Updated on September 30, 2016
This year, I waited until the last minute before using my IHG Anniversary free night certificate. Even though I beat the deadline, it got marked as expired in the IHG system. That mistake cost me a lot of wasted time. Below I will share how I got my free night back which may save you some hassle if you are in the same boat. Better yet, don't wait until the last minute!
About the IHG Anniversary Free Night
IHG is known mainly for their Intercontinental and Holiday Inn hotels. The Chase IHG card is a hotel credit card that I keep paying the annual fee ($49) every year mainly because I get 1 free night in any IHG hotel I want. Links for hotel credit cards can be found here. Usually I will try to book a night at a Intercontinental hotel – usually the most expensive option they have. All too often, it is the end of the year and I haven't used my free night yet, and my certificates expire early February.
The card has 3 main benefits which make it worthwhile for me to keep.
- One free IHG Anniversary night in an IHG hotel of your choice – using this more than pays for the annual fee (assuming you don't let it expire!)
- 10% rebate when you book a room with points (get back up to 100k points per year)
- IHG platinum elite status (doesn't really get you much, however)
Why My Free Night Certificate Expired
I knew the deadline was approaching and I made my reservation on Feb 5, 11:30pm EST. The deadline was Feb 5 so I thought I was safe based on what the rep told me. Despite my email confirm saying Feb 5, my booking registered in IHG's system as the next day – Feb 6. This is likely due to it being local hotel time. As a result, my certificate expired and they took my certificate from the following year.
When Does The Certificate Expire?
The certificate should be redeemed and stay completed within 12 months from date of issue. The representatives say you can use it for a future date past the expiry day. The “Booking Dates” will be listed on the screen website (scroll down to see the screen shot).
Getting IHG to Reissue The IHG Anniversary Free Night
I called Chase who then transferred me to IHG. I spoke to an outsourced customer service who was only able to read off the computer screen like a robot in a difficult to understand accent. They kept repeating that my certificate expired and claiming nothing they could do…despite my email confirmation showing it was booked in time. They also kept putting me on hold – possibly a tactic to wear me out since they never came back with any resolutions. It came close to working!
Next I tried to escalate this to a Chase supervisor who called IHG on 3-way. IHG was more responsive but they kept putting us on hold with no resolution. I started looking for an email address because sitting on hold was taking up too much time. IHG said I could request a supervisor via firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Request Supervisor” (clicking the link should create an email with the subject filled out).
Wow, I didn't think that would actually work! A rep called me the next day, apologized many times as if it were read from the computer screen, and offered me 15,000 points. I declined and said that won't pay for the night i wanted to book with my certificate. The rep agreed to book me a night at the Intercontinental which cost 45k points but again wanted to put me on hold. I asked the rep to do what she needed to do without me on the phone and to email me the confirmation when its ready – she agreed. Great! Not so fast!
The next day another rep called and offered me 25k points after apologizing profusely like a robot, again. Seems the previous rep didn't book the reservation she promised. Again I explained that it's not enough to pay for the night. She wanted to put me on hold again but before she did I reiterated that I just want to book the room and asked if she could escalate it to her supervisor. All of a sudden she was able to offer me 45k points as a 1-time courtesy and she booked the night for me without having to put me on hold. SUCCESS!
The Short Version
- Don't wait until the last minute to book your free night! At least book 1 day before.
- Don't call! You will just speak with a robot who only reads from the screen. The only authority they have is to read the next response from the computer.
- Request a supervisor via email: email@example.com with the subject “Request Supervisor” and describe your situation
- When the rep calls you back, they should actually be able to help you
How To Check Your IHG Anniversary Free Night Status
- This link will take you directly to the IHG Anniversary Free Night Page
- You should now see this screen below. Notice the booking dates. Check with customer service (800) 621-0555 to confirm if you have to book and stay by these dates or if you can stay after this date. If you are extra paranoid, you can try recording the call as evidence, though check the laws in your state first. I'm not a lawyer…but it might not be legal.
Note: This is a screen shot from a friend's account who still had a free night available. It no longer appears on my screen due to my certificate being used as mentioned above.
Has this happened to you? Did you get your free night back?