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So, I’m shutting down my last New York Airbnb at the end of this month. This will effectively cut my final tie to that city – finally. I wanted to go for a night or two to turn in the cable box, return the keys, and officially wrap it up.
Of course, I thought about using hotel points because I really didn’t want to pay for it (although I could theoretically write off the expense). Then it occurred to me I had a free night from my Chase IHG card set to expire. Even better, I just earned another one for paying the second year’s $49 annual fee.
I used them for a ~$539 two-night stay at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York for $0. Because the annual fee is waived the first year, I basically paid $49 – and got back a stay worth over $500.
Here’s why you might consider picking up the Chase IHG card. Even if you already have lots of other cards.
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The Chase IHG card gives easy value year after year
- Link: Apply for Card Offers
Right now, the current offer on the Chase IHG card is 60,000 IHG points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The points are great, but the real value is in the perks. You get:
- A free night at ANY IHG hotel every year on your cardmember anniversary
- 10% of your redeemed points back (up to 100,000 per year)
- IHG Platinum elite status, which is completely worthless but gets you a few extra points on paid stays
There’s also the “soft” benefit of using the card for a stay that’s been part of all my previous Accelerate offers.
But the real value is with the annual free night. You can use it at literally ANY IHG hotel that has an award night open.
This 2-night stay that would’ve otherwise cost ~$539. The location is perfect – only 3 short blocks from where I need to be. Plus, I booked non-stop round-trip flights with Southwest points. So the entire trip will be completely free (except for food and cabs).
The reason I booked this hotel and not a more expensive one is because it was going to expire next week. For me, it was use it or lose it. I’m glad I did, and saved some cash.
But you can push it to the limit and get some serious value if you don’t procrastinate like I did.
You could stay at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora in a double bungalow and save yourself ~$696 on a night. Or double up like I did and get nearly $1,400 in value. I plugged in random dates in April 2017 and found lots of open rooms.
Or, something a bit easier… a night at the InterContinental Paris – Le Grand, where rooms are ~$321 in May 2017.
With a little planning, you could add a fun stop somewhere along your travels. Or burn it at the last minute on something you were going to pay for anyway.
This card is NOT under 5/24
If you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel like me, consider picking up this card. It’s one of the few NOT under 5/24 (the Hyatt card is too, incidentally).
I’m actually considering closing my Chase Hyatt card and getting it again for the sign-up bonus. Like the Chase IHG card, you get a free night every year on your cardmember anniversary, but you can only use it at Category 1 through 4 hotels – here’s my list of Hyatt Category 4 hotels where you can get outsized value.
For ongoing value, the Chase IHG card is better. The annual fee is lower ($49 vs. $75) and the free night doesn’t have restrictions. Basically, there’s no way in Hades I’m ever giving up this card.
Are there drawbacks?
You can use the free night anywhere. BUT. It’s just one night.
If you want multiple nights, you have to either pony up more points or pay out-of-pocket. To get around this, you can do what I did and save them up 2 years in a row – and then redeem them for 2 consecutive nights.
Or, there are plenty of situations where you could use 1 night, like:
- Fly into one city, stay the night, take the train to another city (Fly to Brussels, stay at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam for free, take the train to Paris)
- Use it for a special event, like watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney like I did
- A romantic evening slash staycation
- An unexpected business trip where you’re in and out – or for an airport hotel when they cost a lot
- On a road trip, where you pop into an expensive city for the night (it always blows my mind how much Nashville hotels cost, for example)
Also, the free night is use it or lose it. So if you let it expire, it’s gone. There’s also no way to extend it. But you have a whole year to use it, so surely you can stay somewhere for an evening.
- Link: Apply for Card Offers
I hate on IHG a lot. Their elite status is useless, they don’t give free breakfast if it’s not included with every room already, and their points proposition pales in comparison to Starwood, Hyatt, or even Hilton.
But I have a soft spot for IHG. The PointBreaks list is a quarterly endearment, they keep chugging along with the Accelerate offers, and my gosh, the Chase IHG card is totally worth having for that 1 free night per year.
Plus, if you do use PointBreaks, you’ll get 10% of your points back. That’s only 500 points, but you often get 500 points as a Platinum elite perk (status that comes with the card). So you can effectively book a PointBreaks hotel for 4,000 IHG points. That’s a fantastic deal if you can find a hotel that works.
The card isn’t under 5/24. And you’ll definitely get your $49 worth – and often much, much more.
From my one $49 annual fee, I got 2 free nights at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York (which I’ll be sure to review). That was possible because the card is $0 the first year, and $49 the second year – so 2 nights in total for $49. Really, an amazing deal.
Just wanted to share my excitement – the thrill of chasing a deal is real, y’all.
Have you gotten outsized value from the Chase IHG card’s free night? How much did you save?
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.