How to Earn and Use IHG Award Night Certificates

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Did you know that you can get an IHG free night each year just for having a credit card with a $89 annual fee? That's right, every year you renew your credit card account, you’ll get an IHG Anniversary Night.

However, the IHG Award Night Certificate comes with some restrictions and limitations. So, let's go through everything you need to know to earn and use one for an IHG free night.

Which Cards Offer an IHG Anniversary Night?

There are two IHG Rewards credit cards that offer cardholders an annual award night: the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. However, only the IHG Rewards Premier Card is still available to new cardholders.

Both cards come with an Award Night Certificate after each account anniversary, starting 12 months after you open your account. That means that the IHG Rewards Premier Card doesn't come with an IHG free night when you sign up for the card. However, the sign-up bonus of 125,000 IHG Rewards points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening is much more valuable. Here's our full review of this IHG credit card.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$89
Welcome Bonus Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 2X points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning for spending at IHG hotels breaks down as follows:
  • Earn 10X points for being a IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember
  • Earn 5X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of having this card
  • Earn 10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member (Being a cardholder is not required to earn this bonus for participating in the IHG® loyalty program)

IHG Free Night Limitations

With both cards, the Award Night Certificate can be used for an IHG free night at properties costing 40,000 points or less. Before IHG's transition to dynamic award pricing in May 2020, that meant there was a list of properties where you couldn't use an Anniversary Night. However, dynamic award pricing has complicated that—for better or worse.

Some nights at properties that formerly cost 70,000 points per night have been discounted to 40,000 points. For example, the incredible InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was recently bookable with an Award Night Certificate:

An IHG free night at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula

However, when travel starts to return to normal, the dark side of dynamic pricing is likely to kick in. Some properties that previously cost 40,000 points or less may no longer be available with an Award Night Certificate. That makes it harder for travelers to plan how to use their IHG Anniversary Night.

Award Night Certificate Validity

The other important limitation to keep in mind is the expiration date. Per the card's terms and conditions, the IHG Anniversary Night “must be redeemed, and stay must be completed, within 12 months from date of issue.”

In practice, IHG hasn't enforced the terms this way. Instead, IHG has allowed cardholders to book a stay by the expiration date for any future travel date. However, booking past the expiration date could put your IHG free night at risk. If you cancel the reservation after the expiration date, the Award Night Certificate will expire unused.

If the pandemic put your travel plans on hold, the good news is that IHG has extended the validity of this valuable benefit. Any credit card Award Night Certificates that expire after March 1, 2020 can be used through December 31, 2020. Also, Award Night Certificates issued in 2020 will have an 18-month validity period.

How to Redeem for an IHG Free Night

When you're ready to book your IHG Anniversary Night, you're going to want to start by logging into this page.

IHG free night certificates in my IHG account

If you have had the IHG Rewards Card for a while, make sure to check the Terms & Conditions carefully. Some cardholders may still have a certificate that works for an IHG free night at any property. Previously, Award Night Certificates weren't limited to properties costing less than 40,000 points per night; if you have one of those, it's not clear that the certificate is uncapped until you look in the details.

To redeem your Anniversary Night, click the “Book Night” button. This will load a search page set-up to specifically check IHG free night availability. Enter your destination and dates to search to see if there's availability:

Using an IHG free night certificate at the InterContinental Phu Quoc

If there's no availability for the date you selected, click the “view available dates” link. This will open a calendar that will show you which dates are available. If the property shows a cash price instead of “FREE”, it's because the property is charging more than 40,000 points for that night.

Search results for IHG free night certificates in NYC

Best Hotels to Spend an IHG Free Night

Need some inspiration about where to go? We have an entire article dedicated to just this topic. However, I also want to share some of my favorite IHG properties that currently cost 40,000 points or less:

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa

Even before IHG's switch to dynamic pricing, the InterContinental Fiji Resort was available using an Award Night Certificate. And it remains an excellent place to spend an IHG free night.

Using an IHG chase free night at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort

I spent a weekend at this property in June 2019, and it was just as lovely as you might expect from an InterContinental Resort in Fiji. I signed up for InterContinental Ambassador to get a free weekend night and booked a Pool View to guarantee an upgrade to a Lagoon View room. But, thanks to my IHG Rewards elite status, I was upgraded to a Beachfront View.

Using an IHG Anniversary Night, you can only book into a Garden View room. However, hopefully, the Platinum Elite status that comes with both the IHG Rewards Premier Card and the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card will help you score a room upgrade as well. If not, the “base” room is still spectacular.

Chase IHG free night in Fiji

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort

Another excellent option for using your Award Night Certificate at an InterContinental resort can be found on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam. It's a long journey for U.S.-based travelers, but it's a great option for those on a trip through Southeast Asia.

IHG credit card free night in Vietnam

I visited this spectacular property in February 2019 when it was on the PointBreaks list for just 15,000 points per night. From a wide range of resort activities to a unique overwater spa, there was plenty to do without having to leave the property.

Kimpton Hotels in New York City

If you're looking to keep your travels domestic during the pandemic, how about visiting New York City? Currently, some nights at the sleek Kimpton Muse Hotel and Kimpton Hotel Eventi are available using an IHG Anniversary Night:

ihg credit card free night in New York

If you've never stayed at a Kimpton, you might be surprised that this brand shares the same corporate parent as Holiday Inn. This small, boutique brand—with just 73 hotels—focuses on design and service. And these centrally-located hotels in the heart of NYC are a great base from which to explore the city.

Escape to Zion National Park

I have focused on upscale brands so far, but sometimes value is more about getting a room where you want it. If you're looking to take a road trip to a national park, I highly recommend Zion National Park. The problem: affordable lodging can be hard to find—especially during peak season.

There's a well-rated Holiday Inn Express just outside of Zion National Park. This summer, a night generally costs around $200 after taxes or around 40,000 points per night. While that's a steep points price to pay for a Holiday Inn Express, you can get a night at this hotel for free with an Award Night Certificate:

Chase IHG free night at Zion National Park

Track Your IHG Anniversary Night with AwardWallet

An IHG free night isn't something you want to forget about. Thankfully AwardWallet has your back. Add your IHG Rewards account to AwardWallet, and you'll get helpful reminder emails when the expiration date of your IHG Anniversary Night Certificate nears.

You can also keep tabs on your IHG Anniversary Nights in your AwardWallet Account List. As you can see, Katie and I need to utilize our certificates:

Final Thoughts

Many travelers can easily get more value out of an Award Night Certificate than the $89 annual fee on the IHG Rewards Premier Card. And that's just one of the credit card's benefits! You'll also get IHG Platinum Elite status and a fourth night free on award stays of 4+ nights.

To maximize your IHG Anniversary Night, make sure to search a range of dates at lucrative properties to find when the award price might fall under 40,000 points. However, don't let the goal of maximizing this certificate keep you from using it where you can get some value. An IHG free night is far better than an expired Award Night Certificate—even if you don't find the perfect redemption.

And don't forget to connect your IHG Rewards account to AwardWallet. That way you'll be sure to get reminders if you still have an unused certificate and the expiration date is coming up.

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Comments

  • A very good credit card, but unfortunately I cannot apply for this card in my country. Fortunately, I can accumulate IHG points directly with other IHG co-branded cards.

  • Richard J Huber says:

    May have to “burn” my free night cert this year at a local Holiday Inn. We’re not going anywhere until COVID-19 is under control. Probably will just use the cert. to get a room for a few hours. Lie on top of the sheets fully clothed, and binge watch something on TV. Then go home and disinfect and shower. Can’t stomach the idea of just letting it expire. 2020 is a throw-away year as far as i’m concerned.

  • I used my free night last year from my legacy IHG card to stay at the Kimpton in San Diego. It was lovely. I’m keeping that card and recently got the IHG traveler card with no annual fee. That gives me the 4th night free benefit from a sock drawer card (after I earn the bonus of course). I just couldn’t justify the Premier card since some years I do have to struggle to use my one free night. A second one might go to waste.

  • In the past, I’ve used my two annual award nights plus fourth night free, plus points to four-day weekends to my parents. This year – even with the deadline to use them extended until December 31, 2020- I’m hard put to figure out how to use them, as I really don’t feel safe staying in hotels for the rest of this year.

  • Michael Dikovitsky says:

    We stayed at Kimpton Monaco in Washington DC using the free night in 2018. It was great.

  • Great, I’m planning a trip to Fiji and now I know where I can spend at least one night at. Hopefully in a few months.

  • Great article – Thanks for all the information, a really useful read.

  • This is a good reminder that some proprieties that were out of reach with the certificate are now possibilities thanks to dynamic pricing.

    • Yes, this was the nugget from the article that I will take forward with me. Will I be comfortable enough to travel before demand fully returns and dynamic pricing pushes those properties back beyond reach? Perhaps.

  • A few year back we’ve also made use of the free night at the HIE outside Grand Canyons that were asking $400 per night.

  • I have had the card for a couple years and was so frustrated – because I could never figure out how to use the free night. I lost mine last year. I could only get to where you could use points but never the free night certificate. I have bookmarked the post so I can use the link to use my night this year and not lose it like last year.

  • Good lay out and presentation!!! Very well understandable… I think I may be adding the rewards premier card to my deck here soon!!!

    cheers

  • The 40K points cap on the free night certs make the IHG credit cards pretty much useless, IMHO.
    The cap should be at least 50K or so.

  • Nice, thanks for sharing. Tempted to wait until a trip to Fiji can happen but would still be worth it for a domestic trip too.

  • Thank you for highlighting the very complicated ins and outs.

  • Does the certificate cover any “resort” fees?

    • JT Genter says:

      When I checked with IHG about this in April 2020, an IHG spokesperson confirmed that *amenity fees* “will not be incurred during Reward Night stays.” However, I’m not sure if resort fees might be charged.

  • This is a good comprehensive summary of what one needs to do to redeem an anniversary free night. It used to be one can use it without restrictions,

  • Carlos Demian Jeiman says:

    Its very interesting

  • On my list after travel opens up.

  • I evidently wasn’t paying attention enough and missed the Platinum Elite status benefit of this card. Along with a free night, it’s a no-brainer.

  • Hopefully, we will be able to actually travel soon son we can use the certificate in exotic locales.

  • I certainly miss the days when this was a free night at any hotel in the system!

  • The InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa seems like an excellent option to enjoy an award night when the pandemic ends.

  • We’ve enjoyed some very good redemptions in the past . Not sure if they will be as generous in the future.

  • Florencia says:

    Excellent information. The benefit of the free night at IHG is only for the account holder, or can additional ones be accessed?

  • Tkank you for the information!! It was very useful

  • Was hoping the free night could be used at more hotels. they should allow resorts style hotels so that travel can pick up as well