IHG Rewards Club
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IHG Vs. Hilton – Which Is Better?

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 undesirable clientele. Unsure 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?

IHG Rewards Club

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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. Since I stayed there almost every summer, I signed up for the IHG Rewards Club and scored many points.

Join IHG Rewards Club to earn and redeem points!

Then, once I understood the ease of accumulating and redeeming points, I also signed up for the IHG® 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, it is 30,000 points for an oceanfront room at Vero Beach, vs. Hiltons, which is 50,000 to 60,000 for comparable properties.

Another example. The office I once worked from in Chicago is next door to the Kimpton Chicago, which IHG once owned.   Kimpton properties are divine and will give any luxury chain a run for its money!

*Note: The Chicago Kimpton is no longer a part of the IHG portfolio.

You may not have heard of the Kimpton brand, so here are a few photos from one property in Chicago. This gives you a great idea of what to expect from Kimpton and why you need to weigh up IHG Vs. Hilton brands:

IHG Rewards Club

The Switch from Hilton Honors to IHG Rewards Club 

I am a die-hard Hilton fan. I have Diamond status with Hilton, which brings tons of perks—the mere thought of comparing IHG Vs. Hilton once gave me heartburn. Regardless, if you use the Hilton co-branded American Express credit card. At one point, Hilton was my go-to chain.  Still loyal, I have some issues with Hilton:

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’m finding it impossible to get redemptions under 50,000 these days for the lower-end brands like Hampton Inn vs. actual Hilton Hotels.
  • I rarely got upgraded at Hilton without a high-ranking status, and acquiring Diamond status without a co-branded credit card has become more challenging.
  • Hilton’s room prices have increased significantly. Even during COVID, they were astronomical and have continued to climb.
  • Many properties in the Hilton portfolio are franchises. Service, quality, and amenities vary wildly. I find this one exceptionally annoying!

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 regarding IHG Vs. Hilton – this is a definite pro for Hilton.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you have the Hilton American Express credit card, you earn free nights (not points) based on spending. Another benefit that can tip the debate on IHG Vs. Hilton.

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 IHG 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; there is something here for everyone.

  1. Atwell Suits
  2. Avid™ hotels
  3. Candlewood Suites®
  4. Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts
  5. EVEN® Hotels
  6. Garner
  7. Hauluxe
  8. Holiday Inn
  9. Holiday Inn Express®
  10. Hotel Indigo®
  11. HUALUXE® Hotels and Resorts
  12. Iberostar Beachfront Resorts
  13. InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts
  14. Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants
  15. Regent® Hotels & Resorts
  16. Six Senses
  17. Staybridge Suites®
  18. Vignette
  19. Vovo

IHG Rewards Club Credit Cards Compared

Chase offers two IHG cards: the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card and the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Both are fantastic cards, but in my opinion, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is worth the $99 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 CardIHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee0$99
Points Earning at IHG5X points at IHG properties 
5X 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
10X 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 Else3X points on gas, grocery, and restaurants5X points on gas, grocery, and restaurants
IHG Elite StatusAutomatic Silver, upgraded to Gold if you spend $20,000 on the card within the calendar year.Up to $600 per claim, and pay 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.
Free Night AnniversaryNo free night.Yes, one complimentary anniversary night per year.
Annual BonusNo10,000 After $20,000 on purchases.
4th Reward Night FreeYesYes
20% Discount on Points PurchaseYesYes
Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee CreditNoThe credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
Foreign Transaction FeesNoneNone
Auto Rental Collision DamageAuto Rental Collision Damage WaiverAuto 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 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 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 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 ReimbursementWhen you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you can receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.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 insurance.
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 InsuranceSuppose 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 InsuranceWhen you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you can receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.Up to $600 per claim and pay 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.
Cell Phone ProtectionGet 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.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.

What Does Platinum Elite Status Get You?

To earn the Platinum Elite, you must stay 40 nights or earn 60,000 base rewards each calendar year – not an easy task for most. And it’s worth having Platinum Elite.

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

This credit card should be on your list if you consider a credit card!  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 annual fee of $99 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.
  • In 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 – 140,000 bonus points sign up. Enough for an entire week if you play your cards right.

A Switch Back from IHG Rewards Club To Hilton Honors?

As much as I love IHG, I’ve recently begun using Hilton more often. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers a lucrative signup.
  2. You can earn in dual-player mode and combine points. The dual-player mode means you and others can collect and bank points into one account.
  3. When using points, your fifth night is free.
  4. They have recently lowered point redemption values for a lot of international properties.

I am still all over IHG and think their point redemption outweighs Hiltons unless you earn extra free nights on a Hilton Credit Card.

Here’s a recent example of points redemption with Hilton:

Hilton London Syon Park – An Estate Stay In The Heart Of London

Before we dive into the details of super cool Hilton redemptions, know that you will likely get an upgrade if you have a decent status with Hilton Honors, no matter what. This said, for my stay at Syon Park in London, I did not spend a dime. I used another hack to accomplish this with Chase Points vs. Hilton Points.

For the first night, I used an anniversary night I earned from my Hilton American Express Credit Card. Then, I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. The conversion value using Chase points was less via Chase than Hilton. It cost me 17,000 Chase points a night using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. If I had booked via Hilton and used Hilton points, it was 60,000 points per night.

Rooms At Syon Park Hilton In London

Budapest, Hungary – My Favorite Hilton Points Redemption Ever

If you are not familiar with Budapest, you might not know that there is a district called Castle Hill. It sits atop the city, overlooking Parliament and the Danube River. It is also home to the Royal Palace and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

For a mere 42,000 points, this is what you can expect! To stay inside the Fisherman’s Bastion with this view:

The Hilton Brands

Look at all the choices that the Hilton brings us! Check some of these out. As with all brands, they range from budget to luxury; there is something here for everyone.

  1. Canopy by Hilton
  2. Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  3. Curio Collection by Hilton
  4. DoubleTree by Hilton
  5. Embassy Suites by Hilton
  6. Hampton by Hilton
  7. Hilton Garden Inn
  8. Hilton Grand Vacations
  9. Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  10. Home2 Suites by Hilton
  11. Homewood Suites by Hilton
  12. LXR Hotels & Resorts
  13. Motto by Hilton
  14. Signia by Hilton
  15. Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  16. Tempo by Hilton
  17. Tru by Hilton
  18. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
Hilton Brands

Hilton Honors Rewards Club Credit Cards Compared

American Express offers three Hilton credit cards: Hilton Honors American Express Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Here are the three Hilton Honors Credit Cards compared side by side:

Credit CardHilton Honors American Express CardHilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardHilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Annual Fee$0 See rates and fees$95$450
BonusEarn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three monthsEarn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first three monthsUnlimited Priority Pass Select Lounge visits (registration required)
Earning rate7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases12X points on eligible purchases at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
Travel creditsNoneNone$250 Hilton Resort statement credit
Honors statusSilverGoldDiamond
Free nightsNoneFree Night Reward with spendAnnual Free Night Reward
Airport lounge accessNone10 Priority Pass Select Lounge visits per year (enrollment required)Unlimited Priority Pass Select Lounge visits (enrollment required)
Other perksNo foreign transaction fees
Baggage insurance
Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
Extended warranty
Purchase protection
No foreign transaction fees
Baggage insurance
Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
Extended warranty
Purchase protection
No foreign transaction fees
Baggage insurance
Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
Extended warranty
Purchase protection

FAQs

The IHG chain has over 6,000 hotels in its portfolio globally.

No, Best Western is owned by the BWH Hotel Group.

The Points Guy values IHG points at 0.5 cents per point.

Yes, IHG One Rewards points can be transferred to another IHG One Rewards member in 1,000-point increments for a fee of $5 per 1,000 points. However, you cannot transfer IHG points from IHG to another loyalty program.

Closing Thoughts

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 ZealandAustraliaFlorida, and Chicago, to name a few. 90% of the time, I get upgraded to a suite, which is 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.

So, to answer the question of which is best, IHG Vs. Hilton? For me, it’s still IHG! And if you don’t have a co-branded IHG card in your wallet, you are missing free travel!

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