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How the IHG Free Night Certificate works, and the best hotels to use it

by on Tue May 10, 2016 • 2 Comments
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ihgrewards170The IHG Rewards Club Mastercard is one of the best travel credit cards to get and keep, even if you’re not a big spender.

Why’s that?

The card has an annual benefit of a Free Night Certificate you can use at any IHG hotel worldwide, and the annual fee is only $49.

IHG hotels include Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, and Crowne Plaza hotels worldwide.

Providing that you actually use the free night benefit every year – even at a cheap hotel – you are pretty much guaranteed to get more value out of the card than the $49 annual fee. Of course, why use the certificate at a cheap hotel when you could use it to try a place you wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy?

Here’s a look at all of the details you need to know about the Free Night Certificate as well as some of the best hotels around the world to use your Certificate – whether you’re looking for luxury, family fun, or even an all-inclusive stay.

The Fine Print

The free night from the IHG Credit Card is one of the easiest card benefits to use with the least restrictions out there.

Basically, it is good at any IHG hotel in the world – and there are over 4,900 of them.

The certificate will be available for redemption beginning on your account anniversary date each year – so you don’t get it right away – you need to wait a year after you open your card to get it, and you’ll get it every year after that you keep the card.

The certificate covers one standard room night rate and taxes for that night – so the catch is if a hotel is sold out of what it considers ‘standard’ rooms, then you won’t be able to use the certificate. But if you plan ahead that shouldn’t be a problem.

The certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

How to Redeem

The Anniversary Free Night certificate can be booked online or by calling the IHG Rewards Club Service Center at 1-877-318-5890.

Redeeming online is easy and won’t require you to wait on hold or involve anyone else in your redemption. Here’s how to redeem your free night certificate online:

  1. Log into your account at IHG.com.

  2. Click on your name in the top right corner to view your account information.

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  1. Click on Free Night Status on the menu on the left.

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  1. Your account will show if you have a free night available and when the valid booking dates for the free night are.

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  1. Click on Book Free Night.

  2. Search for the hotel and dates you are interested in for your stay.

  3. Book your stay!

If for some reason you need to cancel your stay, the normal cancellation policies of the hotel apply. If you cancel your stay, your free night certificate will be returned to you, so no need to worry if you change your plans.

 

The Best Free Night Hotels

Using the free night certificate anywhere is better than not using it at all, but if you want to maximize your value from the certificate, here are some of our picks for the best hotels around the world to redeem your free night certificate.

Just in case you want to stay longer than one night at any of these hotels, a rate on a weekend is quoted with each hotel.

For the Beach

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Crowne Plaza Key West – La Concha

Key West makes for a great weekend no-passport-required getaway to escape some of the cold months in the North. The hotel is located in Old Town and is only a short walk to the water. This hotel is perfect for those of you that want to spend some time relaxing on the beach, but don’t want to be stuck at a resort miles away from the next nearest thing to do. Weekend rates in February start around $400 per night.

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InterContinental Presidente Cozumel Resort & Spa

If an international resort escape is more your thing, you can’t go wrong with the InterContinental Presidente in Cozumel. The hotel offers half a mile of gorgeous white sandy beaches and some amazing snorkeling and scuba diving in the midst of the world’s second largest coral reef! Whether your goal is to lay poolside or on the beach and read all day or spend your days adventuring in the water, the InterContinental Presidente will do the trick. Rates on the weekend in February start around $300 per night.

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InterContinental San Juan

The InterContinental San Juan is another great option if you want to stay a little bit closer to the action of town but still have plenty of access to the beach. Not to mention, San Juan is such a fun city to spend some time in! No passports required is an added bonus if you’re still waiting for yours to be renewed. This hotel has over two miles of beach and is located only three miles from the airport so it makes for an easy weekend escape. Weekend rates in February start around $300 per night.

For Families

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Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orlando – Orange Lake Resort

This hotel is located right next to Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Animal Kingdom theme park which means that it’s a perfect location if you are looking to visit Disney with your family. At the resort there are plenty of things to do too, including water slides and an activity center for the kids and golf and delicious food for mom and dad. Rates in early-April start at about $200 per night on the weekends.

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Staybridge Suites Anaheim – Resort Area

For your Disney vacation on the west coast you definitely want to consider the Staybridge Suites Anaheim – Resort Area. The hotel isn’t as ritzy as the options you’ll have in Orlando, but you can’t beat the price for additional nights and location! This hotel is nearby the Disney Parks and has a shuttle that runs every 20 minutes for a fraction of the Disney Resort Hotel pricing. It is also only a mile away from the LA Angels’ Stadium. Rates in early-April start at about $120 per night on the weekends, so it’s not the biggest value you can get, but when you’re traveling with family everything counts.

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Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls – Fallsview

If Disney Resorts aren’t quite your thing, a trip to Niagara Falls might be perfect. The Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls – Fallsview offers some spectacular views of Niagara Falls without even having to leave your hotel! Of course – you’ll probably want to do that at some point too. There’s also a pretty great outdoor/indoor pool and waterpark to keep the kids entertained for the rest of the day after you have finished your visit to the falls. Weekend rates in July start at about $200 CAD per night.

For European Charm

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InterContinental Paris Le Grand

European hotels in big cities tend to be on the expensive side. If you’re going to use a Free Night Certificate in Paris, there is no better option than the InterContinental Paris Le Grand. Located near the Opera House, this hotel puts you in a central location close to the Lourve Museum, shopping, theatre, and banking districts. On a weekend in mid-June, rates can easily reach 700 EUR per night, which gives you some impressive value from your Free Night Certificate.

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InterContinental Amsterdam Amstel

Another European city with typically expensive hotel accommodations makes Amsterdam another great option for redeeming your Free Night Certificate.  This hotel has been open since 1867, though hasn’t always been an InterContinental, and is revered around the world. Not only does the hotel look beautiful, but it is also in a great location and even has a Michelin-starred restaurant La Rive inside with gorgeous views overlooking the Amstel River. Rates on a mid-June weekend can top 500 EUR per night.

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InterContinental London Park Lane

Quite possibly the most expensive city in Europe, redeeming your Free Night Certificate in London will definitely save you some cold, hard cash. You should feel like royalty when you stay because the InterContinental London Park Lane was once a royal residence. The hotel is located near Hyde Park and in view of the Buckingham Palace which gives you a great location to explore the rest of London from. Mid-June, rates can reach over 300 GBP on the weekends.

For Top Luxury

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InterContinental Hong Kong

Believe it or not, the InterContinental Hong Kong has not one… not two… but three Michelin-starred restaurants within its walls. The InterContinental Hong Kong is on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong – not the island, but it offers gorgeous views of the island and you have the chance to experience the hustle and bustle of Kowloon and a shorter distance to the amazingly delicious Temple Street Spicy Crab stalls. Rates in September start around HK$2,300 (~$300 US) per night.

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InterContinental Sydney

The InterContinental Sydney is in a fantastic location, just steps away from the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. The hotel contains four different restaurants to suit your dining and refreshment needs and is housed within a gorgeous building. Weekend rates in September start around $400 AUD per night.

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InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa

Staying in an overwater bungalow is on just about everyone’s bucket list and you’ll have the opportunity to do just that at the InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa. This hotel has the first seawater therapy spa in French Polynesia and is set in the most gorgeous of locations. Weekend rates in October start around 140,000 XPF ($1,300 USD!!!) per night. Availability will be tougher for this hotel than many others on this list, so plan your trip well ahead of time if staying here is your goal.

For Big City Fun

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InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C.

The Willard has been one of Washington D.C.’s iconic luxury hotels since 1850 and is located only two blocks away from both the White House and the National Mall. The Round Robin & Scotch Bar has been a lively meeting place since the days of Abraham Lincoln. This hotel makes for a great central location for business or exploration in Washington D.C. Weekend rates in May start at around $300 per night. Be warned – this hotel can fill up very quickly especially for weekend stays, so book as soon as your dates are firm.

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InterContinental New York

The InterContinental New York is located right on Times Square – a perfect location especially if you have never visited New York before. You’ll have easy access to the theatre, dining, fashion, and business districts. If theatre is your thing, you’ll also be nearby the TKTS Booth Times Square location where you can purchase discounted broadway tickets for same-day shows. Rates in May start around $400 for weekend stays.

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InterContinental Boston

The InterContinental Boston is located right on the water and, in fact, on the site where the Boston Tea Party marked the beginning of the American Revolution. By staying here, you’ll be within walking distance of all of Boston’s main attractions and nearby plenty of great dining and shopping opportunities. Rates in May start around $425 per night on the weekends.

For All Inclusives

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Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay

The Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay is located less than 10 minutes away from the Montego Bay International Airport which means that you can get your vacation started very quickly after you land. The hotel is located close to some of the attractions in Montego Bay, but if you don’t want to leave the resort you also have access to five different restaurants on-site as well as a large pool and the beach. Weekend rates in January for two adults start around $350 per night.

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Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos

The Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos is located between the beach and mountains which gives you a variety of activities to do during your stay. The hotel is located 15 minutes from the airport and about 25 minutes from Cabo San Lucas. The resort offers three types of areas: a relaxing adults only area, an activities area with a large pool, and a family section with a special kids playground. It is important to note that the beach here is not swimmable, so if swimming in the ocean is your thing you’ll want to choose a different hotel. Weekend rates in January for two adults start around $200 per night.

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Holiday Inn Resort Ixtapa

The Holiday Inn Ixtapa is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico and will give you access to those beautiful blue waters unlike the resort in Los Cabos. There are daily activities arranged on the beach and plenty of things to do off of the resort property. A weekend stay for two adults in January starts around $200 per night.

Find more all inclusives that can be booked with hotel points here.

Final Thoughts

The Anniversary Free Night Certificate offered as a benefit of the IHG credit card is a pretty great thing. It comes as a benefit of the $49 annual fee of the credit card without a lot of red tape, and is a great way to save hundreds of dollars on your next vacation.

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2 thoughts on How the IHG Free Night Certificate works, and the best hotels to use it

  1. Pam

    I stayed at the Intercontinental Hong Kong in spring 2015 on points and cash and was blown away by the hotel. However, if you are redeeming for points you will get just a standard room and not a harbor view room. A harbor view room at this hotel is a MUST. There is no more interesting harbor view in the entire world. So there’s a little game that goes on here. Before you arrive, you will receive an email from the hotel saying that they see on your reservation request that you’d like to have a harbor view room but darn, you’re only entitled to a standard room. However, if you’d like to pay a little more, you can have a harbor view. They’ll suggest $100 a night. Ignore this email. Wait until you get there in person. When I was there in person, the price dropped to an additional $70 a night. Well worth it. Check the comments for the hotel on TripAdvisor to see if the game has changed in the year and a half since I’ve been there. That’s where I found out about it, so I hope IHG members are keeping us all updated.

    Reply
  2. Jay

    Is it possible to use two certificates at the same time? Does the next year’s certificate arrive before the prior year’s expires?

    Reply

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