The Only Credit Card That Offers An Uncapped Free Night Every Year

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Update: This offer for the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

For a couple of weeks now we’ve seen an increased welcome bonus on the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express. The card is offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. On top of that, the card is offering a free weekend night certificate on the first cardmember anniversary.

This is the best bonus we’ve seen on the card, and on top of that it’s also the lowest annual fee card that gets you Hilton Honors Gold status, which you get to keep for as long as you have the card.

One question I’ve consistently gotten about the card is “wait a second, you only get a free night certificate on the first account anniversary year, and not every year, like on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card?” That is indeed correct. The Ascend Card has never offered an annual free night certificate as a benefit, so the certificate being offered on the first anniversary is a special offer.

There are three popular hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night certificate (not just the first year, but every year on the account anniversary):

  • Marriott’s co-branded credit card has an $85 annual fee, and offers a certificate that can be redeemed at Category 1-5 properties
  • Hyatt’s co-branded credit card has a $75 annual fee, and offers a certificate that can be redeemed at Category 1-4 properties
  • IHG’s co-branded credit card has a $49 annual fee (that’s waived the first year), and offers a certificate that can be used at virtually any IHG property in the world

The takeaway here isn’t that the Ascend Card is stingy. Rather the takeaway is that the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is really, really generous. Of all of the above hotel credit cards it’s the one with the lowest annual fee, and also has the most valuable annual free night certificate.

Redeem your IHG free night certificate at the new InterContinental Los Angeles

That’s not the only perk the card offers, either. It also offers Platinum status for as long as you have the card, and a 10% refund on redeemed points, for a total of up to 100,000 refunded points per year.

If you don’t yet have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you’re missing out. The sooner you get it, the sooner you get your first free night certificate on your account anniversary (and every anniversary thereafter).

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  1. Are there expiration dates to the free night certificates with the IHG Rewards Club Card? Not that I’d necessarily want to use 2-3 certificates on one trip (though if possible I probably would), but do you need to use the certificate for year 1 before you can get the certificate for year 2?

  2. I understand that the IHG card is exempt from Chase’s 5/24 rule to get the card, but will the card then make me ineligible to be approved for more cards later?
    I’m dropping below 5/24 in February and don’t want to hurt my chances of being approved for other Chase cards later.

  3. Here’s my best IHG annual night redemption story: last year I was in SF and decided to treat myself to a night at the Mark Hopkins. I booked a King around 6pm but didn’t check in until 11. When I got there I was informed they were “at capacity” so I was upgraded to the Cyril Magnin suite! I spent the first 30 minutes walking around the suite laughing at how awesome it was that I scored all this for essentially $49: living room with couch and chairs, dining area, office area, guest bathroom, entry way closet, sunroom, master bedroom with a massive walk-in closet that was easily bigger than your average hotel room in New York, plus a marble bathroom with jacuzzi bathtub and shower.

    I paid $70 to have room service oatmeal with berries, a cappuccino, and yogurt. Totally worth a photo of that on the dining table with the Transamerica building in the background. They even had a copy of Kiplinger’s with the cover story “How to make a Million” in the suite – included in breakfast photo, of course.

    This year I again used the award at the Mark Hopkins. Although I didn’t get the Magnin suite this time, they did upgrade me to a very nice upper floor king with a view north down Mason St towards the Bay. All in all I love this hotel and will probably continue redeeming the award night there.

  4. Used mine on an unscheduled 20 hour layover with my daughters at the Intercontinental in Hong Kong when American screwed up our Cathay awards. Did a $60 upgrade to a junior suite with harbor view.

    Just dropping my daughter off at the University of Chicago and envision using future years at the Chicago Intercontinental.

  5. @Amit Yes, there is an expiration date for the free night certificate. It is valid for 1 year from the time of issue (which will be your anniversary month of your IHG card). It is an easy thing to keep track of through both he IHG app (or your online account) or through Award Wallet.

  6. If one holds the Hyatt and IHG cards mainly for the free night and puts ones expenses on more rewarding points cards, is there any significant risk of the Hyatt and/or IHG cards being cancelled by the issuer for lack of use even though annual fee always paid?

    What if other Chase cards are being used and all those cards, including the Hyatt and IHG cards with little to no use, are tracked online in one online Chase account?

    Any other observations of being cancelled for lack of use? I did have that happen once years ago with a non fee USBank card. That was quite a surprise.

  7. I adore the IHG card. I’ve only used one anniversary night certificate so far, at the IC Barclay in New York, which is a fantastic stay. Plus, the card comes with Platinum status, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been upgraded almost every time I’ve stayed. Just got my second certificate a couple weeks ago, and I’m looking to book at the Crowne Plaza Niagra Falls – already very excited!

  8. I applied when you posted this a week ago and was told I would hear back within two weeks. Nothing yet, so I am guessing that I am being rejected, although I have no idea why that would be, since this isn’t part of 5/24 and I have stellar credit.

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