Spend $46 and Earn at Least 47,000 IHG Points!


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Just a few minutes ago I wrote a blog post advertising a new IHG “surprise” promotion. This is an offer where you’ll earn a surprise offer after every stay starting with your second stay. While this is a great offer for those staying at IHG hotels often, there is actually a way to participate if you have zero intentions of staying with them!

I read the entire terms and conditions for the promotion, and you actually DO NOT HAVE TO STAY at an IHG hotel to be eligible for this offer! There is a Mail in Alternate Method of Entry! Here is a copy and paste directly from the terms:

Mail in Alternate Method of Entry: From November 15, 2015 to February 15, 2016: You can enter the Instant Win Game without completing a Qualifying Stay. However to be eligible for the chance to win prizes in section 9 below you are required to have an IHG Rewards Club account. If you do not have one, you can sign up for free by visiting http://www.ihg.com/rewardsclub/us/en/home and following the instructions. To enter without completing the minimum two Qualifying Stays, hand print your full name, complete mailing address, day and evening phone numbers, valid email address, member number, the first six (6) digits of your MasterCard and date of birth on a 3″ x 5″ piece of paper and mail it in an envelope with proper postage to “IHG and MasterCard® Priceless Surprises® Promotion,” c/o HelloWorld, Inc., P.O. Box 5996, Kalamazoo, MI 49003-5996. Once your mail-in request is received, you will receive an email within five (5) business days from the Administrator inviting you to play the Game and you will receive one (1) Game play for each mail-in request. Limit: One (1) request per envelope. Once you receive an email inviting you to participate in the Game, click on the link found within the email and follow the links and instructions to play the Game. The Game results will be instantly displayed. Potential winners of the Game will be provided directions for validation. All potential winners are subject to verification before any prize will be awarded. Administrator is responsible for the functionality of the Instant Win Game. All mail-in entries must be handwritten and must be postmarked by February 15, 2016 and received by February 22, 2016. All entries become the exclusive property of Sponsor and none will be acknowledged or returned. Proof of sending or submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Sponsor. Sponsor is not responsible for 308468.1 lost, late, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, illegible, misdirected or postage-due entries, which will be disqualified. All Game plays must be completed by March 15, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET.”

This means, all you have to do is send in 94 mailings and you are eligible for 94 prizes. While this might be quite annoying, it can really pay off well! To send in the 94 mailings (that is the maximum each individual is eligible for), it will cost you $46.06 for postage. The terms state that you are only allowed one entry per mailing, that is why you must do it 94 times. Even if you win the lowest prize value every single time (500 points per entry), that will still net you 47,000 points! And there is a definitely a chance that a few of those entries might earn you a bigger prize. I expect hand-writing 94 note cards and envelopes to take about an hour at most. Thanks to a reader for pointing out that each individual is only eligible to win at most 1 prize from the top giveaways and 5 prizes from the 2nd tier giveaway (free night, $50 Mastercard, 5,200, 2,000, or 1,000 points). It does not state a limit to the 500 points. 

In my opinion, this is definitely worth it and something to do while watching TV tonight. I value 47,000 IHG points at around $235. So this is the minimum you’ll gain, but you could always potentially win one of the big prizes! Make sure to read this prior post to see all the prizes!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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ALEX
Guest
ALEX

There is NO GUARANTEE that you can win 500 points for each letter.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Are you capped at 94 entries?

Jim
Guest
Jim

Nvm. Probably best to wait until the promo actually starts?

Bob
Guest
Bob

What are your thoughts on doing it for yourself and a spouse from the same mailing address?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I’m missing something…where does the 94 entries come from?

Travel Griz
Guest

Read terms

“Limit: Each entrant is eligible to receive up to ninety-four (94) Game plays during the Promotion
Period, regardless of method of entry. Multiple entrants are not permitted to share the same
email address.”

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Yeah, just read the whole thing, not just the post.

Travel Griz
Guest

Really nice find!! Looked through the terms further and there is a decent chance you will get more than 500 points. ~2.2% for 5000 pts, ~3.3% for 2000 pts, ~6.5% for 1000 pts.

“Limit: One (1) prize from Group A and five (5) prizes from Group B prize per person.” Group A is all the large prizes (trips), Group B are all the free nights, $50 gift card, and IHG points 1000 and up. Group C is just for 500 pts

Hans
Guest
Hans

So it can be any Mastercard? Doesn’t have to be an IHG Mastercard? Thanks!

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Make sure you know what this means…

‘MasterCard customer financial institution’

Miles
Guest
Miles

What does “MasterCard customer financial institution” mean??

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

From what I found it is basically a bank issued debit card.

Miles
Guest
Miles

Uh, debit or credit card??

askmrlee
Guest
askmrlee

No purchase is necessary to enter most contests in the US. Otherwise it’s considered gambling.

BDMNL
Guest
BDMNL

The terms state that the odds of receiving 500 points are 1:1.18 (85%). ((94 x 500) x 85% = 39,950 IGH points (valued at $199.75 using your valuation- $46.06 in postage = $153.69 is still a great deal)). However, do you read this to mean that there is a chance that no prize will be won; or that 15% of the time a larger prize will be awarded? I am missing language in the terms that guarantee a minimum award.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Points – Odds of winning/Percentage/Average value
500 – 1.18 84% 423.7288136
1000 – 14.29 6% 69.9790063
2000 – 28.57 3% 70.00350018
5000 – 42.86 2% 116.65888

Looks to me like there is a 97.5% chance of winning at least 500, given the odds of the higher awards the average you SHOULD earn would be 680 points. Granted, that is over a large sample size. YMMV, could be higher or lower than that 680 number. However, it does look like there is a small chance that you win nothing (2.5%)

JEM
Guest
JEM

Hmm… If I remember my middle school math correctly, Odds and Probability have this relationship: Odds = (# of Favorable Outcomes) : (# of Unfavorable Outcomes) Probability = F / (F + U) So the probability of winning on any single turn is: P(5000) = 1 / (1 + 42.86) = 0.0228 = 2.28% P(2000) = 1 / (1 + 28.57) = 0.0338 = 3.38% P(1000) = 1 / (1 + 14.29) = 0.0654 = 6.54% P(500) = 1 / (1 + 1.18) = 0.4587 = 45.87% In other words, you can expect to win SOMETHING only about 58% of… Read more »

JEM
Guest
JEM

FWIW, I modeled 94 turns with the probabilities above and the cap of 5 high-value prizes. Over a couple of million iterations, I got these results:

MIN: 17,500
MAX: 54,000
AVG: 31,657
STD DEV: 4,158

If I’m correct, that would predict that 95% of people who play 94 times will receive between 23,000 and 40,000 points, with less than 0.2% exceeding 44,000.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Wow. Thanks for the succinct analysis. I was all set to go through the hassle of actually writing all that info down 94 times. 47,000 points is hardly worth all the time, effort and expense to begin with but especially so for the pitiful 20,000 points my typical luck with such odds would result in. You saved me a lot of time and a few bucks to boot. Thanks.

BDMNL
Guest
BDMNL

@ JEM – Thank you very much for the analysis and for reaching a conclusion that a liberal arts major – me – can digest.

Brooks
Guest
Brooks

Maybe I’m reading the odds wrong, but you are saying that 1:1.18 odds should be read as “1 in 2.18 entries will win”?

I read that as 1 in 1.18 entries will win 500 points. This is different than how I would read a sports betting line.

That changes the EV considerably.

JEM
Guest
JEM

Not sure you’re reading the sporting lines correctly. Perhaps another example would better illustrate:

If someone gives you 2:1 odds on a fair bet, then you should win 2 times for every time you lose – your winning probability is 2/(2 + 1) = 2/3.

Reading it your way would mean that “2 out of every 1 entry will win”, which doesn’t make much sense.

Brooks
Guest
Brooks

JEM, we are just reading the odds differently. You could very well be right, as I don’t have a lot of experience in sweepstakes odds. Did you ever collect baseball cards? Special cards would be inserted in packs at a given rate, described as 1:x. So when cards were 1:2, one in every two packs had that special kind of card. It would be strange to say your odds of getting a card that card are 1:2 and actually mean one in three. Regarding sports bets, if you gave me 2:1 odds on something, meaning I put up $100 and… Read more »

JEM
Guest
JEM

@Brooks – Odds and Payouts are, for fair bets, inverses of each other. If I want to entice you to bet on an event with a 1-in-3 chance of happening (i.e., ODDS of 1:2), then, if you’re rational, I have to offer you a payout that’s at least twice as big as what I’m betting (PAYOUT of 2:1). So, to use your example, if we place 3 simultaneous bets, you’ll put in 3x$100 = $300 and I’ll put in 3*$200 = $600 to make 3x$300 pots. Since you’re ODDS are 1:2 you’ll likely take one pot ($300), and I’ll likely… Read more »

Brooks
Guest
Brooks

Looks like the original interpretation was indeed correct, even though the odds as written were not entirely accurate. Good!

Janet
Guest
Janet

You are overthinking this. Sweepstakes and lotteries are simple probability contests with yes/no outcomes. Sweepstakes and lottery odds (as well as baseball card distributions) are generally read as “1 in X odds of winning”, not “odds of winning are 1 to X”. For example, google “New York Lottery odds”. They have the clearest example of the colon notation and how it is supposed to be read in the context of a random contest. Also check out the Odds calculator on lottostrategies dot com. You can even check the math on some of the low prizes (matching only the megaball in… Read more »

Lucas
Guest
Lucas

I notice it says you have the hand write the note that goes in the envelope but I wonder if it’s OK to print labels for the address on the envelope.

thegazelle
Guest
thegazelle

Was wondering that myself and started slapping labels on envelopes, but thought to myself that I didn’t want to waste my $ on envelopes and stamps only to be turned down… I’ll try sending some in for my wife’s account that are not handwritten envelopes and we’ll see where it gets me.

Gareth Waugh
Guest
Gareth Waugh

Any updates on the address sticker?

Conway
Guest
Conway

Does 3×5 paper include 3×5 index cards? Not having to cut up paper into 3×5 pieces would be nice.

Giddy for Points
Guest

I always use index cards for these promotions and they haven’t been a problem for me

KP
Guest
KP

Are 500 points the minimum guaranteed prize?

JEM
Guest
JEM

There’s no minimum guarantee in the Ts&Cs. According to my maths (see my comment above), you should expect to get nothing at least 42% of the time, and since there’s a max of 5 prizes > 500 points, it’s likely higher than that.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

Sounds like 94 potential chances of Identity Theft to me by doing the handwritten entries. If just *one* of those entries get lost in the mail (or stolen out of) anywhere between points A & point B and end up in the wrong hands – some stranger now has your Legal Name, Address, Date of Birth, and first 6 #’s of your MasterCard, as well as the name of the Bank that issued it. Depending on the person, they can sell that info on the BlackMarket, or use it themselves. They are very good at what they do, and can… Read more »

Anne Clifford
Guest
Anne Clifford

Good point – thanks! I will skip this one.

Tonei
Guest
Tonei

For what it’s worth, here’s nothing special about the first six digits of your credit card number – all it tells you is the bank and type of card (for example, the first six digits of every IHG MasterCard are the same). I feel like the odds of a card sent through the mail landing in the hands of a scammer who could do anything useful with it are far lower than those of some website or retailer who has all that info and more being intentionally attacked by people who know exactly what they’re doing.

thegazelle
Guest
thegazelle

Eh, plan for at least a few hours doing this. I just timed myself and came up with 1 min 30 second to address an envelope. After 3 my hand was already cramping.

That didn’t even include writing the 3×5 card, stamping, or sealing. Still going to do it, but I think you underestimated the time involved.

Miles
Guest
Miles

In my experiments, it took over 1.5 minutes per 3×5 card to clearly, legibly hand-write the needed information…including the “+1” prefix in phone numbers and the “USA” at the end of the mailing address.

I printed mailing address labels for the envelopes, since the rules do not (currently) require that those be handwritten.

My guess is a total of 4 minutes per application, or about 6 hours for the full 94 (per account). Fortunately, we have 3 months to complete the tasks.

Judy Jones
Guest
Judy Jones

You could do a few sheets of address label template and tape them to the envelopes to save some time. I have read contest blogs before and they do toss any entries that are not perfect to the rules.

Marcia
Guest
Marcia

I used to work in Marketing and ran many contests such as these and you have to follow the directions to a tee…”hand print your full name, complete mailing address, day and evening phone numbers, valid email address, member number, the first six (6) digits of your MasterCard and date of birth on a 3″ x 5″ piece of paper” otherwise your entry will not be valid.

I always do “Mail in Alternate Method of Entry” for contests I am interested in. I will definitely being entering this way.

JHG
Guest
JHG

I wonder how long it will take to “play the game” online. If it’s an involved process, doing it 94 times may be unrealistic!

Christine B
Guest
Christine B

I plan to put my children to work helping me with this task. Then I will let them pick the place we go with whatever points we may win.

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

Do you think you could do the stays and the mail in alternative? Or would one negate the other. I’m not sure if I understand if you couldn’t do the IHG stays within IHG card and also do the millions with the different MasterCard like American?

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

Mail in not millions. Sorry

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

I was wondering if you could do the stays at IHG resorts and also the mail ins. I am curious if I could do the IHG rewards with the IHG MasterCard and then do the melons with an American master card. Thanks for your help.

BothofUs2
Guest
BothofUs2

Don’t forget to buy your stamps for this with an Ink card at an office supply store, for the 5x points.

caveman
Guest
caveman

I am not sure if you get 5x points for buying stamps at office supply stores?

Tonei
Guest
Tonei

Why wouldn’t you? It just shows up as a purchase like anything else. Though you’d be better off using Discover + Apple Pay to buy stamps at an office supply store or drugstore, if that’s an option for you.

DavidNJ
Guest
DavidNJ

You are right about Discover & Apple Pay. I’ll be buying 188 forever stamps @ Shoprite today w/ Discover & Apple Pay. Will get 22% cash back.

Judy jones
Guest
Judy jones

Even better, buy stamps on EBay at a discount with EBay gift cards from Staples with the 5x points, EBay bucks, and a portal bonus!

Dan
Guest
Dan

I think I’m going to do it slowly rather than all the entries showing up at their front door at the same time. I love JEM’s statistical analysis since its been years since I was in college stats class. He must be a statistician?

Andrew G
Guest
Andrew G

Isn’t it just a tad more than $46? Don’t you also have to account for the paper and envelopes? Or do you have a method of acquiring unlimited amounts of these things at no cost?

Miles
Guest
Miles

Some people have said that is what the Supply Room at work is for 🙂

Stvr
Guest
Stvr

Read the terms guys. Limit 6 prizes total. Don’t send 94 cards. Send 6.

JEM
Guest
JEM

Having read the terms, I’m not saying your wrong, but if you’re referring to this:

> Limit: One (1) prize from Group A and five (5) prizes from Group B prize per person.

the 500 IHG point prize is Group C. I don’t see anywhere else that the Group C prize is limited.

And if the limit is 6, then sending only 6 would presume 100% winners, which is not guaranteed.

Could you elaborate?

Ike
Guest
Ike

There’s a limit of 6 prizes total between Group A & B, but no stated limit for Gourp C (500 point) prizes.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Must be a slow night here ’cause you guys are funny (meant as a compliment)! I’m gonna enter at least 1,000,000 times, have my dog help with the 3X5s (which of course I’m getting with food stamps through a double link portal. I might even use SWA airline points to hand deliver the entries since I’ll need at least 4 suitcases (I haven’t figured out how many I’ll need yet, but have 2 companion passes) if that’s cheaper than stampage… This IS a fun hobby!

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

help! mathematically challenged, how many suitcases will i need?? i’m platinum, diamond, spire, etc., am on hold with SWA ’cause i think i get to check a semi-trailer for myself and 8 companions…
JEM?? Alex??
ps. using single-ply for my 3x5s
pss. still have plenty of scotch so i’ll just stay up and wait anxiously for precise calcs… i’m already up to 17 entries!

JEM
Guest
JEM

@Charlie – well, that’s not too hard. The maximum US airline carry-on is 22″x14″x9″, or 2,772 cubic inches. Assuming you’re using a #9 envelope (nominally 4″x9″) and that you can approximate the thickness as the same as three sheets of 20# paper: 2″ = 500 sheets or 0.012″ per sheet (note: you may need to sit on the roll-aboard), that’s approximately 6,416 envelopes per carry-on. So your million entries would only require 156 carry-ons.

You could cut that down significantly by using bigger suitcases, but then you’d have to factor in your wait at baggage claim…

Miles
Guest
Miles

Charlie said: “using single-ply for my 3x5s”

That’s pretty economical, and you can write a few while sitting there doing your business.

sweepstakes enterer
Guest
sweepstakes enterer

I’m sitting here LMAO! thanks!

JohnnyAppleSale
Guest
JohnnyAppleSale

Wouldn’t the prizes also be subject to taxation? Would really suck if collecting 25%+ income tax on ihg point value of 1cpp. I’m still interested, but awaiting fallout.

Judy Jones
Guest
Judy Jones

Did we figure out if we can use 3×5 index cards from the dollar store? They do not specify what thickness of paper needs to be used! I would hate to spend a lot of needless time cutting paper to the right size to have someone like the hanging chad inspector to see if I was a micron off!

dizzy
Guest
dizzy

I’m traveling in India right now. Happened to see this, along with a “stationary street” in old Delhi today. Mailing is Rs 20. If supplies are say $5 (probably they’re less) that’s still cheaper than $35. I think I’ll check it out 🙂

Judy Jones
Guest
Judy Jones

It finally hit me to just print the address directly on the envelopes from the printer!!!!

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

Do you have to wait until November 15 to send them?

Miles
Guest
Miles

I plan to wait…would hate for my hours of handwriting to be disqualified.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Do you know if the credit card can be issued by MasterCard international or a licensee? Or does it have to be a MasterCard issued by a US Bank?

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

Also, can my husband also do this? I’d assume the 94 entry limit is per household or mailing address, but only see it per email address.
In advance, please forgive me if I’ve missed the obvious. I have looked for the answer but didn’t see it.

Judy Jones
Guest
Judy Jones

The way I read it, the limit is per IHG account. I would use a different email address.

Mary
Guest
Mary

Can my husband and I both enter 94 times and use the same MasterCard 6 numbers ?

DavidNJ
Guest
DavidNJ

My Daughter has an IHG account but doesn’t have a Mastercard. Do you think I can add her as an AU so she could qualify? Thank you.

joe
Guest
joe

any final thoughts on using address labels?

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

Does the envelope have to be a specific size?

John
Guest
John

Are people including their middle initial or full middle name for “full name”?

And for day and evening phone, if the same are you just putting it once and noting it is your day and evening phone?

Judy Jones
Guest
Judy Jones

If anyone needs an IHG MC number, the first 6 are 5466 04…….

Lindy
Guest
Lindy

Took me 85 minutes to do 20 entries.

9 lines of text on each index card.
Return address on envelope.
Destination address on envelope.
Stuffed the envelope.
Sealed the envelopes.
(I haven’t stamped ’em yet.)

I didn’t count the initial 25 minutes is took to purchase supplies, nor the gas for the drive, and haven’t purchased the stamps yet.

The maps adds up to an additional 6 hrs of my time needed to finish this job. I guarantee you this… I won’t be finishing this day nor this week. I’ve done enough for the time being. Good luck all!

Miles
Guest
Miles

My entries are in the mail today. I sent a few less than 94, to allow for paid stays during the promotion. Let’s all hope that the online requirements are not too onerous.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I too am wondering about the “full name”. I would hope first and last is good enough?

karma
Guest
karma

I am surprised everyone is blindsided by “free” IHG points but you are giving away enough information potentially in bad hands to use for Identity theft ? No concerns ?

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

My IHG account is under my married name. My IHG mastercard is under my maiden name. Will this matter? I do not want to wait until Chase processes a name change to do the promo. I also on’t want all of that handwriting and those stamps to be for nothing.

Linda
Guest
Linda

Subscribing for updates.

Len S
Guest
Len S

All, are we putting line descriptions, such as “Address:”, “Day:”, “Evening:”, “DOB:”, etc, on the line items on the card?

And….could they have made a longer mailing address???

Thanks.

susan
Guest
susan

Yes, i put the email, DOB, member #, day, eve, etc on the 3X5 card. I mailed just 5; I want to make sure that my items qualify and I receive the emails before I spend more money on stamps.

Kris
Guest
Kris

Any update? I sent 20 to test the water on Nov 15 and so far nothing.

Linda
Guest
Linda

Has anyone heard anything yet?

susan
Guest
susan

Has anyone received any responses to their mailed entry?

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