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As I look over hotel cards for my London adventure, I thought I’d share my thoughts on each one I considered. Last week, we covered the World of Hyatt card. This week, it’s the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) card.
- 125,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in three months
- Free anniversary night
- Free night when you book at least four nights with rewards
- 40 points per $1 at IHG properties for the first 12 months
- 25 points per $1 at IHG properties thereafter
- 4 points per $1 on all other purchases for the first 12 months
- 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, 1 point per $1 on everything else thereafter
- $89 annual fee
The card has a great low spending threshold, which is always appreciated. Most of us can hit $3,000 in three months without much of an issue.
Of course the welcome bonus is pretty good equaling about three free nights.
And as always, I also like that you get a free night on the anniversary of becoming a cardholder. True you’re paying for the privilege of retaining the card, which means the night isn’t “free” per se. But it’s awfully cheap for a night at a decent to nice hotel. Besides, it’s nice that the annual fee is a little bit lower than other hotel credit card fees.
But the unique feature of this card is the free night when you book four (or more) using rewards. That’s not something offered by any other hotel credit card I’ve seen. It’s quite a value.
Finally, I love that IHG owns so many chains, and therefore properties, for you to use the points at: Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, InterContinental Hotels, Staybridge Suites and Crowne Plaza Hotels. That’s a lot of hotels to choose from!
But it’s not all good news.
If you stay at IHG hotels, this is a great card for you. If not… Well, that’s less clear.
The cheapest free nights I’ve seen were 30,000 points, but 40,000 seems to be more common in major cities. Compare that to Hyatt’s free nights that start at 5,000 points (with 8,000 being more common).
IHG Rewards Club Premier‘s four points per dollar in the first year means you only need to spend about $10,000 to hit a free night. But after that first year? You’re looking at $20,000 to $40,000. Yikes!
Meanwhile, spending $15,000 with the World of Hyatt card gets you both a free night and enough points for up to three free nights.
So like I said, unless you stay at IHG properties a lot, this card isn’t going to do a lot for you once you’ve used up the welcome bonus.
And of course, the annual fee bears mentioning. It’s not cheap — though it is less than other cards — but on the other hand, the anniversary night means you’re essentially paying $89 for a room. Even by Holiday Inn room rate standards, that’s pretty good!
So how does this card work for the average person?
Well, overall, it’s great for people loyal to the IHG brand. If you stay at a lot of IHG properties in a given year, this card will really let you rack up the points.
For anyone else? It’s probably worth getting for the welcome bonus and the annual free night, but I wouldn’t make this your main card once you’ve hit the threshold for the bonus. I’d keep it open with a small recurring expense — and potentially for spending at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.
But how did this card stack up for me? Pretty well, actually.
There were some nicely placed hotels in London for 40,000 points. So that means I could three free nights with the welcome bonus and a fourth night on my anniversary. Which means I’d get a fifth free night when I booked with my rewards points. So essentially, I’d get four free nights by paying the annual fee twice ($178). That’s a pretty good deal!
In fact, there’s only one reason this didn’t turn out to be the card I chose for my London trip: the beds.
I checked out those well-placed hotels and discovered that all of the rooms have just one bed. That’s a problem since Mom’s coming along with me. I could have made do if the beds were queen-sized, but they were twins and doubles.
Nope. I need some room to stretch out at night. So alas, I had to keep looking.
Do you like IHG hotels? What hotel cards have you tried in the past?