Book These IHG Free Night Awards Before January 25

Jan 7, 2019

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When things are too good to be true in this hobby, don’t expect them to last forever. One such credit card perk finally met its end in 2018: the free night certificate that the old IHG credit card used to offer (valid at any IHG property in exchange for a very modest $49 annual fee). This change came about when Chase introduced the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which offers an annual free night certificate but caps it at 40,000 points.

(Those with the old IHG Select card might have a little bit of time left — free night certificates issued before May 1, 2019 will still be uncapped, though after that they’ll be limited to 40,000 points a night as well.)

This redemption cap excludes many of the top hotels in the IHG portfolio, but there are still a number of great InterContinental hotels in big cities where this certificate can get you great value. Unfortunately IHG has updated its award chart for 2019, and 38 hotels will be increasing in price above the 40,000-point threshold. If you’ve been eyeing any of these properties for an upcoming stay, you have just a few days to finalize your plans, as these price increases are set to take effect for reservations made on or after January 25, 2019.

Holiday Inn Maldives

Holiday Inn Maldives, photo courtesy of the hotel.
Photo courtesy of the Holiday Inn Maldives.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $250 (varies heavily by season)

Don’t let the name fool you; this hotel is unlike any other Holiday Inn you’ve seen before. With overwater villas, areas for kids to play and swim and even babysitting services available on site, this hotel makes it easy to getaway with the people you love most. As an added bonus, the Holiday Inn has one of the lowest speedboat transfer costs of any hotel in the Maldives. You’ll only pay $229 per person, as opposed to almost $700 at some of the more high-end resorts in the tropical archipelago.

InterContinental Atlanta Buckhead

InterContinental Atlanta Buckhead, photo courtesy of the hotel
Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Atlanta Buckhead.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $400

Situated in one of Atlanta’s most upscale neighborhoods, the InterContinental Buckhead puts you right at the center of high-end shopping and world-class food while still maintaining easy access to the city. If you’re looking to stay in and relax, you can enjoy a meal at Southern Art, the hotel’s on-site restaurant run by celebrity chef Art Smith, who formerly worked as a personal chef to the Bush family and Oprah. And in true southern fashion, you can end the night at Bourbon Bar, where you’ll have over 70 different Bourbons from which to choose.

Holiday Inn West Yellowstone

Holiday Inn West Yellowstone, photo courtesy of the hotel
Photo courtesy of the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $200

A good points hotel can really help defray the cost of a visit to a national park, where other things like rental cars, park admission and hiking gear can’t easily be covered by points. The Holiday Inn West Yellowstone is located just two miles from the park’s west entrance, letting you spend more of your trip exploring instead of commuting. The guest rooms and suites feature a fitting rustic decor, and families are sure to love that kids under 18 can stay free with their parents, while those under 11 eat free at the on-site restaurant.

(Note: The current government shut down is causing issues at national parks, so take that into account if you’re planning a trip this month.)

InterContinental Toronto Centre

InterContinental Toronto Centre, photo courtesy of the hotel
Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Toronto Centre.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $250

Both the InterContinental properties in Toronto (the InterContinental Yorkville and InterContinental Toronto Centre) will be increasing form 40,000 to 45,000 points a night. The Toronto Centre location, as the name suggests, has a prime location downtown near the waterfront and actually shares a city block with the iconic CN Tower. Guests are sure to love the sweeping views of the city and water from this modern and luxurious hotel and will enjoy easy access to all of the city’s top attractions.

Holiday Inn Key Largo

Holiday Inn Key Largo, photo courtesy of the hotel
Photo courtesy of the Holiday Inn Key Largo.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $200

The Holiday Inn Key Largo is another prime example of a hotel taking an expensive beach vacation and making it family-friendly and affordable. The hotel is situated just a block or two from the water, providing easy beach access, and it also allows travelers to cool off in the on-site pool. Whether you’re looking to spend your trip relaxing with a drink in your hand or exploring the incredible waters of the Florida Keys, the prime location of this hotel makes it an easy choice for award travelers.

Hotel Indigo New Orleans

Hotel Indigo New Orleans, photo courtesy of the hotel
Photo courtesy of the Hotel Indigo New Orleans.

New award rate: 45,000 points

Average nightly cost: $150

The newest property in the city, the Hotel Indigo New Orleans provides an authentic and immersive experience to guests. Situated in the historic garden district and with direct access to the St. Charles streetcar line, the hotel’s vibrant design as well as the surrounding architecture will make sure you never forget where you are. Whether you’re looking to venture to the French Quarter or enjoy some local cooking at the hotel’s restaurant, the Hotel Indigo makes it easy to experience all that New Orleans has to offer.

Bottom Line

Hotels make changes to their award charts every year to realign pricing with demand, but no matter how you spin it, IHG’s most recent updates represent a clear devaluation. Less than a year after the program’s cobranded credit card capped its annual free night certificates at 40,000 points, it’s now removing almost 40 properties from the already-limited list of eligible properties for these redemptions. And what do we get in return? Only one hotel of the nearly 700 that are changing categories this year is dropping down to 40,000 points a night (the InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort in Hangzhou, China). These changes are a significant reason why TPG dropped IHG points to 0.5 cents apiece in his most recent valuations.

If you’ve been sitting on an IHG free night certificate that you haven’t yet redeemed and were considering the above resorts (or any others jumping above 40,000 points per night), it might be worth doing so before these category changes take effect on January 25.

This post has been updated since publishing to reference the delayed implementation of the award category changes to January 25, 2019.

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