The Unseen Advantage Of Having To Book IHG Free Nights As Separate Reservations

by joeheg

One of the perks of having an IHG One Rewards co-brand credit card from Chase is the free night certificate you’ll get on the card’s anniversary date.

The free night awards are loaded directly into your IHG One Rewards account. You need to complete the free night stay within 1 year. Here are the instructions for redeeming your free night from IHG’s website:

  1. Log into your IHG One Rewards account.
  2. Select the Rewards Wallet tab from the dashboard.
  3. Select the free night benefit you would like to redeem from the Free Nights and booking rewards section.
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen to book your Free Night which will return you to this page with your unique redemption code embedded.
  5. Enter your destination and click search to find the perfect hotel for you.
  6. Please book your Free Nights in their own separate reservation transaction, one room at a time.
  7. To book additional paid nights, please create separate, additional reservations.

Sharon and I get four free night certificates each year, two from the discontinued IHG Select card and two from the IHG Premier card.

We stayed for a long weekend in New York City and found an IHG property for around 40K points a night. We wanted to use 2 free night certificates and booked the third night with points. Because of IHG’s rules, we had to book each night separately. In instances like this, I try to book the same room category (double or king beds) and always call the hotel a few days before arrival to see if they can link the reservations so we don’t have to move rooms.

Having multiple reservations for a single stay can be a bit of a pain. In fact, when Sharon was traveling solo, I paid extra for a Marriott stay so she’d only have one reservation.

However, I discovered an unexpected advantage of having multiple one-night reservations instead of a single three-night reservation.

Unfortunately, our trip to New York was eventually affected by Hurricane Ian. Before he even hit mainland Florida, it became evident at the beginning of the week that we wouldn’t be flying on Friday. I checked the cancellation policy and had until 6 PM on Wednesday to cancel and get my free night (or points) back. Anytime after that, I’d lose the free night (unless I could convince IHG or the hotel to make an exception.)

When Delta canceled our Friday morning flight on Monday, I canceled the room for Friday night. I still had our rooms for Saturday and Sunday and had until Thursday evening to cancel Saturday’s stay.

At that point, there were plenty of variables. The storm appeared to be speeding up but also was going to hit closer to Orlando. We had no idea when it would arrive or how much damage it would do. Airlines would try to keep planes away and who knew when flights would resume?

In this instance, it was nice to be able to cancel our hotel one night at a time as the situation changed. I never thought I’d be thankful that IHG requires you to make different reservations for each free night certificate. I found the silver lining to this usually annoying policy.

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JohnB October 7, 2022 - 5:30 pm

Chase is not allowing individuals to have multiple versions of IHG cards anymore. One can have a personal card and business card and that is it. I applied 2 times in the last 2 years and I called the recon line and the agent stated to me that multiple cards are over.

So don’t ever close that $49/year Select CC. It is the biggest bargain in Chase cards for the free night benefit. Almost all IHG properties cost more than $49/night. I am guessing that Chase will never grandfather Select cardholders into IHG Premier CCs for the $49 AF either. It is a money loser for both Chase and IHG.

joeheg October 7, 2022 - 10:35 pm

We both have the Select card. I jumped first for the Premier and Sharon signed up last minute before they shut the door on having both cards. The only downside of the $49 card is that you can’t add points to the free night so you need to use it at a hotel charging 40K or less for an award stay.


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