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My husband and I each own a few credit cards that come with free hotel nights after paying the card’s annual fee. We’ve never had a problem using these “free nights” before. Until this year.
Now, we have 2 free IHG anniversary certs that expire at the end of October. When we received them last year, we immediately used them to book 2 nights at a hotel in Boston to see the Laver Cup. Well, due to Covid-19, the Laver Cup was canceled. I canceled our hotel reservation, and now we have two free nights sitting in our accounts again.
IHG and other brands are being generous with extending elite status and certificate expiration dates due to the pandemic. But, is it enough? The expiration of our free certs was extended through December 31, 2020, which only gives us an additional 2 months to use them.
In any normal year, we’d find another use for these certs with no problem. But right now, we’re honestly struggling with where and how to use these free nights. My family will likely not fly anywhere this year, or at least in the near future while the virus is still so rampant.
We were getting such a good value from the certs by using them in Boston that I’m struggling with how to feel good about these free nights for a different use. But, I do have a few ideas:
Quick Trip to Denver
I know I said my family probably won’t fly soon, but the one exception I would consider is flying to Denver to see my mom. She’s in an assisted living facility, and she hasn’t had visitors for months. Plus, the flight is short.
IHG has plenty of options to use our certs in Denver. We could either stay Downtown or near her place.
But, I’m not getting my hopes up. Covid-19 is still killing the elderly in nursing homes, and restrictions haven’t been lifted yet. By the time restrictions are lifted, my kids may be back in school already, meaning they will be more exposed to the virus which means we’d be a bigger risk to visit my mom.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Villages Resort
I’m tempted to book a 2-night getaway at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Villages Resort in East Texas. The standard award room is a 2-bedroom condo, which would fit my family of five.
The resort has mini golf, a water park (extra charge) and other recreational activities. It’s on a lake.
I’m hesitant because the water park is currently closed due to Covid-19. And even if it’s open in a few weeks, I’m not sure it will be safe to go. The reviews on the IHG site are decent, but TripAdvisor reviews are harsh (3 stars).
Local Getaway for the Pool
I’ve mentioned before that my neighborhood and city pools are closed due to Covid-19 and we’re kind of desperate for a swimming pool due to sweltering temperatures (see Am I Desperately Enough for Swimply.com?). A few weeks ago, I looked at some local IHG properties, but unfortunately their pools were closed. However, I just looked again, and some of them are beginning to open up their pools with low capacities.
While it’s not the best value for our certs, can you really put a price on enjoying an outdoor swimming pool when it’s 100 degrees outside?
Christmas in San Antonio
Since we usually travel to South Texas over the Christmas holidays, we could easily add on a few days at a hotel in San Antonio. Of course, things could still be closed or have restrictions like they do now. Or, the virus may have all but disappeared and we could actually enjoy restaurants and the River Walk.
Gift Them to Friends or Family
While we are struggling to find a good use for our certs this year, our friends and family might be in a better position to use these. While we can’t outright gift these free nights, we can make the reservations ourselves and add a friend or family member’s name to the room. Like Leana, for example, who lives in Florida…she probably has better IHG choices within driving distance. Or, my brother’s family in Colorado.
In light of all the things going on in the world right now, deciding how to use “free” hotel certificates is certainly not at the top of the priority list. But, this is a travel blog, not a current events or political blog.
Did a trip cancelation affect your hotel anniversary certs this year? Do you have alternative plans for your free nights? Do you wish you had more time to use the free nights?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.