Collectors of loyalty-program miles and points are caught in a two-way squeeze. On the one hand, the programs are continually upping the prices for award travel, effectively reducing the value of points. And on the other hand, with the continuing trend to spend-based programs, points are ever-harder to earn.
The constant devaluation of these programs is a dreary fact of travel life. For those who elect to continue playing the travel-rewards game, the best they can hope to do is maximize whatever potential extra value remains in the schemes.
On the earning side, that means taking advantage of any bonus offers that ratchet up the earning rate. Double points. Triple points. Anything to cost-effectively pump up account balances.
And on the award side of the programs, the key is redeeming points for travel that would cost more rather than less (use 25,000 miles for a $600 ticket, not a $120 ticket) and taking advantage of award discounts, which have the same more-travel-for-less effect.
With the exception of InterContinental Hotel Group’s quarterly PointBreaks — select hotels available to book for just 5,000 points per night — award discounts are few and far between. So it’s catch as catch can.
Here’s a new one from InterContinental that’s definitely worth a look, and may be worth catching as well.
Between August 24 and September 9, IHG Rewards members can book award nights at participating hotels in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for 50 percent fewer points, for stays through October 31.
Normal prices for award nights at the 12 participating hotels range from 15,000 points (Holiday Inn Express Cabo San Lucas) to 40,000 points (InterContinental Presidente Cozumel Resort & Spa), reduced to 7,500 to 20,000 points respectively with the discount.
Deal or No Deal
While a 50 percent discount is substantial, it’s no guarantee of outsized value. It still pays to check the paid rate for the desired stay and compare that to the rate in Rewards points. Divide the room rate by the award price to determine the cents-per-point value of the redemption. If you’d be getting less than 1 cent per redeemed point, the program is squeezing you — not the reverse.
Reader Reality Check
Do you have a target value-per-point in mind when booking awards?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.