How to use the IHG Rewards anniversary night certificate

Apr 7, 2022

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The anniversary night certificate that comes with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the best reasons to carry the card. And, now the new IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card offers the same anniversary night certificate.

Each year, both cards offer an anniversary night certificate (starting on your first anniversary as a card member) with a point redemption value of up to 40,000 points for use on one standard room night. Now you can even use existing points from your IHG Rewards account to redeem the anniversary night from these cards at hotels above the 40,000 point redemption level.

TPG’s valuations peg the value of 40,000 IHG points at $200. So, if you use your anniversary night certificate strategically, you can easily offset the $99 annual fee of the IHG Premier Card or IHG Premier Business Card. This guide will discuss how to use your IHG Rewards anniversary night certificate.

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How to book a night with your IHG anniversary night certificate

Even though the certificates hold a lot of weight, using them is not straightforward. Instead of going through the normal booking process, you first need to sign in to your IHG account and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner, which will bring up your account profile.

IHG Rewards member hub page
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Underneath the “Available Points” area, you can see if you have any free nights available. You’ll need to click the orange “Free Night(s)” link, which will bring you to a page detailing the free nights in your account.

IHG Rewards anniversary night certificates in account
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

You’ll see how many anniversary nights you have available on this page. This page also shows the expiration date for each free night. You must book and stay by the expiration date for most IHG anniversary night certificates.

To redeem an anniversary night certificate, click the “Book Night” or “Book Free Night” button for the certificate you want to use. Although you can top off certificates from the IHG Premier Card and IHG Premier Business Card, you can’t top off other anniversary night certificates. So, you may want to be strategic regarding which certificates you use for a given stay if you happen to have certificates from different sources.

Enter your destination, dates, number of guests and rate preference on the next page. The rate preference is “IHG Rewards Premier Card Annual Flex Night” for the anniversary night I get each year as a perk of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Booking an IHG anniversary night
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Unless you have multiple anniversary night certificates of the same type, you can only book a one-night stay when redeeming your certificates. For example, the two certificates TPG’s Katie Genter has in her account (as shown above) are different types, so she could book two one-night stays with these certificates (but not one two-night stay). Likewise, the system will not let you put these certificates toward a longer stay by booking some nights on the reservation with points or cash.

Your search results will then appear, listing all hotels in your destination where you can use the award night certificate. If the result says “FREE,” you can book using your certificate.

Redeeming IHG anniversary night
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

If a dollar amount is given instead, you can’t currently use your award night certificate at that property on that date.

There’s one more option if you’re using an anniversary night from the IHG Premier Card or IHG Premier Business Card: “+__ points.” If you see this option for your desired hotel, you have to pay points along with your certificate when redeeming your anniversary night.

Redeeming IHG anniversary night
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Once you find a property that works for you, you’ll want to click the orange “Select hotel” button to see the room types available.

Once you click “Select room” for a specific room type, you’ll also see other rates you could book. In this case, I could redeem the certificate from my IHG Premier Card plus 59,000 points (or a variety of points and cash options), redeem 99,000 points or pay 524 euros (about $572) for a refundable one-night stay at the Kimpton St Honoré Paris.

Redeeming IHG anniversary night
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

If I decide to redeem my IHG Rewards Premier Card Annual Flex Night and 59,000 points for this stay, I’d see the following on the next page.

Redeeming IHG anniversary night
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Then, I’d need to enter my credit card information (if it’s not already saved in my account) and agree to the terms, conditions and cancellation policy.

Of course, if I’d used a certificate that didn’t allow me to top off with points, I would have been restricted to properties with nights costing 40,000 points or less when I searched.

Like when redeeming IHG points, not all room types are available when using your anniversary night certificate. If this happens, you could try booking a less desirable room type (as long as you can cancel), then calling the hotel directly to see if it will honor your request for a different room — for example, one with two queen beds instead of one king bed.

Related: IHG Rewards will change its elite status tiers, including requirements and bonus earnings, this April

Finding available dates with award certificates

Since IHG Rewards no longer has a fixed award chart, the number of points required at a single property can vary drastically depending on when you book and when you want to stay. If you are flexible with your dates, there’s a chance that you’ll be able to find a night that costs 40,000 points or less.

IHG now has a calendar search to help you find the best cash or points rates. But, currently, the calendar only shows availability, not pricing, when you click “View available dates” on a search with anniversary nights, points or cash set as your rate preference.

IHG calendar search
You can see availability, but not pricing, currently with IHG’s calendar search. (Screenshot from ihg.com)

Luckily, there’s still a way to check award pricing over an extended date range. To do so, create a new search as if you are using reward points. Similar to above, include your destination. But, instead of a specific date, input a date range for when you can travel.

If any nights of the dates you could stay don’t have availability, you’ll need to check smaller date ranges that avoid dates with no availability. But, if your desired property has availability throughout your date range and you have enough IHG points to book the stay, you can check the pricing night by night on the final page before booking.

Checking award night pricing
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

This method is only useful if you have a large balance of IHG Rewards points or are willing to search in shorter increments. Sadly, IHG removed the ability to check award pricing on a night-by-night basis via the “Rate details” link when searching for award nights.

Checking award night pricing
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Now, clicking on “Rate details” shows you an average cost per night.

Checking award night pricing
(Screenshot from ihg.com)

The per-night cost is after the fourth night reward benefit that comes as a perk of select IHG credit cards on a stay of four or more nights. You need to have enough points to get to the final booking page to see the night-by-night award cost.

Finally, it’s worth noting that award night availability and anniversary night certificate availability may not be identical at some properties. So, although the methods in this section are useful to get an idea about anniversary night availability, you may need to check pricing night by night to get the best deal.

Related: How to redeem points with the IHG Rewards program

Bottom line

Knowing the ins and outs of booking an IHG award night certificate is extremely important. This will help you book at your preferred property and help ensure that your certificate does not go unused. Remember to book and stay before the expiration date when using most IHG anniversary night certificates.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter.

Featured photo of IHG’s Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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