The IHG Rewards Club Select credit card from Chase was one of the first hotel credit cards I applied for. I got it to get the sign-up bonus, which paid for several nights in a London hotel. I’ve kept the card ever since because of the primary benefit the card offered – a free night at any IHG hotel issued on your account anniversary when you pay the $49 annual fee. It’s almost impossible not to break even with this certificate, unless you forget to use it (*cough* like my dad did – but I saved the day *cough*). Even a stay at a Holiday Inn Express will cost more than $49. (Note: This card is no longer open for applications and has been replaced by the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card)
While a free night at an HI Express is nice, the best thing about the certificate was that the free night was uncapped, meaning you could use it at any hotel with award availability. We made good use of our free nights, using our last uncapped certificate at the Kimpton Arras in Asheville, NC.
After May 1, 2018, free night certificates are limited to hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less. No more using your free night to stay in an over-water bungalow in Bora Bora.
To make matters even more complicated, IHG has introduced variable award pricing. That means you may be able to use a free night certificate at a hotel for some nights but not others. IHG publishes a list of the hotels where you CAN’T use the certificate. The list includes many InterContinental Hotels and almost every Kimpton hotel and most IHG properties in Manhattan.
They do add the following exception to the list:
Below is a list of hotels whose redemption threshold is higher than 40,000 points. Note that hotels on this list could be available as point amounts can now fluctuate based on demand and seasonality
When the free night certificate benefit changed, I was worried that we’d be limited to staying at Holiday Inn Express hotels on the side of the highway. When I did some searching, I started to feel better because there are still plenty of hotels to stay at with the Annual Free Night.
There’s the Hotel Indigo Sarasota that goes for 40,000 points per night:
Or the Holiday Inn London – Kensington High St., which cost 40,000 points before the pandemic (but as of this writing only costs 17,500 points):
Or the Holiday Inn Orlando Disney Springs, which goes for 30,000 points:
There’s also the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka (where we stayed in 2009), which costs 30,000 points per night:
There are plenty of IHG hotels in places you’d want to stay that cost 40,000 points or less. You’re just not going to get to stay at a really fancy InterContinental hotel with an indoor pool that looks like a Greek temple:
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary