UPDATE 01/2018: Unfortunately, IHG severely devalued their Lowest Price Guarantee program. Now instead of the first free night being free, they match the rate and give you 5x IHG points for your stay. This makes trying to travel hack this benefit not nearly as lucrative as before.
Hotel price guarantees are one of my new favorite travel hacks. It takes a little bit of work, but can save you a bunch of money.
IHG Lowest Price Guarantee
IHG’s best rate guarantee is as follows:
If you find a lower room price (room rate) and total room cost (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the Internet on a non-IHG Website within 24 hours of booking, IHG will provide your first night’s room price free and match the lower average nightly room price found for that stay for the rest of the nights of that stay
It’s a pretty awesome policy and would even work on a one night hotel stay (i.e. completely free). However, IHG seems to find every possible way to deny your claim. My recent attempt/failure illustrates how particular they are. Here’s my example:
I was looking to book a hotel for our upcoming stay in Manchester. As you can see, the non-refundable rate is 101.27 GBP per night and the refundable rate was 111.91 GBP per night.
So then I went to my favorite best rate guarantee tool, Hotels Combined. I found the same hotel at the following rate: $393 for 5 nights. Now keep in mind they show you this price, but it doesn’t include all the hotel tax.
So I clicked through to the Booking.com website and proceeded as if I was going to book the hotel. You’ll see the total listed on the left column. It states that the reservation including taxes/fees will be $560 or ~460 GBP total.
Book a Refundable Room
The next step of the best rate guarantee process is to book a refundable room. It’s always important to read the cancellation policy! The total came out to: 559.55 GBP, which is equal to $699.72 USD. That’s is $140 more expensive than the reservation through booking.com. I think the first night was also the most expensive so it had the potential to save us at least $250.
I then submitted the best rate guarantee form and about six hours later I received the following response:
We have verified the website www.booking.com and were able to locate the corresponding rates for your stay. We have also noted that the cancellation policy on the third-party website is different from your booking with IHG; we have listed both below for your reference.
IHG Cancellation Policy: Canceling your reservation before 4:00 PM (local hotel time) on Sunday, 25 June, 2017 will result in no charge. Canceling your reservation after 4:00 PM (local hotel time) on 25 June, 2017, or failing to show, will result in a charge equal to the first night’s stay per room to your credit card. Taxes may apply. Failing to call or show before check-out time after the first night of a reservation will result in cancellation of the remainder of your reservation.
OTA Cancellation Policy: You’ll be charged the total price if you cancel your booking.
They clearly didn’t look hard enough because as you can see in my booking.com (OTA) screenshot it states that the reservation has free cancellation. I thought about responding to their dumb email, but ended up deciding to shorten our stay in Manchester. I cancelled my five night refundable stay and booked a cheaper hotel for the two nights we’ll be in Manchester.