to swallow and will be met with some level of blowback each and every time – as they should be. However, the level of blowback will vary based on a number of things, and clear and consistent communication is one of those very important things. The IHG credit card recently changed the way the anniversary night will be handled going forward and will be shifting from a basically unrestricted night to use at any IHG property around the world, to a certificate that can only be used at hotels costing up to 40,000 IHG points per year. Only, even that isn’t exactly clear as there are lots of hotels on the list of excluded properties that cost 40,000 points per night or less.
This major change was going to be terrible news for cardholders no matter how it was handled, but the inconsistent (and painfully difficult to ascertain) communications about the change are making it so much worse. Now it seems that Chase and IHG are back-pedaling a bit in some areas, while leaving very murky water still standing in others.
Chase backpedaling when the new version of the IHG anniversary night takes effect
Let’s talk about the anniversary night award backpedal, since that is the most concrete element at this point, at least if you believe the @ChaseSupport Twitter team’s replies. Chase is now telling unhappy customers on Twitter than IHG credit card accounts opened from 1/1/2018 – 4/5/2018 (psst, that is tomorrow!), will not see the new change in terms on the anniversary night for their first year. In other words, they will get one anniversary night as advertised with the old rules in effect when they signed up.
That is great news, and consistent with how they have handled similar changes in the past. However, what about those who signed up on from May 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017, and who also haven’t received their first anniversary night with the same unrestricted terms that were in place when they signed up? So far there hasn’t been anything to indicate that they will get the same treatment as someone who signed up say…today. We’ll call this storyline still developing.
Murky updates on why IHG hotels 40,000 points or less are on the excluded list
Update: My IHG contact has said that the hotels 40,000 points and under that are on the excluded list are there in error and will be corrected soon.
Next, let’s look at a very murky area with the list IHG properties excluded from the new 40,000 point version of the anniversary night. Every single term I have seen regarding the new 40,000 point maximum threshold for the anniversary night has said just that – that there is a 40,000 point per night max. Even my IHG brand communication contact has answered my questions about this issue by saying “All hotels 40,000 points or less will be available”.
However, that does not explain the numerous hotels on the excluded list that are 40,000 points per night or less. A few examples include the Holiday Inn Paris – St. Germain des Près that is available for 35,000 points but yet on the excluded list of properties. A few other examples of hotels that are 40,000 points per night and yet still excluded are:
- Holiday Inn Washington-Central/White House
- Holiday Inn Orlando SW – Celebration Area
- Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Cruise-Airport
- Intercontinental Prague
- Intercontinental Kansas City
Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list of properties, as there are many other hotels on the excluded list of properties that are 40,000 points per night or less. I’ve thus far been totally and completely unsuccessful in getting clarity as to why they are on that list when IHG continues to state that all hotels 40,000 and under will be available.
In short, this is all still murky mess that appears to also still be a moving target. If you are impacted and unhappy, I recommend sharing your concerns both with IHG and Chase, especially if you are one of the cardholders who signed up from May – December 2017, and as things stand right now won’t ever receive even your first anniversary award night under the terms in effect when you signed up.