The credit cards of IHG, Hilton (the Reserve card) and Hyatt all give free nights, although the details are all very different. First I’ll explain what those differing rules are and then I’ll explain how to go online and actually use your free night.
- IHG Rewards Card ($49 annual fee is waived the first year)
- 1 free night at any hotel annual on your anniversary
- Hyatt Card ($75 annual fee is waived the first year)
- 2 free nights at any hotel for signing up
- 1 free night at hotels category 1-4 annually on your anniversary
- Hilton Reserve Card ($95 annual fee)
- 2 free weekend nights at any hotel
- 1 free weekend night every year you spend $10,000 on your anniversary
Note: I’m not including details of spend requirements for sign up bonus.
Understanding a few details better
Anniversary is to say that you do not get those benefits when you sign up but after a year. Traditionally, you get the annual benefit and then pay the annual fee, and then keep the card for another year.
These “free nights” can be used anytime there is award availability. If you can pay for it with points, you can pay with the free night certificate. However, there are two other restrictions as mentioned above.
The other limit is that Hilton restricts the free nights to the weekend, which is considered Friday night, Saturday night, or Sunday night. Spending $10,000 by your anniversary date gets you 1 free weekend night, and it works the same way.
Booking your free night
Booking the IHG free night
Once a free night has posted in your IHG account, regardless of whether or not it’s from the credit card or the “Into The Nights” promotion, it will show up into a “Free Night Status”. If you go to book with this free night, as you normally would with points, you won’t be able to use your free nights. But booking is still really simple, and it’s nearly the same process.
1) Log into IHG
2) Go to My Account
3) Click “Free Night Status”
4) Click “Book Free Night”
5) This should take you to a normal search function but the selected rate searched should be the “Chase Anniversary Free Night”
From there you use a regular search process. If the free night is eligible for the night and hotel it will have the rate crossed out and say nothing more than “FREE”.
Understand two things. First, you have to book through this process. But second, you can use the normal “Rewards Night” search to find eligible nights for the free night. For all the hotels in this post, the free nights are award nights. They do not earn points, and they follow the same cancelation rules as regular award nights.
Booking your free Hyatt night
Similar to IHG, in order to use your free night instead of points, you need to find the free night in your account.
1) Log in to Hyatt
2) Click “Account Details”
3) Click “My Awards”
4) Click “Reserve”
5) Search for location or hotel name
From there it’s kind of like a normal search, other than you can’t really see the price or details until you get to the final booking screen. So keep following the blue buttons.
Again, if there are award nights for points, there are free nights with the certificate. The rules are generally the same, although I had to cancel one awhile ago and actually had to call to cancel. So unlike IHG, they’ve built another system just to handle these free nights, and it’s not quite as good.
Booking your Hilton Reserve Night
Unfortunately, there is no way to book the Hilton free night online… at least none that I found anywhere in my account.
You can certainly check if or when the free night posted into your Hilton account by going to “My Account” and on that page you’ll see recent activity. But this provides no help for booking. Never the less, I’ll go through the booking steps.
1) Call Hilton HHonors (1-800-548-8690)
No pictures needed.
These free nights are incredibly value for expensive places where you’d want to be downtown but would be spending either a huge amount of points or cash. London, Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Bora Bora, Maldives, etc… These might not be the “aspirations” of everyone, but they are certainly expensive for everyone.
Still, I’m insistent that people should be earning miles first and then hotel points. Cover your next year of flights before you worry about hotel points. Even in expensive cities you can commute, BRG, find other deals, or stay at crappy hotels. But with airlines, it seems to be a lot of money or miles nowadays. I’m always surprised when I see how much people pay for flights. Cover your miles then get the hotel nights.
Anyways, I know these are popular cards so I wanted to make sure people know how to use them and understand them.
If mixing in this type of beginner content is useful, let me know. But more importantly, feel free to ask questions on the “FAQ: Ask Drew Anything” page. I’ve been writing posts based on these questions. Help me know what kinds of questions people are asking by actually asking them. You’ll be helping both of us out (but ask on that page please). 😀