Ihg credit cards
80,000 IHG Points
$2,000 initial spend
($350 net value, .18/$)Signup Bonus Chart
10x IHG Prchases (≈5%)
2x Restaurants (≈1%)
2x Groceries and Gas (≈1%)
1x Everywhere Else (≈0.5%)
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Most people can get good value from the IHG Premier card due to its annual free night certificate. However, the Chase 5/24 rule often forces people to choose between the Chase Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG cards, each of which provides a similar "capped" free certificate and some nice extra benefits.
Because it is hard to use credit card travel benefits during the pandemic, Chase has made some temporary changes to their cards.
- You'll earn 3x points (1.5%) on up to $1,500 of grocery spending in May and June. However, this is still a terrible reward rate. The bonus rate is available on both the Premier and Select cards.
- Certificates issued in 2020 will be good for 18 months, instead of 12. Certificates that would have expired between March 1st and the end of the year will be good until the end of 2020.
IHG Credit Card Options
Two IHG credit cards are currently available, but many people still have the older version, which is no longer available for new signups.
Traveler. The Traveler version of the card doesn't have an annual fee, but doesn't come with the main benefits—the free night certificate, automatic Platinum status, or 10x earning rate on IHG-related purchases. Because of Chase's 5/24 limitations, it isn't even very interesting for its signup bonus—you are better off getting another Chase card instead. It is useful downgrade option for someone who no longer wants to pay the annual fee for the regular version, because it maintains your IHG's 4th night free benefit and provides the option to switch back to the regular version sometime down the road. Chase Webpage. Alternative Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Select (discontinued). The older version of this card was very popular. Like the Premier version, it comes with an annual free night certificate and automatic Platinum status. It also provides a 10% rebate whenever you use points to make an award reservation, but doesn't provide the 4th award night free benefit or 20% point purchasing rebate of the newer cards. If you have it, we recommend not upgrading, so you can continue to pay the $49 annual fee (rather than $89). You can keep this card and apply for Premier card if you want to earn 2 certificates every year.
You should be able to get values of more than .5 cents per point on many IHG award bookings and you can sometimes get much more on particularly good redemptions (when rates are higher than normal). How Much are Hotel Points Worth?
Unlike most other hotel programs, you can easily generate additional IHG points, at a cost of .575 cents per point, using the cash & points trick. In addition, IHG runs very frequent promotions where you can earn a lot of bonus points for your stays.
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- This card is primarily interesting for its annual free night certificate, not for its signup bonus. The typical signup bonus is 80,000 IHG points , valued at $400 (at .5 cents per point). After subtracting the annual fee and the opportunity cost of using the card for $2,000 of spending, the calculated net value for the initial year is $380 (19 cents per dollar spent). Your value may be higher or lower, depending on how much you value IHG Points. How Much are Hotel Points Worth?
- You can earn the signup bonus from both versions of this card. The normal signup bonus of the IHG Traveler card is 60,000 points, valued at about $300. While it is nice to be able to earn a total of 140,000 from the signup bonuses, you are likely to be better off signing up for other Chase cards instead.
- It is difficult to collect a signup bonus a 2nd time, because of the Chase 5/24 rule. Normally, you are eligible for a Chase signup bonus, if you haven't already earned the bonus from the same card during the last two years. However, due to the Chase 5/24 rule, if you've been signing up for other cards, you won't be able to get approved when you reapply. You'll need get under the 5/24 limit before you can earn one of the bonuses again. Dealing with the Chase 5/24 Rule. If you are interested in holding onto the card to take advantage of its ongoing benefits, you could cancel just after the end of the second year, when you get your second free night certificate, wait a few months, and reapply. Just be aware that there is a chance you won't get re-approved.
That's a pretty nice bonus, but there are better signup offers available from other Chase cards. The Best Credit Card Signup Bonuses.
Free Night Certificate
You'll receive a free night certificate every year you renew the IHG Premier Card (and the discontinued IHG card). Certificates can be used for any hotel that costs 40,000 or fewer points per night (Category 1-7 out of 11). You don't receive a certificate the first year you have the card.
That certificate is good enough for a free night at very nice hotels in less expensive locations and even a hotel or two in expensive locations like New York City. Even if you don't have a particularly good opportunity to use the certificate to save $150-250 on a room, it isn't hard to find opportunities to get more than $89 in value at locations in every corner of the world. IHG Free Night Certificates.
Other Notable Benefits
- Automatic IHG Platinum elite status. Although IHG Platinum status usually requires 40 nights, it doesn't provide much in the way of extra benefits. You'll get access to a preferred room, extended check-out (upon availability), and a bonus to the points earned for stays. In some parts of the world, IHG Platinum status is less common and has a reasonable chance of getting you a substantial room upgrade. In addition, since Platinum is considered "High" level status, it can be helpful when matching status with other hotel companies. IHG Status Benefits.
- 4th night free on award stays. Both versions of the card give you your 4th night free on award stays. For example, if a hotel costs 25,000 points per night, a four night stay will only require 75,000 points. The 4th night free benefit doesn't apply to paid stays, non-standard rooms, or cash and points reservations.
- 20% discount on point purchases. However, you won't receive the discount on cash & points redemptions, and even with a 20% discount it is still cheaper to purchase points using the Cash & Points trick, than to purchase them directly.
- 10,000 annual bonus points (with a $20,000 spending requirement). Given the value of the points you'd earn, you don't want to use this card for any non-IHG spending and shouldn't try to earn this bonus. Spending based on the period until the first statement after your anniversary date and every 12 months thereafter.
- $100 TSA fee credit. Every 4 years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
- Elite car rental status. As with all World Elite MasterCards, you get free National Emerald Club Executive and Sixt Platinum status. Instant Car Rental Elite Status.
- Access to Mastercard's luxury hotel program. Another benefit of high-end MasterCards is access to MasterCard's luxury hotel program. When you use the program to book one of the participating hotels, you'll get a number of valuable benefits, like free breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and late checkout.Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Free ShopRunner membership. Like all World Elite MasterCards, your card entitles you to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner.
- DoorDash and Hello Fresh discounts. Cardmembers who have a DoorDash membership get $5 off their first two orders each month when paid for by their Mastercard. If you don't have a free membership from Chase, you can get your first three months membership for free through Mastercard. You also get a 5% credit back on each HelloFresh purchase.
- Some additional discounts. If you pay for at least 5 Lyft rides each calendar month with your Mastercard, you'll receive a $10 Lyft credit good for the following month (once you enroll in the Lyft app). You also receive double Fandango points, a 5% reward rebate at Boxed, and $5 off every Postmates order of $25 or more.
The less-expensive Traveler version of the card gives you Gold elite status, but only if you spend $10,000 per year. If you want status, just get the Premier version.
If the point cost for different nights of the reservation varies, you'll get a discount that equals the point cost of the 4th night, not the average of all the nights.
If you already have and hold onto the older version of the IHG card, you'll continue to get 10% back on all your award redemptions. This includes redemptions made using the new card's 4th night free benefit or made with points purchased with the new card's 20% discount.
- The IHG Premier Card earns the highest rewards on your IHG purchases. 10x IHG points are valued at 5 cents per dollar, which is more than you can get from any other card (unless you highly value using your points for premium cabin frequent flyer tickets). However, you might prefer the additional flexibility you'd get by earning transferable points like Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards points.Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- The bonus rewards rate for restaurant, grocery, and gas purchases is not very interesting. You should be earning as much or more from your general-purpose reward card and can do even better with a card that earns bonus rewards for these categories. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending. Best Credit Cards for Grocery Spending. Best Credit Cards for Gas Spending.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
The 5x points you can earn from the IHG Traveler (and discontinued IHG card) are more valuable than what you can probably earn from your general-purpose reward card, but not as valuable as the rewards from a card that earns high bonus rewards on travel spending.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You can cancel without worrying about losing your IHG points. Once you earn them, they are treated like any other points in your IHG account.. Any unused certificates are safe as well.
- We recommend downgrading your IHG Card rather than cancelling it. You can product change between the two versions of the IHG card. Because Chase's 5/24 rule can make it difficult to get a new Chase card when you want to, downgrading your card preserves the option of upgrading back in the future. You'll also retain a few benefits, such as your 20% points purchase discount.
- You can wait to cancel your card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, Chase will refund the fee. After 30 days, you can receive a pro-rated refund by downgrading to the no-annual-fee Traveler version.
- By waiting and downgrading, you can receive an extra IHG Free Night Certificate. You usually won't receive your free night certificate until after the cancellation deadline has passed. But you can wait to receive the certificate, downgrade to the traveler version, and get most of your annual fee back.
- Chase doesn't make retention offers. Unless something has changed, you don't need to bother checking.
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