Best Uses of IHG Free Night Certificates

| Updated: September 5, 2019
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Ready to redeem your IHG card anniversary night certificate? IHG Rewards Club Premier credit cardholders get a free night certificate every year that can be used at nearly 4,900 of IHG’s hotels around the world. These free night certificates can be very valuable with a bit of strategy and consideration, potentially allowing you to treat yourself to a luxury stay you wouldn’t otherwise pay for or extending a longer trip with a free night.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to earn IHG free night certificates and where you can use them for the best possible value.

What Are IHG Free Night Certificates?

If you have the IHG Rewards Club Premier card (or the now discontinued IHG Rewards Club Select card), your card includes a valuable perk: a free night certificate every year on your anniversary.

While IHG only limits you to one free night certificate per year — unlike Hilton free night certificates and Hyatt certificates which can be earned a few ways — this benefit still has the potential to be valuable and it can be more than worth the $89 annual fee for the IHG credit card.

IHG limits you to using your certificate at hotels that cost 40,000 or fewer points per night but you otherwise aren’t limited in terms of brand, region, or night. Here’s what you should know about earning and redeeming IHG free night anniversary certificates and great properties to get the best value.

How to Earn IHG Free Night Certificates

Unfortunately, there is only one way to earn an IHG free night certificate: on your card anniversary as an IHG credit card holder. This means you’re limited to just one free night certificate per year with the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card from Chase.

The IHG Rewards Club Premier card comes with an $89 annual fee but the free night stay can definitely have a higher value, essentially letting you enjoy the other benefits of the card like boosted IHG points on stays, automatic Platinum status, and a fourth night free on award stays at no cost.

Remember that IHG doesn’t use dynamic pricing like Hilton Honors. Even when the cash rates for a hotel 7 category soar for the season or a special event, you can still use your free night certificate as long as there’s an award room available.

How to Use IHG Free Night Certificates

Your IHG free night anniversary certificate can be used at any IHG hotel at a category 7 or lower which requires 40,000 points or less for a night. There are no blackout dates on your certificate but the hotel must have award stay inventory for you to book. If you can redeem points for a stay at the property, you can also use your certificate.

Just keep in mind IHG Rewards Club has a different policy than other rewards programs like Hilton Honors. With World of Hyatt and Hilton Honors, you can always book an award stay as long as a standard room is available. IHG Rewards Club allows hotels to designate their own inventory for award bookings. That means that even if a standard room is available, it may not be available to book with points or a free night certificate.

On your cardholder anniversary, your IHG free night anniversary certificate will be automatically added to your IHG account. You can log into your account and go to account management and click on the “1 Free Night” link to use the certificate. This will take you a page with details about your certificate — including when it expires — and a link to book your free night.

Simply search for your destination and dates. You’ll see that the rate preference is set to “Chase Anniversary Free Night.” Your search results will show available options for redeeming the certificate.

If you change your mind after booking, you can typically cancel until a few days to one week before your arrival, just as if you used IHG points. In this case, you can reuse the certificate as long as it hasn’t expired.

The IHG anniversary free night expires 12 months after the date of issue. You must not only book but also complete your stay before the deadline which will be visible when you view the certificate through your IHG Rewards Club account.

What IHG Hotels Can You Use a Free Night Certificate At?

IHG retired its old IHG credit card and introduced the new IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card in 2018 with an announcement that it would devalue the free night certificate given to cardholders on their anniversary. With the old IHG card, the free night certificate was good for any IHG property of any category but the new free night certificate is capped at hotels that cost up to 40,000 points a night.

If you have the old IHG Rewards Club Select card, any free night certificate you have been issued through May 1, 2019 can still be used at any IHG property in the world.

All other IHG free night certificates — including certificates issued through the new IHG Rewards Club Premier card — are capped at IHG hotels that cost 40,000 points or less per night. That’s a category 7 which means you can’t redeem the certificate at category 8 through 13 hotels.

The good news? About 4,900 of IHG’s portfolio of 5,600 hotels are eligible for redemption of your free night certificate.

Best Uses of IHG Free Night Certificates

The IHG anniversary night may limit you to category 7 and lower properties capped at 40,000 points per night, but the IHG free night certificate restrictions mostly end there. You don’t need to book during a weekend like you do with a Hilton Honors fee night certificate and you have your choice of nearly 4,900 hotels and resorts around the world.

There are two primary strategies for getting the best value from your IHG free night certificate. The most obvious choice is booking a room that has the highest possible cash price. At the very least, you’ll probably want to book a room that has a cash price of at least $89 to make up for the IHG card’s annual fee.

Another strategy is using the free night certificate to lower the cost of a longer stay. While you will need to make separate bookings, you can combine the certificate with the 4th award night free benefit from the IHG Rewards Club Premier card to get 5 nights for the cost of three award nights.

North America

Holiday Inn Niagara Falls-Scenic Downtown
What better way to enjoy a trip to Niagara Falls than with a free night stay? The Holiday Inn Niagara Falls is located less than a mile from the American Falls and the Seneca Casino with the entrance to the Niagara Falls State Park nearby. You’ll be right on the New York and Ontario border close to other great attractions like the Niagara Falls Aquarium and the Cave of the Winds.

Stay close to the American Falls for the ultimate family-friendly adventure. Image courtesy of IHG.

As with all Holiday Inns, kids 11 and under always eat free all day. There are also kids activities and an indoor heated pool to make your stay more relaxing.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Seattle-City Center
If you like staying in the middle of the action, the Holiday Inn Express in Seattle is a good choice to get a great value for your IHG Rewards certificate with room rates that reach up to $300 during the peak season.

Enjoy a free night stay with your IHG Rewards certificate at this Holiday Inn Express located near the cruise port and Space Needle. Image courtesy of IHG.

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Seattle is ideally located near Pikes Market and the Space Needle. It’s also close to the cruise port which makes this a great redemption option before an Alaskan cruise.

Asia

ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto

Enjoy Kyoto in style at the ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto which sits in front of the Nijo Castle, a world heritage site. Enjoy a relaxing walk around the Castle or catch a bus from a nearby stop for easy access to the downtown area and the Gion district. The ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto is perfect for sightseeing in the city and business travel with five restaurants and a lounge with a 7-meter waterfall cascade.

The ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto is nestled among the historic beauty of Japan’s former capital and adjacent to the Nijo Castle. Image courtesy of IHG.

Stays at the ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto average around $150 but can reach $300 during the peak season despite being a category 5 hotel.

InterContinental Saigon
InterContinental Saigon was named Vietnam’s Leading Hotel in 2018. Located in the heart of the city center of Saigon in the entertainment and business district, you’re just minutes from the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Reunification Palace, and the famous Saigon Opera House. When you’re not busy exploring the city, treat yourself to a luxurious spa treatment, visit the Library for an all-day menu of delicacies in a tranquil setting, or grab a drink in the Purple Jade Cocktails Bar and lounge with nightly music.

The Intercontinental Saigon is arguably Saigon’s best hotel with an upscale lounge and bar, a convenient location, and a range of other amenities. Image courtesy of IHG.

The InterContinental Saigon averages about $200 per night or 40,000 IHG points to give you a good value for your IHG card anniversary night certificate.

Latin America & Caribbean

Holiday Inn Resort Aruba Beach Resort & Casino
The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba Beach Resort & Casino is the ideal family-friendly resort getaway. Kids always eat free any time of the day at all Holiday Inn locations and the kids can enjoy the Activity Center with crafts, video games, air hockey, and managed outdoor and indoor activities.

Located on Palm Beach in the high-rise area of Aruba, you can take in the beautiful surroundings and the area’s exciting nightlife plus water sports and beachside pools by day.

Treat the family to an unforgettable vacation and get one of your nights for free with your IHG free night anniversary certificate. Image courtesy of IHG.

Looking for the ultimate beach getaway that won’t break the bank? The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba Beach Resort & Casino is the perfect choice for maximizing the value of your free night certificate and enjoying a family-friendly trip. Stays at the Aruba Holiday Inn Resort average about $180 per night but can reach $300 or more for in-demand nights. To get the most value, book a stay of at least 4 or 5 days and use your free night certificate and the 4th night free benefit with the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card.

Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos
If Aruba isn’t quite what you’re looking for, what about Los Cabos? The Holiday Inn Resort in Los Cabos is an all-inclusive hotel with a tropical setting between the Sierra de San Lázaro Mountains and San José Del Cabo. The resort has a quiet adults-only area with a swim-up bar, an activities area with daily activities and games, and a family section with a large pool and playground.

Enjoy everything from horseback riding and ATV riding to luxury spa treatments at the resort. Because it’s a Holiday Inn, remember that kids eat free all day. Your all-inclusive stay includes two restaurants and six bars with cocktails, wine, and beer.

This is one of the most affordable all-inclusive resorts you’ll find on the beach with unbeatable views and included meals and drinks. Image courtesy of IHG.

The all-inclusive Holiday Inn Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico is affordable enough for even long stays with an average cash rate of $100 per night or 40,000 IHG points.

Europe

InterContinental Vienna
The InterContinental Vienna boasts an ideal location just a short walk to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera House as well as Stadtpark. Enjoy cocktails in the upscale Intermezzo Bar or enjoy world-class Viennese cuisine at the Parlor restaurant before you step outside to explore the city.

The InterContinental Vienna is one of the best ways to use an IHG free night certificate with a central location and sumptuous decor. Image courtesy of IHG.

Rooms at the Intercontinental Vienna often start at $300 and frequently top $400 or more with reward stays priced at 35,000 points. This is a great opportunity to maximize the value of your IHG Rewards certificate.

Crowne Plaza Milan City
The Crowne Plaza Milan City is just 15 minutes from Milan Linate Airport (LIN) and right next to the Sondrio metro station and the Milan Central railway station for easy exploration of the city. This upscale Milan hotel offers fine dining options and an on-site fitness center with easy access to the region’s top attractions like the Gothic cathedral of Piazza del Duomo, the La Scala theatre, Lake Como, and Lake Maggiore.

Treat yourself to a stay at the Crowne Plaza in Milan with its convenient location near top attractions. Image courtesy of IHG.

Prices at the Crowne Plaza Milan City vary a great deal and may be as low as $150 or up to $400 or more with reward nights priced at 40,000 points. You can definitely get maximum value for your free night certificate here, especially if you use it on a night with a high cash price.

Middle East & Africa

InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport
Planning a trip to Johannesburg? The InterContinental Johannesburg offers 5-star accommodations close to museums and art galleries — and just a transfer away from game reserves. The InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport is the only luxury airport hotel in South Africa and it offers soundproofed rooms, an on-site beauty salon and spa, and an indoor pool.

This is South Africa’s only luxury airport hotel just a short walk from Johannesburg’s international airport. Image courtesy of IHG.

Your IHG free night anniversary certificate has the potential to give you a great return here as night stays often top $250 a night or 30,000 points.

Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi – Yas Island
Explore the top destination island of Abu Dhabi at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi on Yas Island. This beautiful island is surrounded by sparkling Gulf waters which you can enjoy from Yas Beach. The Crowne Plaza is just minutes from the area’s top destinations, including Yas Mall, Ferrari World, and Yas Waterworld, an iconic waterpark with more than 40 rides and slides plus the longest suspended rollercoaster in the Middle East.

Explore the destination island of Abu Dhabi in style by using your free night certificate at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. Image courtesy of IHG.

Stays at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi – Yas Island are usually $75 to $200+ or 35,000 points per night, potentially offering a good value for your free night certificate — especially if you’re using it to extend your stay.

Australia & Pacific

Voco Kirkton Park Hotel Hunter Valley
Voco is one of IHG’s latest upscale brands that’s focused on delivering hospitality and character. Launched in 2018, as of 2019 there are just five open voco hotels in the world. Voco Kirkton Park Hotel Hunter Valley is located on 70 acres of beautiful gardens in the countryside and offers beautiful views of wine country, local wine paired with cheese boards, and menus prepared with ingredients from the grounds of Kirkton Park.

Give yourself a break from your busy life and unwind at the voco Kirkland Park Hunter Valley hotel with amazing views of Australia’s wine country. Image courtesy of IHG.

At the voco Kirkton Park Hotel Hunter Valley, rooms can top $300 and award stays require 40,000 points per night to deliver a great value for your free night certificate.

InterContinental Hotels Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
This golf resort and spa was inspired by a Fijian village and offers the ultimate Fiji experience along the stunning Natadola Beach. At the InterContinental Hotels Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, you can enjoy watersports, dives among beautiful coral, and the resort’s PGA-endorsed 18 hole golf course.

The InterContinental Hotels Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is one of the most luxurious destinations to use your free night certificate. Image courtesy of IHG.

Believe it or not, you can enjoy Fiji and stay within the mid-range of IHG’s award chart. Your IHG free night certificate can be used at the InterContinental Hotels Fiji Golf Resort & Spa where stays are 40,000 points per night or up to $400 per night. This is the perfect place to extend your stay with the IHG free night anniversary certificate and the 4th night free benefit with the IHG credit card.

IHG Rewards Club 4th Night Free Benefit

Like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards Club offers a free night on award stays of a certain length. IHG’s free night benefit is more exclusive than that offered at other hotel loyalty programs, but it’s also more lucrative.

As an IHG Rewards Club Premier credit cardholder, you can get your 4th night free on award stays of at least four nights. To qualify, you must book an award stay of at least four nights with your IHG credit card. You’ll see the discount appear automatically as long as you’re logged in. The benefit even works in increments of four nights. If you stay 8 nights, you’ll get two nights free.

While the 4th night free benefit won’t apply when you use your IHG card anniversary night certificate, there’s an easy way around this: book a four-night award stay with points then use your IHG Rewards certificate for a consecutive night with the highest cash price. When you check in, you shouldn’t have trouble getting the separate bookings combined so you don’t need to switch rooms.

Wrap Up

IHG doesn’t make it easy to earn free night certificates: you only get one each year on your card anniversary as long as you keep the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card. That just means you should make your certificate count by using it for a high-cost hotel stay, a special destination, or extending a longer stay.

These hotels are just examples of good ways to use your free night certificate. You can probably find hotels that offer a better value, especially if you’re booking a stay during peak season or during a big event in the area.

FAQ

What is IHG Rewards Club? How do I join?

IHG Rewards Club is the hotel loyalty program for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The program allows you to earn and redeem IHG points at more than 5,600 hotels around the world. You can join IHG Rewards Club for free online to start earning IHG Rewards points.

How do I earn IHG Rewards Club points?

You can earn IHG points by staying at IHG properties, using the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card, transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points, booking rental cars with partners, and more. Learn more about earning IHG points here.

How many IHG points are needed for a free night?

For a standard award stay, you need between 10,000 and 70,000 IHG points per night. You can also book stays with PointBreaks deals starting at 5,000 points or use a combination of points and cash.

How do I use my IHG free night certificate?

Your IHG Rewards certificate will be automatically added to your IHG account each year on your card anniversary. You can access the certificate information and book a stay with your certificate directly through your IHG account.

What hotels can I use my IHG free night certificate?

You can use your IHG free night certificate at any IHG brand or hotel with a category of 1 to 7 with a cap on hotels that require 40,000 points per night. Most IHG hotels are eligible for a free night certificate redemption.

Can a free night certificate be transferred to someone else?

No, you can’t transfer your free night certificate to someone else, but you can book a stay for someone else by listing them as an additional guest.

Will my IHG free night certificate expire?

Yes, your IHG card anniversary night certificate will expire 12 months after it’s issued. You must book and complete your stay before the certificate expires.

Does IHG have 5th night free?

No, but IHG does offer a 4th night free benefit that’s only available to cardholders of the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card. This 4th night free benefit only applies to reward stays, not paid stays.

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