The (Roughly) 200 IHG Hotels Where You Can’t Use Free Night Certificates

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Within the past few days, IHG Rewards Club has updated their policy on where you can redeem the anniversary free night certificates that are issued in conjunction with select credit cards, including the brand new IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. In the past these certificates were valid at virtually any IHG hotel in the world, while under the new policy these certificates can only be redeemed at hotels that retail for at most 40,000 points per night.

Since IHG doesn’t publish a formal award chart, they’ve published a list of excluded properties where you can’t redeem your anniversary free night certificate. The problem is that when they published this list it just made things more confusing, rather than simpler. That’s because there were many hotels on the list that didn’t in fact retail for more than 40,000 points per night, adding further questions about what kind of restrictions there were.

Under the rules, hotels that cost 40,000 points per night or less should be bookable, while some 40,000 point per night hotels weren’t bookable. My guess was that this was an IT issue given that they were probably in a rush to get the list up.

Given how much confusion this has caused, I figured it’s worth an updated post that IHG has fixed their list of hotels that are excluded for the anniversary free night certificate. If you want a definitive list of where you can’t redeem these certificates going forward, that resource is now available. As expected, the hotels that retail for 40,000 points per night aren’t on the list anymore, so now the list should correctly reflect only the hotels that retail for more than 40,000 points.

Here’s how many hotels from each brand are on the excluded list:

  • 64 InterContinentals
  • 62 Kimptons
  • 14 Hotel Indigos
  • 2 EVENs
  • 24 Crowne Plazas
  • 22 Holiday Inns
  • 8 Holiday Inn Expresses
  • 1 Staybridge Suites
  • 1 Candlewood Suites

So in total that means 198 hotels are excluded from the anniversary free night certificates, which is fewer than the 330 hotels that were on the initial list. Given that IHG has over 5,300 hotels around the world, this represents about 3.7% of their portfolio.

(Tip of the hat to Mommy Points)

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  1. So it was a classic software bug of
    “Miles_Required >= 40000”
    instead of
    “Miles_Required > 40000”

    Hahaha, IT….

  2. Excluding 3.7% of IHG hotels sounds like no big deal until you realize it represents 100% of the IHG properties we care about.

  3. Does this affect a stay already booked at one of these hotels with last year’s certificate? (the stay is coming up in June, right before my certificate was going to expire)

  4. Looking forward to a post that offers Chase’s statement and rationale for apparently providing that Anniversary Night Certificates issued on accounts opened between 1/1/18 – 4/5/18 would receive an initial unrestricted Certificate, while customers who opened their accounts between 5/1/17 – 12/31/17 will receive initial an Certificate that is restricted. There is no appropriate reason for that distinction. Those two classes of credit customers are legally and financially the same–neither ever received the promised unrestricted Anniversary Certificate. And yet, Chase discriminated against the 5/1 – 12/31 class by restricting their first certificate. True, Chase can change terms. But discriminating against a sub-group of credit customers who are situated in all material respects the same as a favored sub-group, is probably not a genius legal move in a highly regulated industry. Everyone’s first Anniversary Night Certificate should be unrestricted. Lucky, is anyone at Chase going to resolve this mess? Appreciate the reports and updates.

  5. Chase would have been much better off giving everyone 40,000 points on their anniversary. If you wanted to stay at a more expensive points property, you could:
    1. Use your signup bonus.
    2. Put some spend on the card to earn points (bad move, but it’s something)
    3. Buy discounted points when on sale.
    4. Stash your points for 2 years to accumulate the anniversary bonuses.

    Or stay 2 nights in a cheap-arse place!

    I prefer the old free unrestricted certificate but I get why they canceled it.

    Giving out 40k points would be much better.

  6. Is it just me or does the new IHG Premier Card page (linked in the post, above) say 80K bonus points at the top and 60K bonus points in the fine print? Which is it?

  7. @Katy. That 60K bonus points is for a different card. ‘Traveler’ card, not ‘Premier’ card.

  8. Would have been nice if ihg let us add the missing points. E.g. certificate plus 30k gets us 70k properties

  9. Interestingly this doesn’t apply to the UK version of the IHG card. Just tried a number of 40k+ hotels and the free night is valid at all of them.

  10. @Tim, I absolutely agree with you it would be better for the consumer, but not so much for Chase/IHG. There are two issues: 1) The things you’d be able to do, as you list them, would cost them more money. They probably have a fair amount of breakage by demanding that the night be used once each year or it goes away. 2) Lots of people probably do redeem for a night at the “cheap-arse” places already, simply because it fits their travel plans in a given year, so giving out 40k would be an increased cost. Most people don’t take multiple trips per year with lots of ways to spent a night at a top tier place.

  11. @DaveS: totally agree. Maybe Chase is trimming of their cc portfolio benefits. They also reduced the ability to have two of the consumer SW cards in terms of earning signup bonuses. Hope they don’t mess with CSR!

    Honestly, when I heard the rumor of the free night certificate going away for new cardholders, I figured it might get trimmed for existing as well.

  12. Tony, I assume it works for these hotels because your free night certificate was issued under the old rules. The one you will receive after May 1 will be capped at 40,000.

  13. Reality is that MOST people want to redeem for higher-end properties and most of them are excluded under the new terms of the card. If I want to stay at a 40k a night HIX in the middle of nowhere I will just pay to stay there and not hold this credit card and hope that the nights I want to stay there is actually available for redemption.

    Let’s also not forget that IHG is notorious in recent years of devaluing our points! I would NOT be surprised to see a number of the hotels at or under 40k that might be of interest to some to be impacted by a category creep soon…meaning I think there will be more than the 198 hotels Lucky mentions being excluded in the near future.

    I think this card can still work for some but it no longer works for me. I don’t hold the MR card due to the category limitations and I recently canceled the WOH card because I had such a hard time finding a hotel to redeem the Cat. 1-4 certificates at. (I actually lost a couple in all the years I owned the card since I couldn’t find a redemption option that worked for me.) I do still hold the USBank Club Carlson card because it gives you points annually which IMHO allows me to be more flexible with my redemptions. Had IHG gone to giving 40k points instead of the certificates I might have continued to hold the card.

  14. I think it would be more helpful if they provide a list of IHG and Kimpton hotels that are 40,000 pts or less.

  15. I don’t know if anyone else shares my low opinion of the IHG Web site and loyalty program. I’ve found it really hard to deal directly with them. Web site is clunky, does unpredictable things depending on how you connect. For example, we did a month in Japan last October. We wanted to book the Crowne Plaza in Hiroshima but the week we wanted was a finals week for the baseball championship and the Carp were in the playoffs. Everything was booked, at least anything I would take. By the week before the playoffs the Carp were knocked out and rooms freed up. But not on the IHG site. It told me the hotel was sold out. There was plenty of inventory on and other sites, so I booked the Crowne Plaza on At least with them I get a free night every ten stays. Our month in Japan got us 4 nights at the Nikko in SFO a month ago. BTW the CP in Hiroshima is perfectly located but really tired. We booked a club room and it was obviously a smoker at some point in its life. Furniture was tired, room was small, not up to CP standard IMHO.

    I have yet to get much use out of my IHG membership. I find it hard to book with points, at least at anywhere I want to stay. I tried to use some points last year at the Indigo in Krakow (nice hotel, very nice). Again, it was easier to book it thru I would not waste a card on these guys, the points are not worth putting my spend on their card. I will stick to my Amex Platinum. It got us two business class tickets to Hong Kong from Boston on Emirates last January. Very nice class of service, very good use of miles. Why leak them away on an IHG card?

    Maybe its me, but I’ve relegated the IHG program to my dustbin.

  16. So nearly all Intercontinental hotels and nearly all Kimptons. And excluding Holiday Inns near airports is also a bad proposition. I’d rather they raise the annual fee and raise the pts/night limit to 60K. I’m not going to renew my card. I was using it for this benefit alone. I would have gladly stayed paid $350 – $450 for night and then had the 2nd night with a certificate, but not now. Bye Bye!

  17. Call the number on the back of your cared to register your displeasure. Current cardmembers should be grandfathered for at least some benefits and especially at least for the next year.

  18. Is this in effect immediately? I just looked at my account and went to check booking a hotel that shows “From 50,000 points” but it provides the option to book the free night. Same with another hotel that says “From 70,000 points”

    Although, the certificate was issued in November 2017, so I’m guessing that’s why? So, presumably, future certificates issued in November 2018 and forward will have that 40k point room cap enforced? And from what I’ve seen already, all the most ‘desirable’ locations (including HI and HI Express) start at 50k and above. This stinks. I should probably reconsider renewing this card moving forward.

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