IHG free night top-ups are live, limited to Premier card (and Business card)

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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.

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Mark

Awesome! To clarify … the free night certificates on BOTH the old IHG Rewards Club Select ($49 AF) and the old IHG Rewards Club Premier ($89 AF) are not eligible to top off with points, correct? Only the *new* IHG Premier ($99 AF) and *new* IHG Premier Business ($99 AF) are eligible?

Mark

Now seeing data points from legacy Premier cardholders ($89 AF) saying they’ve received emails about the new benefits, including the ability to top-off the night certificates with points. So it seems like it’s just the legacy Select cardholders ($49 AF) that will not be receiving the updates.

Greg The Frequent Miler

That’s correct

C H

Maybe still not rolled out across all properties? I did a search for Wrightsville Beach for a weekend in September. A property with point price of 43,000 showed that I could use the certificate plus 3,000 points, but the Holiday Inn Resort that has rooms available for 65,000 points that night shows “Rooms are not available for Anniversary Free Night Flex on one or more of the selected dates.” when doing a certificate search.

Larry K

The fact that Select can’t be used to top up seems like it may be a good news bad news thing. Obviously, it’s a bummer. But the fact that they figured it out and set their IT accordingly is actually kind of surprising and indicates that they know what they are doing. My general attitude on loyalty programs would be “they have no idea what they are doing they will never code that one correctly.”

But this actually suggests that someone over at IHG actually is taking loyalty programs seriously and is paying attention to the details. I think Nick and Greg mentioned as much on a podcast. So, while it sucks in this specific context it maybe does bode well for the idea that there are grown ups over there who see the deterioration of Bonvoy and perhaps are thinking there is a market advantage to appealing to the stuff that we care about. I doubt free breakfast is coming, but maybe IHG becomes relevant. That’s the possible silver lining at least.

Last edited 4 months ago by Larry K
Points Adventure

The Select and Premier certs have been showing up differently on the Certs page for a while.

Brian C

I would never “upgrade” the old IHG Select card due to the 10% points rebate on redemptions, which provides a lot of value for me. You can have both Select and Premier cards at the same time (I currently do), unless this has changed recently for new Premier applications.

Last edited 4 months ago by Brian C
PCS

Hmmm… I have the IHG Rewards Premier and got the free night certificate via sign up bonus. When I go to select Rate Preference, it says “Chase Reward Night” and not “IGH Rewards Premier Card Annual Flex Night” like in your screenshot. When I search that way, there’s no option to top up. Does that mean my type of certificate is not eligible?

Raylan

I am experiencing the same thing, FYI. Apparently, on FT, they figured out that the sign up bonus free nights have the same backend coding as the old Select free nights. Whether that is on purpose or not is an open question.

PCS

Bummer… thanks for the reply!

CHRIS

Expect EVERY hotel in the system to now be 41,000 points per night. Petty as hell. They’re just twisting your arm to “upgrade” to the new “enhanced” annual fee.

Alex

Definitely a bummer. Have 2 old IHG cards and no intent to upgrade. I guess it’s a win some lose some situation.