How To Use IHG Free Night Certificates

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A couple of Chase IHG credit cards – the latest Premier card and the older Select card (the latter of which is no longer open for new applications) – come with anniversary free night certificates that are awarded when you renew your card each year.

Those certificates can be redeemed at properties costing up to 40,000 points per night, a list which recently became more plentiful thanks to IHG’s change to dynamic pricing. For example, virtually every InterContinental property in the US is now bookable at some point in the next year using these certificates as on many dates their price has dropped to 40,000 points or fewer.

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort
Free night certificates can also be used internationally at properties like the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort (image courtesy of IHG.com)

Redeeming your certificate(s) is fairly straightforward, but it works differently to the process for redeeming free night certificates with other hotel chains like Hyatt. To show how it works, here’s a guide to show how to use your IHG free night certificates.

Step 1 – Log Into Your Account

The very first step you need to take is to log into your IHG Rewards Club account. If you do that from IHG’s home page, you’ll then need to click the link to your account in the top right corner where it displays your name and points balance (circled below).

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 0

Step 2 – Click Through To Your Free Night(s)

On your account page, you’ll see your current points balance and below that there’ll be a link to your free night certificate(s).

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 1

Clicking on that link to your free night(s) will take you to a page listing all your IHG free night certificates. Unlike many other Chase cards, you’re allowed to have both the old IHG Select card and new Premier card, so you might have two free nights available at the same time.

In fact, IHG extended some free night certificates in 2020 due to COVID-19, so there’s the potential for some people to have four free nights available at the same time, although that’ll likely be a minority of IHG Rewards Club members.

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Step 3 – Hotel Search

You can only redeem one certificate at a time, so if you want to book consecutive nights then you have to make consecutive one night reservations.

To redeem one of your certificates, click the ‘Book Night’ button shown in the image above and that’ll take you to the home page with ‘Chase Anniversary Night’ pre-selected as the Rate Preference.

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In the above image, the search I did was for February 2021. That date is after the expiry date of my Chase IHG free night certificate (December 31, 2020), so the search results only listed paid nights.

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If you do something similar, you can click ‘Change Search’ at the top of the search results and adjust your dates. Doing things this way means that ‘Chase Anniversary Night’ will remain pre-selected.

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Something important to note is that if you were to click back to the IHG home page to restart your search rather than changing your existing search, the rate preference will revert back to ‘Best Available’ and ‘Chase Anniversary Night’ won’t be available as a choice in the dropdown box. If you find yourself in this position, you’ll need to start back at Step 1 in order to continue booking with your IHG free night certificate.

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 4

When doing a search during eligible redemption dates based on your certificate’s expiry date, the search results will display ‘Free Nightly Rate’ next to any properties where you can use your certificate.

As you can see below, dynamic pricing has opened up the number of Manhattan properties where you can use your free night certificate at least some nights of the year compared to the options that were available in the past.

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 5

Step 4 – Select Property & Room

When you’ve decided which property you want to redeem your certificate at, click ‘Select Hotel’.

That’ll take you to a screen where you can select the room type. In some circumstances you’ll only have one room type option, whereas at other properties – such as the Staybridge Suites Times Square-New York City – you’ll have the option of a few different room types.

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 6

Selecting the room type you want to book takes you to a page listing all your booking options which includes not only redeeming your free night certificate, but also the different available rates for your stay.

Although this adds an extra step to the booking process, it’s nice that IHG does this because in some cases you might notice that a paid rate would be a better option than redeeming a certificate if the room rate is particularly cheap.

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In this particular case, the Advance Purchase rate would cost $300 including taxes and fees, so using a certificate valid for properties charging up to 40,000 points is good value as that works out as 0.75cpp which is above the Reasonable Redemption Value for IHG Rewards Club points.

Strictly speaking, you’re not redeeming 40,000 points and so it isn’t really a value of 0.75cpp. However, these free night certificates are received when paying an $89 annual fee on the IHG Premier card or $49 annual fee on the IHG Select card, so redeeming for a property that would otherwise cost $300 is still very good value.

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Step 5 – Finish Booking

If you’re happy redeeming your free night certificate, click ‘Select Rate’ next to the ‘Chase Anniversary Night’ option.

That’ll take you through to the final booking screen. The top of the page will confirm that you’re using a Chase Anniversary Night and that the total price for your stay is free.

How To Redeem IHG Free Night Certificate 8

When scrolling down the page, you’ll receive additional confirmation of the rate type along with any expected fees or charges. At this particular property, the search results state that the rate doesn’t include a $5 Amenity Fee per night, but it doesn’t look like this is charged when redeeming free night certificates.

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Finally, if you’re happy with everything you see then check the Terms and Conditions box and then click ‘Book Reservation’.

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How IHG Free Night Certificates Can’t Be Used

Although IHG free night certificates can be used to pay for nights costing up to 40,000 points, they’re only valid when being used to pay for one night. It’s therefore not possible to do something like using one certificate to pay for two nights at a property costing 20,000 points per night.

IHG certificates can only be redeemed one at a time as well. That means it’s not possible to take advantage of the 4th night free on award stays benefit that comes with the IHG Premier and Traveler cards.

Additional Tip – Search While Trying To Use Certificate

I mentioned earlier that you have to log in to your account in order to redeem your certificate. When researching properties though, you might just do searches for hotels that are only charging 40,000 points or fewer.

Something worth being aware of is that free night certificates sometimes have access to award nights that aren’t bookable when using points. That means if you do a regular search for award availability, you might not see all your options. If you have a specific date in mind for your stay, it’s therefore worth researching potential properties by actually clicking through from your account to use your free night certificate to see any expanded award availability that might be there, rather than simply searching based on points availability.

Summary

As you can see, it’s pretty easy using your IHG free night certificates. The most important thing to remember is that you have to be logged in to your account and you need to click the specific link to redeem your certificate(s).

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