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We knew this day was coming. A $49 annual fee credit card that gives an anniversary free night certificate for any IHG property was too good of a deal to last. And for certificates issued after May 1, Chase is severely devaluing them. It’s since backtracked for some (but not all?) new cardholders who have never received an anniversary certificate, and IHG’s introduced a new pair of cards with one offering the devalued anniversary free night.

Soon, the most valuable IHG properties will no longer be eligible for the Chase IHG Free Night Anniversary certificate. However, there’s still time to redeem them for the maximum possible value — an overwater bungalow at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa — and there’s availability!

Here’s how you can book this free night, and potentially how to even stack free nights.

(Photo courtesy InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora)
Stay here for free. (Photo courtesy InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso)

Chase Free Night Inventory at the IC Bora Bora Thalasso

One wouldn’t expect free nights to be widely available at a property usually costing over $1,000 per night, but that is what’s showing at the IC Thalasso. Perhaps the reason is a misconception about the Chase free night inventory. Cardmembers have observed that many IHG hotels seem to share inventory for award nights and Chase anniversary free nights. However, that is definitely not true at the IC Thalasso. See what happened when I tried to book an award night:

I got a notice of “Rooms are not available for Reward Nights on one of more of the selected dates.” And when I clicked on “View available dates” for this location, there weren’t any.

However, when I performed the same search for an anniversary night, I saw something different. To do this, I went into my account and clicked “Redeem” on the free night.

Which unlocked a new rate under Rate Preference.

And when I searched the same date at that same IC Bora Bora Thalasso, the night was free.

This difference was not just for one random date. My most recent search showed only one date available in the next year using points, but when I searched for Chase anniversary free nights, I saw lots of available dates.

Unfortunately, you cannot view a calendar for the Chase free night like you can for award nights — you have to search each date individually. Spot checks from this year showed little availability before December. But from December I checked consecutive dates for four months and found two open weeks in mid-December, and almost every day in January, February and March of 2019 open!

(Photo courtesy InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora)
(Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora.)

It appears, however, that the IC Thalasso only makes one unit available for the Chase free night. So if the availability you see differs from what I’ve said here, other TPG readers may have beaten you to it.

Please, however, don’t reserve a room unless you actually intend on using it. I see inventory at this resort pop up all the time just a few days in advance — meaning people book award nights far in advance, then cancel them just outside of the cancellation window, not leaving enough time for someone else to plan a trip and take that spot.

Stacking Chase IHG Anniversary Free Nights

Bora Bora isn’t easy or cheap to get to, so traveling across the globe for one free night may seem extreme. But stacking free nights would make the journey more worth it. The most obvious way to do this is by booking back-to-back free nights with a cardholder partner who also has a free night certificate. IC Thalasso actually allows three adults on a reservation, so you could even find a third friend with a free night and book three consecutive nights. Though that may make your stay slightly less romantic — or more romantic, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Even on your own, you can actually stack these anniversary nights. After May 1, however, you’ll only be able to use this method on IHG properties that cost 40,000 points per night or less.

You could score a discount award at the Intercontinental Bali.
After May 1, you can still stack Chase anniversary free nights at hotels with a redemption value of 40,000 points per night, such as the InterContinental Bali. (Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Bali.)

This is how I used certificates from consecutive years to book consecutive nights at the IC Thalasso. Take a look at the certificate in your IHG account. The expiration date for the certificate represents the day by which the certificate must be booked, not used. With availability listed over 11 months out, you could use it for a booking well into the next year. An important note, though: After the expiration date of a certificate, no changes can be made to the reservation to which it was applied.

Because the certificate is valid for just over a year, there is a 10-day overlap where you could have two certificates in your account. Then you can find availability and use your certificates to book consecutive nights.

The free night certificate is only available in the lowest-category room, but luckily at the IC Thalasso, all accommodation is overwater bungalows.

After redeeming both certificates for consecutive nights next January, I’ll be getting two nights worth $2,091 for $98 — the price of two annual fees.

Of course, you don’t have to book these consecutive nights at the same time, but at properties with limited availability, you may want to ensure both nights are available before booking a certificate you won’t later be able to change.

December – March is wet season in Bora Bora, so the weather can be a toss up, but when I think of weather back home in Chicago in January, this suddenly seems tolerable.

Other Ways to Maximize Your Stay

While you can only book the lowest-level accommodation with the free night certificate and Platinum status won’t get you an upgrade, InterContinental Ambassador “status” will, if available. The $200 per year status gets you a mountain-facing bungalow upgrade, four bottles of water per day (a premium on the island) and 4pm late checkout.

(Photo courtesy InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora)
Use Ambassador status to get an upgraded view of this mountain.(Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora.)

I’l be padding days on either side of my reservation to stay at cheap(er) accommodation on Bora Bora and watch availability as the date gets closer. If a day opens up, like I mention above they often do, I’ll tack on an award night.

No one is happy about another credit card perk devaluation. However, if a Bora Bora overwater bungalow has been on your list, there’s still time to make it happen for next to nothing.

Featured image courtesy of InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Earn 80,000 points, worth up to $480 with the IHG Rewards Premier Card. With this card you'll get IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status which more than negates the value of the $89 annual fee. You'll also earn 10 points per dollar at IHG hotels, 2 points per dollar on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$89
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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