IHG Credit Cards: Which One Is Best for You?


Are you a day tripper, family vacationer, road warrior, or world traveler? No matter your style, you could be missing out if you haven’t started taking full advantage of the points and rewards available with IHG credit cards.  You don’t have to be a frequent tripper or loyalist to take advantage of the benefits associated with IHG® co-branded credit cards. Issued by Chase, these cards come with significant rewards and plenty of earning possibilities.

From smooth, complimentary hotel night redemption choices to cell phone protections and more, they make traveling a cinch, whether to the next town over or the next continent.  Let’s explore how IHG® credit cards could bring more value to your future excursions.

Are IHG Credit Cards Right for You?

Just as foodies use dining credit cards and entrepreneurs rely on advantageous business credit cards, frequent travelers need travel credit cards.

At the top of our list? Two IHG-branded cards issued by Chase:

  • The IHG® Rewards Club Premier credit card
  • The IHG® Travelers Club credit card

Both IHG cards come with a variety of benefits, including welcome bonuses. Once approved, you must meet the minimum spending requirements within three months to receive the bonus.   What do these welcome bonuses look like? They fall within the 60,000 to 125,000 points range, although they can vary greatly. Recently, though, the Premier card jumped to 140,000 points, enticing frequent travelers.

How much do these point ranges add up to? Approximately $300 to $625 in value!  Besides conversion to dollars, keep in mind that free hotel nights start at just 10,000 for a Category 1 property. This fact alone dramatically ups the value of these points. 

It’s also worth noting that IHG credit cards offer PointBreaks promotions. These refer to times when you can purchase free hotel nights for as little as 5,000 points each. In other words, even the low-end welcome bonus equates to 12 free hotel nights.

When you use IHG-branded cards at IHG properties, you’ll enjoy elevated rewards. Remember, too, that everyday purchases at the grocery store, restaurants, and gas stations also wrack up reward points. 

IHG Credit Cards and IHG Rewards Club Programs

Membership in an IHG Rewards Program will also enhance the rewards that you receive with your IHG credit card. For example, you’ll earn upwards of 25 times the points at IHG properties with the IHG Premier card and 15 times the points with the IHG Traveler card. 

There are countless ways to use your points, but you’ll get the best value by redeeming them for free hotel nights. We also recommend using points combined with cash to purchase hotel nights. (Of course, remember to keep your eyes peeled for PointBreaks events where you can optimize the savings with hotel night purchases.)

Here are a handful of the many ways you can redeem points:

  • Free hotel nights
  • Gift certificates and gift cards
  • The ability to use points and cash for hotel nights
  • Merchandise
  • Airline miles
  • Intercontinental Ambassador Membership
  • IHG Foundation
  • Rewards Concierge
  • Digital rewards
  • TSA PreCheck

Each of these options stands to improve the quality of your travel experiences (and their affordability!) 

Do you want to enjoy the even greater potential for earning, redeeming, and receiving elite benefits? Then, opt for an IHG credit card and IHG Rewards Club membership. Just remember to sign up for the IHG Rewards Club before applying for an IHG-branded card.  Why? Because the points you earn will be deposited into your IHG Rewards Club program account monthly with the close of each statement. 

IHG Premium and Traveler Card Reviews

Both IHG cards come with advantages. These include the ability to purchase IHG Rewards Club points at a 20 percent discount. Both cards come with a variety of travel and shopping benefits and protections that will ensure smooth travels.

Travel Benefits 

When it comes to trip interruption or cancelation, you’ll receive up to $5,000 per covered trip per person if your flight gets canceled or interrupted. You must pay for your travel with your IHG card to receive this coverage.  You’ll receive coverage allowances of up to $120,000 per trip and $20,000 per year. 

You’ll also gain access to complimentary secondary car rental insurance for rentals when purchased with your card. This insurance provides coverage for up to 31 days for theft and damage.  For luggage lost, stolen, or damaged by the carrier, you’ll be covered for up to $3,000. This coverage also applies to luggage delayed for more than six hours at $100 per day for a maximum of five days.  For covered serious injuries or deaths involving a common carrier, you’ll get $500,000 of coverage. You’ll also enjoy 24/7 emergency assistance, including referrals to doctors, emergency transportation, etc. 

The caveat? You’ll pay for the actual cost of services provided.

Shopping Benefits

With both IHG-branded cards, you’ll also have peace of mind when it comes to shopping protection. For example, you’ll receive up to $800 (with Premium) if your cell phone gets stolen or damaged.  For coverage to apply, you must pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card. (For the Traveler card, you’ll receive a maximum of $600 in protection.)  Coverage on both cards is limited to two claims in one year or a total of $1,000. Expect a $50 deductible per claim. 

Besides cell phone coverage, you’ll enjoy protection for 120 days from the purchase date for theft or damage. Coverage is limited to $50,000 per account and $500 per claim.  Another fantastic feature of protection? The extended warranty option. When you purchase an eligible item with a three-year warranty, you’ll get an extended additional year. 

Why Platinum Elite Status Matters

Ready for one of the best kept secrets when it comes to earning big with your IHG credit card? The IHG Premier card, unlike its Traveler counterpart, comes with automatic Platinum Elite status in the IHG Rewards Club. 

What does this mean for you? The ability to immediately start enjoying benefits such as:

  • Room upgrades
  • Bonus point earnings on IHG stays
  • Spa, minibar, or dining credits
  • Late check out
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenities

While individuals typically need to earn 40 nights or 40,000 base reward points before they achieve Platinum Elite status, the IHG Premier card lets you bypass this process. 

You’ll also enjoy fourth-night free rewards with Platinum Elite Status. You’ll receive the fourth night of each stay complimentary, even during the same hotel stay. 

Other Factors To Consider

Before applying for either IHG-branded card, read through Chase’s 5/24 Rule carefully. In a nutshell, this internal rule means that Chase won’t approve applications for some credit cards if the applicant has opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months.

This rule applies to both the IHG® Rewards Club Premier credit card and IHG® Travelers Club credit card. Not sure if your credit report stands up to Chase’s 5/24 rule? Learn more about credit monitoring services in 2020, so you can explore your credit history over the past 24 months.  As for using the card once your application gets approved? To maximize your rewards and receive on-site elite benefits, you’ll want to book all stays directly with IHG.

What if you’ve historically preferred third-party booking online or through travel agents? Know going in that you’ll miss out on lots of perks when you go this route.   It’s worth noting, too, that some IHG property brands earn fewer points per dollar spent. Which ones should you watch out for? Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites, among others. You’ll get five base points per dollar versus ten points per dollar at these properties.

The Best IHG Card For Your Needs

When it’s all said and done, you’ll enjoy plenty of perks with both IHG co-branded cards. If you already tend to stay at IHG properties and don’t mind direct bookings, you may find significant value with the IHG Premier card.   It offers a free hotel night at each card anniversary as well as a free night’s stay every fourth night. You’ll also receive instant access to Platinum Elite status and its many benefits.  When you factor in 25 times point earnings at IHG properties, $800 in cell phone protection, and trip interruption/cancelation coverage, you’ve got a card that packs plenty of value.

That said, not everyone feels comfortable paying the $89 annual fee associated with the card. What if you’re less than a fan of this fee? Then, the IHG Traveler card represents another way to earn points and rewards. That said, you’ll only get 15 times points at IHG properties as well as less overall value.

In both cases, you should also remember that club points expire after 12 months of inactivity. How do you avoid this? By earning more points as well as redeeming or purchasing them. 

Making A Travel Credit Card Work For You

Both IHG credit cards boast many powerful incentives when it comes to making the most of your purchasing power. Of course, deciding which card’s right for you will depend on a variety of factors, from the frequency of your hotel stays to your willingness to pay annual fees.

Are you interested in learning more about travel-related credit cards? Check out our resource on travel credit card options in 2020.

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