I Got A Very Nice Surprise From My IHG Rewards Credit Card


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It was in March last year that we first started receiving information that Chase and IHG were planning some changes to their IHG Rewards credit card and it was less than a week later that we finally got confirmation that one of the best benefits in the miles & points world was being significantly devalued.

The IHG Rewards credit card (which is no longer open to new applicants) costs just $49 per year and, up until last year, it offered a free night at any IHG property in the world as one of its key benefits.

As someone who used one such free night at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa, I can attest to how much value it was possible to get out of this benefit, so when Chase said this…

Currently, we award this Anniversary Free Night each year after your anniversary date, and it is redeemable at any IHG property. Going forward, Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018, will be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points.

…it was news that wasn’t received particularly well by IHG Rewards credit card holders.

I was quite lucky in that my credit card year starts in April so the free night I received in April 2018 was still valid for any property in the IHG portfolio (regardless of cost), and I made sure I put that night to good use at the InterContinental Sydney.

I made that free night booking back in May 2018 so, ever since then, I haven’t really thought much about the free night award that comes with the old IHG Rewards credit card…and I didn’t even give it much thought when a new free night award appeared in my account in April this year.

A couple of days ago I realized that I was going to need to spend a night in London later this year and, as I would be traveling alone, I didn’t need anything particularly special.

London is an expensive city but it also happens to have a few IHG properties which cost 40,000 points or less, so this seemed like a good opportunity to make use of my free night certificate.

I opened up the IHG website and, after making sure I had selected the “Chase Anniversary Free Night” rate,…

…I searched for a suitable property.

The results returned a good number of available properties for the dates which worked best for me so that was a promising start to my search.

As I generally like to see where each of my options is located, I switched the search results to the ‘map view’ that IHG offers…and that’s when I noticed something odd.

The IHG site was offering me the InterContinental Park Lane as an option for my free night award:

I thought that this may just be an IHG glitch so I clicked through to the property to see what would happen….and I was presented with a screen that invited me to book the property for free:

Let’s not forget that Chase had said the following back in the first half of 2018…

Going forward, Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018, will be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points

…and I knew beyond all doubt that the InterContinental Park Lane was definitely not a property which costs 40,000 points (or less) per night….but I checked nonetheless.

Sure enough, for the same date that I had just searched (13 August 2019), the InterContinental Park Lane was offering rooms for 70,000 points per night.

This result wasn’t just limited to that one date or even to just London properties.

Here are the two InterContinentals in LA available for free in March 2020

…and here are the two InterContinentals in Paris available in 2020 as well:

Bottom Line

Clearly this isn’t a glitch – it’s something that has been done deliberately by IHG.

Although I vaguely recall there being some sort of extension offered to people who had taken out the IHG Rewards credit card shortly before the devaluation, I had absolutely no idea (or expectation) that a free night issued to me in 2019 (a year after the devaluation was announced) would allow me to book any IHG property worldwide as far into the future as 2020 (two years after the devaluation was announced).

Needless to say, this was a pretty nice surprise 🙂

P.S I’m no longer burning this free night on a meaningless stay in London – I’ll find somewhere nice to take Joanna and pair the free night certificate with my InterConentienal Ambassador free weekend night to give us both a good 3-night break.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Ziggy for this article. I am seeing the same thing for my Free Night Certificate, which was issued in 2019 and I have not used it yet. My wife also has one Free Night Certificate, so looks like we have to plan for a trip to somewhere with nice Intercontinental luxury hotel (.. for $49 per night … 🙂 ).

  2. After they first announced that new cert issued after May 1st 2018 would be restricted, they immediately back tracked and announced that all certificates, not just who got a new card, issued before May 1, 2019 will get 1 final unrestricted cert. Also, it is known that the new type of unrestricted cert issued in 2019 will only good for stay with checkout up to 9 days past the cert expire date. Before, it was known trick that the cert exp date was not enforced as long as you book any stay before the cert exp date and stay can happen months if not an year after the exp date. Not any more… only good for exactly 9 days past exp date.

  3. 1st. You missed out on a great hotel. I used an Ambassador Cert and got the bilevel London Suite on upgrade, but I understand the trade offs for you 🙂
    Well last summer I used what I thought was going to be my last Annual free night along with weekend cert for a staycation at the new IC The Wharf. 3 nites for the price of one Lovely!

    And I was able to use this year’s Free Night at the Sydney IC in May for RTAw19 2.0 🙂

    YMMV. BEST WISHES, 🙂

  4. Even though I have the cert for the free night to use, and my account reflects that, but “Chase Anniversary Free Night” is not one of drop-down options like in your screenshot. Do you know why that is??

    • Try accessing your IHG rewards account, finding your free night cert. and going from there.
      There should be a link from the certificate to a booking page with the correct rate type pre populated

    • You have to do it in a separate search. Iirc find where the free night shows in your ihg account. Click on it and do your search from there.

  5. Seems you have no clue about what’s going on in the Miles and Points World. And thus nice surprises come easy. Maybe take a step back and read more. Rather than write more?

    • I forget about a benefit extension and I have “no clue” about what’s going on in the entire sphere? Lol.

      Why don’t you go away, gain some manners and learn how to interact politely and like an adult online and then maybe I’ll value your opinion.

  6. Ziggy — did you try to complete a booking? I saw the same screens in my wife’s account, but when I tried to book an over 40k property, I got a “call” message.

    • I haven’t settled on a property to visit yet so I haven’t clicked all the way through to the final page. What month does your wife’s free night get loaded/expire?

  7. She has both cards. We were trying to use a Select card free night issued 7/12/18. I didn’t call when it wouldn’t allow a booking at the IC Montreal. Maybe I should have. We spent time on the IC Club Level and decided to try the HI & Suites for a night rather than try to get IC to upgrade us from her “Standard Chase free night” room.

    I’m still very vague about all the t’s & c’s — but just saying: I’ve seen the screen you saw that offers free nights at any level and when you try to book it, no dice. Good luck with it, and please let us all know if you get it to work.

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