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In August, I excitedly wrote about the biggest hotel promotion of the year: IHG Rewards Announces “Big Win” Promotion.

This promotion is still running for the next 62 days. There is still plenty of time to max out the best promotion of the year like I just did, collecting 153,700 bonus IHG Rewards points for myself that I value at nearly $800.

What is the Big Win? What did I have to do to get 153,700 bonus IHG Rewards points? What is that worth? Should you participate? How can you sign up?

The Big Win promotion is targeted in two ways. Everyone has different requirements for quantity of stays, and everyone has a different number of bonus points for completing the requirements. As far as I know, I got the easiest requirements and most bonus points!

My requirements:

  • Try one and done. 1,000 points for one stay at an IHG property.
  • Book with us. 6,000 points for booking two separate stays through an IHG hotel website or mobile device.
  • Survey the win. 100 points for completing a survey.
  • Live the city life. 18,000 points for staying in any two of the listed cities.
  • Explore our brands. 30,000 points for staying at two different IHG brands.
  • Stay more & earn more. 9,600 points for staying four total nights.
  • Win in a weekend. 12,000 points for staying two Saturday nights.
  • Win big. 77,000 more points for completing all the offers.

A lot of these targets overlap, so in total, I could earn 153,700 points for:

  • 4 hotel nights
  • including 2 Saturdays
  • over 2 stays
  • at 2 different brands
  • at participating hotels
  • in 2 of the listed cities
 The cities:
  • New York
  • Washington D.C.
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • Seattle
  • Denver
  • Vancouver
  • Montreal
  • Mexico City
  • San Paolo

I happened to be in Chicago and Los Angeles back-to-back weekends this month, so I completed my requirements easily.

In Chicago, I checked into a Holiday Inn Express for $94 during the Chicago Seminars. It was a pure “mattress run,” meaning I checked in just for this promotion and didn’t even stay in the room, since I had a room at the Seminars hotel already for the night.

(Luckily I didn’t incur any time or fuel costs on the mattress run. By chance, I was having dinner a quarter of a mile from the hotel, so I checked in after ordering and got back before my food came.)

A few days after checkout, the stay posted in my IHG Rewards account, and about a week after checkout, I got credit on the Big Win site.

The stay completed my “Stay One and Done” challenge and earned me 1,000 points.

More importantly, it got me halfway to some of the bigger bonuses, which was illustrated with a half filled circle.

Now that I had started the challenge, I got around to the only part of the challenge besides hotel stays: completing a survey.

The survey was mercifully short and only took me about five minutes. It basically asked what features were important to me in a hotel.

The next weekend, I stayed Thursday through Sunday at the Crowne Plaza attached to the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.

This was not a pure mattress run. It kept me off of friends’ couches, which I would value at $50 per night. The room cost $418, so let’s call it $268 worth of a mattress run and $150 worth of value.

A week after check out, I got an email letting me know that I had completed the Big Win!

And the site looked like this:

The Haul

I earned 850 IHG Rewards points for my mattress run in Chicago, 3,730 for the Los Angeles stay, and 153,700 bonus points for completing the promotion for a total of 158,280 bonus points!

I paid $512 for the four hotel nights, though I got $150 of value out of the hotel rooms, so the total extra cost of participating in the promotion was $362.

“Buying” 158,280 IHG Rewards points for $362 is like buying them for 0.23 cents each!

That’s an unbelievable deal, since I value them conservatively at 0.5 cents. I got $791 worth of points for $362.

Hopefully I can use the points for 31 nights at PointBreaks hotels, but I’m sure I’ll have to use some at merely under-categorized hotels.

How Can You and Should You Participate?

Sign up for the Big Win here to see your targeted offer.

You have 62 days and 9 Saturdays left to meet the requirements–one of which has to do with Saturday stays. That’s plenty of time to meet most people’s requirements with real stays or mattress runs.

Determine whether it’s a good deal to participate by figuring out how much extra you’ll have to pay for the hotel rooms beyond the value you’d derive from them and compare it to how many points you’ll earn.

If the cents per point cost is below your value for IHG Rewards points–half a cent is a good valuation–participate full throttle.

The Once-a-Year Promo

I am not a hotel guy. This year, I’ve spent under 20 nights in hotels despite being out of the US for nine months and traveling to six continents. When you travel as much as I do, you need to be a millionaire or to economize on accommodation. I choose the former, but it’s not a choice, so I am stuck with the latter.

Luckily hostels and CouchSurfing are more fun than hotels anyway.

As I wrote in Cheapskate Lodging with Hotel Promos, Hostels, airbnb, and CouchSurfing, the hotel component of my lodging strategy comes down to:

Once or twice a year, there is a promotion that towers above the quarterly promotions of the major chains. These are promotions in which your participation sets you up for future hotel stays at a small fraction of their real cost.

This year that promotion is the Big Win if you got a good targeted offer.

Last year it was the Club Carlson Stay One Get One promo.

I write rarely about hotel promos, but I always cover the big ones you can’t miss.

More Info

For full details on the promo, check out IHG Rewards Announces “Big Win” Promotion.

Sign up for the Big Win here.

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