My IHG Rewards rookie mistake: don’t let this happen to you!

Argh. This was definitely a rookie mistake. I’m not that familiar with IHG Rewards, and it seemed like a good idea at the time…but this dumb move cost me tens of thousands of points.

Here’s what happened: several months ago, I booked a one-night stay at the Intercontinental Miami. I was super excited to “stack” IHG promotions on my account, and calculated that if all of the points posted, I would earn ~30,000 of them!

The reason is that IHG runs many simultaneous promos. These are supposedly targeted, but the truth is that they usually work for a much wider audience. Also, you can sign up for numerous promos at one time to “stack” your earned points. If you are interested in checking this out, there is a thread on Flyertalk that lists all of the known codes; Bart Lapers also lists many codes on his blog. Here is a sample:

New Stay Bonus – 4040 (1500 points)
Elite Member Next Stay Bonus – 4047 (5000 points)
Anniversary Bonus – 8000 (1000 points)
Welcome Back Bonus – 8994 (3000 points)
New Member Bonus – 9944 (3000 points)
2000 Bonus Points for 60 Days – 9990 (2000 points per stay)
Elite Member Winback Bonus – 3007
5000 point Platinum – 4777 (5000 Bonus Points)
New member bonus – 4648 (1500 Bonus Points)
Elite Member Next Stay Bonus – 2785 (3000 Bonus Points)
Elite Member Next Stay Bonus – 3825 (3000 Bonus Points)
Next Stay Bonus – 7641 (1500 Bonus Points)
Welcome Back Bonus – 2656 (1500 Bonus Points)
1000 Bonus Points for 60 Days – 4709 (1000 Bonus Points per stay)
Anniversary Bonus for 90 Days – 4644 (1000 Bonus Points per stay)

You can register for the bonus codes here or click on the individual promo codes above.

Note that there are reports of IHG Rewards closing people’s accounts for using too many codes that they weren’t targeted for, so definitely do a little research on each code before using it if this concerns you.

Anyway, I applied a handful of codes to my account. My mistake was in the timing: I jumped the gun. The thing about many of these promos is that they are only good for a limited amount of time – usually 60 to 90 days from the time you register to earn the bonus. I thought I was being smart by waiting until three weeks before my trip to register – I set aside a chunk of time and entered all of the codes that I thought would make sense for my account, patted myself on the back once I saw how many points I was going to earn, and felt kinda smug.

But then my plans changed.

All of a sudden my smart move was really dumb – because the codes are only good for one use. I had just wasted 30,000 points worth of codes on a stay I had to reschedule.

The moral of this cautionary tale is to wait until right before your stay to apply any IHG promo codes. As in, several days before. Now, I’ve got a couple of IHG stays booked for later in the month that won’t earn me nearly as many points, because I already used most of the applicable codes.

Have you ever made this mistake?




  1. BothofUs2 says:

    Definitely I have lost points opportunities in the past. In your case is it worth a mattress run or at least a cheap IHG stay close to home to recover some of the potential loss?

  2. Oops that’s too bad! That happened to me once but for another rewards program. I’m also new to IHG so did lots of homework before my first stay. Actually 2 days ago I just saw the points posted to my first stay with IHG (not accounting the big win points and credit card points yet), and it’s whopping 33,785 pts:

    Qualifying Nights1
    Earning Details1,190 pts.
    Bonus Points Earned 595 pts.
    1.5K points on next stay from 3/21/14-5/30/14 1,500 pts.
    1,000 BONUS POINTS FOR 60 DAYS 1,000 pts.
    WELCOME BACK BONUS 1,500 pts.
    New Stay Bonus 1,500 pts.
    WELCOME BACK BONUS 1,500 pts.
    NEXT STAY BONUS 1,500 pts.

  3. create a new account 🙂

  4. I feel your pain and am laughing at the same time. I did the same thing last week–loaded my account up with all kinds of codes then realized I may not be staying there any time soon! Bummer!

  5. justSaying says:

    Well if we had never done any of these mistakes we’d all be at the Park Hyatt in a free room relaxing after a transatlantic Lufthansa flight in First Class preparing for a Michelin 3 star dinner paid with Arrival points……..coulda woulda shoulda………….

  6. Points Pixie says:

    Bothof Us2 – There are a few remaining bonuses in my account, so I will at least get a few thousand points for my stays 😉 Also, I have the “Big Win” points as a consolation prize. But…lesson learned, for sure!

    David – Niiiice!

    Jamison – 😉

    Julie – Argh!

    justSaying – Aw, you always manage to make me feel better. Thanks, J.

  7. I haven’lt had any promos work for a while after doing ten plus stays over about three months. I finished all the Big Win I’m going to (NOT forcing two Saturday nights). But it was good while it lasted.

    May last one night stay and got less than 2K points. I feel I am now in a vast point-poor IHG wastland.

    i did my 3 Club Carlson stays to grab that bonus, and maxed the Marriot Megabonus, I’m now actually doing some Choice nights for thier 8K 2 stay deal. Since I can’t away with some higher price DC area hotels (company paying) I can’t wait for another round of promos. I would be doing Club Carlson now if they still had the 3K Concierge internet booking bonus,

  8. I think i’m in the same boat. I registered every code I could find recently BEFORE reading about the various time limits and such… oops. I have my only IHG stay booked in August and now I feel like I should look for a mattress run of sorts and find a cheap-ish room to take advantage of all these codes. Perhaps I can get enough to use those points on that August stay as well. (I used my current point balance on 3 nights in August and paid for the 4th! — Holiday Inn Aruba!).

  9. I almost had the same experience! hahah. luckily I caught the terms after I added one! :-p Sorry to hear!

  10. Refreshing post, showing possible mistakes. Nice job…keep the great work. Love your blog

  11. i will be grateful when i fluently understand the points language of which you all speak. 😀

  12. Points Pixie says:

    Carl P – Sounds like you are racking up TONS of points! Fantastic!! Love your choice of words (vast point-poor IHG wasteland). I feel the same way.

    Mike – Yes, if you can find a cheapie mattress run, that is a great way to go. It was too late for me (too much time had elapsed before I thought about it), or I would have done the same thing.

    Diego – Smart! Good catch!

    Andy – Thank you! 😉

    Carrie – Keep reading, it will make sense soon. Feel free to ask questions as well!

  13. Bob benson says:

    Who cares about this point stuff. How much is your time worth? Trying to work the various points systems is not worth it. A night free here and there in an undisreable area or date is lame. Plan your trips and do some research. You will be better off.

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