How To Redeem IHG Card Free Night Certificate

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a great hotel credit card that offers a variety of valuable benefits. There has never been a better time to get the card either, given that it currently has its best ever welcome bonus.

The single benefit that makes this card easiest to justify is that it offers an anniversary free night certificate on your account anniversary every year, valid for a stay at a property retailing for up to 40,000 points per night. There are several hotel credit cards offering similar free night benefits, and this is a consistently underrated perk, in my opinion.

Given that the card only has an ongoing $89 annual fee, that’s like paying just $89 for a free night redeemable at nearly 5,000 IHG properties worldwide. That’s a spectacular deal.

The card offers other great benefits as well, including IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card, a fourth night free on award redemptions, a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, and more.

People have a lot of questions about how the free night certificate on the card works, so in this post I wanted to share just about everything you could possibly need to know about this certificate.

When Do You Get Your First IHG Card Anniversary Free Night?

This is an anniversary free night certificate, so you get your first free night certificate about 12 months after you’ve opened your card. That’s all the more reason to get the card as soon as possible, so that you’ll also get your first certificate as soon as possible.

How Long Is The IHG Card Anniversary Free Night Valid?

The certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You not only have to book by the expiration date, but you have to actually also stay by the expiration date. This didn’t used to be the case, but is the case nowadays.

This means that if you’re issued the certificate on February 1, 2020, you have to book and stay by February 1, 2021.

At What Hotels Can You Redeem The IHG Card Free Night Certificate?

The anniversary free night certificate is valid at any IHG hotel with a current points redemption level of up to 40,000 points per night.

More than 4,900 of IHG’s 5,600 hotels can be booked with these certificates. Now, many of the better InterContinental hotels aren’t eligible for these, though I’ve repeatedly found great uses.

For example, last year I stayed at the InterContinentals in Beirut, Johannesburg, and Ljubljana, which had rates ranging from $180 to $350 per night if paying cash. All of these cost 40,000 points per night, or less.

Are There Blackout Dates For The IHG Card Anniversary Free Night Award?

The IHG Card anniversary free night certificate comes from the same inventory as points stays, so if you can redeem points for a stay, you can also redeem this certificate.

IHG Rewards Club 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 Rewards Club, they allocate a certain amount of inventory to points bookings, so there will be some availability every night, but not every standard room is available on points

If planning in advance this shouldn’t be an issue, with very few exceptions.

How Do You Redeem The IHG Card Free Night Certificate?

On your card’s anniversary the free night certificate will automatically be deposited into your IHG Rewards Club account.

To access it, log into your IHG Rewards Club account, and navigate to your account management page. Then on the left side you’ll see a section that reads “1 Free Night(s),” assuming you have one.

If you click on that section of your profile, you’ll be brought to a page all about your Chase Anniversary Free Night certificate, including a link to click in order to complete your booking.

You’ll then be brought to the main IHG booking page, where you’ll see the “Chase Anniversary Free Night” listed as one of the rate preferences.

Once you enter a destination you’ll see all the options for redeeming your certificate.

The final confirmation page will show the cancelation policy for the booking, which should be similar to the policy when redeeming points (you can typically cancel until a few days before arrival, but it varies by property).

Can You Earn More Than One Free Night Each Year With The IHG Card?

The card offers a maximum of one anniversary free night certificate per year, though if you have the old IHG Select Card, that card offers the same benefit. If you have both the Select and Premier Card, you could get two.

Otherwise your best bet would be to redeem points for any additional nights, or have a friend or spouse also get the IHG Card, and then redeem for back-to-back stays.

Is The IHG Card Worth Getting For The Free Night Award?

There are a lot of great perks to this card that potentially make it worthwhile, like IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, and a fourth night free on award redemptions.

However, to me the single most valuable benefit is the free night certificate. I’m not an IHG loyalist at all, but I consistently find great use for this.

Nowadays a vast majority of hotels (even inexpensive Holiday Inn Express properties) will cost you at least $89 per night including taxes and fees, so you could come out ahead with this.

For example, last year I used a certificate at the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut, where the cash rate would have been over $300 per night, including tax.

I don’t go out of my way to stay at IHG properties to redeem these, but rather I just stay at them when the IHG property is the best option, which is often the case, given their footprint.

IHG Free Night Summary

There are a lot of great perks to the IHG Card, though if nothing else the card is worth picking up for the annual free night certificate, which just about anyone should get more than $89 of value out of.

If you have this card, what hotel have you redeemed your anniversary free night certificate at?

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  1. I have had no problem redeeming my free night certificate for family without me staying on two occasions by doing it over the phone. CSR simply put that family member’s name on the reservation and I was always straight forward that this night is for someone else. After booking, the family members calls the hotel to confirm that they are the ones checking in.

  2. I had a hard time redeeming a free night at a nowheresville HIX. Nights at this place were $120/night and all nights were available for a 25,000 point redemption for the rest of the schedule. However, there were zero free nights available with the award. Spent 15 minutes on the phone and they confirmed the issue and transferred me to someone who would help. I got disconnected. Got on online chat for another 15-20 minutes and they “resolved” the issue. After the chat I logged back in and it turns out they booked using 25,000 points. Grrrr. I don’t want to spend the points I wanted to use the expiring award. Got back on chat for 25 minutes and they said they would have the issue resolved by the next day and call to confirm. The next day came and went. I had given up hope. Surprisingly, I logged in after another day and they just credited back the points and deleted (not redeemed) the free night. I had asked them to do that earlier, but all’s well that ends well. Looking forward to my free night at the Ellensburg, WA HIX? I hope going forward it doesn’t take Herculean efforts to redeem the free nights since now my wife and I each have both cards’ worth of free nights.

    P.S. Used my last free night at the IC Madrid with a fantastic room upgrade that had a spacious outdoor patio bigger than the room and 2 free beers at the bar. Now THAT was a great redemption.

  3. You could buy IHG points for 0.38 cents each last month so the 30k IC Johannesburg night is at best worth $114. So you are paying the $89 annual fee up front for a certificate which covers that night. Then factor in the enormous illiquidity of the certificate vs holding cash and it would be tough to argue it even covers the $89 fee…

  4. @Rico. Sure that can help, but you will very quickly run out of IHG points (the signup bonus is really only worth 2-3 nights). Then not sure how you are accumulating more points, but there is an enormous opportunity cost of putting spending on this card.

  5. Sometimes hotels make two nights together available for awards on one reservation, you can not book one night at a time. I do not know if there is a way around it but in this case you can not use your one night certificate even if you have two of them.

  6. Do I receive a Free Reward Night on the ChaseIHG Rewards Club credit card? This card has an annual fee of $49 and 5X points on IHG hotels.

    I received one on my first anniversary, August 23rd 2018. It’s a few days past so, if I do not get the benefit every year, I’d like to cancel it before the annual fee hits on September 1st.

  7. @Lucky I was unable to use my old Chase free night from an old IHG Chase card even though there was a points award available (25,000 points, so definitely within even the *new* card’s advertised limit). Chase took no responsibility and IHG told me to go pound sand. I am closing my Chase account.

  8. Same experience as djibouti. Points award availability but refusal to issue free night, so either they don’t actually come from the same inventory or they’re not honoring them for some reason.

  9. I just redeemed mine at a 45,000 point hotel (showed up as Free Night on the ihg website and let me book), so I’m not sure the 40,000 point or less restriction is a hard rule.

  10. I got all the way to checkout with my anniversary night at a 70k intercontinental hotel and when I submitted the reservation I get a “system temporary unavailable” message. On the phone with IHG now

  11. I have a certificate from the original IHG Credit card ($49 per year). It appears that it will let me book the IHG New York Time Square which is showing 70,000 miles. The cancellation policy reads that I will receive points back if cancelled equal to the cost at the time of booking. So, if I find a pretty expensive hotel that usually costs 70K or more, does this really mean I will get that many points in exchange for that free night cert? I am trying to arrange our vacation schedule to use it but if I can’t do it before mid-March, this isn’t a bad deal. Thoughts?

  12. Funny enough I just booked mine for next weekend at a city based Hol Inn Ex & what I found interesting is that it let me pick any room on sale including the Kind Suite with a whirlpool in it. Woot!

  13. I’m glad I’ve never upgraded my old card. These days, with current state of IHG Rewards program, the only thing worth is a 1 free certificate (which has no elite benefits for award stays, sigh) for $49 annual fee. Basically all my business goes to Hilton, and the only business IHG gets from me, is that 1 certificate per year, no room charges.

  14. Lucky, did you end up publishing a review of the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut? I can’t seem to find it. Would appreciate one!

  15. I’ve redeemed mine at a Kimpton in Amsterdam and at a HI in Auckland among others. Has always been easy. However I usually want a room with 2 beds and it seems most non-US hotels don’t allow this reservation in theory. However I’ve never had a problem with the property refusing to give me a room with 2 beds once I arrived.

  16. Recently I was stranded at an airport due to weather. Fortunately an excellent IHG hotel was available and connected to the terminal. I have had no difficulty using Free Nights before and I had one available. I used the correct process but when I checked later that night, I saw it had gone through as a 35,000 point redemption. I called the front desk and they said they couldn’t do anything about it, that i would need to call IHG customer service. As it was late and I was exhausted I decided to wait until the next day. It was an excellent stay, great room, and they even included a superb off-the-menu breakfast. When I called before my flight, the representative said that because I had checked out that there was nothing they could do — I had to make a change during my stay. I asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor also said that there was nothing they could do do substitute the Free Night Certificate, but that she would credit my account with the 40,000 points the certificate was worth. Naturally, this was more than agreeable to me as I came out ahead. But just a little bizarre!

  17. I just redeemed one of the older “unrestricted” free nights. The system allowed me to book it for a stay a few days after the expiration date. I had read on FT that there seems to be a grace period where you can still book a stay a few days after expiration, and it appears to be true.

  18. The 49 fee card doesn’t seem good for domestic travel. 40000 a night unattainable in places like NYC and Vegas.

  19. @Lucky: you had said that you do not recommend putting much spending on this card because better returns can be obtained from using other cards. However on the screenshot it shows that you had 233,529 points. Is that just from your 120,000 bonus + the points from the $3,000 spending + spending at IHG hotels? Considering that you had said you are NOT an IHG loyalist, that’s a pretty good balance

  20. @Lucky: sorry, one more question: I understand that the card comes with a Platinum status. Does that mean a free breakfast as well? I couldn’t see that anywhere on the IHG website.

  21. @Daniel B., since it’s a recycled post, he probably bought the points when they were on sale. Also, as he’s often posted, IHG statuses are pretty weak on benefits. You get bonus points, upgrades (maybe), and a welcome amenity (points or drink). Check out his post from a few days ago about the IHG Premier card that he linked to.

    No IHG status gets breakfast, except Ambassador at ICs in China.

  22. @Tennen. Thanks for the clarification on the free breakfast (or lack thereof for Platinums).
    As for purchasing points, I guess yes, it can make sense occasionally with specific usage in mind.

  23. Lucky I know you get paid to push card sign ups. But redeeming the free night certificate with IHG is not that easy because of the blackouts. More back outs than any other hotel program

  24. I tried to book a Holiday Inn in Pomona, CA after my certificate expires and was not able to. I was under the impression you just had to book before expiration but could use it after. I was able to book at Intercontinental in San Diego instead before my expiration date. Probably a better value of the certificate but the Pomona trip would have been more useful since it was a family trip. BTW, I have the older $49 IHG card.

  25. Finally can redeem online
    But compared to Marriott, it’s annoying to use the IHG certificate because many hotels don’t qualifiy.

  26. I am so confused…i have an uncapped free night cert expiring in March. The website allows me to book months past the expiration. If i book past the expiration, is there a chance that the reservation with the cert will not be honored? I don’t want to think I have a free night booked only to discover its cancelled after the expiration date.

  27. I just booked a room this weekend for a free night. I added my son’s name to the res since I wasn’t going to be there. He was able to check in w/ his wife w/o any questions. I just hope it uses the 2 free nights I had and the 40k points. I’m getting conflicting messages. Also a gal in CS at IHG said I couldn’t do this but I already had the res in place and a rep from the actual hotel said it was no problem. Fingers crossed. I’ll know for sure on Monday after he checks out if it worked. I’ve done this w/o issues @ Hilton and I did it once w/ Hyatt for my daughter. I don’t really understand why it’s an issue w/ certain hotel chains (including Marriott).

  28. I was charged the fee $7.99 to use the anniversary free night. The hotel told me they start charge the fee from this year. True?

  29. I used mine in late Sept. No Fee then. But if that’s going to be the case then another reason to cancel this card.

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