Redeeming My IHG Free Night Certificate

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the IHG credit card and I believe it’s one of the most underrated hotel cards available. One of the best perks of this card is the annual free night certificate to use anywhere in the world! Of course, it’s not truly free because the credit card fee is $49 a year. But, today I redeemed my “free night” and it was well worth the $49 fee for the card!

We have a family vacation (family cruise) that starts this weekend and we are all staying in the French Quarter. I helped family book their stays, some are staying at the Hyatt French Quarter and the other are staying at the Crown Plaza in the French Quarter. A few months ago I booked our 1 night stay at the Holiday Inn French Quarter- Chateau LeMoyne for the tune of 35,000 points. After my 10% rebate it would come to 31,500 points for the night. At the time, the cost at the time would have been about $350 for the night. So it was a great use of my points, since I was receiving 1.1 cents per point.

Holiday Inn French Quarter
Holiday Inn French Quarter

Last week, my free night certificate from my IHG credit card posted to my account. I’m still waiting for the annual fee to post, but so far it hasn’t. Now my dilemma was to use the certificate now and have the points put back into my account or save the certificate for later this year.

I have already booked our stays for our Europe vacation later this year, using Airbnb and planning to use Hyatt for our trip early next year. With no current plan to possibly use IHG in a years time, I decided I wanted to use it for this trip. Why not, right?

My initial thought was to call IHG, have them refund my points to my account and use the free night on my current reservation. That’s exactly what I did, but there was an issue. I couldn’t use it because I was told there was no available rooms to use it on. Wait, what? When I told them what I wanted to do on my current reservation, I was told that is not possible. That’s ok though, I had the choice of 2 other hotels in the French Quarter, Intercontinental New Orleans or the Crown Plaza: New Orlean French Quarter. So which one do I pick?

Intercontinental New Orleans
Intercontinental New Orleans

Choice 1: Intercontinental New Orleans
The rate of the only room available to book today was $1090.98! That was for the Suite, but using points I’d get the Superior room. Either way, that would be a great way to use my free night certificate. It usually cost 50,000 IHG points to stay at the Intercontinental New Orleans. Even at 50,000 points a night, I would receive roughly 2.2 cents per point. Maybe you can’t compare the value since the rooms are different. But, the only only to stay there is to pay for the Suite or use points for the Superior room.

The Intercontinental looks really nice and for my $49 fee, I would pay about 4.5% of the actual cost to stay there for the night. Talk about a deal!

Crown Plaza New Orleans French Quarter
Crown Plaza New Orleans French Quarter

Choice 2: Crown Plaza New Orleans French Quarter
The rate of this room for my trip would cost $487.44. This would be for the same room I’d be able to book with my certificate. This Crown Plaza usually cost 40,000 points a night. Still for my $49 annual fee, I’d be saving a lot of money for this hotel! If I were to use 40,000 points, I’d get roughly 1.2 cents per point. A full cent less per point than if I were to book at the Intercontinental!

The Crown Plaza looks very nice as well and for my $49 annual fee, I would pay roughly 10% of the actual cost for a nights stay. Still a great deal!

Which did I decide on?
Strictly on a cent to point value basis, it isn’t even close. The Intercontinental is the clear winner for the value. But as mentioned in the beginning, this is a family vacation and I know my wife would value staying at the Crown Plaza closer to family more than staying the Intercontinental.

So do I pick the higher end hotel (better certificate value) or pick the hotel closer to family (wife values more)? Well as much as I like to get the better certificate value, I’m not stupid (wife value > certificate value) 🙂 and I made Kristin happy with booking the Crown Plaza.

Redeeming my certificate was very easy. I called IHG customer service and explained that I wanted to cancel my room at the Holiday Inn and use my free night certificate at the Crown Plaza. The representative canceled my reservation and the 35,000 points were immediately deposited back into my account. I was emailed confirmation of my new stay while on the phone.

When we return to New Orleans from our cruise, we will get to stay the Holiday Inn French Quarter- Chateau LeMoyne for a night. It looks nice and I can’t wait to stay there. Overall for our 2 nights, it cost a total of 31,500 points and $49. The actual cost would have been close to $850. To me that’s a very good use of my points and free night certificate.

Have you redeemed your IHG free night certificate? Where did you stay? Would you have made the same decision I did?

Since I will be away on a boat enjoying my vacation, I will post about my trip when I get back.

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