The Most Underrated Hotel Card?

There are so many hotel credit cards on the market. Many offer great sign up bonuses, a free night when you pay the yearly fee, status within the hotel and some offer a list of other perks. Some just use them for the sign up bonuses (who wouldn’t like a free weekend away?), others keep the card because it is there main hotel chain. There are so many different reasons you’d choose a certain hotel card.

One hotel card that I feel is extremely underrated is the IHG Rewards Credit Card. I think it’s not talked about as much, because there isn’t much for referral fees on this card. This card offers you so much and for a yearly fee that is so low, keeping the card is a no brainer!

You can do a lot with 70,000 IHG points!
You can do a lot with 70,000 IHG points!

The Sign Up Bonus:
This has been as high as 80,000 points, but it seems that has gone away and been replaced by this 70,000 points offer. This is a very solid sign up bonus, especially for only $1,000 spend in the first 90 days. I value IHG points at 0.7 cents per point, this means the sign up bonus is worth roughly $490. You can easily stretch this to make it more valuable.

The Annual Fee:
With so many perks, this yearly fee is worth paying (in my opinion). The first year is waived, so there’s no reason not to try it. Want to keep the card? It is $49 a year to keep it. I’ll explain why paying the yearly fee is worth it.

Earning rate and other perks
Earning rate and other perks

Earning Rate:
This isn’t a card I’d use for every day spending, because I have cards that earn me more at the grocery store, gas stations and restaurants. For someone who wants cheaper hotel stays and doesn’t want to juggle many cards, this is a nice way to earn extra points on different purchases.

You earn an extra 5 points per dollar at IHG hotel chains, this will be in addition to a 50% bonus for being a Platinum Elite member. I do use this card when making my stays at IHG.

Earning 2 points for every dollar on groceries, gas and restaurants is a decent earning amount. Although there are cards that give you better earnings, this is great for someone who doesn’t want to juggle many cards.

There are hotel cards that offer more points per dollar spent in certain categories. This is definitely something IHG should try to improve on.

This card also comes with NO foreign transaction fees, so while the earning rate might be as good as some others, this might be an option of traveling internationally!

Differences between IHG status
Differences between IHG status

IHG Status:
Having the IHG credit card will give you automatic platinum status and you keep that status as long as you have the card. Some say this is a useless perk, but I think it’s nice to have. Every time I check into an IHG hotel, I’m offered some sort of welcome gift for being an IHG platinum member. I always take the 500 IHG points, worth more to me than a bottle of water :-). Free room upgrades when they are available, we have gotten a few of these too!

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IHG is a transfer partner, but might not be good idea to transfer!

Chase Transfer Partner:
IHG is a transfer partner with Chase, so your Ultimate Reward points could be transferred here. Unless you need to top off for an award or using them for a Point Break room, I wouldn’t do this. Your Ultimate Reward points are worth much more than IHG points. If you do decide to transfer points, this is not an instant transfer. It takes about 24 hours for the points to post.

Redeeming Points:
IHG has over 4,800 hotels around the world so finding an IHG hotel in an area you need is pretty simple to do. IHG rewards start at 10,000 points a night up to 50,000 points a night.

Decided to redeem your points? Awesome! Another perk when you have the IHG Rewards card is a 10% rebate on the points you redeem. You will get the points back after you complete your stay. So a 50,000 point room per night is really only 45,000 points! A very nice perk.

Short on points for a full free night? You are able to pay with Cash and Points. If you can’t pay for the full room in points, the points and cash is usually 5,000 less points + $40 or 10,000 less points +$70.

For example if you were needing 30,000 points to stay at a Crown Plaza, but don’t have 30,000 points? That’s ok, for 25,000 points and $40 or 20,000 points and $70, you can stay there. Do the math, sometimes this does not give you a good value for your points!

Free Night Certificate:
This is one of the BEST perks of the card! Some companies who offer a free night certificate only give them for certain categories. Not IHG! Every year you pay the annual fee, you will receive a free night ANYWHERE in the WORLD!

Use your free night in Bora Bora!
Use your free night in Bora Bora!
Another option for your free night!
Another option for your free night!

Even if you don’t use the free night at some place expensive like these properties, if you can find me a nice hotel for $49 a night, please tell me! I’m confident that you’ll have a difficult time. Using the free night at some hotel somewhere in Nebraska, although not glamorous, would still save you money.

IHG Point Breaks:
Every quarter, IHG post a list of hotels that will cost only 5,000 points a night! These point breaks are located at properties all over the world too. This would be a good way to maximize your points. Some of these properties have been Intercontinental’s which could be 50,000 points a night. It has been trending more toward middle of the pack hotels, but for 5,000 points a night, I don’t see any reason to complain. It’s a nice program they offer and you could score some great deals! If you use your 70,000 point bonus on Point Breaks, you could redeem for 14 free nights!

Some Interesting Properties:
IHG has a few All-Inclusive properties you can book with points

  • Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort Montego Bay: for 35,000 points a night, you can enjoy this all-inclusinve resort. Your 70,000 point bonus will get you a weekend away here! You can bring 2 kids under the age of 12 as well! You can use Cash and Points at this resort as well!
  • Holiday Inn Los Cabos, Mexico: 35,000 points a night for this all-inclusive as well! This will allow for 4 people in 1 room as well! This allows Cash and Points as well!
  • Intercontinental Presidente Ixtapa Resort: 50,000 points a night for this all-inclusive. Finding dates was difficult for this property, although IHG says available.

Using your points to book an All-Inclusive would be a great use for your points! Especially for families looking to maximize their points.

Trip Update:
We decided to some of our IHG points for our trip in March. We chose to stay in the French Quarter in New Orleans for 35,000 points a night. We booked 2 night for a total of 70,000 points (this will become 63,000 since we will receive 10% of our points back!). The cost at that time would have been around $350 a night! So we are receiving 1.1 cents per point. Better than I value them! So far we have saved over $3,000 on our trip in March.

As long as the free night certificate stays around, I will keep this card. A night anywhere in the world for only $49 is well worth the price. Add that on to other perks of the card. I think this is a great card to bring savings to your wallet!

What ways would you use your 70,000 IHG points? Would this card be worth the yearly fee to you?

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