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The IHG One Rewards program underwent a major refresh last year. Besides the rebranding, the reward program changed how its IHG Free Night certificate can be utilized. For years, you could use the IHG Free Night certificate at any IHG-branded hotel worldwide – making it worth paying the annual fee on the IHG credit card just for this benefit itself. This generosity reached a saturation point, and now the IHG Free Night certificate has been limited to hotels that require 40,000 IHG One Rewards points per night or less.
But after receiving critical feedback from travelers (and a better understanding of the market dynamics after introducing the above restriction), IHG has retreated a bit, making their IHG Free Night certificates more flexible so you can exchange them for virtually any IHG hotel. The catch? You’ll need to shell out additional points as a co-pay. Here’s all you need to know about the IHG Free Night certificate and a step-by-step guide to the redemption process.
What is an IHG Free Night certificate?
The IHG Free Night certificate (officially known as the Anniversary Night certificate) is awarded annually to certain IHG credit cardholders. This certificate is valid for one free night at IHG hotels requiring 40,000 points per night or less.
However, the newly “flexible” certificate enables you to book an expensive hotel with a co-payment option. It should be noted that the Anniversary Night certificate will be posted to your IHG One Rewards account on your credit card renewal anniversary date every year and is valid for a period of 12 months.
Both the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card offer free Anniversary Night certificates:
- The IHG Rewards Premier card offers an annual IHG Free Night certificate on your credit card renewal.
- Similar to the Premier card, the IHG® Rewards Premier Business card offers an annual IHG Free Night certificate on your account anniversary, plus the option to obtain a second IHG Free Night certificate when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Both cards have a $99 annual fee that can be easily recovered if you put the IHG Free Night certificate to good use.
Also, IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card does not offer an IHG Free Night certificate as it is a no-fee card.
How to redeem the IHG Free Night certificate?
Redeeming an IHG Free Night certificate is straightforward. In a few easy steps, you will be on your way to redeeming an IHG Anniversary Night certificate:
Step 1: Log into your IHG One Rewards account
Once your IHG Free Night certificate is deposited into your IHG account, the first step is to login into your IHG One Rewards account. You will notice a “Free Night” link underneath your points balance on the account page and click on it for the booking page.
Step 2: Enter booking details
Input the city and dates you wish to travel to on the booking homepage. Under the “Rate Preference,” you will notice that the reward night is selected. When you are ready, press the “Search” button.
Step 3: Choose the Property and Room Type
Your IHG Free Night certificate will cover up to 40,000 points for an award night. So, if a hotel needs 50,000 points per night, you need to redeem 10,000 IHG points and the IHG Free Night certificate to book without cash payment. This makes it much easier to make the most of the IHG Free Night certificate.
Back to the booking process. Select the property you want to stay in and navigate to the room selection page. You will notice that the prices are indicated as “Chase Anniversary Night + ___ points.” The points part is the difference between the hotel fare and the 40,000 points value of the certificate. Choose the room you wish to reserve and head to the payment page.
Step 4: Finalize Your Booking
Finally, you must confirm your reservation and the room rate. On this page, you can see the additional charges you might incur during your stay. Be sure to review these to avoid any unwanted surprises when you arrive at the hotel. Easy-peasy! That’s how you redeem an IHG Free Night certificate.
Remember that some hotels charge resort or “destination” fees when you check out. While other popular loyalty programs waive these fees on award stays, IHG is not one of them.
Can you redeem IHG Free Night certificates for others?
The IHG Free Night certificates issued with IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card must be used for a reservation on behalf of the primary card holder.
There have been instances where people have made a reservation for two guests, added the name of the second guest, then had them check in, but this is not a published policy.
Do you have to pay taxes & fees when redeeming IHG Free Night certificates?
When you use the IHG Free Night certificate, you generally do not have to pay any percentage taxes or service fees because the reference rate is zero for these purposes.
However, if there’s a fixed tax per night, a tourism fee, a resort fee, or a destination fee attached to the property, you would be required to pay that.
IHG has significantly improved its loyalty program, and introducing flexible IHG Free Night certificates is a significant component of the redesign. The new certificate opens even more redemption opportunities now that it can be used in conjunction with points to reserve any IHG hotel.
It even makes the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card more valuable because you can now access a broader range of hotel nights that used to be off-limits.
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