IHG award night problems – minimum night requirements

I’m currently planning a trip for my parents to Turkey. They both had 60,000 IHG points, and I wanted them to have a “splurge” trip rather than staying at a cheaper hotel. I was trying to book them two nights at the Intercontinental Istanbul, which costs 50,000 points per night. This is where I met an incredibly frustrating problem – IHG minimum nights for award bookings.

For example, the IC Istanbul requires on some nights, but not all, a minimum 2-night stay. So when I search for 1 night,  it will show no award inventory available. However, if I search two nights consecutively, there will be award inventory, even on the initial night that didn’t have award space initially. My parents only had sufficient points for 1 night from each account, and IHG charges an obscene $5/1,000 points to transfer – they don’t offer a spousal waiver for transfers like Marriott or SPG.

In the first instance I called IHG without result. Eventually, I discovered the “secret” phrase to get directed to the empowered USA-based call centres, rather than the disempowered and frustrating Asia-Pacific call centres: “I’d like to speak to a Customer Service Manager please.”

Once connected to a USA-based agent, they suggested a way to “cheat” the 2-night minimum requirement. They loaned one of the accounts with 40,000 points so it would have a balance of 100,000 points, sufficient to book the 2 award nights, booked the nights, then split the reservation between the two accounts, deducting 50,000 points from the other account and adding 10,000 to the initial account. This led to perfect accounting, and reservations that were in each account holder’s names without bypassing the points transfer rule.

Of course, after I did this, my parents changed their minds, wanting to save points and stay at a lesser hotel. So I cancelled those Intercontinental nights. And of course, my parents being the most indecisive people I’ve ever met, they changed their minds again and decided to go back to the Intercontinental.

I tried to get the Intercontinental back by using the same trick. However, the agents refused to, stating that the “points loan” was a one-time exception. They were adamant that they couldn’t do it again. HOWEVER, after eventually speaking to a Charleston based agent (who was absolutely lovely!), explaining my dilemma, she said “honey, why don’t I just close out one account and transfer the points to the other?” I didn’t want to pay the $300USD fee to transfer the points over, and she said not to worry. She closed out one account and transferred the points over to the other, allowing a booking within the 2-night rule.

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Everything worked out perfectly in the end. The lesson here is to always try and speak with an empowered agent, who are usually based in North America. Further, if IHG has granted you a “points loan,” note that it’s a one-time thing.

It never hurts to ask for consideration. The agent who transferred the points granted me a $300USD nicety, for which I am extremely grateful. This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t push through the call centre pyramid and keep asking. Last, my parents are not allowed to change their minds again (you hear that mom and dad!?), and they will damn-well enjoy their stay at the Intercontinental Istanbul 😛

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the post, but all that trouble aside, I don’t think that the IC in Istanbul is worth 50.000 pts. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel is nice and all, but it is usually rather cheap to get a room there ($160). That is way too low to spend 50.000 points on.

    Regards,

    Stefan

    p.s. the Hilton that is close by is just as nice IMHO and usually a tick cheaper still

  2. Thank you so much for making all these amazing arrangements for us! We are far more annoying and demanding and indecisive than your post suggests, and we know it. We are also incredibly appreciative of how lucky we are to still have you in our lives, despite all our shortcomings 🙂
    – Dad.

  3. Any thoughts on the Holiday Inn Istanbul? I’ll be in Istanbul for 3 nights in June and am thinking I’ll book it using IHG points (15,000/night). I have just under 70k points. I haven’t been outside the airport in Istanbul so I’m not familiar with the location.

      • That would suck! I searched/skimmed through the 6 pages of reviews on the IHG site and did notice a few comments concerning smoke, but not a lot relative the number of reviews. Overall people seemed happy with the place and I like the fact that the tram is right there. There was one review where the reviewer mentioned being upgraded to a suite with his platinum status (which I have). That would be nice, no idea how common that is though. I’ll look at other options, but I don’t see much I can do with my starwood points and this is probably better than spending cash – unless I find more negative comments.

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