IHG points for .0044 & 2015 Year in Review
Like last year, let’s examine if the time I invested in 2015 was worth the rewards reaped. If it’s not, change is essential.
Note: if you’re only interested in the IHG points for .0044 explanation go to the 3rd paragraph
To really simplify things, let’s say many credit cards give a standard 1 mile/point per $1 spent (although there are many that give bonuses and 2, 3, 5, 12+ multipliers) while flying can net about 1 mile per actual mile flown (without status, premium cabins and leaving out the latest revenue based mileage earning). The standard can be said to come out to roughly a 1% return (it’s typically worse in Europe). My goal is to beat that single digit return when redeeming my points and miles.
I want to maximize my ROI by using miles and points wisely and not using them wherever possible. To give you an example, although I redeemed 744,154 hotel points for 44 nights in 2015, I actually didn’t use (or saved) 1,231,846 points in 2015. How?
- Using free night certificates (IHG, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt)
- 2nd free night on award benefit (Club Carlson) No longer available
- Airlines providing free accommodation for stopovers on Premium flights (SPG)
- IRROPS – irregular operations/problems (IHG, Hyatt)
- Reduced point awards (IHG – Pointbreaks)
- Free nights from promotions (IHG – Intothenights, etc.)
- Points and cash (IHG, SPG)
- Credit card point reimbursement (IHG – 10%)
If you couple the last 2 points together when booking an IHG property with their credit card you can come out ahead. In fact, you’ll see that Gary (here) and Lucky (here) have spoken about buying IHG points at 6/10th of a cent. However, if you actually stay at the hotel, you’ll do even better. Using Gary’s example:
- Book a points and cash night at Intercontinental Sydney with the IHG credit card. Cost is 35,000 points + $90 (for purchasing 15K points). After your stay you will get 5,000 back from the IHG credit card perk (10% points on 50K award night). In essence, you’ve bought 20,000 IHG points for $90. This equals 5/10th of a cent or $0.0045 per point. To make it just slightly sweeter, you also get 450 points for spending $90 at IHG.com so it’s really $0.0044 per point. No promotion required. If you go through a portal (frequentmiler has updates on this) you can save even more…
Finding these little tricks without much effort is the challenge I enjoy. Although I really don’t dedicate a lot of time to this hobby, it always fascinates me how rewarding it can be. Since I started accumulating and spending points and miles about 5 years ago, we’ve been able to visit 33 out of 81 countries with miles. Many of them multiple times. Thanks to miles, we were able to go in style and much more comfortably and we arrived relaxed and refreshed to countries we were planning to go anyway.
Sorry for that tangent. So how did 2015 go? To recap, I’ve run down the numbers of the past year to see what types of savings ($) and expenditures (miles, points & time) I’ve gone through.
Here’s the breakout:
Total award flight segments: 46
USD ($) saved using miles: $141,777 (spent $1,253 in taxes)
Miles redeemed: 800,000
Total award hotel nights: 44
USD ($) saved by using points: $19,314 (spent $1,864 in fees and Points&Cash)
Points redeemed: 744,154 (odd number due to an IRROP)
2015 Countries visited via flight (not just transiting): 12
France – 3 times
Slovakia – 2 times
Spain – 2 times
United Arab Emirates – 3 times
Total flights: 49 flights (25 work/24 personal)
Miles travelled: 60,591
These numbers show a potential “savings” of slightly over $161,000 USD between flights and hotels in 2015 alone. Almost all award flights were in business and first class and many hotels were high end luxury or very well situated hotels. Throwing in that we have status with many chains, many of our award nights were upgraded to Suites and Premium rooms and thus adding to the amount saved.
I calculated the flight cost by booking the award redemption and immediately looking at what a priced flight with the exact same routing and classes would cost. I calculated the hotel by booking the award redemption and then immediately looking at what a paid REFUNDABLE stay for the same room type would cost as all my award redemptions could be cancelled with no penalty. Getting accurate $ amounts can be a challenge as one way flights can be pricier than roundtrips with some airlines, hotel rates fluctuate constantly, etc. This is why I compared with exact routes, classes, rooms IMMEDIATELY when booking awards.
Like last year, I put the word “savings” in quotes because in all actuality, we would not spend $161K on first class flights and super high end hotels when it’s possible to use miles. I also don’t see the value of spending $10K or 15K+ for a 10-16 hour flight! However, I use real values because we were going to take those flight routes anyway and we could have splurged for them…
I spent a bit more time this year booking the flights as it seems that more and more people are collecting miles and redeeming for award flights and thus taking my seats… I blame all other bloggers 😉 I spent about 40 hours booking personal flights with miles in 2015 and another 14.5 hours for the hotel point bookings.
Conclusion: Each hour of my time invested in booking award travel equates to being “paid” USD $2,956/hour. I’m quite happy with that! Using various tips and tricks while searching for award travel saved me loads of time and I really try to squeeze as much value out of my award redemptions as possible. In essence, I was able to get about 17.7% return on air travel and about 2.6% on hotel redemptions. Points for hotel night redemptions can vary wildly (I’m looking at you Hilton!) which makes those points normally worth less (but not worthless).
I’ll continue to argue that my ROI average (and at least my hourly return) is better than the stock market and most other types of investments!
How much are you saving?