This travel rewards card is a keeper if you're fine with limited hotel options
The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) has partnered with Chase to create a branded credit card known as the IHG Rewards Club credit card.
We highly recommend including it in your wallet, especially when you're traveling.
After looking closely at the card, its rewards and other benefits, and how it stacks up against other travel rewards credit cards out there, we're convinced it's one of the best.
Positive customer reviews confirm it's an excellent card for earning reward points fast, getting a huge sign-up bonus, and receiving perks like a free hotel stay once a year.
The downside to the card is its annual fee, which isn't as high as a lot of other rewards credit cards.
It's also limited in terms of the hotels where you can redeem your points (that's kind of the point of a hotel credit card though, isn't it?)
So, if you absolutely need flexibility for the hotels where you can use or collect your points, a more general travel rewards card might be for you.
Our goal with this article is to provide you with the most valuable and detailed content about the IHG Rewards Club Select card so you can make an educated decision.
If you're good with paying a small fee and sticking to hotels in the Holiday Inn network and other familiar chains included in the IHG family of hotels, this card is a real catch.
What Makes It So Special?
Use the IHG Rewards Club Select if you're a frequent traveler who spends a lot on hotels
If you're a regular traveler, there's a good chance you're spending a lot of time in (and money on) hotels.
The IHG Rewards Club Select card earns points toward the rewards system operated by the hotel brand.
Earn while you stay. The most points you can earn on the card is 5 points per dollar spent, which you earn when you spend on hotels included in the IHG family.
Redeem for awesome hotel deals. Then, when you redeem you can get great discounted deals on hotel stays.
For just 5,000 points (the equivalent of $50) you can stay at one of the "PointBreaks" properties IHG lists.
Do you travel several times a year and always stay at hotels when you do? If so, you are the perfect candidate for the IHG Rewards Club Select.
If you're not a frequent traveler, a cash back credit card might be better for you.
Do you have a credit score that's "Good" (680+) to "Excellent" (800+)? You'll get approved for the IHG Rewards Club Select, with "Excellent" scores qualifying for the lowest rate of 17.24% APR.
Are you OK with sticking to IHG properties? You may not recognize the IHG name, but you'll surely know some of the hotels that are part of this huge hotel group.
It's one of the biggest hotel networks in the world, including many reputable and familiar brand names like Holiday Inn.
The list of properties within the IHG network includes a full range of hotels located all around the world:
- Crowne Plaza
- Hotel Indigo
- EVEN Hotels
- Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- Holiday Inn Resorts
- Staybridge Suites
- Candlewood Suites
If you're a loyal customer of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, or Staybridge Suites you can be rewarded for your commitment.
Why People Love It
A free hotel night once every year!
Even more than the awesome 60,000-point sign-up bonus (one of the biggest bonus points offers out there), customers appreciate getting a free one-night hotel stay every year.
What a nice anniversary gift! At each account anniversary, cardholders get a free night in a standard room at any of the over 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide.
Customers say they've redeemed their free stay at everything from tropical resorts to downtown boutique hotels.
Massive sign-up bonus gets you off to a good start. The 60,000-point sign-up bonus is also something customers really like.
Manageable spending requirement. All you have to do to qualify for the bonus is spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months.
That's much more reasonable than some other cards' spending requirements for getting the sign-up bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred requires you to spend $4,000 in the first three months for a 50,000-point bonus.
Bonus for adding a user. In addition to getting 60,000 points just for signing up, you get an additional 5,000 points for adding an authorized user and purchasing something on the card for the first time.
Adding an authorized user is free and doesn't double the annual fee.
You could use those 5,000 bonus points to take advantage of one of the PointsBreaks featured deals and get a free night!
What Are the Downfalls?
Customers complain about the (eventual) annual fee
The IHG Rewards Club Select card has no annual fee for year one, but in year two that changes.
You'll pay a modest annual fee. Starting in the second year, the annual fee is $49.
$49 isn't the highest annual fee we've seen. The award for the highest annual fee for a travel rewards card definitely goes to the American Express Platinum at $550 a year.
$0/year options are available. We know there are other credit cards out there charging no annual fee.
Customers complain that a card with a relatively low rate for earning points shouldn't charge an annual fee.
Others have done the math and concluded the $49 annual fee is more than offset by the free hotel night cardholders get every year.
If they choose a hotel with a standard room valued at more than $49 they would be coming out on top.
The free night offer applies to the standard room rate at any of the hotels in the IHG network, which includes high-end hotels with standard room prices of $500 a night.
No annual fee and lack of flexibility with BankAmericard Travel Rewards card
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card has a $0 annual fee every year (not just in year one).
It has no ties to travel brands. More general travel rewards cards like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card also have the advantage of not being tied to a particular hotel brand.
No contest when it comes to flexibility. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card lets you redeem for travel anywhere and anyway you want.
You can use the points to pay for hotels (including IHG hotels) as well as airfare and other travel-related costs like luggage fees, cruises, and rental cars.
You book the travel purchases you want through whatever website you want, and when you redeem points they come through in the form of a credit card statement credit.
Straightforward earning and redemptions rates. Unlike the IHG Rewards Club Select, where you redeem points at different values depending on what you're redeeming, all points redeemed for travel are worth $0.01.
All points are earned at a rate of 1.5%, no matter what spending category they fall under.
How IHG Rewards Club Select compares to BankAmericard Travel Rewards
|IHG Rewards Club Select||BankAmericard Travel Rewards|
|How high of a credit score do you need?|
|How big of a sign-up bonus do you get?|
60,000 points (+ 5,000 for adding an additional authorized user)
|How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?|
$1,000 in first 3 months
(Second user bonus activated by first purchase in first 3 months)
$1,000 in first 3 months
|How many points do you get for every dollar?|
5 points for IHG hotel spending
2 points for spending at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
1 point for everything else
Only earn at 5% and redeem for hotels in the IHG network
|If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?|
$5 if spent on IHG hotel expenses
$2 if spent on gas, groceries or restaurants
$1 if spent on anything else
|How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?|
$980 if spent on IHG hotel expenses
$2,450 if spent on gas, groceries, or restaurants
$4,900 if spent on anything else
Here are two other competitive hotel travel cards to consider
Starwood Preferred Guest card from Amex lets you transfer points to fly. When you use the card for purchases within the Starwood network of hotels, you earn 2 points per dollar (much less than IHG's 5 points per dollar).
One advantage the Starwood Amex has over the IHG card is its ability to convert points into air miles with 50 partner airlines.
Not only do the points not lose value when they're transferred to miles, there's actually a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points transferred.
Super-high annual fee. Its $95 annual fee is almost twice as high as the one charged for the IHG Rewards Club Select card.
Marriott Rewards Premier credit card has a monster sign-up bonus. The branded card from the Marriott chain of hotels gives you 75,000 points when you sign up and spend $3,000 in the first three months.
It also competes with the IHG Rewards Club Select by letting you earn 5 points for spending within the Marriot network (which includes Starwood after a recent merger!)
Its downfall is the $85 annual fee. It kicks in after year one.
The Question Everyone's Asking
Is the IHG Rewards Club Select card better for high-end or budget travel?
People online have been wondering if the IHG card is more suitable for jet-setters or better for people who are more likely to be traveling with a backpack.
Good for both expensive and lower-cost hotel travel. The fact is, the card works whether you're using it for more run-of-the-mill hotel stays or higher-end hotels.
There is a pretty wide range of pricing for IHG hotels.
Depending on where they are, Holiday Inn rooms can come in at around $100 per night.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is an IHG international luxury brand.
A weekend at one of its properties could easily exceed $1,000.
Same rate for everyone.You'll earn the same rate of 5 points per dollar spent at either of these hotels.
The more you spend, the more you earn
How It All Works
Rack up hotel rewards points and enjoy additional perks
For a moderate $49 annual fee, you get a huge sign-up bonus and the chance to earn points at a super-high rate for hotel expenses.
Platinum-tier benefits are part of the perks
When we look at it little closer, the additional benefits the IHG Rewards Club Select card offers when it comes to redeeming and earning points sweeten the deal.
You're automatically enrolled in the IHG Rewards Club's Platinum Elite tier.
In addition to perks like later check-out and free room upgrades, Platinum Elite membership also has significant benefits for rewards points.
Get 10% of your points back when you redeem. Every time you use your IHG Rewards points to purchase hotel stays with IHG properties, you get 10% of the points back.
For example, if you use 25,000 points to purchase an IHG hotel night, you will get 2,500 points returned to you.
You can earn 10% back up to 100,000 points per year.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards loyalty program beats out the IHG card. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards bonus for existing customers with BofA accounts is even better than the IHG Rewards Club Select.
Customers with existing Bank of America bank accounts earn an extra 10% in rewards points on all purchases made with the card.
Big balances get big bonuses. With the Preferred Rewards program from BofA, clients with $25,000 or more in combined balances get a 25% rewards point bonus.
$50,000 or more in account balances gets a 50% bonus, and people with assets of $100,000 and up get a 75% bonus on the points earned.
Extra travel benefits are built-in. In addition, IHG Rewards Club Select cardholders are covered by several travel-related and purchase protections.
If your baggage is delayed, your expenses for things like toiletries and clothes are covered up to $100 a day for 3 days.
For lost luggage, insurance up to $3,000 per passenger is provided.
New purchases made on the card are protected against damage or theft up to $500 per claim (up to a $50,000 max per account per year).
Price protection means you are reimbursed if you see something you bought at a better-advertised price within 90 days ($500 per item, $2,500 maximum per year).
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburse you up to $5,000 per trip.
Rewards and points are earned at a high rate for frequent travelers
The chance to earn 5 points per dollar on IHG hotel stays and 2 points per dollar for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants is a solid offer.
Considering BankAmericard Travel Rewards are only earned at a rate of 1.5% across the board, the IHG card is very competitive.
After all, for most people, a significant percentage of their budgets are spent on gas, groceries, and eating out.
Expenses on hotels, gas, and restaurants are even higher for people who travel a lot or for business.
Here's proof the card earns solid rewards points. Let's look at an example of a two-night business road trip at a Holiday Inn at $130 a night.
We'll give our traveler a pretty modest daily budget of $50 for restaurant food and say $100 was spent on gas getting to and from the business trip destination.
Over a two-night stay, the person will have earned 1,700 points using the IHG card.
With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card, they would have only earned 690.
Not the lowest APR yet still competitive with other travel cards
When it comes to the annual percentage rate (APR) charged on outstanding monthly balances, the IHG Rewards Club Select is competitive within its class.
If getting the lowest APR interest rate is your priority, there are much better low-interest cards available.
The IHG Rewards card charges interest at a rate of 17.24% for customers with pristine credit scores.
For those who get approved with lower credit scores, the rate goes up to as high as 24.24%.
Competitive with other hotel cards. In comparison, those are the exact same rates charged for the Marriot Rewards Premier credit card.
The Starwood Preferred Guest card charges a slightly lower rate, starting at 16.24% and going up to 20.49%.
Not a good choice for balance transfers. Since the IHG Rewards card doesn't offer an introductory period where 0% interest is charged on balance transfers, it's not right for people seeking a balance transfer credit card.
No foreign transaction fee makes it a good pick for travelers abroad
It would be incorrect to call the IHG Rewards Club Select a no-fee or even a low-fee credit card.
In addition to the $49 annual fee (after year one), there are several other fees and they're quite high compared to other cards.
Another reason why it's not good for balance transfers. Balance transfers are charged either a $5 or 5% fee (whichever is greater).
If you were transferring a $2,000 balance from another credit card you'd be dinged for $100 right off the bat.
Then the regular interest rate would kick in immediately.
Expensive cash advances. When you use your IHG Rewards card to get a cash advance, you're charged a fee of $10 or 5%.
There are a lot of credit cards out there, and most charge 2–3% on cash advances and balance transfers.
For example, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card charges 3% for both of these fees.
$0 foreign transaction fees mean you can take it on the road. A good travel rewards credit card will never charge a foreign transaction fee.
The IHG Rewards card can be used anywhere with no fee for making transactions out-of-country.
No foreign transaction fees are charged by the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card or the Starwood and Marriott hotel cards.
The IHG App makes it easy to locate qualifying hotels and book with points
Many of the best credit cards on offer today are linked to a smartphone app.
IHG has created a brilliant app to help you find and earn points at its hotels.
It maps your options. The app includes an interface designed to assist you in getting the best possible rate for an IHG hotel in the vicinity of where you want to stay.
You can use the app to check out and your bill is instantly sent to you.
The app is also handy for managing the IHG Rewards Club points you accumulate.
You can book hotels using your points or combine cash with points to start redeeming more quickly.
Access mobile-only deals. There are even special discounts and deals only made available to customers through the IHG App.
It's a translator too.The IHG App also includes a translation function. You can speak into your phone in English and it will speak the word or phrase back to you in one of 10 languages.
- What are the IHG hotels where you can earn 5 points per dollar spent?
There are more than 5,200 hotels in the IHG family, and IHG Rewards Club Select cardholders earn 5 points per dollar spent at all of them.
These are also the same hotels where you can redeem your free night for a standard room each year.
- How do I get started with an IHG Rewards Club Select card?
The best way to sign up for the IHG Rewards Club Select card is to visit the website and fill out the online application.
You will be asked to provide personal, financial, and security-related information.
- How do I cancel an IHG Rewards Club Select credit card account?
Chase is the issuer of this branded card.
We've seen a few customer complaints about Chase representatives making it difficult to cancel a credit card.
There is no option to cancel via an online platform or an automated phone service.
Your first option is to call Chase customer service at 1-800-432-3117.
You'll be directed to a Retention Specialist who will try to convince you to keep the card.
Get the name of the person on the phone and a reference number and follow up the cancellation call with a follow-up letter.
You can also cancel via a written request (not email, a real letter in the snail mail).
The address is:
Chase Card Services
P.O. Box 15298
Wilmington, Delaware 19850
Canceling the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card does not mean you lose all of your points.
They are active until the account anniversary, so aim to close your credit card account soon after the anniversary if you need time to use the points.
- What are the credit limits for the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card?
The credit limit for IHG Rewards Club cards starts at $2,000.
The credit limit a person is offered by Chase is directly linked to their credit score.
Other comparable Chase credit cards offer limits up to $24,000.
- What happens with late payments?
Like most credit cards, when a deadline for minimum payment is missed a penalty fee is charged.
The late payment penalty fee charged by the IHG Rewards Club Select card is up to $15 if the balance is less than $100.
If the balance is $100–$249 the penalty can be up to $27. For balances of $250 and over, the late charge is up to $37.
- What is the minimum payment?
Chase's policy for minimum monthly payments is to require whichever is greater between $25, or 1% of the full balance, the interest charges, and late fees.
If the balance is less than $25 payment in full is required.
- Where and in what stores can I use my IHG Rewards Club Select card?
The IHG Rewards Club Select is a Mastercard issued by Chase.
You can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
- How does redeeming points for hotel stays work?
Each hotel has its own rate for redeeming points.
The hotel sets the redemption rate for one Reward Night (for example, 25,000 per night for a standard room).
You can use 25,000 points from your IHG Rewards Club account to cover the full cost of the room.
Of this total, 2,500 points will be reimbursed into your account due to your Platinum Elite status.
Or you can redeem some points and pay the rest in cash.
The rate is $70 for 10,000 points. So you could pay $70 and 15,000 points for a 25,000-point room.
- What else can I redeem IHG Rewards Club points for?
IHG Rewards Club points can also be redeemed for IHG merchandise, in-hotel expenses, and gift vouchers.
The IHG Rewards Club Select card is a high-quality travel rewards card if you're willing to stick with IHG hotels
The only real issue with the IHG Rewards Club Select card is the focus on IHG hotels.
But that's kind of the point, right?
You can only redeem for Reward Nights at IHG properties.
And you enjoy the higher 5-points-per-dollar earning rate only on spending at IHG hotels—but still get a solid rate on other purchases.
You can find an IHG hotel in practically every city in the world, so you won't be stuck for options.
When you choose your IHG hotel you'll be treated like a VIP with a room upgrade and late checkout.
If you pay with points you'll get 10% of them returned to you.
Choose to pay with your credit card, you'll feel good knowing you're getting 5 cents back on every dollar.
Or perhaps you will be cashing in on your annual free night, and no points are involved at all.
Now you know how the IHG Rewards Club Select card works, as well as how it compares to other travel rewards and hotel-branded credit cards.
We recommend getting one, even if it's just used for traveling.
Do you have an IHG Rewards Club Select credit card?
How has the hotel chain worked out for you?
Any great tips (or nightmares!) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below!