We knew it would happen sooner or later. One of the best card benefits on the market is being reduced. IHG is the Intercontinental Hotel Group, the power behind Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza and others. Their credit card, issued by Chase, had one of the best benefits out there: a free night at any of their properties worldwide. Even better was that the card only cost $49 annually so even if you never spent a dime on it (after meeting minimum spend and getting your sign-up bonus) it was still a great deal.
This week I received a letter from Chase stating that the free night benefit was changing:
Currently, we award this Anniversary Free Night each year after your anniversary date, and it is redeemable at any IHG property. Going forward, Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018 will be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points.
So even though all other benefits remain the same, this is still a huge loss. I’ve got an upcoming trip in October where we’ve already used last year’s certificate for one night, we’re using points for the second night and had planned to use this year’s certificate for the third night. But I won’t get this year’s certificate until July and the hotel costs 50,000 points so I won’t be able to use it there. So we changed our plans and will stay at a different hotel the third night.
Notice the highlighted bit in the quote about eligible IHG hotels? There is a list of excluded properties and some of those go for 40,000 points or less. Summer at Mommy Points has more details in her post though she’s since had an update saying that all 40,000 point (or less) hotels will be available for the certificate. But we’ll have to see. I’m a little skeptical.
If you sign up for the old IHG card by today you can still get the certificate good for any IHG hotel in the world on your anniversary date but only for the first year. Certificates issued after that will have the 40,000 point limit.
Part of the reason for this cut back is that IHG is issuing two new cards, IHG Premier and IHG Traveler. The Traveler is the base card with an annual fee of only $29 and the sign-up bonus is 60K points after spending $2000 in the first 3 months after approval. The Premier card has an $89 annual fee and earns you 80K points after spending $2000 in the first three months. Both cards earn bonus points at IHG hotels (10x for the Premier, 5x for the Traveler), 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x everywhere else. There are other benefits regarding hotel status, savings on points purchases and bonus points based on spending thresholds. Nick at Frequent Miler has a terrific post today laying out each card’s benefits. But neither of these cards is as good as the current (old) card with it’s $49 annual fee and free night – even capped at 40K points.
Both Frequent Miler and Mommy Points include screen shots of Twitter conversations where the Chase reps say that cards approved today will get the uncapped anniversary night so bookmark those pages and sign up for the new card today. Frequent Miler has a card sign-up link in the post and on the Best Offers page.