My Great Use Of IHG Free Night Awards

My Great Use Of IHG Free Night Awards

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It has been a while since I’ve redeemed an IHG credit card free night certificate, though I just got a great value redeeming several of these, and wanted to share the details of that.

Basics of the IHG free night certificate

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review) is a great hotel credit card that offers a variety of valuable benefits. One of the card’s primary perks is an anniversary free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points per night. To me this more than covers the card’s $89 annual fee on an ongoing basis, not factoring in the other perks, like IHG Platinum status, a fourth night free on award redemptions, and more.

When I write about the IHG Premier Card, readers are often skeptical about the value of the free night certificate:

  • Many of us aren’t IHG Rewards loyalists, given the program’s generally weak elite recognition, so how valuable is it to have free night certificates with the brand?
  • IHG Rewards introduced dynamic award pricing recently, which has been a mixed bag when it comes to redemption values
  • IHG Rewards has capacity controls on award rooms, so you don’t get last room availability for standard rooms

As I’ve often explained when writing about the card, I’ve consistently received amazing value with these certificates, without going out of my way to actually stay at an IHG property.

For example, I last redeemed an IHG free night certificate at the InterContinental Johannesburg Airport, where the paid rate would have been over $300 per night. I wasn’t seeking out an IHG property, but the hotel is the most convenient airport hotel there, and that’s exactly what I needed.

I used an IHG free night award at the InterContinental JNB

I had three IHG free night certificates in my account until this week, but just managed to redeem these all in a pretty lucrative way, so I wanted to share the details of that.

Using IHG free night awards at a Kimpton

I need to be in Miami for a few nights next month. I’m not looking to go to Miami Beach, and for that matter I’m not looking for some amazing hotel, as I’ll mainly be working and attending some commitments.

Earlier this week I started looking at hotel options, and as I usually do, I started by looking at Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton options (roughly in that order). Most decent hotels seemed to be charging $250+ per night, though nothing really stood out to me as being particularly exciting, in terms of quality or value.

Then I remembered I had several IHG free night certificates that were going to expire soon enough, so I looked at redemption options with those. To my surprise, the Kimpton EPIC Miami was bookable for 38,000 IHG Rewards points per night, when paid rates would have been $270+ per night.

Since a stay cost under 40,000 points per night, it meant I could redeem free night certificates for my stay.

If you ask me, this is a pretty fantastic redemption:

  • By paying a card’s $89 annual fee, I got a free night at a hotel charging about three times as much
  • The Kimpton EPIC Miami is an especially good option since I’ll be traveling with Winston, and Kimptons are dog friendly and don’t charge a fee for pets
  • Dynamic award pricing worked in my favor this time, because back when IHG had more consistent award pricing, this hotel cost over 40,000 points per night
Kimpton EPIC Miami pool

With this redemption, my streak of consistently getting great value out of these certificates without going out of my way to stay at an IHG property continues.

Bottom line

Understandably there’s a lot of skepticism surrounding credit card free night certificates that have redemption caps. After all, in many cases you’re paying an annual fee (cash out of your pocket) for the possibility of getting outsized value.

I have a lot of hotel credit cards, and across the board I continue to get amazing value when redeeming these free night certificates. That’s easy enough to do with Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott, given my general travel patterns and brand preferences, though I’m happy I also managed to redeem my IHG certificates in a pretty lucrative way. The IHG Premier Card continues to be a keeper for me.

Anyone else get good value with an IHG free night award?

Conversations (38)
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  1. Anastasia Guest

    Between the fee you pay for the card and the outrageous 'urban destination fee' at any Kimpton and most NYC hotels, your stay ends up being close to $100 ($49 for the cc and ~$30 amenity fee). That's cheaper than a cash rate at a Kimpton, sure, but you could get an actual hotel for that money most places. So much for a "free" night.

  2. Andrew B Guest

    Used the 3 that I had between two trips to Seattle. Stayed 1 night at the Kimpton Vintage, and 2 at the Kimpton Monaco (preferred). I was very happy paying $49 a night vs. $200+.

  3. guisun Platinum

    I wish they would simple give the 40,000 points annually. It severely limits it's use. I rather have the 40,000 and use in combination with points that already have. At least Hilton certs are good for standard room, so as long as there is a standard room, regardless what the actual point cost, you can book it, making it useful.

  4. Lolo Guest

    I have consistently used my IHG nights for great redemptions - considering I have the legacy card at only $49 annually it’s a no brainer to retain in my portfolio.

    Prior to the pandemic, I had great redemptions for Intercontinental in Madrid and Lisbon. This past year, I used my nights for Hotel Indigo in Anaheim. We go to Disneyland every year for my daughter’s birthday, so even if we don’t travel anywhere fabulous, it’s...

    I have consistently used my IHG nights for great redemptions - considering I have the legacy card at only $49 annually it’s a no brainer to retain in my portfolio.

    Prior to the pandemic, I had great redemptions for Intercontinental in Madrid and Lisbon. This past year, I used my nights for Hotel Indigo in Anaheim. We go to Disneyland every year for my daughter’s birthday, so even if we don’t travel anywhere fabulous, it’s a great use of nights to be near the park. Given that these rooms go for $250-400 a night at any given time, it’s a great redemption.

  5. Johan Guest

    I’ve been earning IHG points and using the cards for 6-7 years now, largely because a few Kempton‘s are very convenient in Miami, Chicago and New York, where I go most. (As a bonus Kimpton bought five or six bed & breakfasts in key west that we’ve been going to as well.)
    Like I said it’s been convenient, and I have status and get the free annual nights, but it wasn’t until the summer...

    I’ve been earning IHG points and using the cards for 6-7 years now, largely because a few Kempton‘s are very convenient in Miami, Chicago and New York, where I go most. (As a bonus Kimpton bought five or six bed & breakfasts in key west that we’ve been going to as well.)
    Like I said it’s been convenient, and I have status and get the free annual nights, but it wasn’t until the summer I really thought I got a deal. Six nights at Aluna Tulum, three using points (3X 40,000), then a 4th free on those first three days, then two anniversary nights. 6 nights and upgraded to a top floor suite. Probably approaching $3000 value.

  6. Ethan Guest

    I think there are different perspective of this:
    IHG's devolution is there, but slower than Hilton.
    IHG Chase card doesn't seem to worth the 5/24 slot, unlike Hyatt or business hotel cards.

  7. Art_Czar New Member

    Have the original IHG card with the lower $49 AF. Received out-sized value prior to the 40k cap - used 2 back-to-back cert nights as part of a 5-night stay at IC Danang Sun Peninsula resort; another 2 certs at a week-long stint at IC Bora Bora Le Moana ($100 upgrade to OW bungalow); and a weekend getaway to IC the Clement Monterey. With cert extensions on account of the pandemic, I was able to...

    Have the original IHG card with the lower $49 AF. Received out-sized value prior to the 40k cap - used 2 back-to-back cert nights as part of a 5-night stay at IC Danang Sun Peninsula resort; another 2 certs at a week-long stint at IC Bora Bora Le Moana ($100 upgrade to OW bungalow); and a weekend getaway to IC the Clement Monterey. With cert extensions on account of the pandemic, I was able to use 2 certs this year on a 4-night stay at the Kimpton Fitch Lodge in Key West. Options in North America are limited, while Asia typically yields greater value on IHG free night cert awards.

  8. Jack Let Guest

    Why bother with IHG and not stat at one of the Hyatt properties (Confidante, Bricknell) if you’re chasing Globalist for life status?

    1. UA-NYC Guest

      Because sometimes free (and getting a good redemption value) is better than spending unnecessary cash out of pocket...?

  9. JohnnyBoy Guest

    I just used four IHG certs, two rolled over from the pandemic, for a two room, two night stay at a really nice Hotel Indigo property in San Diego. The rates when I reserved were ~$250/night. The week before, they were at $350/night because of a local event. I was upgraded to a top floor room with a great view. Fantastic value.
    I read all of the trash talking about IHG's program in the...

    I just used four IHG certs, two rolled over from the pandemic, for a two room, two night stay at a really nice Hotel Indigo property in San Diego. The rates when I reserved were ~$250/night. The week before, they were at $350/night because of a local event. I was upgraded to a top floor room with a great view. Fantastic value.
    I read all of the trash talking about IHG's program in the blogosphere, but I think I have gotten as good value from it as any other program (and I am Hilton Diamond and Bonvoy Titanium). On an upcoming trip to the east coast, I evaluated a lot of options and the best points ones by far, when considering value and location, were the Intercontinental Boston and The Willard DC. Each of those were at about 1cpp.

  10. Boise Ding Guest

    Hi Lucky, my partner and I were able to redeem 2 free night certificates at the Intercontinental Berlin this past August which with the dynamic pricing turned out to be an amazing value. Very excited also about using the 4th night free benefit for Six Senses IHG properties in the future such as the Maldives and Ibiza for outsized value!

  11. Jackie Guest

    Do you know when point break will be back? Have been saving up my points for that.

  12. Lee in Alpharetta Guest

    I've got the old IHG card ($49 annual fee) as well as the new one. Used two certificates at the Bozeman, MT, Kimpton this past May when paid rates were over $300 per night.

    My best ever redemption came before Chase/IHG changed it to a 40K points max value. In June, 2019, stayed at the Park Lane Intercontinental in London. Got upgraded to the one-bedroom suite, which had a cash price of about $1450....

    I've got the old IHG card ($49 annual fee) as well as the new one. Used two certificates at the Bozeman, MT, Kimpton this past May when paid rates were over $300 per night.

    My best ever redemption came before Chase/IHG changed it to a 40K points max value. In June, 2019, stayed at the Park Lane Intercontinental in London. Got upgraded to the one-bedroom suite, which had a cash price of about $1450. They even threw in two breakfast buffets, which would have cost about $90. I love my IHG cards.

  13. Jeff K Guest

    I have always found a way to use my IHG Chase award nights. But, I also collect the Marriott Chase award nights and still have various points. Sometimes it is difficult for me to actually use all my certificates.......but, I always find a way!

  14. D. Vermeys Guest

    We are using our for 3 nights at the Mark Hopkins in San Fran at Xmas. We are going their fantastic holiday brunch at the Top of the Mark.

    1. JohnnyBoy Guest

      Don't miss the "World's Largest Gingerbread House" across the street at the Fairmont.
      Super elegant space and a very festive holiday scene.

  15. Robert L Dean Guest

    I just spent 4 nights at Intercontinental Athens on IHG nights. Best ever was 4 years ago when I got Intercontinental Times Square on Dec31 with a free night....$2100!!!!!

  16. dander Guest

    A few years ago the computer was kind to me and I used at the Amstel in Amsterdam. This has to be the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Now I doubt you can use your certicicate there

  17. Timo Gold

    The Epic is a nice hotel. I stayed there a few years ago enroute from LAX to Madrid and was able to get checked in early after a red-eye. Spacious and convenient. I ve had good look with the IHG free night certificates mostly at Kimptons.

  18. RovinMoses Guest

    Just stayed at Crown Plaza Seattle using free night on Monday. We were given a room on the top (34th) floor with a view of the Space Needle and ocean. I was expecting a room on the 4th floor with a view of the alley -- wonderfully surprised. BTW, there wasn't a hotel in downtown Seattle that was eligible for use of a Marriott free night. Also using IHG free night certificates for three nights...

    Just stayed at Crown Plaza Seattle using free night on Monday. We were given a room on the top (34th) floor with a view of the Space Needle and ocean. I was expecting a room on the 4th floor with a view of the alley -- wonderfully surprised. BTW, there wasn't a hotel in downtown Seattle that was eligible for use of a Marriott free night. Also using IHG free night certificates for three nights in Fort Lauderdale area prior to and post cruise in early December. I am not complaining.

  19. Dovid Guest

    I didn’t use certificates last week but points for several nights. Be aware of the amenities fee which is about a cheap hotel night. Parking was also near $50/night.
    But the hotel was great!
    (So was our stay at Kimpton Marlowe in Cambridge!)

  20. LonJax Guest

    You can't book the Intercontinental at JNB Airport any longer. I used to stay there every year with the free night certificate. It is no longer available for booking, though the Intercontinental in Sandton is. I strongly suspect that it is because Sandton IC is $100 per night cheaper.

  21. Rico Gold

    Although nothing special, the Hotel Indigo Paddington Station is a good redemption and location. Getting a central London hotel room for $49 or $89 credit card annual fee is great!

    Also, some good redemptions on dated Crowne Plazas in Japan. Sadly, the last 2 years I've just been using the certs for $130 HIXs on road trips--still coming out ahead though.

  22. Aric Guest

    Unfortunately, IHG has stealth-devalued their free night certificates recently. They have moved to a two-pool system, where a room not only has to be below 40,000 points, but also available for a free night redemption. I attempted to use some certificates to book the Venetian in Las Vegas in mid-December (24,000 points / night) but was unable to do so. Their twitter team told me:

    "Reward Night[s] are available for all 3 nights 12/12-12/15...

    Unfortunately, IHG has stealth-devalued their free night certificates recently. They have moved to a two-pool system, where a room not only has to be below 40,000 points, but also available for a free night redemption. I attempted to use some certificates to book the Venetian in Las Vegas in mid-December (24,000 points / night) but was unable to do so. Their twitter team told me:

    "Reward Night[s] are available for all 3 nights 12/12-12/15 at the[...] Venetian Resort, but Chase Free Nights are not. Our hotels only set aside a percentage of their rooms to be used for a particular rate like Reward Nights and Chase Free Night. It is possible that the allotted rooms for Chase Free Night are already sold out."

    1. Pat Guest

      This happened to me as well. But I was eventually able to redeem two free nights at the Venicean in October (Sunday and Monday nights).

    2. Aric Guest

      How did you do that? Did they just become available?

  23. Alex_77W Guest

    In US, Kimpton hotels, are perhaps, the only good remaining (and quickly disappearing) options for these certificates. I did use these certificates in many great places over the years. Last Dec we used 2 certificates at Intercontinental Cozumel. Now the $ prices for that hotel are lower but the redemption cost is up with no free Chase nights available.

    1. Sel, D. Guest

      Shhhh don’t tell anyone about this hotel…

  24. Akash Guest

    I did recently use a couple of IHG free night certificates at the "Kimpton Hotel Palomar Beverly Hills", and it was a great value compared to the $ rate. However, I did dislike having to pay the per night resort / destination fee

  25. JW Guest

    EPIC Miami is a great use of a free night. Often times cash rates there are even higher!

  26. khatl Guest

    I generally get good value out of the certs, this year incl the Kimpton Gray in Chicago and the Intercontinental Budapest. That said, choices are now much more limited and places that used to be regularly available on certs such as the Intercontinental Wharf DC, Cannes, Madrid during peak times are now beyond reach now there is dynamic pricing. The Miami Epic is another good example. I stayed there over New Year on certs two...

    I generally get good value out of the certs, this year incl the Kimpton Gray in Chicago and the Intercontinental Budapest. That said, choices are now much more limited and places that used to be regularly available on certs such as the Intercontinental Wharf DC, Cannes, Madrid during peak times are now beyond reach now there is dynamic pricing. The Miami Epic is another good example. I stayed there over New Year on certs two years back. Dynamic pricing has the current rate for 2021 at 100k a night.

  27. rrapynot Guest

    We stayed at the Intercontinental on Hong Kong harbor using a free night award when rooms were being sold for $800/night. When we got to check-in we were advised that they were completely full so we’d been upgraded to a suite that came with a butler!

  28. DCJoe Guest

    Even better value if you have kept the grandfathered $49 annual fee IHG card.

  29. Bret Guest

    I agree that the value of these have increased with dynamic pricing; I’ve been able to redeem mine at $200+ rooms this year - IC San Francisco and IC The Barclay NYC. Neither would have been possible before dynamic pricing. I’ve also had several point redemptions exceeding 1c per point with IHG, including an upcoming stay at a kimpton in Key West. People complain about IHG all the time, meanwhile, there are some great deals using certs and points out there.

    1. pstm91 Platinum

      I just used mine to book IC The Barclay as well. I checked one day and it was 45k points, went back and looked about a week later over slightly different dates and it had dropped to 40k. Immediately booked it. I agree with your comment about dynamic pricing, however the IHG card used to let you book literally any property before they instituted that cap so it's not entirely accurate.

  30. Mike Saint Guest

    Nice score. I always find a way to use my IHG free night certificates in a lucrative way. I typically use them at the Intercontinental Los Angeles which has the best views in the city and the rooms are usually really expensive. I'm using a few more at the Intercontinental Mexico City in Polanco which is super nice.

  31. miamiorbust Guest

    You've just made the use case for IHG that bloggers never speak to - most of us travel because we need to not necessarily because we want to. IHG has one of the largest global footprint so odds of there being several IHG properties where I need to be is high. If I want a high end splurge, many of six sense properties are amazing points redemption. Given how much of your travel these days...

    You've just made the use case for IHG that bloggers never speak to - most of us travel because we need to not necessarily because we want to. IHG has one of the largest global footprint so odds of there being several IHG properties where I need to be is high. If I want a high end splurge, many of six sense properties are amazing points redemption. Given how much of your travel these days seems to be high end independent hotels, kind of surprised you haven't warmed to IHG. Unless someone is traveling regularly with kids or a large family, I've never really understood what is so aspirational about free breakfast.

  32. ECR Gold

    Nice. Would be interested in similiar into how you use other certs (marriott, hyatt, etc) this year earned from either the card or otherwise. I often find myself struggling whether to accept a "good/decent" value on the certificates if there's similiar/slightly better value to using points (especially when the certs expire 3+ months away). Then when they approach expiration I'm either taking lower value or changing travel plans to make use of the certificates.

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Robert L Dean Guest

I just spent 4 nights at Intercontinental Athens on IHG nights. Best ever was 4 years ago when I got Intercontinental Times Square on Dec31 with a free night....$2100!!!!!

1
Aric Guest

Unfortunately, IHG has stealth-devalued their free night certificates recently. They have moved to a two-pool system, where a room not only has to be below 40,000 points, but also available for a free night redemption. I attempted to use some certificates to book the Venetian in Las Vegas in mid-December (24,000 points / night) but was unable to do so. Their twitter team told me: "Reward Night[s] are available for all 3 nights 12/12-12/15 at the[...] Venetian Resort, but Chase Free Nights are not. Our hotels only set aside a percentage of their rooms to be used for a particular rate like Reward Nights and Chase Free Night. It is possible that the allotted rooms for Chase Free Night are already sold out."

1
miamiorbust Guest

You've just made the use case for IHG that bloggers never speak to - most of us travel because we need to not necessarily because we want to. IHG has one of the largest global footprint so odds of there being several IHG properties where I need to be is high. If I want a high end splurge, many of six sense properties are amazing points redemption. Given how much of your travel these days seems to be high end independent hotels, kind of surprised you haven't warmed to IHG. Unless someone is traveling regularly with kids or a large family, I've never really understood what is so aspirational about free breakfast.

1
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