IHG’s Anniversary Free Nights have taken on a more prominent role after recent upgrades to the IHG One Rewards loyalty program: the certificates now have more flexibility, while the introduction of a new Chase IHG business credit card offers another avenue for earning free nights every year.
With nearly 6,000 properties worldwide and a continuously expanding portfolio of luxury properties, IHG’s Anniversary Free Nights are very much worth understanding alongside Marriott’s, Hilton’s, and Hyatt’s.
Let’s take look at the best ways to earn and redeem IHG Anniversary Free Nights.
How to Earn IHG Anniversary Free Nights
For Canadians, it’s worth noting that IHG Anniversary Free Nights are only accessible to those who have gotten started with US credit cards; however, it’s a relatively simple strategy to set up as a one-time task before reaping the rewards year after year.
1. Chase IHG Rewards Premier Card
Applying for the flagship Chase IHG Rewards Premier Card is one of the easiest ways to earn Anniversary Free Nights every year.
Simply by holding the card, you’ll immediately earn an Anniversary Free Night worth up to 40,000 IHG One Rewards points. Despite the cap on how many points the Anniversary Free Night can be redeemed for, the redemption can be topped-up with additional points for a more expensive award.
The annual fee on the card is US$99; however, the Anniversary Free Night every year should more than outweigh the fee, and is a great reason to keep the card past the first year once the welcome bonus is collected.
2. Chase IHG Rewards Premier Business Card
The Chase IHG Rewards Premier Business Card is the latest addition to the Chase IHG portfolio, offering a second avenue to earning up to two Anniversary Free Nights every year.
The annual fee for the Chase IHG Rewards Premier Business Card is also US$99, and once again, you’ll get an Anniversary Free Night simply by holding the card.
Furthermore, you can earn a second Anniversary Free Night upon spending US$60,000 on the card every calendar year. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t really worth pursuing unless you have significant business spending to put on the card and you’re particularly loyal to IHG.
How to Redeem IHG Anniversary Free Nights
IHG Anniversary Free Nights are automatically deposited into your account 12 months after opening the card, and are valid for 12 months after the date of issue (i.e., your stay must take place on a date within that period).
Redeeming Anniversary Free Nights with IHG can be done directly online through the IHG booking engine. By logging into your IHG Rewards account and selecting your name in the top-right corner, and then choosing “Rewards Wallet”, you can access and monitor your Anniversary Free Nights.
You can choose to redeem and book your free night directly on this page by clicking “Redeem”.
After selecting your destination, eligible hotel redemptions will populate. Any hotel that has a room that’s otherwise bookable on points is bookable with a Anniversary Free Night.
Hotels will appear in the order of those redeemable within the value of your Anniversary Free Night, followed by those which will need to be topped up for the redemption.
Of course, to maximize your Anniversary Free Night, you should redeem it for a night that would otherwise cost 40,000 IHG One Rewards points or more, as you can always top-up with more points if needed.
Strategies for Maximizing IHG Anniversary Free Nights
Most IHG One Rewards members who have boosted their participation with a co-branded US-issued credit card will find it feasible to earn 1–2 Anniversary Free Nights per year, depending on whether they hold one or both of the personal and business credit cards.
(It’s possible to earn a third Anniversary Free Night for those willing to foot $60,000 in spending on the business credit card, although that may not necessarily be worthwhile.)
On the redemption side, in the past, the Anniversary Free Night capped out at a maximum of 40,000 points, and stays outside of this range weren’t eligible for redemption. However, with the newly introduced ability to top-up your certificate with points to make a more expensive redemption, there’s now substantially more flexibility when redeeming IHG Anniversary Free Nights.
As a Chase IHG Rewards Premier cardholder who nevertheless doesn’t use IHG as my primary hotel program, I’ve mainly redeemed my Anniversary Free Nights for convenience over comfort in the past.
For example, I often find myself needing an overnight crash pad in Manhattan, where I don’t plan on spending much time in the room. In these cases, it’s nice to be able to cover the room with an IHG Anniversary Free Night for no money out-of-pocket, when the alternative would’ve been paying US$250+ in cash.
Now that the Anniversary Free Night can be topped-up with points, and the IHG One Rewards loyalty program has improved as well, I’ll be looking to redeem these certificates more aspirationally by treating it as a 40,000-point discount on one of IHG’s top-tier properties, like Kimpton, Regent, or Six Senses hotels, every now and then.
If you’re deep in the US credit cards game and you’d like to truly maximize the value you extract from IHG, then it’s best to set yourself up with both the personal and business Chase IHG credit cards to earn two free nights every year.
And of course, if you’re playing the game in two-player mode or more, then replicating this strategy across players would allow you to combine your certificates for a free or discounted stay of up to four nights at IHG’s top properties.
IHG’s Anniversary Free Nights are among the simplest and most flexible of the major hotel loyalty programs, doled out as an anniversary benefit on the Chase IHG Rewards Premier Card or the Chase IHG Rewards Premier Business Card.
To make the most of these certificates when redeeming, make sure to choose a hotel which would otherwise cost 40,000 IHG One Rewards points or more, as now you can top-up your certificate with an unlimited number of points to book any one of IHG’s 5,000+ hotels that catches your eye.