No, I didn’t check in to a 5 star resort, and I didn’t sip champagne from a room service flute. I did, however, get 6,566 IHG points (worth somewhere around $45.96) on a $130.19 stay. Still not impressed?
That’s ok, I don’t blame you.
But there is more to the story….
You’ll remember that I posted a few weeks ago about the fourth quarter IHG Accelerate Promo. I had some decent offers, considering I’d already be staying at a Holiday Inn over the third weekend of October, out in Chicago.
As part of that post, I decided to book a stay at a nearby Holiday Inn. I needed to find the cheapest hotel in my area, so I could get the biggest bang for my buck. That happened to be the Holiday Inn Express Brockton – Boston, about a 20 minute drive south of me. Well, 20 minutes, when there’s no traffic.
This particular Holiday Inn was a pleasant stay, though nothing exciting. The layout and decor is somewhat dated, but for the price, it definitely has appeal. I can’t find anything particularly bad to say about the property, nor do I want to, it just isn’t some place I’d go out of my way to see. But that’s not why we booked the night there, is it?
The room was clean and had plenty of space. I booked a double, as those happened to be a bit cheaper than the comparative single bed price. Remember, price was the biggest concern here. The cheaper the hotel, the cheaper these points.
As an added benefit, there was a small breakfast in the morning, so we could fuel up prior to hitting the rush hour highways back to work. The usual stuff you’d see at a Holiday Inn Express – oatmeal, cereal, bagels, muffins, pastries, eggs, bacon, and sausage. Plenty of coffee and orange juice to go around.
I’m going to break this into three sections to demonstrate my total “earning” power on this stay. One, the IHG points. These were, of course, the main reason for booking, and the biggest haul (or will be, after my stay next weekend in Chicago). Two, the credit card points. Three, cashback from one of my favorite shopping portals – TopCashBack.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I earned 6,566 points from this stay – 1,166 of these from booking the stay itself, and the rest from the IHG Accelerate Promotion. You can see my offers below:
Our lovely night in Brockton checked off the September Bonus Offer for 2,000 IHG points, the Big City Bonus for 2,400, and the Stay Once Get Bonus Points for 1,000 points. Let’s call these points worth about .7 cents apiece, which seems to be a common valuation. Remember, I would have hit that Big City Bonus with the stay in Chicago anyway, I won’t count the Big City points in this evaluation. We’ll just include the September Bonus, the Stay Once Bonus, and my regular IHG earnings.
Total Bonus Points x 0.7 cpp = Total Cash Value of Points
2,000 + 1,000 + 1,166 x 0.7 cpp = Total Cash Value of Points
4,166 x 0.7 = 2,916.2 cents = $29.16
Armed with my ThankYou Premier card from Citi, I earn triple ThankYou Points on any travel spend. With a total bill of $130.19, I’m snagging a total of 390 ThankYou Points on the spend. Let’s say those points are worth 1.5 cents apiece.
ThankYou Points x 1.5 cpp = Total Value
390 x 1.5 = 585.9 cents = $5.86
Before I booked my stay, I confirmed my shopping portal options. I checked with Cashback Monitor, and sure enough, IHG is on a number of portals.
I opted for TopCashBack, both for the high rate and because I find their portal extremely user-friendly. With an 8.5% cashback rate, I made out even better on this deal! Most portals will only pay out on the cost of the stay itself, not on the taxes and fees associated with the booking. My bill showed three separate charges – the room itself for $116.56, the Massachusetts State Room Occupancy Tax of 5.7% for $6.64, and the Brockton Room Tax of 6% for $6.99. I’m not sure how exactly TopCashBack came up with their number, but they seem to have tracked somewhere around $123.41 for the cost of the stay, leading to a confirmed cashback amount of $10.49.
Tracked Portal Cost of Stay x Cashback Rate = Total Cashback
$??? x .085 = $10.49
So after all that, what did this hotel night cost me?
Cost of Stay – Cash Value of Points and Cashback = True Cost
$130.19 – ($29.16 + $6.26 + $10.49) = True Cost
$130.19 – $45.91 = True Cost = $84.28
Ok…wait…you still paid $84.28 for a hotel that you didn’t need. Why?
Well, because I’ll get even more points! Remember the other two bonuses for my Accelerate Promotion above. Change Your View for 5,600 IHG Points, and Your Achievement Bonus for 21,000 points. This stay, combined with the stay in Chicago, will trigger the Change Your View bonus for me. Chicago will also trigger the Bonus Weekend Stay. Those will be my third and fourth offers (out of five) and then trigger the Achievement Bonus – it’s the dominoes effect for IHG Points! With the additional bonuses crediting to my account, I’ll be earning an extra 26,600 IHG Points. As long as those extra points are worth more than the “True Cost” of the Brockton stay, at $84.28, I’ll be coming out ahead. Drum roll please….
IHG Additional Offers x .7 cpp = Additional Point Value
26,600 x .7 = 18,620 cents = $186.2
Great! The projected value of those IHG points, at $186.20, beats the cost of my stay at the Holiday Inn Brockton by a mile. So, once I complete my stay in Chicago I’ll be hauling in quite a catch of points, and I’m looking forward to it!