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. I know, I know! You immediately think of the reputation that the Holiday Inn one had. The 90’s low budget border line motel full of a clientele none of us want to be associated with. I’ll confess I was a bit leery at first, but things have changed!

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A few years ago, I spent a summer in Sioux Falls on business. The hotel of choice was the Holiday Inn because the Hilton was overpriced and then some. My first say at a Holiday Inn in years, and I was impressed!

Holiday Inn has come a long way over the years. Modern, spacious rooms, resort amenities. Lush bedding, premium toiletries. What more can you ask for?  Best of all, affordable. Given I stayed there almost an entire summer, I signed up for the IHG Rewards Club and racked up a ton of points.

Join IHG Rewards Club to earn and redeem points!

Then, once I understood the ease at which I could accumulate and redeem 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 Rewards Club Vs. Hilton Honors

Now comes the cool part! The point redemption of IHG is a lot less than Hilton.  I was able to stretch my redemptions using IHG.

For example, 30,000 points for an oceanfront room at the beach vs. Hiltons now 50,000 to 60,000 for comparable properties.  Add to this, the office that I work from in Chicago moved out of the loop. The closest hotel is a Kimpton, which is also owned by IHG.  Kimpton properties are divine and will give any luxury chain a run for their money!

You may not have heard of Kimpton, so here are a few photos from one property in Chicago.

IHG Rewards Club

The Switch from  Hilton Honors to IHG Rewards Club 

A die-hard Hilton fan, it took me a couple of years to make a full transition, but I did.

I still use Hilton from time to time, but they are no longer my first choice.  My issues with Hilton are:

Some people claim to have had sucess using the best price match – I never have.

  • Point redemption for Hilton properties has skyrocketed. Long 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.

The only remaining benefit that I still think is unbeatable for Hilton 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 the game changer for me. The IHG credit card is not the one you hear everyone talking about. In my opinion, it gets overlooked because of the reputation that the Holiday Inn once had. And because people don’t know which brands are part of the family.

Join IHG Rewards Club to earn and redeem points!

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, so there is something here for everyone.

  • Regent® Hotels & Resorts
  • InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts
  • Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants
  • HUALUXE® Hotels and Resorts
  • Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts
  • voco™
  • Hotel Indigo®
  • EVEN® Hotels
  • avid™ hotels
  • Holiday Inn, Express® Resort®, and Club Vacations®
  • Staybridge Suites®
  • Candlewood Suites®

IHG Brands

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 cards compared side by side:

Card BenefitsIHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit CardIHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card         
Annual Fee0$89
Points Earning at IHG15x 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 Else2x points on gas, grocery and restaurants
1x points everything else
2x points on gas, grocery and restaurants
1x points everything else
IHG Elite StatusSpend $10,000 on card in a calendar year to earn Gold Elite StatusAutomatic Platinum Elite Status 
Free Night AnniversaryNo free night. Yes, capped at 40,000 points or lower hotels.
Annual BonusNo10,000 After $20,000 on purchases.
4th Reward Night FreeYesYes
20% Discount on Points PurchaseYesYes
Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee CreditNoCredit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.*
Foreign Transaction FeesNoneNone
Auto Rental Collision Damage 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.
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.
Baggage Delay InsuranceReimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for 3 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 3 days.
Lost Luggage ReimbursementIf 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 passengerIf 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
Purchase ProtectionCovers 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 InsuranceIf your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, 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.If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, 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 InsuranceWhen 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 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 pay it with your eligible credit card. Maximum of 2 claims in a 12 month period 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 pay it with your eligible credit card. Maximum of 2 claims in a 12 month period with a $50 deductible per claim.

What Does Platinum Elite Status Get You?

If you try to earn the Platinum elite, you have to stay 40 nights or earn 40,000 base rewards each calendar year – not exactly an easy task for most. And it’s worth having.

I can tell you from personal experience that from over a hundred stays, I have received a room upgrade 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 used my free night to stay at the Holiday Inn at Vero Beach.
  • In 2018, Chase introduced the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. The new card still offers an annual free night certificate but caps the redemption value at 40,000 points. This is now applicable 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 while on spring break, which is also 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.
  • Fourth night free when you redeem points for any stay of 4 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.

Closing Thoughts:

There is no going back for me!  IHG is officially my brand of choice. I’ve stayed in IHG properties in New Zealand, Australia, all over Florida, and Chicago. 90% of the time, I get upgraded to a suite, and the suites are luscious in all of the brands. I love the bedding, and I love the amenities. Most importantly, I love being able to earn and favorably redeem points as a member of the IHG Rewards Club.

As a member, you now get better savings when you book direct.

Looking for more Travel Hacks? Start here:

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