Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
The cobranded IHG One Rewards cards offer many valuable perks. One of the perks offered by both the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card each year after your account anniversary is a free night certificate valid for a night costing 40,000 points or less. You can even use points from your IHG account to top off the certificate if you want to redeem for a night costing more than 40,000 points.
TPG’s valuations peg the value of 40,000 IHG points at $200. So, before even considering any other card perks, the anniversary night certificate should provide enough value for most travelers to justify paying the annual fee on one (or both) of these cards. Let’s look at how to use these anniversary night certificates.
How to check the details of your IHG anniversary night certificate
If you want to check whether you have any IHG anniversary night certificates or confirm the details of your certificates, log in to your IHG One Rewards account and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner. Scroll down on the page that loads and check the “Enjoy your rewards” section. Here, you should see a panel with your free nights (if you have any).
Click on “Book a Free Night” to check the details of your certificate. A page will load showing all the unredeemed free night certificates in your account. You can see the date ranges during which you must book and stay for each certificate.
You can also click on the details and terms and conditions links in the panel for each free night certificate to learn more.
How to redeem your IHG anniversary night certificate
Now that you know how to check the existence and details of anniversary night certificates in your account, let’s discuss how to redeem these certificates.
You can click the orange “Book Free Night” button on the page we just discussed, where we can see the certificate’s details. Doing so would automatically select “IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card Free Night Flex” — or a similar rate associated with whatever type of free night certificate you have in your account — in the drop-down box for “Rate Preference” on the booking screen.
But you can also start on the landing page once you’ve logged in to your account and then select this same rate (if you have a certificate in your account). Enter your search details and click the orange “Search” button.
Your search results will appear, and you’ll see the properties you can book with your free night certificate. If you see “FREE per night,” that means you can use your certificate to cover your entire stay. However, you may need to pay some amenity fees at some properties.
You can top off the free night certificates you earn through the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. So, if you search with the certificate rate selected, you may see some properties that require you to redeem extra points in addition to your certificate.
Alternatively, you can redeem a mixture of points and cash to top off your certificate.
You may also see some properties that list a paid rate. This means the property isn’t bookable with your free night certificate on the dates you searched.
In this case, you can click “View available dates” to see the nights you could book with your free night certificate (potentially with a top-off required if you’re using a certificate that allows top-offs).
Once you find a property that works for you, click the orange “Select Hotel” button to see the available room types.
Once you click “Select” for a specific room type, you’ll get to the final booking page, where you must check your reservation details and select (or enter) a payment card to guarantee your reservation. Click “Book Reservation” once you’re ready to book.
Like when redeeming IHG points, not all room types are available when using your anniversary night certificate. And unless you have multiple anniversary night certificates of the same type, you can only book a one-night stay when redeeming your certificates. Unfortunately, IHG’s booking system won’t let you redeem a certificate for one night and use points or cash for other nights on the same reservation. So, ensure you book the same room type if you make back-to-back reservations to stay longer than your certificates allow.
Finally, although you can top off certificates from the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you can’t top off other anniversary night certificates. So, if you have certificates from other sources, you may want to be strategic regarding which certificates you use for a given stay.
Finding available dates
Since IHG no longer has a fixed award chart, the number of points required at a single property can vary drastically depending on when you book and want to stay. This means you may be able to use your free night certificate at some aspirational hotels without topping it off with points or cash if you have flexible dates.
IHG has a calendar search to help you find the best cash or points rates. The calendar usually only shows availability, not pricing, when you click “View available dates.” But you’ll occasionally see award rates. We’ve yet to find a way to force the calendar to show award rates consistently.
If you have a sizable balance of IHG points in your account, you can search over a date range for which you can travel as if you are redeeming IHG points. If any nights of the dates you could stay don’t have availability, you’ll need to check smaller date ranges that avoid dates with no availability. I recommend logging out if you have access to the fourth-night-free perk and are searching over a range of four or more days.
Select the hotel you want from the results page and click on the “i” next to “Reward nights” for the room type you want. Click on the orange points listed as “Room subtotal” for the night-by-night award pricing.
Alternatively, if you have an Awayz subscription or have access to Awayz through Bilt Rewards, you can look at an award calendar for your desired hotel. For example, here’s the March 2024 award calendar on Awayz for the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam.
Finally, it’s worth noting that award night availability and anniversary night certificate availability may not be identical at some properties. So, although the methods in this section are useful to get an idea about anniversary night availability, you may still need to check anniversary night certificate availability night by night.
IHG free night certificates are valuable and relatively easy to use. We recommend redeeming for a night that costs close to 40,000 points to get the most value. However, topping off certificates earned via the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card or the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card can also provide excellent value. In short, if you’re getting more value from the certificate than the cost you incurred to earn it, you’re coming out ahead.