The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review) is a great hotel credit card that offers a variety of valuable benefits. This is also a good time to pick up the card, as it’s offering an exceptional welcome bonus at the moment.
The single benefit that makes the IHG Premier 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 a vast majority of 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?
The IHG Premier Card offers an anniversary free night certificate, so you get your first free night certificate about 12 months after you’ve opened your card. You don’t get one of these certificates during your first cardmember year. That’s all the more reason to get the card as soon as possible, so that you’ll also get your first certificate sooner rather than later.
How long is the IHG Card anniversary free night valid?
The IHG Premier Card free night certificate is generally valid for 12 months from the date of issue (during the pandemic we’ve seen some extensions, but they haven’t been consistent). 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, 2022, you have to book and stay by January 1, 2023.
At what hotels can you redeem the IHG Card free night certificate?
The anniversary free night certificate on the IHG Premier Card is valid at any IHG hotel with a current points redemption level of up to 40,000 points per night. Nowadays IHG has dynamic award pricing, meaning that a hotel may cost under 40,000 points some nights, while other nights it may cost more than 40,000 points.
Generally speaking you can expect that a vast majority of IHG properties are bookable with these certificates on at least some nights. However, the top properties, especially in expensive cities, may consistently price higher.
Just to give an example, I’ve managed to use free night certificates at 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 Premier 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, 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 the IHG Card free night certificate?
On the IHG Premier 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 shows your points balance, as well as your free night certificates (yes, I have several right now, as I haven’t redeemed them during the pandemic).
If you click on the section that shows your free night certificates, you’ll be brought to a page all about your Chase Anniversary Free Night certificates, 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 IHG Premier 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 (and if you need points, IHG often sells them at a discount), or have a friend or spouse also get the IHG Premier Card, and then redeem for back-to-back stays.
Can you redeem your free night for others?
The free night certificate issued with the IHG Premier Card has 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 the free night?
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.
Is the IHG Card worth getting for the free night award?
There are a lot of great perks to the IHG Premier 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 (admittedly I have four of these certificates right now, but that’s largely due to coronavirus).
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, take a look at the above screenshot of a stay at the InterContinental Johannesburg Airport — while you can redeem the certificate at the hotel, the cash rate would be over $300.
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 a lot of great perks to the IHG Premier 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. Hopefully the above answers any questions people may have about how the free night certificate works.
If you have the IHG Card, what hotels have you redeemed your anniversary free night certificates at?