I’ve been of the opinion that IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee is just a marketing gimmick and really hard to actually apply practically, but I discovered a NEW caveat to the guarantee that further strengthens my opinion.

I was booking a hotel for my parents because they needed an overnight stay at Newark Liberty Airport on their way to Europe. Given that I was trying to finish some Accelerate promos, I opted to book them at the Crowne Plaza Newark Airport in a King room at the IHG Member advanced purchase rate for $132.89 + $23.92 of taxes and fees for a total of $156.81, which was the lowest rate at the time.

About one hour later, I checked the rates to find that the exact same rate had dropped to $107.67 with $19.38 in taxes and fees to make $127.05 total.

the new lower rate

the new lower rate

On the IHG page terms and conditions it says:

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,

So you can’t compare rates with the IHG website itself but comparing to a 3rd party should be valid, right?

I found a lower rate of $110.99 on Expedia.com, as well as similar rates at other 3rd party OTAs and submitted a Best Rate Guarantee

expedia.com lower rate

expedia.com lower rate

A couple hours later, I got this response denying my claim.

We have verified that the given third-party website www.expedia.com offers an average nightly rate of USD 110.99 (USD 130.97, total cost), which is higher than the reservation you had booked on IHG website for USD 107.67 (USD 127.05, total cost). Please be advised that for a reservation to qualify for the Best Price Guarantee, the verified lower rate should meet a difference benchmark of at least 1% or US$ 1.00 (whichever is higher) for both the rate per night as well as the total cost of the reservation.

Which is clearly wrong, because I had booked a rate of $132.89. I sent a follow up email reiterating this, but got this response:

Upon review, the verified rate at www.expedia.com is USD 110.99 (USD 130.97, total cost), which is basically higher than the available rate on IHG website for USD 107.67 (USD 127.05, total cost). Please note that the lower rate found on a third-party website must be available and bookable at the time of our verification process, in addition that it remains lower in comparison with the room prices offered on IHG. We acknowledge what you have booked is a higher rate of USD 132.89 (USD 156.81, total cost), but the fact that the chosen rate type (YOUR RATE by IHG® Rewards Club Advance Purchase) has been updated-and-verified into the mentioned rate of USD 107.67, this room price has become our basis in comparing rates with www.expedia.com.

So apparently the CURRENT rate on IHG must also be higher than the rate found on the 3rd party booking site. It doesn’t matter what the dollar amount of the rate you booked is. Or maybe IHG would deny your claim if you found a lower rate on a 3rd party website but your booking had a higher rate by that. This makes it harder to apply the guarantee as often when 3rd party rates drop across the board, the IHG rates ALSO drop.

I don’t know of any similar restrictions for Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott, or Hilton, unless no one else has hit similar situations. This further reinforces my negative opinion of IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee.

Anyways, I was actually able to call up the hotel, explain the situation, and have them cancel my old reservation after booking a new reservation at the lower rate. I’m glad that the hotel did the right thing. Now to see if having my parents stay for me triggers Accelerate offers!