How to Book the IHG Anniversary Free Night Certificate

The IHG Rewards Club Select Card from Chase is one of the top co-branded hotel credit cards available. It comes with a decent sign-up bonus that ranges from 60,000 points and above but the real value is with the card’s annual free night. Here’s what you need to know about booking your annual free night. 

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan lobby.

Anniversary date

You will receive your free night certificate after your first year anniversary. “Anniversary” is the date that is twelve months after your enrollment date, and the same date each twelve months thereafter. You should get an email about this free night but you should note when 12 months will come around so you can begin checking your account for the free night.

The “certificate” is digital so you don’t have to worry about receiving an actual hard copy of the certificate in the mail.

Keep in mind that in order to receive the free night, you must pay your annual fee. The good news is that the annual fee is only $49, so there’s opportunity for you come up big with the savings.

Any category hotel

What makes this free night so special is that unlike the free night for the Marriott or Hyatt credit cards, this one can be used at any category of hotels in the IHG Rewards Club Family of Brands.

This means you can redeem your free night at ridiculously expensive properties like top-tier InterContinental hotels. Keep in mind that a lot of others prefer to use their free nights for the most premium of properties, so you’ll need to try to book those free nights as far in advance as possible.

Still, if you and your spouse or travel partner get this card, you can both use your free nights back to back and cover a weekend at one of the top IHG properties.

When does the IHG free night certificate expire?

You can easily check on the expiration date of your IHG free night by signing in to your IHG account. Once logged in, check on the left hand side for a tab that says “Free Night Status.”

Once you click on the tab, you’ll see a section that says “Booking Dates” and under that you should see a range of dates which mark the issue date of the free night and the expiration date.

Per the terms, “[t]he free night certificate must be redeemed, and stay must be completed, within 12 months from date of issue.” 

There is somewhat of a loophole around this, however.

As long as you book your free night before it expires, you can complete your stay after the expiration date. The catch is that if you cancel your booking you will lose your free night. This is one of those loopholes that I don’t necessarily feel 100% comfortable relying on and would try to avoid using it if possible but many others have successfully done this without issues.

The reason I wouldn’t do it is that anything could change and the terms are clear that the stay must be completed within 12 months of issue so you wouldn’t have any grounds to argue that your booking should be allowed if IHG were to change things. Still, if that expiration date is just around the corner, you might as well try to use it this way so it doesn’t go to waste.

What kind of room can you get with the free night certificate?

Per the terms, the anniversary free night is “valid for one standard room night rate and applicable taxes only.” The IHG card also provides you with Platinum status so that could potentially help you get an upgrade but in my experience this upgrade usually just means a standard room with a bit more space or perhaps a corner room.

It’s worth noting that the official IHG terms state the following with respect to upgrades for award nights:

Hotel Room Upgrades for Platinum Elite and Spire Elite Members: Platinum Elite and Spire Elite members will be offered a complimentary upgrade, as determined by the hotel, which might include rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, or rooms with preferred views. The upgrade will be offered at time of check-in, based on availability, and will only apply to the member’s personal guest room. The hotel is not required to upgrade members to suites or specialty rooms. Upgrade benefits will not apply to rooms booked as a Reward Night reservation

(Emphasis added.) In practice, you may still receive an upgrade for rooms booked as reward nights but I believe this language should help you set your expectations more realistically.

Can I use the IHG free night certificate on someone else?

Per the terms, “[t]he anniversary free night may not be transferred, extended beyond the expiration date, redeemed for cash, or re-credited for points.”  This just means that you can’t transfer the free night in someone else’s name.

The workaround for this is to book the free night through your account and then simply add the name of the other person to the reservation. They should be able to check-in to the hotel without any issues as long as they have an ID that matches their name on the reservation and a credit card for incidentals.

If you are worried about this not working or something getting tripped up, just email the hotel ahead of time and tell them your plans to have that person check out. In my experience, hotels don’t frown upon this practice so you should feel okay about contacting the hotel to inquire that it’s okay for you to have them check in.

How do you book the IHG free night certificate?

All reservations that will utilize the Anniversary Free Night can be booked online at ihgrewardsclub.com or by calling the IHG Rewards Club Service center at 1-877-318-5890.

A word of caution: I’ve had agents on the phone tell me that my free night certificate could not be used at a property due to capacity restrictions and I’ve gone online to book my free night at that same property for the same day. Thus, I would try both methods to book if one does not work and don’t completely rely on the phone agents to give you accurate information.

Can you cancel the free night?

You can cancel your fee night by calling in to IHG or logging in to your free night status as shown above. Keep in mind that individual hotel’s cancellation policy applies to the use of the Anniversary Free Night and cancellation fees apply if cancellation is made outside of the hotel’s cancellation time period.

Final word

The IHG anniversary free night is one of the most valuable hotel perks out of any credit card. It’s relatively easy to make any booking for the free night you just need to book very far in advance for top-tier properties and need to verify the availability that phone agents represent.

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