Frequent Flyer

IHG’s New Promotion Promises ‘Priceless Surprises’

Through February 15, 2016, members of the IHG Rewards program who charge their stays to a MasterCard can earn 1,000 bonus points for the first stay, and a surprise bonus for subsequent stays.

Between November 15, 2015, and February 15, 2016, members of InterContinental’s IHG Rewards program who charge their stays to a MasterCard can earn 1,000 bonus points for the first stay, and a “Priceless Surprise” for all subsequent stays.

And those Priceless Surprises are what, exactly? Among the featured possibilities: bonus points, free nights, MasterCard gift cards, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But until the promotion begins, it will remain to be seen what those surprises turn out to be in practice, and how valuable they are.

The promotion is only offered to IHG Rewards members with U.S. mailing addresses. It’s combinable with IHG’s Accelerate promotion—double miles for the second and subsequent stays in the programs of 33 airlines—in effect through December 31.

Not already a MasterCard customer? Don’t even think about applying for a card to use just for this offer. From the terms & conditions: “Open only to MasterCard individual and small business cardholders whose account was opened by a MasterCard customer financial institution before November 15, 2015 and is still active, who are legal permanent residents of the 50 United States (D.C) who are at least 21 years old.”

Registration is required.

Deal or No Deal

That 1,000-point bonus for the first stay is certainly welcome, especially when it’s earned in addition to the bonus miles from the Accelerate promotion.

I’m generally not a fan of surprise bonuses. When I pay for a service, I want to know up front what I’m getting for my money, including any loyalty bonuses or rebates, not be entered into what amounts to a sweepstakes which may or may not add value to the purchase.

In this case, however, if the unknown bonus is on top of the Accelerate bonus, it’s gravy, whether it’s generous or not.

Reader Reality Check

Does the “Surprise” aspect of this promotion make it more or less attractive to you?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.