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IHG Disappoints Again: Don’t Let This Website Flaw Mess With Your FNC

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IHG Free Night Certificate

IHG Free Night Certificate

My frustration with IHG has been building for years, mostly since the IHG loyalty program’s “One” refresh.  Those issues played a heavy role in my decision to step back from the program and get rid of my Chase IHG Premier, ultimately deciding to downgrade to the no-fee traveler card.  My wife and I each still had an IHG free night certificate to use, though.  These have provided our only small wins with IHG for quite some time – a relatively low-maintenance redemption for a visit to one of our favorite nearby destinations.  But recently, IHG has somehow figured out a way to screw up that experience, too.  Today, I’m describing an IHG website flaw that got in the way of using FNC’s and our way around it.

Just Let Me Use My IHG Free Night Certificate

The Initial Search

Our IHG free night certificate use has been issue-free for a good while, and I expected it to be that way again this year.  I hopped on my desktop to book our two-night stay at a new Holiday Inn Express Kitty Hawk location in the Outer Banks during low season.  As has been the pattern, we planned to book two separate one-night IHG reservations so that my wife and I could each use our certs.  Things started out okay:

IHG Free Night Certificate

The FNC was available for use at the Kitty Hawk property.  We figured that this was accurate, given that the site only displayed a paid rate for the Nags Head property we’ve previously visited.  If the FNC rate wasn’t available at the Kitty Hawk property, the site would’ve just displayed a cash rate there, also, right?

Wrong, according to the IHG desktop site.

Digging Deeper

After clicking on the “Select Hotel” button listed for the Kitty Hawk location, the following page appeared:

IHG Free Night Certificate

Weird – I only saw a cash rate listed.  Plus, I received the lovely statement at the bottom:  “Your preferred rate is not available as requested.  Please modify your stay dates or select from the available rates.”  I’m fully aware that certs aren’t always compatible with any IHG property anywhere.  But in the past, IHG has clearly stated that based on the initial search, not after first teasing a FNC rate.  I gave the “View Prices” a click in a last-ditch effort to find that FNC rate.  Of course, that didn’t work:

IHG Free Night Certificate

An Easy Solution

After hitting this dead end, my mind went in a few different directions, followed by my actions.  I varied dates at the same property but hit the same issue.  I considered using the cert at other properties, but I quickly stopped searching.  Our goal was to stay at the Kitty Hawk property.  We didn’t want to rationalize a redemption on a lower-priority goal.  I resolved to find a solution.

It didn’t take long.  I quit thinking like a firmly middle-aged guy using a desktop.  I flanked to my mobile, opened the IHG app I rarely use, and performed the same original search.  Magically, I clicked on through and was able to book the same property twice for our desired nights, using an IHG free night certificate each time.


Is this flaw a true one, or is this an intentional move on IHG’s part to make the certs tougher to use on the desktop site?  Perhaps it’s the former, but based on my recent experiences with IHG, I can easily convince myself it’s the latter.  I don’t expect IHG wackiness to subside.  And that nonsense often involves consumers’ increasing challenges in realizing rewards, making that job tougher than it should be.  Regardless, don’t give up on using your IHG free night certificate at your preferred property.  What issues have you experienced using your IHG free night certificate?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. Great….. I’m running into the same issue on the app too now.

    After selecting the hotel, when selecting a room, it first says “Chase Anniversary Night applied, On select rooms, extend the value of your Chase Premier Free Night with Rewards points.”, but under each room type, including the standard room type, it says “ANNIVERSARY FREE NIGHT FLEX NOT AVAILABLE, select from our other rates to book this room”.

    Also saw a thread on Flyertalk on this issue (

  2. Had the same issue booking our IHG Premier FNC’s for my wife and I at the Kimpton Eventi in NY. On the desktop it would show the room available on points but not the free night. I eventually came up with the same workaround you did when I used our phone Apps and was able to book the Chase FNC.

  3. Same thing happened to me on multiple occasions with the desktop, I called and explained the situation over the phone to IHG and they immediately booked me the free nights, it took a little longer , but it wasn’t a huge problem, having said that , IHG needs to fix that problem, whether it is intentional or not.

    • CJ,
      I haven’t bothered trying that way, as the app worked fine for me. Regardless, I’d expect the same negative result on a mobile browser. Other than not having to install/use the app, is there any other reason I may be missing why you’d prefer to use a mobile browser?

  4. funny as I have more issues with the app- admittedly I hate APPS- dont like to use them because I cant see everything very well and it never seems to work right. I have been booking FNC for years online and thankfully have not had those issues. Sometimes there are no rooms left, but havent experienced what you have.

  5. Calling IHG customer service? Yikes @Carl Pietrantonio. Sure I get that it can help but booking an award online or through the app should take less than 5 minutes. You’d be on hold far longer most of the time.

  6. @Carl Pietrantonio,
    I have some experience with trying to use IHG’s customer service via phone. It is a nightmare. Long wait times & being passed to multiple CSRs after which my issues still were not resolved & I had to restart the entire process.. I don’t know why IHG doesn’t seem to like making things easy on their customers but, hey, at least they are good at it 🙂

  7. How difficult would it be to simply USE THE TELEPHONE and call them and talk to a customer service person? I have done this many times and it has always made the difficult into the easy.

    I find it odd you never even mention thinking about calling in to solve the problem and make the reservations.

    • Carl,

      Wow, a few things there. First, I didn’t need to use the telephone in this situation, as a simpler solution for me was the IHG app. Second, saying that I “never” call in to solve problems/make reservations is inaccurate. I enjoy Hilton FNC’s, and calling in to book those stays has been something I’m comfortable doing. Calling in is also how I cleared up issues with a missing Hilton FNC. Additionally, making Dell purchases with phone agents is now my primary method for using those Amex Business Platinum credits.

      I’m happy to use the phone when it’s the most efficient or only method for me to resolve something. But not bringing it up in this one article doesn’t doesn’t mean I “never even mention” it elsewhere.

  8. I appreciate the post as I cannot book award nights on my desktop computer but can on my I pad I phone etc wtf ?Just tells me know hotels in New York City when I search.My take is that they have horrendous IT
    And while no website is perfect the ihg website gives the flying blue website a good name if that’s possible

    I was keen on ihg since the refreshed program but souring quickly
    as they are charging resort and destination fees @ Intercontinental Times Square IC Boston and other properties
    So I will once again likely stay with the other major programs rather than be ripped off

  9. I noticed some of the same things you did. On top of that, since I have the old IHG select card and the new IHG Business card, when trying to make a 2 night stay at one particular hotel, it let me make a reservation for 1 night with the old select 40,000 point certificate but for some weird reason, the hotel would not let me use new 40,000 point “flex” certificate that I had from the business card for the 2nd night even though a standard room was available just like it was for the first night. I assume the “flex” certificate is the one you are referring to since you said you had the Premier card. Frustrated, I called IHG and told them how I kept being blocked from using the 40,000 point “flex” certificate. What finally worked is the agent for IHG was able to make the reservation himself. So, it took my calling in and having an agent make the reservation with the certificate. If you didn’t try calling, that would be my suggestion for anyone having the same type of issue you and I experienced.

    • M&N,
      I agree that people should call if they can’t book online/in app. As silly as it is, I can understand why booking each FNC separately is required when they’re two different types of certs (from the legacy IHG Select and the newer cards). Regardless, it shouldn’t be this difficult.

  10. I had the same exact issue using a desktop this week, but being an older middle aged guy, I called the toll free number to have the telephone rep fix the situation. He did, and I was able to use the free night certificate as well.


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