How Long Is The IHG Annual Free Night Certificate Valid For?

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A couple of days ago I wrote about the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which I consider to be a “no brainer” for a vast majority of consumers. The card has just a $49 annual fee (which is waived the first year), and offers three huge perks:

  • You get an anniversary free night certificate every year, which is valid at any IHG property worldwide, pending availability; given IHG’s global footprint, that should justify the card for just about anyone
  • You get IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card, which gets you bonus points, room upgrades, etc.
  • You get a 10% rebate on points redemptions, for up to 100,000 points back each year

That first perk is key — you’re basically paying $49 per year for an annual free night at any IHG property, which is a phenomenal deal. IHG has over 5,000 hotels around the world, and I think almost everyone can extract more than $49 of value out of a free night at one.

Here are the terms & conditions of the annual free night certificate offered by the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, at least as far as Chase is concerned:

Chase Anniversary Free Night is valid at hotels in the IHG® Rewards Club Family of Brands and must be redeemed, and stay must be completed, within 12 months from date of issue. Anniversary Free Night is valid for one standard room night rate and applicable taxes only. Rooms are limited, subject to prior sale and availability of allocated resources and may be unavailable during high demand periods. Anniversary Free Night may not be transferred, extended beyond the expiration date, redeemed for cash, or re-credited for points. Individual hotel’s cancellation policy applies to the use of the Anniversary Free Night. Cancellation fees apply if cancellation is made outside of the hotel’s cancellation time period. Anniversary Free Night rules and regulations are subject to change. Chase is not responsible for offer fulfillment.

You can find the certificate by logging into your IHG account, and then clicking on “Free Night Status.” Once there, you should see any available free nights listed, along with their expiration date. The expiration date (and issue date) should coincide with your cardmember anniversary. In my case, I have an anniversary night valid through April 7, 2017.

IHG-Free-Night-1

Per the Chase terms, your free night has to be consumed for a stay by the expiration date. However, it seems that things are interpreted differently on IHG’s end, as IHG just requires you to make a reservation by the expiration date, and not actually complete the stay by then. The catch is that you forfeit the free night if you cancel your booking after the certificate’s expiration date.

For example, even though my certificate expires in April, I’m able to make a New Years Eve booking at the InterContinental London Park Lane, which retails for 449GBP that night.

IHG-Free-Night-2

IHG-Free-Night-4

While this isn’t how I’m choosing to use my free night, I had no issues using my certificate for a stay after the expiration date.

There’s no guarantee that this will be possible forever, though up until now that’s how it works.

In theory this means you can use anniversary nights from two different years for a back-to-back booking. For example, my certificates seem to be issued on March 28, and expire on April 7 the following year. That means I could make a booking now for a stay on August 1 (for example), and then when my new night is issued on March 28, I could use that to make a booking for the night of August 2 at the same hotel, pending availability.

Bottom line

In practice you have nearly two years to stay using the anniversary night offered on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. You have to book the stay within about a year, though can stay on a subsequent date. At least that’s how it works in practice, though that could always change.

This card really is a no brainer for just about anyone, as you’re essentially paying $49 per year for a certificate valid at any IHG property. Also keep in mind that this card isn’t subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

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Comments

  1. Great post. I was wondering myself how it worked. I was looking at a few hotels and noticed I could attach my certificate to nights beyond the expiry. This helps immensely, thanks…

  2. Do you get a free night your first year or have ot wait till after your first year? I dont see this tab anywhere

  3. You don’t get free night your 1st year.

    I’ve had no problem in the past using my free night for a future date. Last year I used mine at Bora Bora in March, when it had to be booked by that prior December.

  4. Thank you so much as this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been thinking about this problem that we now have as we are traveling to Argentina in Sept. 2017 and would love to stay at the InterCon in BA.

  5. Useful! I just booked a night in August at the IC London – The O2 with my current free night! I thought I was going to have to wait until my anniversary in July to get the next valid certificate. Now I can use the next one in NYC and not have to ‘waste’ this one! (Waste = staying locally or using at a HIX) 😀

  6. Correct Lucky my Annual date Nov 1 I booked 1 nite Kona before and 1 nite after BOTH Free and I put one in the middle ($189) before just to be on the Safe side 3 nites total .Perfect Deal KEEPER CARD .
    Hawaii this weekend

  7. “This card really is a no brainer for just about anyone . . . Also keep in mind that this card isn’t subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule.”

    Lucky, I am a very loyal reader, but either I don’t understand 5/24 correctly or this is terribly misleading. I am currently at 4/24 and have been holding off getting a new credit card for awhile in case another similar 100,000 point Sapphire Reserve offer (i.e., an offer to good to refuse) comes along. So if I got this card now, I would then be at 5/24 and would be prevented from getting any new amazing sign-up offer from Chase that is subject to 5/24 for months (and by that time, the sign-up offer may not be around). I was able to get the 100,000 points for Sapphire Reserve after waiting to get under 5/24. I also downgraded Sapphire Preferred to Freedom and thereby gave up the 15,000 point sign-up offer to avoid pushing me up to 5.

    So getting the card is NOT a no brainer for someone at 4/24, and the card is subject to 5/24 in that it could bring you up to 5 (or if over 5, delay the time it takes to get you back under 5).

    If I am analyzing this incorrectly, please feel free to correct me. Otherwise, someone who doesn’t understand all this stuff could be awfully upset if they unknowingly followed your advice on this one. Thanks.

  8. Hubby and I both got this card a couple of years ago on the same day. That way our certificates issue and expire at the same time in July. We used them last year for two nights in Madrid at the Hotel Indigo in October. We are thinking of using this year’s and next year’s together this fall. Maybe San Francisco.

  9. @SharonG Thanks–I did read that post but that references which cards you can get if you are at or over 5 credit cards in 24 months. It doesn’t address whether any new card that is not subject to 5/24 would impact your ability to get a new card that IS subject to 5/24. As an oversimplified example, suppose you had no credit cards and you got 6 new Chase credit cards in the same month that are not subject to 5/24. When you applied for your first Chase credit card that is subject to 5/24, you could not sign up for it and get the bonus because you are then at 6/24, not 0/24. I’d love to be shown to be wrong–it would make my life a lot easier.

  10. @ DSK — All personal cards count towards 5/24. A few cards (such as the IHG card), don’t use the 5/24 rule when determining approval, as those cards are not subject to the 5/24 rule.

    So your thinking is correct, and if you’re at 4/24 I would probably wait on this card, personally. You’ll likely still be able to get it once you cross the 5/24 threshold.

  11. @Tiffany. Thanks for the clarification and for the record, I’ve always agreed with so many other commentators who think your articles are the greatest!

  12. @DSK–All personal cards, regardless of issuer, count in the tally Chase uses to decide if you have opened 5 cards in the past 24 months. The statement about not being subjected to the 5/24 rule refers to whether that rule is used by Chase to allow you to open the card.

  13. I’m hoping this applies to Hillton Honours Free Weekend nights too, but I doubt it.
    It’s a great pity that most of the credit cards featured on your site are no or low fee, and give generous benefits. They are only available to American residents. Not so here in Australia where the only such card available is the Macquarie Bank Hilton Honours card that costs $199 p.a. and has nowhere near similar benefits.

  14. DSK – I don’t think every blog post about credit cards needs to include a 5/24 warning/lesson. People need to figure this stuff out for themselves.

  15. I’ve had the IHG card for about 8 months and tried using the free night certificate twice with no luck. Lesser properties have availability, but anything “aspirational” like an Intercontinental isn’t available. I will admit that I’m usually trying to book within a few weeks.

  16. I wanna ask about sign up bonus – 60k after spending 1k. Is it promotional/increased signup bonus? Or it’s always been 60k?

    Btw, it’s odd/rare that lucky did not mention signup bonus when talking about cc. ^_^

  17. I used two free nights at the IC Park Lane just last October during #RTW16. As Ambassador I got upgraded to Terrace room but had to pay for Lounge access but great Lounge

  18. I had a free IHG night expiring 12/9/16 and made a reservation on 12/516 for a stay on 12/21/16 and had no problems.

  19. @Robert F ?

    You can’t get a free night certificate at 8 months, you only get it at the point of renewal each year.

    You do get points as a sign up bonus, and you can book a “free” night with those.

    I’ve never had a problem booking a room with either points or certificates. The only exception I can imagine is if the hotel is so booked that no basic rooms are available even for cash bookings. We’ve stayed at the IC in Hong Kong the last two years with points/certificates and are booked for that again next Summer. If you are having problems booking award reservations, I’d call the IHG Club number (not the reservation number) and ask them for assistance.

  20. @Robert Hanson
    Thanks for your reply! I do have the cert in my account and I get the “Book Free Night” button. But when I use it as part of the search criteria, only the lesser IHG’s show availability. Here’s are two randomly chosen examples: Try to use the Free Night for Wednesday 11/15 in San Francisco or Wednesday 10/18 in NYC.

    That should be a pretty easy find. 6+ months out, middle of the week, no holiday, kids in school. But you won’t find a free night at an Intercontinental Hotel. And SF has two of them.

    I think my beef with this blog post is the whole “no brainer!” perspective. $49 for a golden ticket ain’t a no brainer if you can’t use it.

  21. @Mark R

    I was wondering about that. I searched and it offered a free night beyond the expiration date — maybe it would deny at final booking page?. Yours took and no one raised an issue at the hotel or before?

    @Robert F

    I just checked and the Mark Hopkins/SF and the Barclay and Intercon Times Square are all available. You selecting “only” Intercon properties during search?

  22. What happens if I book the free night in advance and need to change later before the next anniversary date? Do I still get my free night back? I want to book in advance but also want the flexible to change the date/location later if needed.

  23. @ MC — You only get the free night back if you cancel before the original expiration date of the anniversary night.

  24. I booked 2 nights at IC Athens. now I need to change the dates by a couple of days. do you think calling the hotel would help? the free nights have expired, but made the original booking before the expiry date.

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