Update 3/18/2014: Chase no longer offers the IHG Rewards Club Visa, instead now they offer the IHG Rewards Club Select MasterCard. Please review the current offer details before applying, terms and conditions may have changed since publishing this article.
Currently two of my favorite credit cards are the Barclays Arrival World MasterCard and the Chase IHG Rewards Club Visa. The Arrival card is my favorite all-around travel rewards credit card worth $440 in free travel and the IHG card is one of my all-time-favorite hotel credit cards.
IHG Rewards Club Visa
The IHG Rewards Club visa currently offers a 80,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in 3 months and along with the perks that come with the card it’s an amazing deal.
Application Link: Chase IHG Rewards Club Visa
- Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts
- Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts
- Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts
- Hotel Indigo
- Even Hotels
- Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- Holiday Inn Resorts
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations
- Staybridge Suites
- Candlewood Suites
This card has one of the BEST sign-up bonuses among all hotel credit cards and unlike many other cards the annual fee is easily worth paying after the first year.
The $49 annual fee on the IHG Rewards Club Visa is close to half of other cards and it gets you a free night certificate every year that can be used at ANY IHG hotel!
This means you get a free night at a hotel that costs ~$900 a night just by keeping the card open and paying the $49 annual fee. Plus you get additional perks with the card. I’ll never cancel my card because of these benefits.
It surprises me how little this card is ever mentioned on points and miles blogs. The reason it gets little coverage is that it is not an affiliate link.
To tell you the truth this card is one of the best hotel credit cards out there, and as a reader you deserve to know about it. Yes, it doesn’t pay well to write a post about something that doesn’t make you money, but I love this card and will never cancel it because of the huge value it has. Here is why:
Why This Card is Worth Keeping Year-after-year
The 1 free night after the first year of having the card is easily worth much more than the $49 annual fee. Plus the card has some great perks, such as automatic Platinum elite status which gives you room upgrades upon availability and free internet.
Being able to use the free night certificate at any IHG hotel that can cost up to $900 makes keeping the card open completely worth it.
You could use it at…
InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora ($956 per night)
InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea ($347 per night)
InterContinental Resort Tahiti ($233 per night)
InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam in Thailand ($384 per night)
You can use your free night certificate plus redeem points for an additional night to book a whole weekend or two night stay. You could also have a partner sign-up for the card as well and get 2 free nights after the first year.
Plus keeping the card gives you automatic top-tier Platinum status with IHG which gives you free internet, 50% points on paid stays and room upgrades. It’s worth mentioning that you also get a 10% rebate on IHG Rewards Club points redeemed during the year. This means that from redeeming 80,000 points you will get 8,000 points back as a rebate.
The card also has no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card on any of your international travels and not pay any fees.
One factor I like about keeping this card year-after-year is that it extends my average credit account length and also strengthens my relationship with Chase.
Chase IHG Rewards Club Visa Review
80,000 Point Sign-up Bonus
The current sign-up bonus for the IHG Rewards Club Visa gives you 80,000 IHG points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.
I consider the 80,000 point bonus to be worth $560 in free hotel stays since you can buy IHG points for 0.7 cents each using the Cash & Points loophole. Even though you can ‘buy’ 80,000 points at 0.7 cents per point for $560 using the Cash & Points trick, you can easily get ~$2,000 worth of free IHG hotel stays from the bonus.
The standard public offer is for 60,000 points, and this is what you will see if you go directly to Chase’s credit card page. But, you can find the 80,000 point offer in this Flyer Talk post.
Free nights at IHG hotels range from 10,000 points up to 50,000. You can get a night at top tier IHG hotels from 30,000 to 50,000 points, so the bonus can get you 1 to 2 free nights at InterContinental hotels.
Lower tier hotels such as Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express start at 10,000 and go up to 25,000 per night.You can’t compare Holiday Inn hotels in the US to some of the international locations, which tend to be of a much higher quality. Some are even full service hotels, and the one I stayed in Istanbul was on par with other Radisson Blu hotels I stayed at on the trip.
I used 45,000 points for a 3 night stay at the Holiday Inn Sisli in Istanbul that normally runs $350 per night. On top of that I was upgraded to a suite. This shows how there are some amazing value redemptions across all hotel tiers.
Free Annual Night
One reason I love the IHG Rewards Club Visa is that with the card you get a free night certificate each year after the first year of having the card. Yes, you do have to pay the $49 annual fee, but the free night is worth a lot more!
The free night certificate is emailed on the card’s anniversary and valid for 1 year from when it is issued so don’t plan to save it for the following year. You do have to book and stay before the certificate expires in a year.
The fact that you can use the free night at ANY IHG Rewards Club property means you can use the night at the most expensive aspirational InterContinental hotels that can cost upwards of ~$800+ per night.
This is much more generous than the certificates that Marriott and Hyatt give since you can only redeem their free night in lower category hotels. As far as I know, the Citi Hilton Reserve is the only other card that allows you to use the free night at top tier hotels.
The value of the free night certificate alone can justify paying the $49 annual fee. The anniversary bonus along with keeping this card to build a history with Chase are two good reasons to keep this card after the first year.
Even if you use the free night at a lower tier hotel that costs ~$300 per night, you are still saving money. You can book a free night with the certificate as long as there is award night availability — you can check on the IHG Rewards Club website or call 877-318-5890 to redeem your free night.
Free Platinum Elite Status
The IHG Rewards Club Visa gives you Platinum elite status which gives you:
- Free internet (plus free breakfast at Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites)
- Room upgrades subject to availability
- 50% points bonus on paid stays
I have heard that IHG elite benefits can be hit or miss depending on the hotel, but from my experience, most international hotels treat elite members well. I received a suite upgrade and a welcome bottle of water when I stayed at the Holiday Inn Sisli in Istanbul.
One downfall of the IHG Platinum status is that it is not eligible for benefits at InterContinental hotels since they have their own loyalty program.
Get a 10% Points Rebate When You Use Points
When you redeem your points for an award stay you get a 10% points rebate. For instance, when I redeemed 45,000 points for a 3 night stay at the Holiday Inn I got 4,500 points back.
Since award nights start at 10,000 points you almost get an additional free night from redeeming the 80,000 point bonus. Note: the maximum points you can earn in a calendar year is 100,000 (just in case you plan on redeeming 1 million IHG points)
Card Earning – 2X Points on Gas, Restaurants & Groceries & 5 X Points on IHG Hotels
I wouldn’t recommend this card for everyday spending after earning the bonus. There are better cards for everyday spending, such as the Barclays Arrival World MasterCard that will earn you 2.2% back on every dollar spent.
You will earn 5x points when you use the card at IHG hotels, so it’s worth earning some extra points on your paid stays at IHG hotels.
Selections of IHG Hotels
By sheer numbers, IHG has far more hotels than most other hotel programs. This makes it easier to use your points, and having IHG points can be a great plan to fall back on when you can’t find a Starwood or Hyatt hotel at your destination.
IHG PointBreaks List – Award Nights for 5,000 Points
The IHG PointBreaks promotion is one of the best deals around for cheap award nights. They publish a list of participating properties where you can redeem award nights for 5,000 points per night, including some InterContinental hotels.
If you plan on using your 80,000 points on some PointBreaks hotels, be sure to book soon after the new list is published because reward night availability goes fast.
You can get up to 16 free nights if you use all 80,000 points at PointBreaks hotels, and these could even be InterContinental properties. This would we really fun to do if you have a couple weeks to stay in one place and a very cheap luxury vacation.
No Foreign Transaction Fee and $49 Annual Fee
The IHG Rewards Club Visa doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, so this is a great card to use on international trips.
The annual fee is waived the first year, then $49 every year. I’m happy to pay this fee every year to get the free night that I can use at any InterContinental hotel.
Drawbacks of the IHG Rewards Club Visa
There aren’t many negative aspects of the IHG Rewards Club Visa. One thing that does come to mind is that the card fills up a spot of the 4-6 personal cards that Chase usually allows at one time. With that said, I would choose the free night bonus over an additional credit pull in order to earn a new card bonus every year.
This is also not the BEST card to use for everyday spending. The bonus is great, but after hitting the required minimum spend to earn the 80,000 points, there are better cards out there that can earn you more return than the IHG Rewards Club Visa. The Barclays Arrival World MasterCard or Amex Starwood Preferred Guest cards would be a better choice.
As mentioned before, it probably is still worth it to charge paid stays at IHG hotels to the card in order to get 5x points on all paid stays.
This is one of the BEST hotel credit cards out there. Between the 80,000 points bonus and a free night certificate after the first year, this is a great card to have (and keep) in your wallet.
Check out these posts to learn more about maximizing IHG Rewards Club:
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