The New IHG Free Night Promo Is the Most Generous and Game-able We’ve Seen in Five Years. Here’s How to Play It.

IHG Rewards Free Night Promo: Here’s how it works and why you’ll want to play

Earlier in the week I wrote that IHG Rewards – the loyalty program for Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and related brands – would be bringing back their fun, complicated, and rewarding “Big Win” promotion for the fall under a new name.

IHG’s Into the Nights Promotion turns out to be easier and more rewarding than past versions. Registration is required and the promotion period runs through the end of the year.

Different members get different offers. Generally unengaged, irregular guests with the chain get easy offers and regular guests get tougher offers. (Members opening a new account seem to get the easiest offers.)


I haven’t been an IHG regular in quite some time so here’s what I received:

Bottom-line: If I download and use the IHG app to make at least one of my reservations, and book 3 nights over two stays — each of which includes a Saturday night — at Holiday Inn properties then I will earn my choice of:

  • 60,500 points, or
  • 2 free nights at any IHG participating properties and 10,500 points.

In general I value points more than free nights, since the former won’t expire. But the free nights offer here is super generous. Three paid inexpensive nights generating 2 free nights at any hotel plus bonus points on top of the normal points earned is probably the third most generous hotel promotion I’ve ever seen.

IHG confirmed for me that these free nights work just list their co-brand credit card’s annual free night: usable at any participating IHG property (as long as reward nights are available) and expire after 12 months.

Beating this would only be —

  • Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights (two stays earned a free night at any Hyatt in the world when paying by MasterCard) back when Priceline stays counted and even the free nights themselves counted, as long as something was charged to the room – like a single phone call. But that was a decade ago…
  • Hyatt’s ‘Next Big Thing’ where every two stays at a cheap Hyatt earned a free night at any Hyatt plus 13,500 United miles and other bonuses plus double elite night credit stacked. (There may even have been a cheap airport hotel I knew of which credited phantom stays..) But that was five years ago…

It seems like everyone in the family could sign up for this promotion, whether they have existing non-frequent IHG stay accounts or need to open an account for the first time. Then find a couple of cheap Holiday Inns to check into on Saturday nights.

Spending say $300 should earn back points worth at least a third of that amount plus earn 2 nights at any Intercontinental. Do that for all members of the family and you potentially have pre-paid luxury Intercontinental nights (that will expire if unused) in expensive destinations at a cost of ~ $100 per night.

Last summer I wrote that this promotion bucks real industry trends by embracing gamification.

I expected this promotion to be good for folks already staying at IHG Rewards properties, and certainly not to make ‘mattress runs’ make any sense. But for many members the promotion turns out to be better than that. It’s certainly worth directing incremental stays to the program, if you receive a good enough offer. And it may even be worth booking hotel nights you do not even need and will not use, depending on your situation, how much you’ll value those free nights.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I have no idea what they are talking about. My wife’s offer sounds great, but …

    Complete 1 offer and earn 25,000 bonus points or 1 free night(s)

    AND

    Complete 1 more offers and earn another 25,000 bonus points or 1 free night

    What does it even mean? Complete what offer?

  2. I just called IHG. The woman said she couldn’t find my offers either and that it will refresh and update my page “in 24 hours, that is on September 12”. I said that sounds more like a week than 24 hours … and she said “Yes”.

    I would get everything in writing before I trusted this “offer”.

  3. @James – Holiday Inn Express does not count. The website says “Stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotel(s)” but in the email I received, it’s clearer – “Stay at 2 Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn® Resorts or Holiday Inn® Club Vacation hotels”

  4. From all the confusion in the comments above it sounds like this was promotion was not ready to go live. Hopefully IHG will get things sorted out with clear terms published so folks can decide if any of this is worth doing based on their own personal offer.

  5. I’ve stayed at 2 IHG properties this year. When I logged into the IHG offers link, I have ZERO offers, and ZERO potential nights. Great.

  6. @Jack – Why should this promo be different. I haven’t seen a big IHG promo yet that looked like it was really tested very well. The Big Wins certainly also had problems.

  7. I actually titled it GET UP TO 10 FREE NIGHTS. (its actually 12 with the bonus)via the points redeemed on pointbreaks.

    Ive had IHG platinum benefits and suites (even suite upgrades) granted ( even in IC’s) in most countries save USA. Mostly on pointbreaks. Gary’s youtube vid is pretty much spot on with ways to get it done. Lets face it no one likes a dog kennel over the dragons den.

    It is a VERY generous offer. I pre-registered before they emailed me a mission impossible one to accomplish.

    @Gary you should know better than me, with complex promo’s one has to spoon feed and butter the toast on both sides and serve breakfast in bed with most members of a audience.

    I usually screenshot as much as possible from the offer ad page to the personalized offer top middle and bottom, if there are clear T and C’s too.

    I will sign up my whole family, neighbours and grandparents this mattress run offer is so good.

    Glitches, we love them. If only everyone knew how to generate a free night at a time at hotels with system glitches. The industry will be in mayhem. Some thiings are best not written about. http://www.traveloyalty.co.za

  8. I actually titled it GET UP TO 10 FREE NIGHTS. (its actually 12 with the bonus)via the points redeemed on pointbreaks.

    Ive had IHG platinum benefits and suites (even suite upgrades) granted ( even in IC’s) in most countries save USA. Mostly on pointbreaks. Gary’s youtube vid on getting upgrades is pretty much spot on with ways to get it done successfully. Lets face it no one likes a dog kennel over the dragons den.

    It is a VERY generous offer. I pre-registered before they emailed me a mission impossible one to accomplish.

    @Gary you should know better than me, with complex promo’s one has to spoon feed and butter the toast on both sides and serve breakfast in bed with most members of a audience.

    I usually screenshot as much as possible from the offer ad page to the personalized offer top middle and bottom, if there are clear T and C’s too.

    I will sign up my whole family, neighbours and grandparents this mattress run offer is so good.

    Glitches, we love them. If only everyone knew how to generate a free night at a time at hotels with system glitches. The industry will be in mayhem. Some things are best not written about.

  9. Here is “My offers”

    20,300 Points or 2 free nights
    Complete 4 of 5 offers and earn 20,300 bonus points or 2 free nights
    0 of 5 offers complete

    Points Value Offer Name Progress

    13,200 Stay more
    Stay 6 nights at any of IHG’s 4,700 hotels worldwide
    7,200 Book on the IHG App
    Sign in to your IHG App and book 2 stays. The IHG App allows you to get mobile-exclusive rates, access your virtual membership card and more.
    7,200 Change your View
    Stay at 2 Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn® Resorts or Holiday Inn® Club Vacation hotels
    2,000 Apply for the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
    Apply here for the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card and earn 2,000 points. Plus, you can earn an additional 60,000 points if you’re approved for the credit card.
    100 Take our survey
    Take our survey. We want to hear what you think.
    Unlock bonus offers for the opportunity to earn additional rewards

  10. Registered my wife for the “2 unknown offers” offer yesterday. She got an email today saying she had updated her profile, I guess meaning I had agreed to have emails sent to her. But no “thanks for registering” email. Nothing about this offer at all.

    Logged onto her account today, it still shows 2 unknown offers. it does not show her as registered,yet the ability to register is no longer there. The title of the page is, get ready for it:

    “Never more together than right here, right now.”

    I don’t think “together” means what they think it means.

  11. If anyone gets confirmation on the “two nights” and where they can be used, please post. A lot of us have what would be worthwhile offers for a mattress run IF the two nights are not at HI, etc. Thanks! (Now, back to my Hyatt Place for this month’s run. ; )

  12. @Jack nailed it – this promotion was not ready to go live.

    Those (understandably) worried about the lack of T&C’s – now take a deep breath, and wait for the T&C’s to be posted in your account.

  13. Gary – do you think that any of the cashback sites like ebates etc. can be used to set up the bookings, and still get credit for completing the tasks. They seem to lead to bookings on the IHG site.

  14. My offers finally populated and unfortunately appear to acquire multiple stays (rather than nights).

    Stay twice and get a free night or 25,000 points or 10,000 miles (1,250 AIR MILES or 160 Airpoints). Must book direct.

    Stay twice again and get a 2nd free night or 25000 bonus points or 10,000 miles. Must book direct.

  15. My offer is for 102,000 or 51,000 and 3 free nights. I have to stay 4 nights, including 2 Saturdays, 2 times at intercontinental, and one breakfast rate. not bad if I can use the 3 free nights at any hotel.

  16. I’m really torn. I have to complete all 5 of my tasks to get the 2 nights. The reservations and 3 nights are easy, but I don’t have a smart phone, so I can’t download the app and make a reservation from it. Damn it. So close. But, I’m not willing to buy a smart phone just for 2 nights in (an amazing, I know) IC. Damn, damn, damn.

  17. It’s been widely reported on FlyerTalk that many people who signed up for this promo have seen their individual promo change from what was initially shown on their account. This happened to me too. Initially I received a promo very similar to the one posted above by Gary Leff – easy to achieve, and I made some travel plans based on it. But then a different version of the promo was shown, with higher requirements, and I will not be able to earn the 50,000 points so easily. Instead, I will only be able to earn points for some of the individual tasks. It is probably either an intentional “bait-and-switch” by IHG or else some really massive screwup. NOT GOOD in either case. 🙁

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