Checking-In to the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
Casual travelers will find the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card to be a low maintenance means of earning points towards complimentary hotel stay and an affordable gateway into the luxurious offerings of the IHG Reward Club. With no annual fee, this co-branded hotel card makes it easy for adventurers of all budgets to partake in an elevated hotel experience.
Despite the annual fee being on the low end of the scale, new cardholders can earn a competitive signup bonus that’s comparable to some of the best (and more costly) rewards cards on the market: 60,000 bonus points that can be redeemed at any of their 5,600+ hotels and resorts. Cardholders should be forewarned that they may find it difficult to make use of the card’s potential after the signup bonus has been spent.
How it Works
- 15X points on hotel bookings – Earn 15 points per dollar spent at any IHG® Hotels and Resorts property
- 2X points on gas, groceries, and restaurants – Walmart and Target, however, are excluded from eligible grocery store point earnings
- 1X points for everything else – Earn one point for all other purchases wherever Mastercard is accepted
- Reward Nights – Points can be used for complimentary hotel stay for as little as 10,000 points at the thousands of IHG® locations. This is easily the most worthwhile method of point redemption and will provide the greatest value to cardholder. Specific redemption amounts will vary by hotel property (you can look up the specific rates here) and requires advance reservations to book. There are no blackout dates when using points, however, all reservations are subject to room availability.
- Shopping – Redeem points for merchandise through the IHG® online catalog which includes high-end appliances, furniture, electronics, and more. The average point value for catalogs is a disappointing $.002, and therefore, not a recommended redemption method for any IHG® Rewards Club Traveler earnings.
- Gift Cards – Available through the same online catalog, gift cards are available from well-known names such as Uber, Amazon, and Best Buy and even offers big-ticket items such as day passes for Universal Studios. Unfortunately, this method of redemption also has a subpar redemption rate averaging between $.002 – $.0025 per point.
- Magazine Subscriptions – Subscriptions to dozens of well-known publications such as Vanity Fair, GQ, and US Weekly are available via points. IHG® Rewards Club Members can select 1-year subscriptions ranging in cost between 1,000-8,500 points. However, even to earn enough points for the lowest cost magazine would require spending $67 in hotel fare, or $500 in gas, dining, or groceries.
- Airline Miles – IHG® Rewards Club features 39 airline partners which include major U.S. airlines. Points can be exchanged for airline miles with the majority of these partners at a rate of 10,000 IHG points for 2,000 miles (which breaks down to 5 IHG® points per airline mile).
In most cases, it would be cheaper to buy those miles outright, directly from the airline itself. But no need to just take our word for it: in order to earn enough points for airline mile exchange would require spending: $667 in bookings at an IHG property; $5,000 in gas, groceries, or restaurants, $10,000 for non-bonus category purchases.
- Donate to Charity – IHG® Rewards Club Members can donate between 2,500 – 10,000 points to five establishments: Goodwill, the American Red Cross, The Prince’s Trust Donation, Youth Career Initiative, and CARE International UK Donation. While giving back to the less fortunate is always a worthy cause, donated points are not counted as tax-deductible donations and therefore provide zero benefits to the cardholder in any form.
Today’s Bonus Offer
New cardholders will earn a whopping 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. Complimentary hotel stay can be found for as little as 5,000 with IHG® Rewards Club PointBreaks® helping this signup bonus to go a long way.
Getting Under the Sheets with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Gold Elite Status – Spend $10,000 per calendar year and automatically get bumped into the second tier of IHG® Rewards Club membership (may take up to 8 weeks to process); this comes with perks such as priority check-in and extended check-out, a welcome amenity, and more. Unfortunately, this status does not carry over, regardless of when it was earned, and will promptly reset back to the standard Club Member level after December 31st.
- Fourth Night Free – When using your points, book four or more nights of consecutive stay and receive the 4th night free. Cardholders will be only be charged the applicable point redemption rate for the first three nights. Partial point bookings (where points and cash are used) are ineligible.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees – Feel free to use the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card at any of IHG’s thousands of international properties. There are no additional charges for making purchases outside of the United States.
- Save 20% on Point Purchases – Use your IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card when purchasing points towards the IHG® Rewards Club. All points acquired through purchases will not count towards Elite qualification to move to a higher membership tier.
- Purchase Protection – New purchases are covered against damage and theft for 120 days and up to $500 per claim ($50,000 claim limit per account).
“Suite” Perks That Make the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Worthwhile:
- Strong signup bonus – Despite the card having a low annual fee it features a generous intro offer that starts cardholders off with a few nights of complimentary hotel stay. If you have a big trip coming up the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card would provide immediate practical value.
- Points don’t expire – Even those who regularly use the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card may find it challenging to amass enough for a grand vacation within a single year. Fortunately, cardholders can take their time saving up points for the vacation of their dreams. In order to prevent your IHG points from expiring, your IHG Rewards Club account must have an activity every 12 months.
- Buy 3, Get 1 Free – Regardless of membership tier or annual spend, every IHG® Rewards Club Traveler cardholder can stretch the value of their points (and their vacation) for no extra charge. This is a perk exclusively available to cardholders that makes planning your next getaway that much easier – and is an absolute steal for someone only paying $29 a year.
- International-traveler friendly – Never think twice about shopping abroad thanks to a lack of foreign transaction fees. Perfect for those who frequently travel abroad for business or family.
“Reservations” About the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card:
Limited time to enjoy Elite Status – Gold Elite status is only earned after spending $10,000 within the calendar year and even then, still takes another 6-8 weeks to be processed. As such, this card is ideal for those who do the bulk of the spending earlier in the year.
While this might not be terribly problematic for those whose majority of trips fall within the last few months of the year – those planning to travel in the earlier months will have few membership benefits to show for being a cardholder.
If your buying patterns are out of sync with the card, then you may have difficulty ever seeing that Gold Elite status at all. Using the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler credit card for all your holiday shopping, for example, won’t yield many hotel perks results since the $10,000 required spend can only go towards earning Gold Elite status within that same year.
Time to Check-Out
While the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card may seem appealing lack of an annual fee, it requires the cardholder to jump through several hoops in order to achieve even basic hotel perks. It does not retain its value after the signup bonus has been earned and offers even less if you do not annually book hotel stay.
The main reasons why someone would make this their primary credit card would be out of pressure to meet the $10,000 minimum spend required to enter the next tier of membership – a hefty minimum that might take so long to reach that cardholders have little time left to enjoy the benefits once they have.
Overall, the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is an okay option for the budget-conscious or the casual traveler – but most loyal IHG fans (or even, semi-regular travelers) would be better served with owning the premium version of the card: the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Although the annual fee is higher, the automatic benefits more than make up for the higher cost of the card.
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