I have long held the belief that the Chase IHG Rewards credit card has been one of the best cards out there. In exchange for paying the $49 annual fee, you got a free night at ANY IHG hotel worldwide. The classic example of this was staying in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Bora Bora
This put the card square at #1 on my list of 4 cards I’ll pay the annual fee on
IHG’s free night from the credit card was as far as I know the only brand’s award that was not limited by category. We didn’t list that as one of our 5 awards ripe for devaluation, but it clearly was a benefit that gave outsized value
My wife and I (both of us IHG cardholders, of course) both got letters in the mail this week that starting with free night certificates issued on May 1, 2018, the IHG free night certificates will be capped at 40,000 points. You will not be able to use your free night certificate for any hotel that costs more than 40,000 points.
2 new cards
Last week, news broke about the fact that the existing IHG card was being discontinued for new signups and replaced with 2 new cards
- One would have an $89 annual fee and include an anniversary free night amongst other benefits
- One would have a $29 annual fee and NOT include an anniversary free night
Current cardholders grandfathered in?
The thinking last week was that if you hurried and applied for the existing card before it went away that you’d still be grandfathered in to an uncapped free night at the $49 annual fee level. Unfortunately though, it does not look like holders of the current card will have an uncapped free night. If your anniversary date (and free night certificate) are issued before May 1st, you’ll have a category free night. Otherwise it will be capped at 40,000 points. (Cue IHG “adjusting” many of their “good” hotels from 35,000 or 40,000 points to 45,000 points in 3… 2… 1… )
Should you keep the card?
Knee-jerk reaction would say that you should cancel immediately. I have not yet decided what to do with my card (anniversary date in July)
Though, looking back at where we’ve spent our free night certificates, we would still have been able to use the free nights to save much more than $49, even with the restrictions
- 2 nights at the Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall – 40,000 points – see also Where I “wasted” my 2 IHG free night certificates
- 2 nights at the Staybridge Suites San Francisco Airport – also 40,000 points
- Then we still have 2 that we need to use within the next few months
One problem with the card I’ve found is that it can be tricky to use them at “the best” hotels without also requiring a ton of points to add on additional nights or doing extensive hotel hopping
What about you? Will you be keeping your Chase IHG Rewards card?