The 330 IHG Hotels Where You Can’t Redeem Free Night Certificates Anymore

Earlier today I wrote about how a major change was made to the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card. The best benefit of this card has been that it offers an anniversary free night certificate just for paying the $49 annual fee on the card, which is a heck of a deal. You could redeem this at virtually any IHG hotel in the world, including InterContinentals that would otherwise cost up to 70,000 points per night.

That’s changing. For IHG anniversary free night certificates issued on May 1, 2018, or later, you can only redeem at properties that cost up to 40,000 points per night. IHG free night awards cost anywhere from 5,000 to 70,000 points per night, so this excludes many of IHG’s top properties.

IHG has now published a full list of properties where you can’t redeem your anniversary free night certificate. IHG has over 5,300 hotels in the world, and there are 330 hotels where you can’t redeem this certificate. Here’s the breakdown by brand:

  • 75 InterContinentals
  • 62 Kimptons
  • 25 Hotel Indigos
  • 3 EVENs
  • 29 Crowne Plazas
  • 66 Holiday Inns
  • 61 Holiday Inn Expresses
  • 8 Staybridge Suites
  • 1 Candlewood Suites

This is of course an unfortunate change that I’m not at all happy about. On the plus side, only about 6% of properties are excluded. Of course those are also among the properties that are most desirable, given that much of IHG’s portfolio includes roadside Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses.

Still, there are a good number of hotels you can redeem at. While 75 InterContinentals are excluded, that still leaves 100+ InterContinentals where you can redeem.

Going forward, what this comes down to is that you’ll come out ahead as long as you’re able to redeem anywhere, given that almost any IHG hotel will retail for more than $49 per night. I know the temptation for a lot of people is to cancel the card since a huge amount of value is being lost here. Personally I still think there’s value in the card, even if it’s just for a decent airport or city hotel.

While we’re (understandably) all disappointed, do you see yourself still getting value out of this benefit, or do you plan on canceling the card?

Comments

  1. Great article! Lucky, consider adding an addendum or a reply about 4-5 hotels that don’t qualify. That would give us prospective card holders some idea of whether to apply.

    In particular, what Holiday Inn Expresses don’t qualify? I thought they were a sub-Hilton Garden Inn but better than Comfort Inn chain. Also are there many IHG’s in Manhattan or downtown Chicago that qualify for an award?

  2. Hubby and I will keep ours. $49/night is still cheaper than we will find at a cash rate. This makes IHG similar to Marriott’s and Hyatt’s “free nights”

  3. See the last link. Here’s a partial answer.

    Some Holiday Inn Expresses that don’t qualify.
    Holiday Inn Express Monterey-Cannery Row
    Holiday Inn Express Mountain View – S Palo Alto
    Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Union Square
    Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Times Square South
    Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Fishermans Wharf
    Holiday Inn Express New York City – Chelsea
    Holiday Inn Express New York City Times Square
    Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia ARPT
    Holiday Inn Express New York City-Wall Street
    Holiday Inn Express Anchorage
    Holiday Inn Express Boston – Cambridge
    Holiday Inn Express San Francisco-Airport North
    Holiday Inn Express Boston
    Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley San Francisco Area
    Holiday Inn Express San Diego – Mission Valley
    Holiday Inn Express Indianapolis – Southeast
    Holiday Inn Express Los Angeles Airport Hawthorne
    Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport-Old Town
    Holiday Inn Express London – Victoria
    Holiday Inn Express Seattle-City Center
    Holiday Inn Express San Diego Downtown
    Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre
    Holiday Inn Express London – City
    Holiday Inn Express Pensacola Beach
    Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay Hong Kong
    Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Airport/Cruise
    Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon
    Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Midtown West
    Holiday Inn Express Kailua-Kona
    Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport Area
    Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown Conf Ctr
    Holiday Inn Express Boston Garden
    Holiday Inn Express Chicago – Magnificent Mile
    Holiday Inn Express Hollywood Walk Of Fame

    So many high rent areas are excluded but a few not so high, like Indianapolis and Nashville

  4. Also
    Candlewood Suites New York City- Times Square
    Staybridge Suites Times Square – New York City
    Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Ave – Chelsea
    Holiday Inn New York City – Times Square
    Holiday Inn Manhattan-Financial District
    Holiday Inn New York City – Wall Street
    Holiday Inn NYC – Lower East Side
    Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York
    Hotel Indigo Brooklyn
    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts New York Barclay

    Count on many Intercontinental Hotels out, even
    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts Milwaukee
    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts Kansas City At The Plaza
    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts New Orleans

  5. For the road warrior who travels to many cities, not that horrible a change.

    For the occasional business traveler that wants to save on business expenses and use an award, beware. The cities you visit might not offer an award.

    For the driver that drives on the highway a lot, not much change.

  6. My conclusion is that I will still consider this card but it is less attractive. I travel about 6-8 times a year. Half of those will now be off limits, cities like NYC (Manhattan).

    Due to not wanting to apply to too many cards, I may delay applying for a few months.

  7. I’m having trouble deciding what to do. I don’t really stay at Intercontinentals anymore, so it hardly makes sense for me to keep it. I accidentally let last year’s certificate expire. The same goes for my Hyatt card (and that free night as well). What I’d love to do is consolidate all of my Chase cards (Freedom, Slate, CSP, Hyatt, IHG) into a CSR, but I’ve had my Chase cards the longest. I suppose I could just keep everything open and try to make up a use for the Hyatt and IHG nights to make sure I get something out of them, but that seems like a lot of work at this point (I have less time than I did before).

  8. It’s kind of like the Club Carlson card now. Before their double devaluation, you could easily get 2 nights at a $400+ hotel for the $75 annual fee. Now you can get maybe one night every two years at the nicest properties with your 40,000 points at renewal. Still worth more than $75, but definitely not 10x the fee value like it was before.

  9. Hard to say. I’d been using it to stay at the Hotel Indigo Hong Kong, which I totally love. Cash rates there are ~$300 USD, which made the card a winner.

    I might drop the card in protest; I basically take one huge trip a year, often through a major city. So it’s not like I’m always doing something where that card will come in handy.

    I do like the Hotel Indigo enough were I may consider paying cash there. The flip side is there is the Hyatt Regency TST that is (unless it’s changed) still a Category 4. That may be the better value play in HK now.

    RIP.

  10. It depends on if they keep the annual fee at $49. Some have reported the new card will have a $89 fee. Not sure if existing card members will be grandfathered.

  11. Any update on the anniversary night for the Hilton card due to the Aspire change? I hit my card anniversary a few weeks ago and still haven’t gotten my anniversary night.

  12. Is it just me or did they update the language to say the stay must be completed (not just booked) within 12 months of issue date?

  13. @Dan:

    Same for me. Love that Hotel Indigo. Great location. Cool rooftop swimming pool. Well-thought-out and stylish rooms. I’ve used my free night there multiple times. So this is a sad development, though not totally unsurprising I guess.

  14. So they are excluding the properties that require exactly 40k points but state in the terms of the list that the certificate can be used at properties of 40k points or less?

  15. Aren’t they going to just roll the people with this card into the new product with the higher AF? I don’t think they are going to carry on getting a free night for $49.

  16. I guess what would be most helpful for me is a list of what hotels in major cities or vacation capitals – New York, London, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, etc. – I actually COULD still use the certificate at. If there are some, then I’d probably keep it. The difficulty is that my travel usually takes me to some sort of major city, and if I can’t use the certificate at IHG properties in major cities, then it’s just no longer worth it for me.

  17. You could have made this much simpler.

    Here’s the list of properties where you can’t use your free night cert: anyplace you might want to stay.

    I do not need a credit card that gives me a free night at a cheap motel. No thanks.
    This card will be canceled.

  18. Disappointing indeed. I was hoping to use my first free night certificate, which I’ll earn in July, at the IC Hong Kong in September. Not sure I’ll keep the card for years as I had planned. Getting a free night in a $100 Holiday Inn Express in exchange for a $49 (or $89) annual fee is pretty lame, and I have a hard time working up enthusiasm for concentrating stays at IHG properties in a world with Marriott/Starwood and Hyatt.

  19. On face value, this card is still a good value. Paying $49 to be able to stay at a Holiday Inn that would otherwise cost $100, I guess you’re still coming out ahead. But in the end, you still lose because you’re staying at a Holiday Inn. I would never pay $49 to stay at a Holiday Inn regardless of what the retail price is for that room.

    What really irks me the most about this change is that it was done with no notice. I, like many others, applied for this card just last week with a promise that I would be able to get a free night at any IHG hotel and that promise was rescinded even before I physically received the card. This seems like some seriously unethical business practice. Really disappointed in Chase and IHG for this shady move.

  20. And I literally just received this card in the mail today. $49 af could still be a keeper but however, it will be cancelled if IHG raises the af.

  21. @Smart Money And Travel

    Details according to FrugalTravelGuy:

    “Apparently, Chase is discontinuing the current version of the IHG Credit Card with a $49 annual fee and replacing it with two new cards: one with a $29 annual fee and another with an $89 annual fee.”

    “The details of the card with the lower fee include: 60,000 IHG Rewards points for a sign-up bonus 5X points per dollar spent at IHG properties $29 annual fee.”

    “The details of the card with the higher annual fee include: 80,000 IHG Rewards points for a sign-up bonus 10X points per dollar spent at IHG properties 10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 on the card annually 4th night free on award stays Anniversary free night at eligible hotels Platinum Elite status Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years 20% discount on point purchases $89 annual fee.”

  22. Disappointing devaluation, all of the hotels I’ve used the free night in the past are now exvluded. But the card is still great value: 40,000 IHG points are worth approx. $200, so you still get 4x on your annual fee.
    I will keep the card for the time being. The letter suggests there might be an upgrade option, let’s see what that entails…

  23. See @Stanley’s post 2 posts up.

    Current card $49 – a nice card
    Current card $49 with 40,000 point free stay per year (or is it less than 40,000 points?) – good to fair, according to your needs

    Rumored new card $29 – nice sign up bonus but 5X points per dollar spent at IHG will have limited appeal except for the traveling salesperson road warrior that travels by highway and stays at moderately priced Holiday Inns

    Rumored new card $89 – big sign up bonus but one anniversary stay (40,000 points) and benefits that not everyone will use (Global Entry might be had with an airline, $20,000 yearly spend is a lot for 10,000 points, etc.)

  24. Seriously, can only redeem for a $99 Holiday Inn Express that I would never stay anyway..WTF

    I have hundreds of thousands SPG points. Bye Bye IHG card

  25. After Alaskan Airlines cards impromptu huge points hike for Emirates FC a while back and now this from the IHG card it is starting to make it very easy to decide what cards to keep or discard. I am still scratching my head at the point of the Club Carlson card…still another disappointing move.

  26. 1) I applied for the IHG card a couple of years ago, back when InterContinentals were routinely on the PointBreaks list. Then IHG pretty much stopped putting them on there.

    2) Then, last year, IHG devalued the PointBreaks program. With the various tiers of points needed for the lackluster properties it’s like getting a pretty good discount on an orange sweater.

    3) Now they’ve devalued the annual free night.

    Would I apply for the IHG card today? Nope. So there’s your answer – I will definitely be canceling the card before my next renewal date.

  27. @ TOM….I would say it is less valuable than the Club Carlson card you are comparing it to since you don’t actually get the 40k points…you get a certificate to stay at a hotel costing up to 40k points that EXPIRES. With Club Carlson you actually get the 40k points in your account annually so you can either use or save for a more aspirational property. To me the certificate and the expiration is worth much less than what CC is offering on their card. I’m out when my card comes up for renewal after so many years. Will be interesting to see how this impacts IHG as I am sure there will be a ton of people cancelling their cards.

  28. I have seen a few properties added that are below the 40k a night threshold like Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District which is 25k a night. The Indigo there is also 40k and excluded. Also Holiday Inn Asheville Downtown and Holiday Inn Asheville – Biltmore West. These are usually low price point properties, surprised to see them listed. I would never actually use my night at any of these properties, just pointing out that the 40k a night doesn’t always apply.

  29. @MJ, I called and they gave me some crazy story about taking 9-12 weeks to send the email. My anniversary date hit on the same day as the transition from Citi Reserve to Ascend. But, on my Hilton Honors account page account activity page there was a line item about the anniversary night.

    So, I called reservations and they were able to use the night for an existing reservation.

    So, you might have it, but just haven’t received the certificate.

  30. Any chance you think this letter is backtracked or advise ways to express cardholder frustration through a more productive medium?

  31. I kicked around the idea of getting this card for so long and right now I’m pretty happy I held back. If I had it already I would keep it but I most certainly no longer feel it’s worth it.

  32. My husband actually received a letter in the mail today stating that from here forward he would only be receiving a stay at hotels costing 40,000 or less points for his free night. I had actually signed up for the card a couple of weeks ago after waiting for a better sign up bonus. I didn’t want to lost the free anywhere night when everyone thought that they might change cards. It will now count towards one of my 5/24 and i won’t get the free anywhere night. So depressing.

  33. Jeez. Just got the card, just completed the minimum spend, and I’m like others who are going to chuck it. I need just the slightest bit of charm in a hotel stay and it just ain’t showing up on this list…

  34. “10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 on the card annually” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Very funny!!!!!!!!!!

  35. So if my certificate was issued before May 1, can I still book the higher cost hotels
    for dates later in the year ??

  36. Applied last week and got notice of receiving the card this week. If I would know now what I didn’t then I would definitely NOT APPLIED!

  37. @ Ben – I think that this was just a matter of time because for a long time this deal was too good to be true. With this said, while people may gripe about the types of hotels and the number of hotels that are not on the list, on the other hand, let us say you redeem your certificate for a night at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express – sure, it is not as good of a return as a $500/night InterContinental, but still that room could be worth $150 or so, which is still good value for $49.

  38. I agree with some above comments. IHG went about it in a shady way with no notice. I spoke to them live just a few weeks ago about using the certificate at any hotel worldwide. Thanks for your full disclosure.

    Here is my protest. Be sure to read the last half. I will keep the card with a $49 sign up, but I will protest by only using the card only as a rare back up card and move my Marriott Card/Spg or Hyatt card to the first card to use and the IHG card to the bottom of the list for use. The percentage of revenue IHG/Chase will lose ( as part of the approx 3.0% cc processing fee) that they get on every “sale” will cost them plenty. So if IHG/Chase thinks they are not hurt because they receive only $49 as an annual fee yet they give up a $100-$200 room they are wrong. They will lose hundreds if not thousands in lost revenue from reduced cc processing fee revenue even from just one person when the IHG card is NOT used except in the rarest of circumstances. That will be my protest.

  39. I agreed to this credit card and fees because of the perks associated. When the fees are due again I will decline to pay and cancel the card because of this bait and switch. I’m sure they are doing this because it will increase profit. If enough people cancel their cards maybe companies will learn. Plenty of other CC that have perks, might get the Hilton card.

  40. IHG has updated the ineligible property list. It now consists of 198 properties: 64 ICs, 62 Kimptons, 14 Indigos, 2 EVENs, 24 CPs, 22 HIs, 8 HIXs, 1 Staybridge, & 1 Candlewood.

  41. I will probably cancel and focus on my Marriott as I prefer their hotels anyway. IHG will lose the days I pay over and above the free day.

  42. I signed up last year, during the big promo for 80,000 points. Of course, my spouse signed up as well. We had plans for both of these free nights in Japan. Our nights should post on August 1. But now only one of our 3 hotels qualifies. This was a very underhanded, bait and switch by IHG/Chase. They knew last year that they were changing these cards features. But still promoted the free night usable at any IHG hotel. We will take our free nights in August, use them where we can. Then after that we will cancel the cards. These companies think that they all have the upper hand and we are just little peons. We should all cancel this card because there truly are other cards that are more rewarding on travel spend.

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