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IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Annual Fee: $49 (Waived 1st Year)
Credit Needed: Excellent
Rewards Program and Signup Bonuses*:
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night each year of card membership at over 4,900 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49
Intro Balance Transfer
16.24% - 23.24% Variable on Purchases and Transfers
While other Chase credit cards (like the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom cards) usually steal the spotlight, the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a surprisingly solid hotel rewards card that doesn't get much attention.
The IHG card has one of the best signup bonuses available that can be redeemed for up to 7 nights (or 14 if you save them for PointBreak deals) and it offers a free night stay every year in addition to other perks.
Here's why the IHG Rewards Club Select card may just become your go-to hotel reward card.
How the IHG Rewards Program Works
The Chase IHG Rewards card earns 5 points on IHG spending, 2x points at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores, and 1x points on everything else you buy. So, unlike most other hotel rewards credit cards, you can earn bonus points at places you normally shop.
And IHG points can be redeemed for stays at IHG hotels, which range from 10,000 to 50,000 a night. The current roster of IHG hotels include:
- InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
- Hotel Indigo
- Kimpton Hotels & Restuarnats
- EVEN Hotels
- Crowne Plaze
- Staybridge Suites
- Candlewood Suits
- Holiday Inn
Like other hotel loyalty programs, hotels are ranked by category. The 60,000 signup bonus is enough for a seven-night stay at a lower tier hotel like Holiday Inn Express or Holiday Inn or a three-night stay at a nicer hotel.
And, of course, after every card anniversary, you will be entitled to a free nights stay at any IHG hotel.
Cardholder Benefits Worth Noticing
IHG is one of the world's largest hotel chains so you won't have any trouble finding places to earn and redeem points. While the signup bonus may get your attention, the other perks of the card are definitely worth noticing.
Complimentary Annual Night Certificate
The IGH Rewards Club Visa gives you a free night certificate every year on your anniversary and it's valid for one year after it's issued.
The certificate can be used at any IHG Rewards Club property, including high tier hotels that may cost more than $750 per night. This is far more generous than similar certificates offered by Hyatt and other loyalty programs which limit use to lower tier hotels.
This perk alone is worth the $49 annual fee.
Ten Percent Rebate on Point Redemption
Whenever you redeem your IHG points for an award stay, you will receive a 10% rebate on your points.
For example, when you redeem 50,000 points, you will get 5,000 points back. This benefit is capped at 100,000 points back every year.
Platinum Elite Status
You will be upgraded to Platinum Elite status as long as you are a cardholder.
This gives you perks like:
- 50% bonus earnings on top of base points
- Room upgrades when available
- Free internet
- Free breakfast at Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn Express
- Extended check out
- Exclusive room rates
Note that IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status does not give you benefits at InterContiental hotels. InterContinental hotels have a separate loyalty program called Intercontinental Ambassador. IHG Rewards Club members can buy Ambassador membership for 32,000 points, however.
Priority Club Point Breaks
Every few months, IHG releases a list of dozens of hotels that can be booked for 5,000 IHG points. This is less than half of the points needed for even the lowest tier hotels in the program.
Because you can buy IHG points for 0.7, this means the maximum a night's stay would cost is $35!
The Point Breaks list is usually diverse with a few Intercontinental and high tier hotels, but they do sell out fast.
Examples of Point Break hotels in June 2016 include a Holiday Inn in Paris and a Crowne Plaza in Antwerp.
How This Credit Card Compares to Other Hotel Rewards Cards
The IHG Rewards Club Select card is most comparable to two other branded hotel rewards cards: the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express; and the Marriott Rewards Premier card.
When choosing the best hotel credit card, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Reward rate for hotel purchases
- Cost to redeem free stays
- Variety of options or category levels
- Ability to transfer points outside of the hotel chain
- Ability to earn points outside of the hotel chain
IHG Compared to Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest Card is usually considered the best hotel rewards card, and with good reason.
The Starwood card usually has the highest rewards rate of any hotel card when points are redeemed at Starwood hotels. You also have the ability to combine the card with the Gold Delta Skymiles card to "double dip" with the Crossover Rewards program that allows you to earn Delta Skymiles and Starpoints when you stay at Starwood or fly Delta.
The Starwood Preferred Guest card has an annual fee that is nearly double that of the IHG card at $95 per year and you can only earn free nights at about 1,200 hotels compared to IHG's much larger portfolio of nearly 5,000 properties.
If you usually stay at Starwood hotels like Sheraton or Westin or you want to redeem points for miles, the Starwood Preferred Guest card is a better option.
IHG vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Card
The Marriott Rewards Premier Card offers the ability to earn points at more budget-friendly properties like Courtyard by Marriott as well as high-end Ritz-Carlton hotels, much like IHG.
While the IHG card earns 2x points on everyday spending categories, the Marriott Rewards card is geared more toward travel with double points on airline tickets purchased through an airline, car rental agencies, and restaurants. The Marriott card also has a higher annual fee ($85) and your annual free night stay can only be used at a category 1-5 property, whereas the IHG card allows you to use your certificate at on any property category.
The Bottom Line
The IHG card has one of the most lucrative signup bonuses among hotel cards with a value of nearly $500, but the card is worth keeping even beyond the first year.
The Chase IHG card has a low annual fee of just $49 and the free anniversary night stay alone makes up for the cost, especially considering there are more than 4,900 properties in almost 100 countries for earning and redeeming points.
The main downside of the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Visa is it doesn't have a great rewards rate for everyday spending categories. While it's not a good card for everyday spending, unlike the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Sapphire Preferred, it's still an excellent choice for earning free hotel stays and rewarding you when you travel.