Guide To A Successful IHG Best Price Guarantee
This is part 1 of our 2 part series on the IHG Best Price Guarantee. You can jump directly to part 2 , or click through at the bottom of this page after reading this first post. At the completion, you should know the ins and outs of the program and where you can find the best deals that give you the best chance at a successful guarantee claim.
As someone who loves travels a lot, I have developed an array of tools designed to help me get the best deal possible. One of those tools is the IHG Best Price Guarantee (Best Rate Guarantee). For those of you who have never dealt with this policy, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a step by step analysis on how to get an IHG Best Price Guarantee claim honored.
The IHG Best Price Guarantee policy is generous and seemingly simple. If you book your room on IHG.com and find a lower rate on a competing site within 24 hours of booking, then IHG will give you the first night of your booking for free and lower the rate on subsequent nights to match the competitor. The real value here is that first night free. It applies even on one night stays! (This is extremely helpful on long layovers and other short stays!)
Since this policy is so generous, there must be some catch right? Yes there definitely is. The policy is attached to a laundry list of sometimes confusing terms and conditions. Believe me, IHG will find ANY technicality with which to deny your claim. To understand the policy, today we will take a look at the terms and conditions and tomorrow I will take you step by step through a successful claim.
Terms & Conditions
1. Book. Complete a valid room booking with the lowest available price (room rate) on any IHG website for any IHG branded hotel using the “Best Available Rate Search.” A “valid room booking” means a complete booking with an approved credit card.
Explanation: This means that you have to book the lowest rate available for the specific rate type on IHG.com The wording is a little confusing, but you can book a refundable rate when a non-refundable rate is available. You just can’t book an extra point offer for example when a lower rate is available.
2. Lower Price. If you find a lower room price that also has a lower total room cost (including taxes and fees) for a one-night stay, or a lower average nightly room price that also has a lower average total room cost (including all taxes and fees) for a multi-night stay, on a non-IHG website within 24 hours after booking on an IHG website for the same stay, we will provide you with the first night’s room price at the IHG hotel free and match the lower average nightly room price found for your entire stay for the rest of the nights of your stay after verification of the lower average nightly room price and lower average total room cost (including taxes and fees). Only one free night will be awarded per stay, even if more than one instance of a lower price is located. For valid claims, each additional night’s room price during the stay will be lowered to match the average nightly room price for the entire stay found on the non-IHG website. In the event that a free night reimbursement must be made by check, the check will be addressed and sent to the name and address listed on the reservation that was made on the IHG website upon which the valid claim was based.
Explanation: Both the nightly room rate and the overall rates including taxes must be lower. For example if a website quotes a higher room rate, but the overall total including taxes is lower, then it is not a valid claim. Both the before and after tax amounts have to be lower.
3. Reporting to IHG of a Claim. You must contact us using the online claim form within twenty-four (24) hours after completing your valid room booking on any IHG website to make a claim under the Best Price Guarantee. The average nightly lower room price and lower total room cost must be available for booking at the time of claim verification and both must be lower than those found on an IHG website, as determined by IHG customer service representatives, and in IHG’s sole discretion.
Explanation: As you may see, the verbiage here is very IHG friendly. You must fill out the IHG Best Price Guarantee form within 24 hours. It can take some time for them to verify your claim. If for some reason the rate changes between when you fill out the form and when they check, then your claim will be denied.
Also, as you can see, the verification is determined by IHG’s representatives at heir discretion so there is almost an infinite amount of wiggle room here. This is how they denied my claim last year.
4. Matching Rooms. The Guarantee is available only for the exact same room type and same view. For example, if you book a king bed with a sofa bed room type and with a] view (e.g., ocean) on an IHG website, and are comparing it to a non-IHG website, you must find a price with the same king bed with sofa bed room type and with a the same view on the non-IHG website.
Explanation: The room description has to EXACTLY match including bed type and anything else. For example, a Deluxe Room with two queen beds on IHG.com is not the same as a Deluxe Room with a King bed on the competitor’s site. I have seen them deny numerous claims for this. (Although some people have claimed success after escalation for a difference in bed types.)
In the example I will give you tomorrow, I had to book a room with two double beds, because that is what the competitor’s site was quoting. Additionally, if breakfast is included with the competitor’s rate, then it must also be included with the IHG rate. EVERYTHING has to match up or they will deny the IHG Best Price Guarantee claim.
5. Matching Terms. All terms of the comparison room reservation, including, but not limited to pre-payment, deposit, number of guests, or other requirements must be equal in all respects to the terms found on an IHG website for your claim to be valid. For example, when you book a room that may be cancelled without penalty on an IHG website, you may not compare it to a room with a pre-paid or non-refundable price on a non-IHG website. At all IHG hotels globally, pre-paid rates on non-IHG sites will be compared with the IHG hotel’s lowest available rate on IHG websites. The Guarantee is not available for bookings on websites where the booking details are unknown until after purchase. Sites that do not reveal the hotel brand name until after the payment has been completed (including bidding sites) do not qualify for this Guarantee.
Explanation: This is an extension of the previous terms. Everything has to match including any and all rate requirements. With that said, if you have booked the lowest overall nonrefundable rate at IHG.com and find a lower refundable rate at a competitor’s site, then you have a valid claim. This isn’t specifically mentioned in the terms and conditions, but is true based on their practices and I will explain this more in the example tomorrow.
6. Matching Prices. For multi-night stays, the Guarantee compares the average nightly room price and the average nightly total room cost for your valid room booking with those found on a non-IHG website.
Explanation: This section has more subsections that you can read here. Essentially it says that the night room rate and overall total for the ENTIRE booking have to be lower on the competitor’s site. Additionally, the competing site has to quote the rates in the same currency as IHG.com and the difference in both the room cost and total cost has to be $1 or 1% whichever is greater.
7. Comparison Prices Must Be Available to the General Public. The Best Price Guarantee applies only to prices both advertised and available to the general public on a non-IHG website at the time of verification. The Guarantee does not apply to prices offered on membership program websites; corporate discounts; negotiated prices; group, rewards program, loyalty program, incentive, meeting, convention, consolidator or interline prices; prices obtained via auction or similar process; or prices available only by using a coupon or other promotion not offered to the general public. The Guarantee also does not apply if the average nightly lower price is obtained from a website where you call to get the price, or from an e-mail that you received.
Explanation: You cannot use membership sites such as Travelpony or corporate portals to book your rooms. The rate has to be available to anyone and everyone.
8. Packages Comparison. The Guarantee applies to comparing exactly the same packages or inclusive prices with the same included items. Thus, room prices that include food or beverage items such as breakfast or dinner, entertainment items such as tickets to a show, and/or free local calls, parking or other bundled items will be considered as packages, and must be entirely equivalent to be eligible for the Guarantee. All InterContinental Alliance Resort packages are excluded from the Guarantee.
Explanation: As mentioned before, all food and drinks packages have to match up completely. Any and all offers included in the rate also have to match up on both sides.
9. Rewards Points. IHG® Rewards Club points are determined based on the price actually paid by the guest at the time of check out, assuming the price otherwise qualifies for points. Points are not awarded on free nights. The Guarantee does not apply to IHG® Rewards Club Award Nights booked on an IHG website.
Explanation: Basically you earn points for what you actually pay. If you end up getting a free night on a one night stay, then don’t expect to earn points for it.
10. Additional Free Night Restrictions. Once a valid claim has been made and approved by IHG for a specific date, no further claims by the same person or anyone in the same household will be accepted for the same date. If an individual or members of the same household make multiple claims for two or more nights in the same seven (7) day period at the same IHG hotel or at different IHG hotels within fifty (50) miles of each other, the claims will be treated as, and limited to, one claim for one stay, even if booked through more than one reservation, and only the Best Price Guarantee claim for the first night will be honored. In the event of a valid claim, reservations are non-transferable after the claim is found to be valid, and the name on the reservation must remain the same as when the claim is verified and no additional names may be added to the reservation after the claim is found to be valid. Valid government issued ID is required upon check-in that matches the name found on the reservation. Employees of any IHG company or employees at any IHG hotel are not eligible for the Best Price Guarantee.
Explanation: You & anyone else that lives in your household can only file one IHG Best Price Guarantee claim for a seven day period within a 50 mile radius. This means that you cannot hotel hop in the same area. In the past people would book several different IHG hotels in the same city and stay for free one night at a time. This was basically added to do away with that. Also, IHG company and/or hotel employees aren’t eligible for the guarantee and you cannot transfer the reservation to someone else’s name or you lose the claim.
Terms 11-15 can be found here. In an effort to keep this post from getting too long, I will summarize them below.
- All aspects of the claim have to be verifiable by IHG when they decide to check. They will not accept screenshots from you as proof of the lower rate if it has subsequently changed.
- They have the right to revoke a claim if they believe you are abusing the system. Also, it is not acceptable to sell your room reservation to someone else.
- A non-IHG website is any website not owned by IHG which gives instant confirmation of booking and opens their rates to the general public.
- A stay is defined as any combination of nights within seven calendar days and within a 50 mile radius as determined by Google Maps. Even if the stays are non-consecutive, then they are considered to be the same if they are within seven days and 50 miles of each other.
- The final condition is that any disputes are governed by the state of Georgia and that you agree not to take a class action against them.
Lets recap the basics of what you need to know.
- The dates, room type, number of people & package have to match exactly.
- The competing site has to quote in the same currency as the IHG website and has to be open to the general public and provide instant confirmation.
- The terms of cancelling the room have to be equal OR better on the competing site.
- The price difference has to be $1 or 1% whichever is greater.
I do want to end with a short disclaimer that any analysis I provide here is based on my experiences and IHG has in the past changed the way they interpret the terms and conditions of their IHG Best Price Gaurantee policy. While everything I said is valid as of today, they may at any time and at their discretion change any and or all of these rules or how they interpret them. As you can see in my IHG Best Price Guarantee Disaster post, I too have been burned by IHG. I am not responsible if this happens to you. Please use caution.
The second part will take you step by step through a successful claim I recently made for an IHG hotel. It also describes how to find sites that quote in the local currency and how my claim recent successful IHG Best Price Guarantee claim was initially rejected. Between these two parts, you should not only be aware of the potential pitfalls with the IHG Best Price Guarantee, but you should be able to successfully make an IHG Best Price Guarantee claim if you find a better price on a competing website.