The IHG Rewards credit card has been a staple in my wallet for many years solely because of the uncapped annual free night certificate. The certificate was valid at any IHG property, and one could easily get hundreds of dollars of value in exchange for paying the $49 annual fee.
In the past, I’ve used this free night certificates at top-tier properties in expensive cities like Times Square in New York and The Palazzo on a Saturday night in Las Vegas. It was a super generous card-benefit.
Unfortunately the card just took a steep nose dive today, and the changes were far worse than I’d expect with such short notice.
Currently, the Anniversary Free Night certificate is awarded after your card member anniversary date and is redeemable for any IHG property. Going forward, the Anniversary Free Night certificates issued after May 1, 2018, will be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a remdeption value up to and including 40,000 points.
Any anniversary night issued before May 1, 2018 is still valid at any IHG hotel worldwide.
This is a huge bummer for those who got the card after May 1, 2017, as they will not be entitled to receive the annual free night certificate that they were promised when they opened the account almost a full year ago. Several family members of mine applied for the card last fall and now they feel they are getting stiffed.
For example, a friend of mine recently got approved for this card in March 2018. Her first free night certificate is due to post in March 2019, after her first cardmember anniversary. She will not be able to redeem the free night under the terms that she applied under. Another friend applied in September 2017 and is facing the same frustrations. As you can imagine, they are very disappointed.
The cap at 40,000 points seriously limits the use of these certificates and is a massive devaluation. Of course, some may argue that it’s still “worth it” to keep the card and pay the $49 annual fee each year because even staying at a Holiday Inn off of a mid-western highway would cost more than $49 if paid, but let’s be honest – none of us consider that an aspirational redemption.
What are your thoughts about these changes? Will you keep the card?