IHG limits free nights from credit card to 40k and below
While I’m not surprised that the devaluation happened, I *am* surprised they are unilaterally changing the benefits on people who have applied since last may.
Angelina Aucello reports receiving a letter in the mail from Chase stating clearly that any anniversary free nights issued from May 2018 and beyond will have a redemption cap: only hotels priced at 40,000 or less IHG points per night will be eligible.
I wrote last week about my conundrum with this card product. We know that there are two new IHG cards on the way and language in the new card products insinuating this very change was coming, though we didn’t know the point limit and nobody really thought that existing cardholders would see the downgrade immediately.
To me, the craziest part of this is that anyone that applied after May 1, 2017, did so with the understanding that they were getting an unrestricted free night certificate. This means that all of these people that applied between May 2, 2017 and today are getting less than they were told by Chase. I actually can’t understand how this is OK from a compliance perspective, but one has to assume that Chase had enough legal and compliance people sign off on this that I must be wrong there. Still, even if legally compliant, one would have had to have assumed that even if the benefit wasn’t fully grandfathered (and I had a feeling it wouldn’t remain as-is indefinitely), that everyone that had applied before the change would have gotten one unrestricted free night in before the switch.
Any certificates issued before May 1, 2018 will still be unrestricted.
Most aspirational IHG properties – Intercontinental and Kimptons – are well above the limit. Even the Intercontinental and Kimpton properties in Austin, Texas, not exactly in the price brackets of NY or Paris or Tokyo, are now out of reach with the annual certificate.
At this point, I would think it would make more sense to just drop 40,000 points into a cardholder’s account than issue the free night certificate. They are now very similar to the Marriott card’s annual free night certificate that is capped at Category 5 and therefore quite hard to find a good use for.
What remains to be seen is if the about-to-be-launched $89 fee version of the IHG card will have the same cap.
What would I do if I had this card and had applied after May 1, 2017?
I would call Chase and ask for a supervisor. I would then state that when I applied for the card benefits stated one complimentary night anywhere. That would be any property up to the max of 70,000 points per night. Since they are now restricting the benefit you signed up for, it would be only fair (and right) to gift you 30,000 IHG points at the point which they issue you the certificate good for only up to 40,000 points in value. I cannot say what the response will be, especially since I do not have the card to do it myself, but one would think a reasonable supervisor would understand that a promised benefit was not delivered and this would be what would make things right.
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