Chase & IHG One Rewards have a portfolio of co-branded credit cards. The two premium cards belonging to the collection — the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review) — both offer the opportunity to earn free night reward certificates, which can be extremely valuable.
I’d argue that both of these cards are worth having exclusively for the free night certificates, as they (at least to me) more than justify the $99 annual fee on these cards. In this post I wanted to take a close look at everything you need to know about earning and redeeming IHG One Rewards free night certificates.
In this post:
How do you earn IHG free night awards?
- The IHG Premier Card offers a free night certificate on your account anniversary every year
- The IHG Premier Business Card offers a free night certificate on your account anniversary every year, plus the opportunity to earn a second free night certificate when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
When do IHG credit card free night awards post?
Both the IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card offer anniversary free night certificates, meaning you get your first certificate roughly 12 months after you open your card (you don’t get a certificate the first year, since most people don’t celebrate their zero year anniversary). 😉
You can expect the free night certificate to post automatically, and it will be available for redemption in your account online. The fact that the certificate is issued on the account anniversary is all the more reason to get the card ASAP, so you’re closer to earning your first certificate.
How long are IHG credit card anniversary free nights valid?
IHG credit card free night certificates are generally valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You not only have to book by the expiration date, but you have to also stay by the expiration date as well. This means that if you’re issued the certificate on January 1, 2024, you have to book and stay by January 1, 2025.
At what hotels can you redeem IHG credit card free night awards?
The IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card free night certificates are valid at properties costing up to 40,000 IHG points per night. However, you can supplement these certificates with points in order to redeem at more expensive properties.
In other words, you could now book a hotel costing 50,000 IHG points by redeeming one free night certificate plus 10,000 IHG points. This makes it much easier to get full value out of the certificate. This is some incredible flexibility to have, and makes these certificates much more valuable.
Note that a majority of IHG properties are bookable for 40,000 points per night or less, though admittedly many of the luxury properties around the globe cost more. So it’s nice to be able to redeem for stays at those properties with these certificates.
Even with the 40,000 point per night cap and without a supplement, I’ve been able to redeem at some fantastic hotels, ranging from the InterContinental Beirut, to the InterContinental Ljubljana, to the InterContinental Johannesburg, to the Kimpton Miami. All of these properties would have cost $200-350 per night if paying cash.
Are there blackout dates for IHG free night awards?
IHG credit card anniversary free night certificates come from the same inventory as points stays, so if you can redeem points for a stay, you can also redeem this certificate.
IHG One Rewards advertises “no blackout dates,” though this is different than the “no blackout dates” policies from Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt. Let me explain:
- With Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt you can redeem points for a stay as long as a standard room is available for sale
- Meanwhile with IHG One Rewards, the program allocates a certain amount of inventory to points bookings, so there will be some availability every night, but not every standard room is available using points or free night certificates
If planning in advance this shouldn’t be an issue, with very few exceptions.
How do you redeem IHG free night certificates?
To access these certificates, log into your IHG One Rewards account, and navigate to your account management page. You should see the “Enjoy your rewards” section, which will show the basics of any awards or certificates that you have available.
If you click on the “See Rewards Wallet” section, you’ll see additional details.
Then you can also click on “Details” to see expiration date of your certificate, plus the terms associated with it.
If you click the “Book Free Night” button, you’ll be brought to the main IHG booking page, where you’ll see the free night certificate listed as one of the rate preferences.
Once you enter a destination you’ll see all the options for redeeming your certificate. Some properties will show as “Chase Anniversary Night FREE” (meaning the entire stay can be covered with the certificate), while other properties will show “Chase Anniversary Night” plus a certain points requirement, which would be the top-up required to book a stay.
The final confirmation page will show the cancelation policy for the booking, which should be identical to what it would be if you were outright redeeming points. This is typically going to be a pretty flexible policy, but varies by property.
Can you earn more than one IHG free night award per year?
It’s absolutely possible to earn more than one IHG free night award per year. Between the IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card, you could earn up to three free night awards per year (with the latter card offering a second annual free night award with spending).
If you’re looking to book a longer stay but don’t have enough free night certificates, you can always supplement a free night award by redeeming points for another night. And if you don’t have many IHG points, note that IHG One Rewards often sells points at a discount, which can represent a great deal.
Can you redeem IHG free night awards for others?
The free night certificates issued with the IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card have to be used for a reservation in the name of the primary cardmember. Some have had luck making a reservation for two guests, then adding the second guest’s name, and then having them check in, but that’s not a published policy.
Do you have to pay taxes & fees when redeeming free night awards?
When redeeming a free night certificate you generally don’t have to pay any percentage-based taxes or service charges, since for those purposes the rate is zero. That being said, if there’s a fixed per-night tax or tourism fee, or if there’s a resort or destination fee at the property, you are on the hook for that.
Are IHG cards worth getting for free night awards?
The IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card both offer a variety of valuable perks, which in my opinion more than justify the annual fee. But I’ll take it a step further — with each card I think the free night certificate alone more than justifies the $99 annual fee.
I’ve consistently been able to redeem these at properties costing well over $200 per night, and that’s not even factoring in the ability to top these off and redeem at more expensive properties.
I don’t go out of my way to stay at IHG properties to redeem these certificates, but rather I just stay at them when the IHG property is the best option, which is often the case, given the group’s footprint.
There are lots of great perks to the IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card. However, I’d argue the single best perk is the anniversary free night certificate offered with each card. These can be redeemed at properties costing up to 40,000 points per night. Nowadays you can even top off these certificates with points, to be able to redeem at more expensive hotels.
If you travel with any frequency, then having both the personal and business version of the IHG Premier Card should be a no-brainer.
What do you make of the value of IHG’s free night awards?