When do IHG Free Night Awards Expire?

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The absolutely best perk of the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card is that you receive a free night annually that can be used at ANY IHG hotel. While there are other credit cards that give you a free night annually (i.e., Marriott and Hyatt), the free night earned from the IHG card is the only one where there are absolutely no restrictions on where it can be redeemed. The IHG free night night can be used at ANY InterContinental Hotels Group hotel (which includes: InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel indigo, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites). This includes anything from a $79/night Holiday Inn Express airport hotel to a $800/night InterContinental Hotel in Bora Bora! All categories are included which is AMAZING! Keep in mind though that the free nights are capacity controlled at some hotels. 

In theory though, you really are paying $49 for this free night as this is the annual fee of the credit card. This is not a card I would use for every day spend, but a card I’d keep in my sock draw solely for the free night annually. As always though, it is only worth it if you will be able to utilize the free night on an annual basis. Even if you cannot use it at an expensive hotel, as long as you get $49+ value out of the free night that you would otherwise be paying for you are breaking even at the bear minimum.

The free night will hit your account on your FIRST anniversary date. So if you were to apply and get approved for the card today (March 2017), for example, the free night will be deposited to your account next March 2018. Once the free night is deposited to your account, you have an entire year to BOOK the free night reservation, but you do not actually need to stay by that expiration date. That means you actually have TWO YEARS to use the free night. The one thing to note though, is that if you cancel a free night reservation after the free night expires, you cannot redeem it for another hotel stay.

For example, if you look at this screen shot below it shows that the free night from the credit card can be booked between March 24, 2016 through April 3, 2017. That means I only have a few more weeks to redeem my free night! I can redeem it now though for a stay for another year (or as long as the hotel has their booking calendar up for). I am planning a trip to New York City in May with my daughter, so I’m going to redeem it now for a stay in a few months – past the expiration date. My only concern is that if we have to cancel I am not able to rebook and out a free night.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.35.50 AM

Since my anniversary date is approaching, that also means that a new free night will be deposited into my account within the next few days. That means I can theoretically use two free nights back to back. And since my husband also has this credit card and his anniversary date is the same as mine, we can use 4 free nights back to back! If you chose to use 4 free nights back to back (assuming you and a significant other or travel partner both have the card), you can do this every other year. This could allow for some really nice vacations!

From my experience, IHG and Chase will not extend the free nights, but if you’ve had any luck feel free to share below! Overall, this is a card that is not talked about often, but in my opinion has huge value. Feel free to share some of the hotels where you’ve used your free nights!

Key Link:

  • IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card – Earn 60,000 points after you spend $1,000 within the first three months. Receive a free night certificate annually (starting with your second year as a card member). No annual fee the first year, then $49/year.

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  1. We have used our $49 night at the IC NYC, Washington DC, Scottsdale (changed franchise, San Francisco and Boston. Well worth the $49 every time.

  2. This statement is incorrect:
    ” I can redeem it now though for a stay for another year (or as long as the hotel has their booking calendar up for)”

    If you read the fine print it clearly states: ” The Anniversary Free Night must be redeemed, and stay must be completed within the booking window dates shown.”

    Look at your screen shot – it is showing this statement.

    • The date is in fact “book by” not “stay by”, I confirmed last week over a phone call and, by the mysteries of google analytics ended up on this blog and am posting my experience. Now, off to booking my 2 free nights for the same reasons she explains above..

    • YMMV, but I booked a hotel stay for my daughter year ago. Made reservation by phone and was told by agent that was fine.

    • @Miles – You can make it under her account then have her call the hotel and let them know that you’ll be checking in and have them put your name on the reservation.

    • @Tony – It is not a trick, but just how the free nights work. With Marriott and Hyatt you need to travel by the expiration date.

  3. we have used them for 4 nights, but stuck to the terms because we didn’t want to be denied by terms…if you put your faith in what a csr tells you, be prepared for some unpleasant surprises. Some hotels, Hyatt and Marriott come to mind, let you book but the certificate is not used until checkin or checkout…it is a accounting thing between the hotel and the loyalty club….so what do you do when you go to check out and they say your certs are expired and demand full rack rate for your stay?…they can even show you, as a previous poster noted, the terms stating so….don’t spout “this is the way it works” when actually it is YMMV. If this was the way it worked there would have been mention of it and data points on FT over the past few years….I haven’t seen any…..nor have I seen reports of them extending the expiration on their certs.
    We did the next best thing….my wife and I got the card in the same month and saved the first cert until it was about to expire and when they deposited the second years certs used all 4 nights…there is a short time of about 3 weeks when you can use all 4 before the first years certs expire….we have used 4 nights on a beachfront Pensacola stay…we have also used 2 at a time in conjunction with comp room offers at Palazzo/Venetian in Las Vegas…most of our comp offers are for sun-thurs, the certs are good for Fri and Sat which are the pricey nights for any hotel in Vegas.

    • @wise2u – The certificates just have to be booked by the expiration date. They do not need to be stayed in by this date. This is no putting faith in it, that is just how they work. This is different then the free nights earned from any promotions. Those free nights need to be redeemed and stayed in by the expiration date.

  4. “The Anniversary Free Night must be redeemed, and stay must be completed, within the booking dates shown.”

    Sounds pretty clear, and I’ll stick with that :).

    • @Dawn – Definitely go with whatever you are comfortable with. Fortunately though, they are allowed to be used past the year.

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