As expected, it is now possible to top off an IHG free night certificate using points. As promised, IHG has limited this capability to those with the IHG Rewards Premier credit card (and this feature will also be live for those who get the new IHG Rewards Premier Business card). That’s a bummer for those of us with the old IHG Select card, but great news for those with the Premier or Premier Business or plans to get them.
Greg must have had the tropics on his mind because he first noticed the ability to top off his certificates with points just a short while ago, he noticed the above examples of properties that he could book using his Chase IHG Rewards Premier free night certificate plus additional points. As a reminder, that card comes with an annual free night certificate valid for a single night costing up to 40K points, but IHG had previously announced that they would launch the ability to add an unlimited number of points on top as necessary to book a standard room reward at hotel with a higher point redemption level.
While IHG had previously told us that this top-up ability would not be available for free night certificates issued on the old IHG Rewards Select card (which is no longer available for new applicants), we had wondered aloud whether IHG would actually program the system to know a difference between free night certificates.
Sure enough, they solved that problem by using different rate codes for free night certificates. When you select your rate preference for a free night, an IHG Select free night certificate, which can not be topped off with points, has a different rate code.
We can confirm that we do not see the ability to add points to certificates originating from the IHG Select card.
That’s a bummer for people like me who only have the old Select card and have preferred to keep it for its $49 annual fee and 10% rebate on award redemptions. However, this is great news for those with the IHG Premier card and it makes a strong argument for upgrading the old Select card to a Premier.
Overall, this is an exciting development for IHG and makes their free nights more valuable for most cardholders since it adds the flexibility to redeem no matter how many points the hotel wants for a night. On the other hand, on this weekend’s podcast, I argue a bit on the other side, saying that these top-ups are akin to paying an award surcharge to use your free night certificate. I find that kind of annoying in the same way that fuel surcharges annoy me, but if I upgrade I’m sure I’ll hand over a few points to upgrade my free night experience just the same.