Once upon a time, I would have never considered the IHG Rewards Club. IHG, otherwise known as InterContinental Hotels Group, is the parent company of the Holiday Inn, along with other brands. I know, I know! You immediately think of the reputation that the Holiday Inn had. None of us want to be associated with the 90’s low-budget borderline motel full of a clientele. I was a bit leery at first, but things have changed!
I am a frequent traveler and use a variety of hotel chains, the main two being IHG and Hilton. I am a member of both programs and use them very differently. So which is a better loyalty program IHG Vs. Hilton Honors?
I spent a summer in Sioux Falls on business. The hotel of choice was the Holiday Inn because the Hilton in Sioux Falls was overpriced. I was impressed by my first stay at a Holiday Inn in years!
Holiday Inn has come a long way over the years. Modern, spacious rooms and resort amenities. Lush bedding and premium toiletries. What more can you ask for? Best of all, affordable. Given that I stayed there almost an entire summer, I signed up for the IHG Rewards Club and scored many points.
Then, once I understood the ease of accumulating and redeeming points, I also signed up for the HG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. To this day, it’s one of my favorite travel credit cards.
IHG Vs. Hilton Honors
Now comes the cool part! The point redemption of IHG is a lot less than Hilton. I can stretch my redemptions further using IHG vs Hilton Honors.
For example, 30,000 points for an oceanfront room at Vero Beach vs. Hiltons cost 50,000 to 60,000 for comparable properties. Additionally, the office I work from in Chicago moved out of the loop. The closest hotel is Kimpton, which IHG also owns. Kimpton properties are divine and will give any luxury chain a run for its money!
You may not have heard of Kimpton, so here are a few photos from one property in Chicago.
The Switch from Hilton Honors to IHG Rewards Club
A die-hard Hilton fan, and while I
I use Hilton occasionally, but they are no longer my first choice. My issues with Hilton are:
- They always have lower prices listed on 3rd party sights that they will not honor without going through the best price match process, which is a sham.
Some people claim to have had sucess using the best price match – I never have.
- Point redemption for Hilton properties has skyrocketed. Gone are the days when you could get a room for less than 30,000 points. Long gone are the days of 30,000 at the beach.
- I rarely got upgraded, and it’s become more and more challenging to acquire Diamond status.
- The room prices have increased significantly.
I still think Hilton’s only remaining unbeatable benefit is the 5th-night free opinion when redeeming a point stay. This can be lucrative if you use it at higher-end properties.
Combining the IHG credit card and being a member of the IHG Club became a game changer for me. The IHG credit card is not the one you hear everyone talking about. I think it gets overlooked because of the Holiday Inn’s reputation. And because people don’t know which brands are part of the family.
The IHG Brands
Look at all the choices that the IHG brings us! Check some of these out. As with all brands, they range from budget to luxury; there is something here for everyone.
- Regent® Hotels & Resorts
- InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts
- Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants
- HUALUXE® Hotels and Resorts
- Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts
- Hotel Indigo®
- EVEN® Hotels
- avid™ hotels
- Holiday Inn, Express® Resort®, and Club Vacations®
- Staybridge Suites®
- Candlewood Suites®
IHG Rewards Club Credit Cards Compared
Chase offers two IHG cards: IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
Both are fantastic cards, but in my opinion, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is worth the $89 annual fee for two key reasons:
- The annual free night
- The automatic Platinum Elite Status
Here are the two IHG credit cards compared side by side:
|IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card||IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card|
|Points Earning at IHG||15x points at IHG properties
15X total points at IHG® Hotels and Resorts worldwide when you combine your IHG® card benefits with existing IHG® Rewards Club member benefits
5X points with the card when you stay at any hotel in the IHG® family of brands
10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club member
|25x points at IHG properties
10X points at IHG® Hotels and Resorts as an IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember
10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club member
5X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of this card
|Points Earning Everywhere Else||2x points on gas, grocery, and restaurants
1x points for everything else
|2x points on gas, grocery, and restaurants
1x points for everything else
|IHG Elite Status||Spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year to earn Gold Elite Status||Automatic Platinum Elite Status|
|Free Night Anniversary||No free night.||Yes, however the reward is capped at 40,000 points or lower hotels.|
|Annual Bonus||No||10,000 After $20,000 on purchases.|
|4th Reward Night Free||Yes||Yes|
|20% Discount on Points Purchase||Yes||Yes|
|Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit||No||The credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None|
|Auto Rental Collision Damage||Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver||Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver|
|Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance.||Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance.|
|Baggage Delay Insurance||Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for three days.||Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for three days.|
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.||If your or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.|
|Purchase Protection||Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.||Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.|
|Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance||Suppose your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, and other covered situations. In that case, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.||Suppose your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, and other covered situations. In that case, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.|
|Travel Accident Insurance||When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.||When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.|
|Cell Phone Protection||Get up to $600 per claim anpay it with your eligible credit card. Maximum of 2 claims in 12 months with a $50 deductible per claim.d $1,000 per year in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for phones listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your eligible credit card. Maximum of 2 claims in 12 months with a $50 deductible per claim.||Get up to $600 per claim and $1,000 per year in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for phones listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you|
What Does Platinum Elite Status Get You?
If you try to earn the Platinum elite, you must stay 40 nights or earn 40,000 base rewards each calendar year – not an easy task for most. And it’s worth having.
From personal experience, I can tell you that I have received a room upgrade from over a hundred stays every single time except for once. The room upgrades are game-changers. You go from the cheapest available room to the lushest of suites available. I’ve had two-bedroom suites that were bigger than some houses, over 1,000 square feet!
Platinum Elite Benefits:
- Bonus point earnings on IHG stays.
- Room upgrades
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Spa, minibar, or dining credits
- Priority check-in
- Late check out
- Welcome amenity
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
If you are considering a credit card, this should be on your list! I earn tons of points that equal free stays, and I get Platinum status just for having the card. Here are the highlights:
- It has an $89 a year annual fee. In return, you get a free anniversary night. I stayed at the Holiday Inn at Vero Beach during my free night.
- In 2018, Chase introduced the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. The new card offers an annual free night certificate but caps the redemption value at 40,000 points. This applies to all reservations on or after January 25, 2019.
- This year 2020, I used my free night at InterContinental The Clement Monterey. This hotel sells for an average of $312, which more than takes care of the $49 annual fee. I used this during spring break, which is also a prime time for travel.
- Earn 25 points for the IHG Rewards Club per dollar spent.
- Automatically become Platinum Elite within the IHG Rewards Club. This more or less guarantees you upgrades galore! If an upgrade is available, you automatically get it.
- The fourth night is free when you redeem points for four or more nights.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $100 towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
- 80,000 Bonus points sign up. Enough for an entire week if you play your cards right.
I’ve gone back and forth with IHG and Hilton. Once I would have told you IHG all the way; however, the Hilton program has upped its game. I’ve stayed in IHG properties in New Zealand, Australia, Florida, and Chicago. 90% of the time, I get upgraded to a suite, and the suites are luscious in all brands. I love the bedding, and I love the amenities. Most importantly, I love earning and favorably redeeming points as a member of the IHG Rewards Club.
Looking for more Travel Hacks? Start here:
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- 20 Best Ways to Earn Lots of Credit Card Rewards Points
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- Eight Travel Hacks That Are Bull
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