As you know, IHG Rewards' 4th quarter promotion is called Into the Nights, and gives you the option of earning up to 50,000 bonus points or 2 free nights at any IHG property, or a combination of points and nights.
As you may or may not know, depending on how many promotional thresholds you've met so far, the implementation of the promotion has been a fiasco, which has earned it the affectionate moniker "Into the Chaos." For months, stays weren't tracking or posting properly, and it was unclear how long it would take for IHG Rewards to resolve the situation.
I met the last of my promotional thresholds back on November 23, and recently noticed that my bonus points for each threshold finally posted on December 9:
I met my first threshold (booking through the IHG app) on November 2, and those points posted on November 17, which gives roughly the same delay (15-16 days).
You've earned them: Nights or Points?
The above points were automatically earned for meeting each threshold. Now I have to decide whether to select nights or points as my reward for meeting all 5 of my challenges:
I've been turning the problem over in my mind for a few days, because it has a number of angles worth considering.
- First, IHG has their periodic PointsBreaks List, which allows you to book rooms at any of the properties on the list during the current PointsBreaks period (currently November 2014 to February 2015) for just 5,000 IHG Rewards points. These stays are extremely popular, and if you plan on using your IHG Rewards points for a PointsBreaks stay, you should obviously select points as your Into the Nights rewards: 25,000 points translates into a 5-night PointsBreaks stay!
- Second, a mere look at IHG's hotel categories suggests that, on the contrary, free nights are the obvious choice. Just 3 of IHG's categories cost less than 25,000 points, so for stays at Category 4 and higher properties you'll want to redeem free nights, instead.
- Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your actual travel plans. I have two trips planned in the first half of 2015, to Austin and New Orleans, and the downtown IHG properties where I would consider staying in those cities are all Category 4 or higher. I don't know whether I'll end up staying at IHG properties on those trips, but those are the most likely candidates and would require free night certificates, not points.
As my readers know, the least valuable reward is always the one you don't redeem. That goes double for IHG's Into the Nights free night certificates, which must be redeemed by December 31, 2015. If you can't commit to redeeming your free night certificates at properties Category 4 or higher in 2015, or you plan on redeeming points for PointsBreaks stays, you may well be best off selecting points. But if you have a general idea of your 2015 travel plans, check the cities you plan to visit and see if you won't be better off redeeming free night certificates, instead.