When Do You Get Your First IHG Card Anniversary Free Night Certificate?

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I consider the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card to be the single most well rounded hotel credit card out there. The card has only a $49 annual fee (which is even waived the first year), and offers the following, in addition to the solid sign-up bonus:

  • 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
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card, which gets you bonus points, room upgrades, etc.
  • A 10% rebate on points redemptions, for up to 100,000 points back each year

To me, the annual free night certificate is hugely valuable. It gets you a free night at any IHG hotel in the world, and best of all, you only have to book by the expiration date, though can stay on a subsequent date. This is the only hotel credit card that gives you a free night annually with no “caps” on the category of hotel you can redeem at.

IHG-Free-Night-2

Given IHG’s huge global footprint of hotels, I think just anyone can get outsized value from that. I recently used my annual free night certificate on the card at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

InterContinental-Hong-Kong - 17

One way to really get more value out of the free night certificate is to have your significant other/friend/travel companion get the card as well. If you both get an annual free night certificate, then you can use the certificates for back-to-back stays, and I know two night stays are more useful to many than one night stays.

But there’s one simple detail of this certificate that confuses a lot of people. Reader Paul emailed to ask a question I get quite a bit about this card — do you get the IHG Card anniversary night certificate starting right away, or only after a year?

Since this is an anniversary free night certificate, you get your first certificate on your card’s first anniversary, so about 12 months after you initially open the card. Unlike many other hotel cards, this one has the first year’s annual fee waived, so you’ll get it around the same time that you pay your first annual fee on the card. That’s one of the reasons you’ll want to apply for this card as soon as you can, so you can start the clock towards when you can start taking advantage of this awesome benefit.

Keep in mind that the IHG Card isn’t subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so you’re eligible for the bonus on this card even if you’ve opened more than five accounts in the past 24 months.

If you don’t yet have the IHG Card, it really is the most well rounded hotel credit card out there, in my opinion.

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – Isn’t the free night on the Hilton Surpass available at virtually any Hilton property as well? Making the IHG 1 of 2 of this type of card?

  2. @ Zack — That’s a one time bonus on the first anniversary, and not an annual benefit like on this card.

  3. One top; if a couple is getting the cards, having anniversary dates that are close facilitated bookings.

  4. can you have more than one of these cards simultaneously and therefore 2+ free nights per year per person?

  5. @ Jack — You can be approved for it in spite of having exceeded the 5/24 limit, but yes, applying for any personal card would count as a card towards the 5/24 limit.

  6. Just booked and used my annual reward nights for Hotel Indigo Rome Italy normally $300.00 per night

  7. @ Lucky –

    I hold the IHG credit card. I tried to use my annual night recently and had problems. I tried to use it during a four night reservation. The website said that the nightly total was around $185 with using the certificate. If I selected not use the certificate, then the nightly total was around $350 per night. I called the representative. One said that you can only redeem the certificate on the phone. The supervisor suggested that I book it as separate reservations, which I refused because then the nightly total of the other nights was much higher, and was given the Rewards Club email address. No response. Then, a week later, I called back and explained the situation and was asked to resend the proof and still haven’t heard back. What would you suggest?

    Here’s something that I have not seen you discuss – the IHG Ambassador membership. https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/ambassador/join – While it gives many of the benefits that you get because of having high status with the Rewards Club due to having the IHG credit card, I value the anniversary night being worth the $200 fee because you are basically paying $200 for a free night, if nothing else, at any InterContinental branded property each year that could much easily be worth more. Furthermore, IHG confirmed to me that this can be combined in the same reservation with your Chase IHG Visa card anniversary, so effectively you pay $249 (for the credit card and the membership) for two free nights!

  8. Is it still true that you can book before it expires for a date after it expires? I just got my 2nd cert posted and there is a one week overlap when they are both valid, and it explicitly says you have to book AND stay before the expiration date. I wasn’t sure if the language and overlap is due to the book/stay rule actually being enforced now or if it’s the same as it always was.

  9. This is the only one of my travel credit cards that I will NEVER cancel. That’s as long as everything remains status-quo. It’s one of the best deals out there and has made me more loyal to the IHG brand. My only complaint is that I just wish that I could redeem my points for a higher-class of room.

  10. Using mine right now at the Intercontinental Beijing. Not the best property but well…it only cost me $49 :0)

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