IHG Honoring Uncapped Free Night Awards For Select Cardmembers

A couple of days ago we learned about some major changes being made to the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card. The best benefit of this card has been that it offers an anniversary free night certificate just for paying the $49 annual fee on the card, which is a heck of a deal. You could redeem this at virtually any IHG hotel in the world, including InterContinentals that would otherwise cost up to 70,000 points per night.

This benefit is changing, unfortunately. As we learned at the time, for IHG anniversary free night certificates issued on May 1, 2018, or later, you can only redeem at properties that cost up to 40,000 points per night. IHG free night awards cost anywhere from 5,000 to 70,000 points per night, so this excludes about 330 of IHG’s 5,300 hotels.

While there are still plenty of properties at which you can redeem, there’s no denying that this is a big sting to the value of the certificate, and the card overall, for that matter. A lot of people only recently signed up for the card largely because of this benefit, and were disappointed by this change. There’s some good news on that front.

Chase is confirming that those who applied for the IHG Rewards Club Card between January 1 and April 5, 2018, will receive an unrestricted anniversary free night certificate for the first year. This is great news for those who are eligible, and frankly only seems fair, given the number of people who applied largely because of this benefit.

Not only is this great news for those who have already applied for the card, but this also means that you can apply for the IHG Rewards Club Card through tomorrow (Thursday, April 5, 2018), and still receive an uncapped free night certificate on your first account anniversary (in subsequent years it would be subjected to the new cap). This is a compelling reason to still pick up the card, since you can redeem the certificate at a property that would cost up to 70,000 points per night, which is 30,000 points higher than the new cap.

On top of that, as before you’d receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card, as well as a 10% refund on redeemed points, for up to 100,000 refunded points per year.

This is at least a welcome change for those who recently applied for the card. What I don’t get is why this applies to those who applied between January 1 and April 5, 2018, but not those who applied between May 1 and December 31, 2017, who will be drawing the short end of the stick here. That doesn’t seem fair.

(Tip of the hat to Joel)


  1. Well that just adds insult to injury for those that applied between May 1, 2017 and Dec 31, 2017!

  2. I’ll be absolutely livid if only people who applied in 2018 are grandfathered, as I opened my IHG back in July 2017 and was wanting the free night to add to a points+cash stay at the ICHK before they close up for remodeling.

  3. This grandfathering is even worse for some than if they had done it at all. Not fair for folks who signed up in 2017. They should provide the uncapped anniversary night for cardholders who signed up between May 1, 2017, and May 1, 2018.

  4. Thanks for this update, Ben.

    While it is indeed something, I cannot help but be disappointed by this “goodwill” offer. I applied for this card last August (2017) also primarily (if not only) for the free night certificate. I will not receive my first free night certificate until August 2018, and because I did not apply between January 1, 2018 and April 5, 2018, I would not be eligible for this goodwill gesture.

    It seems to me that if Chase really wanted to act in good faith here, they would offer the goodwill gesture to all first-year cardholders who would be affected by the May 1, 2018 benefit change, i.e., all accounts opened between May 1, 2017 and April 5, 2018.

  5. Like the 2 previous comments, I applied for the card in June, 2017 – and thus, have not met my 1-year anniversary date for the free night. Lucky – what about those like us? Will our free night be uncapped or will it be subject to the 40,000 max?

  6. I signed up in Nov 2017 and this is even more infuriating than the initial bait-and-switch plan.

  7. This is great news? So the unfortunate souls that got their cards back in 2017 get capped and those who applied in 2018 are uncapped? Sorry Lucky, your take on this is utterly wrong.

  8. Just like the others above I applied in June of 2017. I will definitely cancel this card if they do not honor my free night.

  9. If Chase doesn’t manage to apply some common sense here, I’m dumping my CSP as well. Where do they sell metallic card shredders?

  10. Lame on that timing. Applied/received mine last fall, no reason my first night should be capped.

  11. I don’t understand how this card made any sense to Chase or IHG. I would guess that 99% of the cardholders only had this card for the free night. I don’t think anyone puts any value in being a Platinum member of IHG. I personally never spend a penny on this card after the minimum spend was over and was basically getting a free night anywhere for $49. How was that sustainable? Now that all I can get is basically a Holiday Inn night somewhere where I don’t plan to travel I will definitely dump this card and reduce the numbers of cards I have to manage.

  12. IHG/Chase already changed their stance again after that Tweet and said they are not going to honor the uncapped certs for anyone.
    This is totally wrong and I feel backstabbed.
    They better honor the uncapped certs for everyone who applied for the card after May 1 2017, otherwise I’m not going to give IHG and Chase any of my businesses anymore.

  13. Where does Chase draw the line to limit only applications from 1/1/18 to 4/5/18 should get the uncapped free night? Like many who commented on this post I got for the card late 2017. Chase should at least let those who applied for the card but have yet to get the 1st free night anniversary to get the uncapped night, now that would be fair.

  14. I was initially annoyed, now I’m pissed! Obviously everyone’s first anniversary reward should be grandfathered. That is not difficult to comprehend or articulate. The grandfathering you guys are reporting is stupid and unfair, and your post should say it’s stupid and unfair.

  15. I appreciate the coverage Lucky but clearly your need to balance your revenue generating relationship with Chase has colored your view of this matter.

    This is not “great news” as it is not fair to those who signed up pre-2018. it is a short-sighted, unfair move by Chase and your coverage should state that.

  16. When I called in about the devaluation to the Ambassador Customer service group that — supposedly— gives their top level of attention, a rep and her manager offered to document my account. And, then? Would someone higher up return the call? No, that’s it. They said that I should “feel better” knowing that they added a comment somewhere between my last dozen stays; like that’s going to do anything.

    Companies can say that they care about their customers but what they actually DO says it all and this is loud & clear that IHG takes us all for fools.

  17. October 2017 here.

    The other kind of scandalous thing about all this that nobody seems to be covering is the fact that the letter we got mentions using the cert at hotels of up to 40,000 points but the excluded list contains many of those. For example, the Holiday Inn Old Sydney is a 40k hotel and actually would give me some value for the cert but it’s on the no list.

  18. Lucky – it’s simply unfathomable that you are continuing to recommend applying for this card today.

  19. I agree with you all. NO, this article should have read more terrible news. I am all good as I already have this card for several years and I already got my unrestricted free night. I recommended my mom to get it, but she applied last summer. Sucks for her and tens of thousands of others. Chase and IHG are being stupid here. It should be from May 1st of 2017. Those who applied even earlier from the second half of 2017 got screwed over those who applied this first half of the year???? Makes me feel glad to be more loyal to Hilton.

  20. Another pissed off applicant here (July 2017). This can’t stand as it is because it is so clearly unfair. I really hope this gets fixed soon. This post should acknowledge the hypocrisy, not promote the half-a$$ walking back of the initial roll out of new policy.

  21. I also applied in July 2017. I see a lot of people having the same issue that I have, it is unfair only to offer the uncapped night to peeps who applied 1/1/18 to April 2018. Tweet back to Chase saying this and the more people who do that, they will take notice.

  22. @Stanley I’m ambivalent about this. I’m having some difficulty separating the blogger from the companies he’s promoting right now, but I’m glad that my livelihood doesn’t depend on the benevolence of the credit card companies.

  23. I agree with most people who commented. It’s not great news! Me and My wife both applied last summer and we were hoping to get 2 free anniversary night certificates so that we can use them in one of the best IHG properties for 2 consecutive nights, exactly as you suggested in your earlier posts. While I know the uncapped free night certificates won’t be available for long because it’s too good to be true, I don’t expect it to end in this way.

  24. @Jeff I completely hear you, Jeff. I really understand. Usually, I just read what he writes about, but I make my own informed decisions. I am sure you do as well. Just like I don’t understand why he thinks the new Barclay card is good. I actually think it is trash as IHG Chase is being at the moment.

  25. Well, this is definitely a “gesture” from IHG to those who applied in the latter part of 2017.

    What kind and/or which finger I’ll leave to the imagination.

  26. i applied for this card thinking they will grandfathered us for the people who applied for this card before the new ones comes out. i really wanted to save the free night and use it with points at bora bora since i can’t do that anymore after first year it still makes for me to keep the card since it provides a free night that will cost more then $49 anyways. people just need to calm down and think about it before cancelling the card. what people could have done was just to downgrade to save the credit history. just think about it as a free night especially other hotels brand doesn’t give free night (SPG). we all knew this would come to an end it was so good to be true and plus everyone was promoting the free night at bora bora.

    and btw i have just applied for this card 2 weeks ago and i got matched to 80k offer via SM. it’s still worth to keep even with the free night that can’t be used anywhere.

  27. @Sunny I’m not too worried about the repercussions of cancelling a card. Downgrading to an even more worthless card isn’t terribly appealing to me.

    So you’d pay $49 a year for a free night that can’t be used anywhere? Have at it.

  28. @Jeff think about it this way you are paying $49 for the card but at least getting $200 a night hotel for free. you’re still not losing anything.

    And what i meant by downgrading is that if you don’t wanna keep the card with annual fees just downgrade and forget about it.
    i meant everywhere sorry for the typo

  29. Good grief. Adding my voice to the chorus of those who got the card in 2017, haven’t yet hit an anniversary date, and feel that Chase / IHG just made a bad situation worse.

  30. Lucky, you’re a lobbyist for the big banks. you’re not a straight shooter. You know this new rule is unfair to those who’ve yet to receive their first annual free night. Yet you choose to insult your readers intelligence. Unless you come out and say that in the next 24 hours, I’m going to unfollow your blog and go back to TPG.

  31. @Sunny I agree with you in principle. The card is worth something: $200>$49 after all. If they had only just devalued the free night, I might consider keeping it. But then declaring that new cards will be grandfathered instead of the older ones (like mine) is the height of stupidity. It’s this level of frustration that will keep me away from IHG and Chase (and maybe this blog) for a long time. They have time to fix it, but if not, I’m done with them.

  32. Is there a Kimpton in the US that is 40K points? Everyone I see is at 50K. So then this means we can’t use this certificate for any of the Kimpton brands? Anyone out there know.

  33. @Jeff yes i totally agree with you they should have just grandfathered the customers with the old card and just have “eligible” hotels for the customer with the new expensive card. the only reason i signed up for this card thinking they would grandfathered old customer it only make sense to do so. but again they like to be more complicated will just have to wait and see how this ends before the new cards comes out.

  34. It’s much worse than it sounds at first, as the “excluded list” includes properties that supposedly cost 40K. The IHG website says: “Below is a list of hotels whose redemption threshold is higher than 40,000 points”, and thus excluded.

    But they are liars.

    Just randomly picked Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong. It lists at 40K, but it’s on the excluded list. 🙁

  35. @Lucky

    You missed the following tweets in this thread, Please check

    Chase Support Staff contradicted his own tweet that still 40K rule apply.

    “Chase Support

    Verified account

    21h21 hours ago
    A 40k limit would apply. Please visit https://bit.ly/2EgqeGL for a list of hotels that will not be eligible for the benefit. ^JD”

    Please dont raise people hopes with sharing incomplete info.

  36. I’ve read every tweet I can locate and I find Chase’s responses baffling. They seem not to understand the distinction between the date the account was opened and the date the certificate was (or will be) issued.

  37. Boy oh boy some people are just mean spirited on here. This is a travel blog not an official Chase account. If you want information call Chase and stop blaming @ Lucky or anyone else that provide the information. If you have an issue with that go find your own sources and stop relying on other’s to do the job for you if you’re going to be mean about it

  38. Called Customer Service and they were unable to help. Was expecting certificate next month. Also sent Twitter DM.

  39. I just got off the phone with a Chase rep. She stated that anyone who received an IHG card in 2018 will also be getting a letter stating that their anniversary night certificates will be capped at 40,000 points.

    I don’t know who to believe any more.

  40. “We certainly apologize for the news. Accounts opened between 1/1/18 and 4/5/18, will not see this change for the first year. ^JD”

    According to the Chase rep I just spoke with, everyone who opened an account in 2018 won’t see a change in for the first year because they won’t have earned a certificate “in the first year.” Certificates are earned with the annual fee payment at the beginning of the second year.

    Can anyone else confirm this?

  41. I applied and had my wife apply specifically for this certificate. We have both charged a fair amount on both cards over and above the minimum required. If it is not honored I will cancel both cards and my cancel the $450 preferred. Thank you for the 12 day trip to Spain and the south of France. My Business spending will be exclusively On Amex SPG.

  42. I agree that it is a massive devaluation, but come on, there is still 5000 IHG Hotels you can spend a night for $49 and I think that is an amazing deal

  43. I’ve had this card for a few years, and there are other problems anyway.
    Chase and IHG have always made it hard to deal with free nights at the “far end” of the scale e.g. the Intercontinental pure and simple, is and has been VERY difficult to book with points anywhere near a weekend any place anywhere.
    This move is typical of hotel programs these days; who could dream they would be as cut rate and ungrateful as airlines!

  44. BTW–be CAREFUL when engaging in negotiating with Chase about extra points and/or dropping annual fees!
    They’ve apparently been instructed to drop your business rather than cave a little.

  45. So I applied and received 7/2017 but yet I’m still capped at 40k per night? Am I understanding this correctly?

  46. @Lucky Your second-to-last sentence is confusing: “What I don’t get is why this applies to those who applied between January 1 and April 5, 2018, but not those who applied between May 1 and December 31, 2018, who will be drawing the short end of the stick here. That doesn’t seem fair.”

    I think you mean “… but not those who applied between May 1 and December 31, 2017, … .”

    Anyways, I’m keeping my current IHG card (the two new ones aren’t that appealing, relatively speaking). The old card’s still a good deal, but no longer an extraordinary one. Would’ve booked a room at the Venetian or Palazzo in Las Vegas or the InterContinental Hong Kong with that uncapped certificate. Oh well.

  47. Same boat, applied in September 2017. Have spent time on the phone with Chase and IHG both blame the other. Been on Twitter with both get BS answers. I will not trust another Chase offer after this, if they doubt make this right gir those of us that received the card from May through December 2017. I will probably close all of our Chase accounts and switch our loyalty to another hotel chain, the benefits of being Spire are not that good anyway.

  48. @Jeff, yes I was told something similar, like they have to honor the apps from this calender year hit not from last calender year. Made no sense. She kept saying this fiscal year… is it a matter of not taking losses on the free nights this year and only having some next year? I don’t know but I won’t shut up or forget about it.

  49. how is this legal if IHG is not honoring those that have had the card less than 12 months but more than 4months(those that they are honoring the uncapped anniversery reward night)?
    I have had my card for 8 months and now they are telling me that I am screwed and those that signed up less than 4 months ago are given uncapped reward night? Does this sound legal?

    Is there something I can do legally to make sure that I get what I deserve?

  50. Am I missing something? Why are folks mentioning “grandfathering”. There is no grandfathering. The cap applies to all cardholders after the first anniversary night right? We used our card for the intercontinental in Monterey. If I lose this, I cancel the card.

  51. I applied August 2017…. I have called Chase and IHG and said (as everyone mentioned above) that I should get the better certificate for the first year…. Chase said they couldn’t do anything. I may cancel the card……. but what I did in the meantime so that cancelling won’t have much of an effect, is that I transferred the majority of the credit that I can take on this card to my Chase Freedom Unlimited account …. This way I can (a) pay my taxes by credit card if I decide to do so; and (b) I can maintain close to my equity ratio if I cancel.

  52. Boggled by why those who signed up this year are grandfathered in and those who signed up last year aren’t. Feels a bit shady as I know last year lots of people signed up due to the 80K/100K point bonuses. This was a front page deal on Slickdeals last fall. I wonder if that’s why they divided people…

  53. My award night was issued in late April. IHG is now saying that it’s only valid for hotels up to 40,000 pts. If I had booked a reservation with it, BEFORE May 1st then I could’ve used it anywheres.

    Very dissapointing

  54. Just got off the phone with a supervisor. I was giving incorrect information by the phone representative. The free night will apply to any hotel

    Geez, they really need to educate their first in line phone reps

  55. Can someone help me understand how the IHG free night certificate works? I got my old credit card free night certificate on May 27th, 2018 and as I understood this free night certificate was issued after May 1, 2018 would considered restricted free night. When I tried to redeem it, IHG website allowed me to book as unstricted one. I could booked hotel that requires 70000 points per night and I could stretched it out to 18 months. Can you do this with restriced free night certificate? Can my free night certificate be unstricted one?

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