Arbitrage is a fancy word with a simple meaning: buy something for less than you know you can get for it. For years, the Chase IHG Rewards Credit Card has been one of the simplest and most effective arbitrage opportunities out there. With an annual fee of just $49 a year, you could then use your “free night” card benefit to stay at any IHG hotel, even an Intercontinental in a major city, costing well over $300 per night. As of yesterday, that’s no longer the case.

New Restrictions

The Chase IHG Rewards Credit Card will still offer a free night, but its value is now capped. The free night can now only be redeemed at any hotel requiring 40,000 points per night or less. This will therefore exclude many of the finest Intercontinental Hotels in major cities, which typically charge 60,000 points per night.

No Exceptions

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to the rule. Even those who’ve long held the card will be subject to the new restriction. Any free anniversary nights issued after May 1st, 2018 will only be valid for 40,000 point or less hotels. This applies to all new card applications as well. Long story short: book that free night when you get a chance. But do the remaining benefits still make it a great choice? Yes.

Still A Good Value?

The Chase IHG Rewards Card offers 60,000 points as a sign up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership. With an annual fee of just $49, you’re effectively paying $49 for 40,000 IHG points annually, which is still a great bargain. With this in mind, we see no reason to change your loyalty or cancel your card. The addition of Platinum IHG status, and a 10% rebate when using points still makes this extremely compelling for IHG loyalists.

Trouble For UK Credit Card?

IHG also offers a premium UK credit card, which offers a free night every year you spend £10,000 on the card. This benefit is far harder to attain than simply renewing a card for $49 a year, so for now – we think this benefit is safe. As always, it’s wise to diversify your points earning, just in case a brand or product decides to devalue. If they do, at least you have a parachute.

How do you feel about these changes?

Featured image: Intercontinental Tahiti.