IHG runs some fantastic promotions. PointBreaks is arguably the best, but some of the earning promotions can be great. Starting on New Years Day, IHG began to run the Accelerate 2016 promotion. Like many other IHG promotions, it is customized for each individual account. There are a lot of different offer combinations being reported on this one, and it is kinda a crap shoot which you will get.

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The speed at which accelerate moves you into bonus points depends entirely on your custom offer. Image courtesy of IHG.

Some people are reporting underwhelming Accelerate offers. Most of these remind me of the one I was given last Fall, which simply required a lot of paid stays. My wife and I stayed once at a Staybridge Suites on a trip to the Bay Area, which netted us 10,000 bonus points. The trip was planned anyway, so it just worked out. The rest of the promotion (e.g. stay 3 nights, stay 7 nights, stay 10 nights, etc.) simply wasn’t worth it.

This time around, though, I found my IHG Accelerate offer to be more tempting. I personally think Lucky’s is the best (since you can earn almost everything on one stay…insane). However, I think mine is still pretty good. It offers 5000 points for a stay in January, 6,000 points for any 1 stay, 10,000 points for 5 stays, 8,000 points for staying at two different Holiday Inns, and 3,600 points for staying on a points and cash rate. Plus, if any 3 of the last of 4 are completed, an extra 22,400 bonus points can be earned.

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My custom IHG Accelerate 2016 offer.

The most efficient way of completing the promotion that I could see was completing the following: 3 nights over 2 or 3 at two different Holiday Inns, with one stay in January and one cash and points night. This would earn me a total of 45,000 bonus points. If each cash night is ~$100, and the cash and points night costs $40 and 10,000 points, that would net me 35,000 points for $240. Not great, but I’ll take it.

I originally did not think that I would be able to complete more than the Stay Once or the Points & Cash night. My wife and I were already on a Winter trip, and I didn’t think we would be headed anywhere for a couple months. But then work called, and a trip to our Bay Area offices provided the perfect opportunity to complete the required stays (and it was easily scheduled back-to-back with our Winter trip).

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San Francisco, my home away from home last year. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

I typically try to stay at my boss’ apartments when I am working in San Francisco, but all the units were occupied that particular week. This left me with the “unfortunate” option of having to book my own hotel room. Normally, I don’t even consider staying at IHG hotels while in the Bay Area. Most are $200-$300 per night all the time, and often more. I’ve seen the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway go for $599. It’s insane. San Francisco is out of control.

To my utter surprise, the rates for Thursday and Friday were good at IHG across the board. Actually, they were the best I’d seen in ages! The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins was going for $187 after tax. An Intercontinental. In downtown SF. I almost booked it, but I think I would have raised an eyebrow or two when I turned in my expenses (for the record, it was technically within budget).

I was able to book the Holiday Inn Civic Center and Holiday Inn SF Airport for a total of $250, taxes included. I felt good about my expenses, and I was able to fulfill 2 nights (both in January), completing 3 offers out of 6. Fantastic. I am even $0 out of pocket.

With that trip behind me, I was considering booking a stay with my wife at the Holiday Inn Resort Klamath Falls (with nearby ice skating!) to fulfill the Cash and Points night, thus completing the final two offers I wanted to pursue. We are fresh out of extra travel cash after our Winter trip, though, so I was a bit hesitant.

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Stay #3 to finish off my Accelerate 2016 promotion. Image courtesy of IHG.

Enter work again. This week I took over coordination of a utility project, and the project manager called a meeting in Sacramento with our client. Since I am 5 hours away, she gave me the go-ahead to stay in Sac overnight. Bam. The final night will be completed as a cash and points night at the Holiday Inn Express West Sacramento (spending 5,000 of my own points for the stay is totally worth it….I net 23,000+ on the exchange) and I will be $0 out of pocket for all but one of the promotion offers! Win on all counts. I’ll be taking home 40,000 IHG points free of charge.

If you haven’t already, sign up for the Accelerate 2016 promotion and see what kind of offers you have. You may be offered some very easy bonus points.