Everything You Need To Know About The IHG Annual Free Night Certificate

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Last week Chase introduced an increased sign-up bonus on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which is one of my favorite hotel credit cards. This is a credit card I’ve had for years, and one I plan on keeping as long as the current benefits stick around. I find this to be the single hotel credit card that should be most useful to the most people, given the perks it offers.

At the moment the card is offering a sign-up bonus of:

  • 80,000 IHG Rewards Club points after spending $1,000 on the card within the first three months
  • An additional 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within the same timeframe

The card offers several long term perks that more than justify the $49 annual fee (which is waived the first year), including:

  • 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

With that in mind, in this post I wanted to talk a bit more about the annual free night certificate offered by the IHG Card, which I find to be so valuable. You’re basically paying $49 per year for a free night certificate that can be redeemed for virtually any IHG property. Here’s what you need to know about this:

When do you get your first IHG Card anniversary free night certificate?

This is an anniversary free night certificate, so you get your first free night certificate about 12 months after you’ve opened your card. That’s all the more reason to get the card as soon as possible, so that you’ll also get your first certificate as soon as possible.

How long is the IHG Card anniversary free night certificate valid?

Here are the terms associated with redeeming the free night certificate:

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.

So the terms state that the stay has to be booked and completed within a year of when the certificate is issued. However, in practice (and this could change at any time), the way that IHG enforces this is that you need to book the stay by the expiration date, and it’s okay if the stay is after the expiration date.

For example, my free night certificate expires on April 6. 2018.

However, I have no problem booking a stay for next June in New York, after the certificate expires.

However, do remember that if you want to make any changes you’ll have to do so before the expiration date, or else you’ll forfeit the certificate. You can’t reuse the certificate after its expiration date.

Are there blackout dates for the IHG Card anniversary free night certificate?

The IHG Card anniversary free night certificate comes from the same inventory as points stays, so if you can redeem points for a stay, you can also redeem this certificate.

IHG Rewards Club advertises “no blackout dates,” though this is different than the “no blackout dates” policies from Hyatt and Starwood. Let me explain:

  • With Hyatt and Starwood you can redeem points for a stay as long as a standard room is available for sale
  • Meanwhile with IHG Rewards Club, they allocate a certain amount of inventory to points bookings, so there will be some availability every night, but not every standard room is available on points

If planning in advance this shouldn’t be an issue. Just don’t expect you can redeem in Times Square over New Years (which sounds like my personal hell, unless I’m going to the Olive Garden New Years Eve Gala, in which case yay), for example, but otherwise you shouldn’t have too many issues.

How do I redeem my IHG Card anniversary free night certificate?

On your card’s anniversary the free night certificate will automatically be deposited into your IHG Rewards Club account.

To access it, log into your IHG Rewards Club account and click on the “My Account” section.

Then on the left side you’ll see a section which reads “Free Night Status.” You’ll want to click on that.

Alternatively you can just follow this link and log into your account.

That will bring you to the Chase Anniversary Free Night certificate, including the link to click in order to complete your booking.

You’ll then be brought to the main IHG booking page, where you’ll see the “Chase Anniversary Free Night” listed as one of the options.

Once you enter a destination you’ll see all the options for redeeming your certificate.

The final confirmation page will show the cancelation policy for the booking, which should be similar to the policy when redeeming points (you can typically cancel until a few days before arrival, but it varies by property).

Can I get more than one free night each year with the IHG Card?

Each cardmember can get at most one anniversary free night certificate. If you want to stay longer, you can pay:

  • Redeem points for a second stay
  • Have a friend or spouse also get the IHG Card, and then redeem for back to back stays

Is the IHG Card really worth getting for the annual free night certificate?

When you take everything else out of the equation, this boils down to paying $49 per year for an annual free night certificate. Even without much effort, I feel like just about everyone should be able to get outsized value out of that.

For example, a couple of years ago I redeemed my certificate at the InterContinental London The O2 for an Adele concert, when paid rates would have been $400+ per night.

Meanwhile just a couple of months ago I redeemed my certificate for the InterContinental Hong Kong, where rates would have been $300+.

Both of these redemptions didn’t take much effort, and were cases where staying at an IHG property was the most convenient option. I could have easily redeemed at properties where the paid rate would have been more.

Bottom line

There are a lot of great perks to the IHG Card, though if nothing else the card is worth picking up for the annual free night certificate, which just about anyone should get more than $49 of value out of. If there are any aspects of the certificate I didn’t cover above, please let me know!

If you have the IHG Card, where have you redeemed your anniversary free night certificate?

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Comments

  1. Lucky,

    What is IHG’s standard room? 1-king or 2-queen?

    Also is it possible to use the free night certificate and upgrade to a larger room or suite, via cash?
    points? comped through free Platinum status?

    Thanks!

  2. Does Chase’s 5/24 rule apply to this card? I know it would count toward the 5, but is it a test for approval?

  3. To confirm one of Ben’s points above, each of the past two years, I have used the Annual Free Night to book a night AFTER the cert’s “expiration date”. In fact, this year, I booked a night that was “after expiration” and had to cancel it. Since it was before the expiration date, the Free Night was recredited to my account within minutes. Then before the original expiration date, I made another booking for after the expiration date … no problem.

    If I had cancelled the first booking AFTER the expiration date, I don’t KNOW what would happen, but expect the Free Night would NOT be recredited.

  4. @ JL — It all depends on the hotel, but most hotels have standard rooms that have both one and two beds. Typically hotels are willing to let you pay for an upgrade, but you have to contact them directly. I’ve certainly received upgrades as well on points and free night stays as an IHG Platinum member, though that’s most common at non-InterContinental properties.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Something to be aware, not all IHG properties are available to book via point/free night certs. For example, the Intercontinental Ko Samui doesn’t offer any rooms on points at any time which is really lame.

  6. The first pic looks like the IC Singapore which is where l used mine a few months ago. After a recent renovation, the hotel is gorgeous.

  7. Used mine last year for the Venetian in Vegas. They were overbooked for standard rooms when I checked in, so got upgraded to a suite due to the Platinum status that comes with the card. Definitely worth it.

  8. Used mine at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco last week, which would have been over $200, and got an upgrade to a large corner room as a result of Platinum status. Not a huge fan of IHG in general, but this hotel was actually a very nice surprise.

  9. Both my wife and me have a card and we’re using our two nights at the Intercontinental Sydney in August.

  10. What if I book a future stay prior to the expiration date then modify the existing reservation to another future date at the same hotel after the expiration date, would I be able to make the change since the original reservation booking date was before the expiration date?

  11. Can I gift my free night certificate to family members without my own name being on the reservation, too? I understand that most international properties do not allow more than 2 guests in the room and I want to gift my certificate to my parents for a trip outside US, so to include my own name would make us 3 and thus too large for official room occupancy rules. Thanks.

  12. Regarding so called black out dates and points, despite trying for last few years, some 11 months in advance I have never been able to book a London IHG room on New Years Eve.

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