BUMMER: IHG Free night capped for everyone (includes $49 card)

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One Mile at a Time and users on Reddit report Chase has sent out a letter with bad news: IHG annual reward night certificates issued from May 1, 2018 onward will be no longer be redeemable at any IHG hotel. They will now be redeemable at hotels that cost up to 40,000 points per night.

For years, the free night at any IHG hotel that comes with the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card made this card arguably the best ongoing rewards card benefit. I’ve used my free night at Intercontinentals from New York to Sydney on nights when paid rates were north of $500 per night.

Going forward, it will still certainly be possible to get better value than $49 per year. However, most of the IHG hotels in Manhattan now charge 50,000 points per night, so the certificate loses a lot of value for me since I often used mine in NYC and it will now be of much more limited use there.

While Greg has long predicted that this benefit was too generous to last forever (In fact, he predicted it almost a year in advance to the day — See: The next best credit card perks that will be taken away), I’m somewhat surprised to see the benefit devalue with such little notice as Chase has generally been good about grandfathering existing cardholders with benefits for quite some time after a change. I’m not sure how this will affect people who applied within the past week expecting to receive an uncapped certificate at their 1-year anniversary. It’s always worth keeping a screenshot of details like that, though since this benefit applies after first anniversary I’m not sure if it will be helpful in this case.

See the Reddit post linked at the top for a screenshot of the letter. If you have a certificate that is issued before 5/1/18, it should still be valid for any IHG hotel — but your next one will be capped.

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[…] the free night certificate for use at properties costing up to 40,000 points per night (See: BUMMER: IHG Free night capped for everyone (includes $49 card)). Many people applied for the card shortly before that change was officially announced, only to […]

dcm

My annual free night was issued in April, but IHG is saying that if I didn’t use it to book a reservation with it before May 1, then it’s no longer an unlimited night and instead capped at a 40,000 property

[…] IHG Card Losing Value:  So letters are being sent out stating that the free night certificates offered by the IHG card will be capped at 40K points.  This means that you’ll only be able to use your free night certificates at properties where award nights are at 40K points or less. […]

Jeff s

Can we still use the free night after the expiration? That has always been a nice unstated benefit. It’s allowed me to make a 2 free night stay before as long as I booked night 1 before expiration, even if the stay was well after.

cavedweller

Try to book it IF it won’t call them .My comes in Dec so I booked the old one in Nov. for 1/21 stay then the new one for 1/23 WORKED .
Always call and beg like I do it is MONEY u know .

CHEERs

[…] H/T Reddit and FrequentMiler […]

Bryce

8 years for my dw, 3 years for me with the cards. Setting aside the “what have you done for me today” for a moment, I’m left with a lot of gratitude for all the time in Pensacola beach and our upcoming 3 night stay at the Willard for an important family event.

Good run!

And I can see us sticking around at $49 for 40k pt nights.

Paul

It still works for me. IC Bangkok, IC Santo Domingo, and IC Buenos Aires all require 40k or less points. Hong Kong, Paris, Amsterdam, and London become problematic, but I’ve been to Europe too many times already so a break is ok.

dave

” IC Bangkok, IC Santo Domingo, and IC Buenos Aires all require 40k or less points.” Today that’s true.

Gabby

Bye bye Maldives 🙁

Optimist

If enough people complain, maybe they’ll change the terms and allow those who have the card to get one last free-night this year, even if the AF is after May 1st. Remember when Southwest sent out a notice saying that Marriott points transferred to SW would no longer count towards the CP? Then, enough people contacted them about it that they reversed their decision? Perhaps we can make that happen again.

Angela

Husband has had card over a year, he got this letter today. I have had it since October, I did not receive this letter and hope i do not.

[…] news that the IHG card’s annual free night is being devalued (see: BUMMER: IHG Free night capped for everyone) has led to an interesting situation.  If you applied for the IHG card recently under the […]

Anastasia

Well, that’s a bummer. I have one uncapped free night in my account right now (issued Oct 2017) but I was hoping to make a two-night stay once a second night hits my account. Guess I’ll have to replan this now. We all knew this benefit was too good to be true, but I do wish they’d given us more notice. I tend to plan my travel far ahead of time. Then again, maybe a lot of people will be cancelling after this and it’ll lead to better retention offers.

Jose

It definitely could’ve been handled better, one more uncapped anniversary night before the downgrade. I would complain to Chase. In Canada, when Chase left, they gave everyone a free cat 1-5 marriott certificate, something could’ve been done here.

Justin

My wife and I just signed up for this card in the past year. If they don’t honor it for at least the first year, I will be quite angry. It is one thing to change a product, it is another to eliminate a benefit which caused us to sign up for the card in the first place before we even used that benefit even once. My business account is with Chase. Our joint checking is with Chase and my wife puts most of a considerable amount of spending (reimbursed business travel and expenses) on Chase cards. Would they even notice if I closed these accounts and moved all this business elsewhere?

deb b

Exactly- I applied specifically (july 2017) to have that award to use on late 2018 trip. Having the ihg card DID prevent me from being approved for the Marriott hotel care. I certainly expect them to honor the terms under which I applied!!

will

you didn’t pay an annual fee and will still get a free night for decent value, get over yourself

atxtravel

This finally convinced me to cancel this card….not right away but before the next fee hits. I’ll see if enough outrage prompts a solid retention offer.

I’ve never understood the appeal of just one night in a fancy hotel, but at least it was convenient. Now I can’t use it in many big cities. I could find value in a 40k hotel, but some locations have none…..and it’s getting worse with award categories creeping up every year.

Greg The Frequent Miler

You might as well wait until the 40K free night posts to your account and then cancel.

atxtravel

They don’t take it away if you cancel right away? That’s good to know. I wasn’t in a hurry anyway 🙂

Ava

This is what I’m thinking of doing. I’ve had the card since Feb 2016 so I still have an unrestricted free night for this year. My wife just signed up for her own card in Feb of this year so that going forward we’d have two free nights per year. But the restriction makes it much less appealing to keep these cards and pay $98 in AF for free nights we may not end up being able to use. I’ll wait until our 40K free night certs post next year, then cancel before the AF hits.

Steve

How is it not improperly changing the terms of agreement if you signed up in, say, June 2017, and now in June 2018 you won’t get an uncapped certificate? You signed up for the card with a certain understanding of specific future benefits that now are not going to be honored.

deb b

Exactly- I applied specifically (july 2017) to have that award to use on late 2018 trip. Having the ihg card DID prevent me from being approved for the Marriott hotel care. I certainly expect them to honor the terms under which I applied!!

Prt

If anyone cancels their card after this, please let us know if you receive a retention offer?

atxtravel

I definitely plan to cancel, but my anniversary is in October, so there’s no rush. I think it would be best for everyone to hold off (unless their fee hits ASAP) and let some backlash build up so that everyone can pile on for the exit at once. It’ll be more forceful and may convince Chase to do a retention offer.

Gabe

And I just applied for this card last week. Could you even use the certificate as the equivalent of 40K points and pay for any differences with cash or points for upgraded properties?

sirguy

I agree, they should honor the agreement. I applied 3 months ago on the premise of getting an uncapped free night. Either give add’l points or stick to the original agreement.

Deb belcore

Exactly- I applied specifically (july 2017) to have that award to use on late 2018 trip. Having the ihg card DID prevent me from being approved for the Marriott hotel care. I certainly expect them to honor the terms under which I applied!!

Ms M

Wonder if you booked then cancel would the points deposit into your account?

Jeffrey Predmore

“I’m not sure how this will affect people who applied within the past week expecting to receive an uncapped certificate at their 1-year anniversary.”

They won’t get an uncapped certificate. This couldn’t be more clear.

AnameOfaguy

I just signed up two weeks back, haven’t even received the card, and have *not* received the e-mail yet. Chase’s list of card benefits still states unrestricted free night. I have no hope of actually getting an unrestricted free night, though.

Both Chase and IHG are still advertising the uncapped free night on their websites too.

Peter

It’s snail mail. I got mine today. Be on the lookout.

Biggie F

FWIW, I got my card a year ago and received the first year certificate last month. Applied it already. New AF posted today. Also today, the dreaded letter showed up, along with a letter-envelope-oriented brochure labeled “Your guide to the IHG Rewards Club Select World MasterCard credit card.” The picture (a couple in sunglasses with the woman holding a child on her shoulders) is labeled “Travel the way you’ve always wanted”. The next open page, at the bottom, says “Enjoy a bonus free night, every year.” Inside further, in small text, is a long technical description of the Anniversayr Free Night, and the sentence, “Anniversary Free Night is valid at IHG Hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less….” Yup, kick in the teeth. The only consolation is that I have a few weeks to decide whether it is worth renewing or not.

Now for a direct comparison: Also in the day’s mail was my wife’s new card, as approved last week. This one has a similar looking brochures, which is also entitled, “Your guide to the IHG Rewards Club Select World MasterCard credit card.” But it has a different front picture (I think a woman on a man’s back [don’t ask]) and slogan (“An essential part of every journey”) and on the next page it says “Read on to learn more about your new card”. The language about the Anniversary Free Night is the old rules — no mention of the 40,000 points guideline.

Same mail. Nothing to say that tomorrow’s mail won’t bring the new rules for my wife’s card, too; but, dang, that’s whack to send out something like that with a new card and then to turn around and rescind it with a similar-looking brochure. We’ll see.

Ruth

Just got my IHG card in the mail today. The letter that starts out congratulating me and welcoming me to the card tells me to see the credit card guide to learn about all my benefits including, “an Anniversary Free Night at any IHG hotel worldwide.” You better believe I intend to advocate strongly for this! If I hadn’t just charged $850 today I’d cancel the card.

Greg The Frequent Miler

I’ve had my IHG card for more than a year and the letter arrived today in the mail. My wife has had the card only since mid January of this year, and she has not yet received the letter. Maybe it will appear in the next day or two, or maybe there is a different cut-off for people who haven’t yet received their first annual free night.

MRS

Wife and I applied back in October, in the same boat as your wife. Any DPs of cardholders who had the card for less than 1 year NOT receiving this dreaded letter?

Jason

I applied in August and never received the letter. I hope people who are in the same boat as us at least get the first anniversary certificate honored.

scooter

How long do credit card issues have to send notice of a negative change? I thought it was 1-2 months at least, it sounds like May 1 would be right at 1 month if people got notices yesterday.

psl

As a New Yorker who has, over the years, enjoyed many free nights at the Intercontinental Times Square, I no longer see any value in a card that won’t at least give me a free night at the Staybridge Suites Times Square. A major point devaluation combined with the new IHG card restrictions is a double whammy. Better to use up your points, cancel this card, and go for better Chase cards (assuming you’re under 5/24).

Mark

I just booked 3 out of 4 nights in Manhattan and was waiting for a 4th free night certificate to open up this summer for the 4th night. Bummer.

Christian

IHG just got pissed off that people were getting good value. If you book your free night, then close the card, will the reservation remain?

Ava

It should. The free night certificate is added to your IHG rewards account, so I don’t think it’s connected to the credit card at that point.

Peter

Not sure why you would do that though. If your cert is still valid, that also means you haven’t paid your annual fee yet, so you may as well wait until it comes due to cancel

Greg The Frequent Miler

I’ve done exactly that twice and it worked fine. The first happened when I applied for a new Chase card and Chase unilaterally decided to close my IHG card to make room for the new card. The second time was the exact same situation but with my wife’s IHG card. We have both signed up new for IHG cards since then.

Frank

I would rather they had increased the annual fee. Fortunately my wife and I have our free night certificates coming again this month so we are spared for another year. But this is not as bad as losing the last night free that Club Carlson used to have – that one was way too generous.

[…] certificates issued after 5/1/18 will be capped at properties costing up to 40K per night. See this post for more […]