IHG Free Night Certificates Will Be Extended, But Please Don’t Call Them Right Now

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Chase IHG Rewards credit card
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As an avid traveler, IHG is my go-to program because I love the benefits I receive as an IHG Spire Elite and Kimpton Inner Circle member. IHG Ambassadors and IHG credit cardholders receive IHG free night certificates each year. However, these free nights have expirations, which is troubling since most of us aren’t traveling right now.

My opinion… Don’t worry, IHG will take care of you.

How to get free nights from IHG

There are generally three options to get IHG free nights for members of IHG Rewards. These include:

  • Having Ambassador status
  • Holding the IHG credit card, or
  • Using your IHG Rewards Club points.

IHG Ambassador Free Weekend Night

One of the perks of buying IHG Ambassador status is receiving a complimentary weekend night when booking the Ambassador Weekend Night rate. These certificates can only be used at Intercontinental Hotels during a two-night paid weekend stay. And, they must be booked as the second night of that stay.

To redeem it, you need to book your Intercontinental Hotel stay at the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate. You can call in or use the Ambassador website to make your reservation. These certificates are good for 12 months from the date you purchase Ambassador and are deposited instantly. They must be used before the expiration date.

Chase IHG Credit Card Free Night

Each year, people who have one the premium versions of the Chase IHG Rewards credit cards receive a free night certificate. The credit cards that receive these free nights include:

  • Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card ($49 annual fee)(discontinued)
  • Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card $89 annual fee)(current)

These IHG free nights can be used at any IHG hotel that is 40,000 or fewer points per night. They are issued around your credit card renewal date and are good for 12 months. You used to be able to book your free night past the expiration date, but not any longer.

Kimpton Seafire Resort Ocean View Queen Queen view
Free night at the Kimpton Seafire Resort in Grand Cayman (back when free nights were uncapped).

Redeeming IHG Rewards Club Points

IHG Rewards Club points can be redeemed for free nights at your favorite IHG properties. Your points earned from hotel stays, credit card spending, and partners do not expire as long as your account is open and you maintain Gold, Platinum or Spire Elite status.

Most reservations can be canceled up to a day ahead of check-in with no penalties. The points will post back into your account immediately. If they don’t, log out and log back in again to refresh your account.

How the coronavirus is affecting everything

We are dealing with a viral threat that has not been experienced for several generations. Travel is at a virtual standstill out of fear/precaution or due to government orders to “shelter in place” and closing of all non-essential businesses.

We’re all having to make sacrifices at this time. I was really looking forward to staying at some of the 17 Kimpton properties that were supposed to open this year. I even had two reservations in the next 8 weeks at the Hotel Fontenot in New Orleans that I’ve canceled.

There are numerous reports of IHG hotels around the world closing due to “shelter in place” requirements and other reasons. However, some IHG hotels remain open because these essential workers need places to sleep, especially when they are far away from home. You can learn more about IHG’s travel advisory policy here.

What about my IHG free night certificates?

If will be safe to travel the world again at some (undetermined) point in the future. For those us at home, we are understandably worried about the status of our free nights and points. I know that I’ve lost out on numerous free night certificates in the past due to waiting until the last minute or a busy work schedule that kept me from traveling.

I talked with my connections at IHG and they understand your concerns. However, they (like most travel businesses) are operating in triage mode right now.

PLEASE DO NOT CALL IHG RIGHT NOW TO ASK ABOUT YOUR FREE NIGHT CERTS.

Between Chase and IHG, they can always backdate an expired certificate to make up for you not being able to travel right now. That’s an easy fix by simply entering a new date into the computer.

Right now the focus has to be taking care of reservations that need to be canceled and processing refunds for travelers like you and me. Like everyone else, IHG has limited staff that isn’t big enough to handle the deluge of calls happening right now. Plus, you can imagine that some of those workers are at home taking care of their families (like we are) because they are sick, schools are closed, or due to government lockdowns.

Kimpton Overland Hotel Presidential Suite exterior of hotel
The Kimpton Overland Hotel in Atlanta is one of my favorites for planespotting.

Extending IHG Ambassador free night certificates

As I understand it, extensions for all IHG Ambassador free night certificates are being done manually. I know, technology should be able to handle it. But they don’t have those systems in place right now. Upgrades are happening, but that task hasn’t moved its way through the queue yet.

The extension of IHG Ambassador free night certificates and memberships will happen. From what I’ve been told, IHG will extend all Ambassador free night certificates dating back to March 1, 2020. If you have a certificate that is expiring, email your information to Ambassador@IHG.com and your email will be processed as quickly as they can.

IHG Ambassador memberships are being extended too

Additionally, Ambassador memberships that are expiring will receive a 3-month extension during this triage period until the IHG staff can catch up on all of the requests. And maybe, just maybe, the technology upgrades will happen in the meantime, which could speed everything up for everyone.

Chase IHG Rewards Club credit card free nights

The free nights that come with the Chase IHG Rewards Club credit cards can be a great value. You’re paying less than $100 for a free night at a majority of the hotels within the IHG family. There are no restrictions on the free nights as to which hotel property or what day you can book your free room. The only caveat is that the room price has to be 40,000 points or less.

I saw that the Doctor of Credit and Reddit are reporting some people have successfully extended their Chase IHG credit card free nights for six months by calling IHG. I’m happy for those people, but it’s not necessary right now.

Based on my experiences with Chase and IHG, I have every confidence that they will do the right thing for members and retroactively extend free nights to take care of us. Just give them time to focus on the urgent guest needs right now.

My annual free night is expiring soon too (April). I was planning to use it in March, but those plans quickly got derailed as the coronavirus situation unraveled and all travel plans were halted. So, I’m just as concerned about my free night as you are about yours.

Kimpton Canary rooftop pool
Scarlett and me on the Kimpton Canary rooftop pool in Santa Barbara, California.

The Bald Thoughts

To use coronavirus lingo, we need to “flatten the curve” and let IHG staff work on the urgent matters first. Your free nights are important as well, but they can always be extended retroactively. Please refrain from calling IHG about extending them. Most people can’t travel (or at least shouldn’t be) right now anyway, so it’s not like you can use the free nights.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. I have not been able to find clarity as to whether or not pre-paid, non-cancellable reservations for the month of April 2020 will be completely refundable or completely lost. We were supposed to go to Australia and stay at IC’s in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Two of the reservations were Black Friday 2019 discounted rates that required full payment in advance but now our flights are cancelled. Any data points? Thanks!

    • Per this IHG link, IHG is “waiving cancellation fees for existing and new bookings at all IHG hotels globally for stays between March 9, 2020 and April 30, 2020.” So, you should be able to cancel without penalty.

      I have to cancel my NOLA prepaid reservations for late April and early May. I’ll call in mid-April for the April booking. Still waiting on the extension of this policy so I cancel the early May booking too. Hopefully, they’ll have revised the policy by then so I can cancel them both at the same time.

      PS: I’m sorry that your Australia trip had to be canceled.

  2. “From what I’ve been told, IHG will extend all Ambassador free night certificates dating back to March 1, 2020.”

    Can you explain what you mean by this?

  3. Hope you’re right. I have 2 uncapped anniversary free night awards that expire today. I had planned to use them at Kimpton Epic in Miami earlier this month, but had to cancel for obvious reasons.

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