When talking about free night certificates that you get by having an IHG co-brand credit card, there are two different types. There’s a 40,000 point free night certificate that you get on your account anniversary from the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card.
With these certificates, you can add as many points as you’d like to book a hotel as long as there are award nights available. I now look at this free night as a 40K point voucher to stay at almost any IHG Hotel.
There’s also a 40,000-point free night certificate for cardholders of the discontinued IHG Select card. Since this card is older and has a lower annual fee, the free night has to be used at a hotel charging 40,000 points or less. I’ll use this free night at hotels charging under 40K points.
Since we have both the Premier and Select cards, we get two free nights at IHG hotels every year. There’s one small issue when we want to redeem our free nights for a longer stay. IHG’s reservation system requires you to book the free night certificates on separate reservations.
That means there’s no combining a free night certificate with another free night certificate, nor can you combine a free night with other nights using points or with revenue stays.
IHG tells you about this restriction on its website.
So how do you book a multi-night stay with free night certificates?
Free night awards are loaded directly into your IHG One Rewards account. Here are the instructions for redeeming your free night from IHG’s website:
- Log into your IHG One Rewards account.
- Select the Rewards Wallet tab from the dashboard.
- Select the free night benefit you would like to redeem from the Free Nights and booking rewards section.
- Follow the instructions on the screen to book your Free Night which will return you to this page with your unique redemption code embedded.
- Enter your destination and click search to find the perfect hotel for you.
- Please book your Free Nights in their own separate reservation transaction, one room at a time.
- To book additional paid nights, please create separate, additional reservations.
Tips for booking multi-night stays using IHG free nights
There are a few tips I’ve learned when booking IHG stays with our free night certificates.
First, search for the entire length of your stay while you’re logged out of your IHG One Rewards account. There are several reasons for this. You want to see if there’s award availability for your entire stay. In addition, not logging in means the price you’ll see will not include any discounts, like the 4th night free for Premier cardholders.
When you select a hotel and go to book with points, you’re able to see a breakdown of how many points it costs for each night of your stay. If you tap on Reward Nights, you’ll see a breakdown for the entire stay. In this example, the first 2 nights are 27,000 points and the last two nights are 59,000 and 58,000 points.
If I wanted to use multiple free night awards for this stay, I’d make sure to use the certificates I can add points to for the last two nights and the ones with a 40K cap for the first two nights.
Search for each night individually
Once you see that there is availability to use free night certificates, it’s time to search for each night separately. This is the only way you’ll see if a hotel has restrictions, like requiring a two-night stay for weekends. If they do, it will be difficult to book using free night certificates since each one needs to be a separate reservation.
You’ll also want to log into your IHG account now and select the free night you want to use and for which night of your stay. I’ll confirm that every night of my stay is available before booking any of them.
If everything checks out, it’s time to start booking.
Make sure to book the same room type
One of the most important things when making multiple reservations is to select the same room type for each reservation. In this example, I picked a 1 Queen Bed Standard room for my award night reservation.
For the additional reservations for the stay, I made sure to pick the same room type. This helps prevent any situation where you’ll be asked to move rooms in the middle of your trip.
Contact the hotel
Once you’re finished making all of your reservations, you’ll need to contact the hotel before your stay. Sometimes there will be an email address on the confirmation where you can send your reservation numbers and ask to stay in the same room for your entire stay.
If you can’t find an email, then you’ll want to call the hotel. Just make sure you’re talking with the property and not IHG’s main reservation department. I find that it helps to ask for the front desk instead of saying you’re calling about an upcoming reservation.
When you should contact the hotel is up for debate. Some people say you should call right away. I personally wait until about a week before we’re due to check-in.
IHG’s free night certificate system is the most complex compared to other hotel brands such as Hyatt and Marriott. With Hyatt and Marriott, you can combine free night awards with point stays and revenue nights on the same reservation. However, with IHG, you need to make a separate reservation for each free night award. While reserving a room is not difficult once you understand the system, the additional steps required could be avoided if IHG upgraded its reservation system.
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