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One of the better credit cards out there is the Chase IHG card. It has a signup bonus, which has ranged from 60,000 to 80,000 points, but the real value is that the card gives an IHG free night certificate to ANY IHG HOTEL upon each anniversary (after paying the $49 annual fee). I recommend if you’re playing the travel hacking game in “two player mode” that you should both get the card, and at approximately the same time, so that you can use the anniversary IHG free night certificates on the same trip
(SEE ALSO: Why you should get 2 IHG cards at the same time)
Where to book your IHG free nights?
The cliched answer for where to book your IHG free nights is at the Intercontinental Bora Bora, where you can get an overwater bungalow with your IHG free night certificates
Naturally, when you have a free night at ANY hotel, your first instinct is to book the most expensive hotel possible, and overwater bungalows in Bora Bora will often run near $1000 / night. It’s hard to fault that kind of redemption!
Where else to book your IHG free night?
But I think the real answer of where to book your IHG free night is anywhere you’re going! Places like Bora Bora or the Maldives are remote, and that can be good, but it also means it might take a $400 seaplane to get to your island. So suddenly your “free” night isn’t quite so free!
Plus, 5-star hotels aren’t for everyone! There’s a reason that I tend to prefer your more “budget” hotels
(SEE ALSO: 3 reasons “budget” hotels DESTROY nice ones)
Without elite status, staying at a 5-star hotel means that you’re almost definitely paying for breakfast, and most 5-star hotels will also charge you for parking. They used to charge for wi-fi, but that seems to be free at most places now. Did I mention your run of the mill Holiday Inn Express gives all 3 of those for free??!!?
So, where did I book my IHG free nights?
We’re headed to Europe next month, and it took me awhile to finally figure out where we were going to stay, but I decided to use my 2 free nights in London. London is a super-expensive hotel city anyways,
So I booked at the Intercontinental London, right? I mean it’s the “top end” IHG hotel in London, running around ~$600 / night, right?!
WRONG! I actually booked at the Staybridge Suites in Vauxhall.
It is across the Thames, but it’s convenient to several of the sights we’re wanting to see, and it has free breakfast, AND an “evening social”, which is code for dinner
(SEE ALSO: Which hotels give dinner for free?)
So was it a “waste” of an IHG free night certificate?
Did I “waste” my 2 IHG free night certificates? Maybe. I do get the argument. On the other hand, not using them would have meant paying either 30,000-40,000 points or $200-300 / night (we are paying 80,000 Hilton points for one night at the Park Lane Hilton on one of our nights in London)
What do you think? Where have you used your IHG free night certificates?