Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
I have an IHG free night certificate that’s expiring at the end of the year and as I was performing a few random searches to see what I could and couldn’t book with it last night, I stumbled across something that I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before – the free night certificates can sometimes be more useful than points.
I was using the IHG iOS app to search for availability so in the search parameters I set the app to show me what I could book using a Chase Free Night award.
I started off looking for something to book for a friend who’s coming to visit us in Los Angeles and it was only because I scrolled well past any properties that were of interest that I noticed an oddity.
What I found
For a single night stay in North Hollywood on 3 December, the search results showed that a Holiday Inn Express in the area has no reward night availability but will still allow me to use my Chase Free Night certificate to book a room.
Just in case this was simply a display error of some kind, I re-performed the search using ‘Reward Nights’ instead of ‘Chase Free Night’ in the parameters and once again got a result that shows that the property cannot be booked with points on that night.
I went back to the search with my Chase Free Night certificate and checked to see that I could actually book the room without having to use any cash (which I could), and then checked again to make sure that I couldn’t book it with points (which I couldn’t).
Considering that this type of Free Night Certificate is supposedly only useable at properties charging up to 40,000 points for a night (i.e. properties with award availability) this is a little odd.
Wondering if this was just some strange one-off glitch, I then set about trying to replicate this result elsewhere, and although finding more examples like this wasn’t easy, this turned out not to be an isolated case.
Here’s an example somewhere near Atlanta:
And just to prove that this isn’t limited to the United States, here’s the same thing happening in London:
I’m not going to suggest that IHG Free Night Certificates are suddenly more valuable because they appear to be able to book free nights at properties where award bookings are unavailable because these three results were very clearly outliers in a sea of otherwise very normal results. But I do find it interesting that room availability for Free Night Certificate bookings isn’t always tied to availability for points bookings as up until now, that’s what I have always assumed to be the case.
Has anyone else seen this before? Do we know what causes this to happen? And has anyone ever seen this happen at any high-end properties?