Updated Jan 22, 2021 | Published Jul 24, 2020 • 14 min read
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The IHG Rewards Club Traveler card features 15X points per dollar at IHG properties and asks for no annual fee. However, it doesn’t provide any advanced membership enrollment or an annual free night, nor does it have the most impressive benefits. You’d find more value from the upgraded IHG card, despite its annual fee.
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The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card is designed to earn points that you can turn into free night stays at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) hotels and resorts.
You’ll get 15X points per dollar with IHG, along with a fairly large welcome bonus. There are a few useful benefits, like getting a fourth night free when redeeming for four nights or more, but for the most part they’re fairly limited.
140,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
You’d easily find more value in the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (Review). While it does have an annual fee, it’s also better in every way. There are higher rewards, more benefits, a larger welcome bonus, and a yearly free night stay.
That yearly gift can effectively erase the annual fee completely. And, you’ll still get your fourth night free when redeeming for four nights or more.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
Squirrel away your points: When you redeem your reward points for four nights or more, you’ll get the fourth night free. So hold on to your points until you have enough for a longer stay, if your travel plans can accommodate.
Earn big at IHG properties: You’ll earn a sizable 15X points per dollar at IHG properties. That’s likely where most of your rewards will come from.
You’re rewarded for everyday spending: You’ll get 2X points per dollar when you spend money at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores, so you have more places to earn than just IHG hotels and resorts.
Welcome to the party: If you can reach the welcome bonus, you might be able to get a few nights out of it depending on where you’re redeeming your points.
Going gold: You’re fast-tracked for Gold Elite status: Once you spend $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll be enrolled in the first elite tier of IHG’s membership program.
The IHG Traveler Card earns a great deal of rewards at IHG properties. You’ll get 5X Bonus points from the card, and 10X Base points from your IHG Rewards Club membership for a total of 15X IHG points per dollar.
If your points are worth about 0.6–1 cent each, that would mean you’re looking at a cash back equivalent of 9%–15%. There are also 2X point categories providing a 1%–2% cash back equivalent at the same point value.
15X points per dollar on purchases at IHG hotels and resorts:
5X Bonus points from the card
10X Base points from IHG Rewards Club Member status
2X Bonus points per dollar at:
1X Bonus point per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
60,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
If you can reach the welcome bonus, that’ll provide a nice chunk of points that you could put towards free night stays, and get you closer to your fourth night free.
You won’t be restricted to only earning at IHG properties. The bonus categories will reward you for everyday spending, which should make reaching the welcome bonus a little easier.
After you’ve raked in the points, you have a few options when it comes time to get rid of them. You’ll likely get the best value when you redeem them for IHG reward nights, but that’s not the only thing you can do.
You won’t have to worry about your points expiring as long as you have activity on your account. If you don’t, your points will expire 12 months after your last account activity.
Here’s what you can do with your points:
Redeem them for a wide range of merchandise and gift cards
Donate them to IHG’s disaster relief program
Gift them to other IHG members
Transfer your points to miles through one of IHG’s airline partners
Most point-to-mile transfers carry a 5:1 ratio, but others are worse. A few airline partners have 40:1, 250:1, or even 400:1 transfer rates.
Here are IHG’s airline partners.
AIR MILES reward miles
Air New Zealand Airports
All Nippon Airways
American Airlines AAdvantage
Saudi Arabian Airlines
South African Airways
China Southern Airlines
TAP Air Portugal
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
El Al Israel Airlines
Velocity Frequent Flyer
How Do I Redeem My Reward Points for IHG Stays?
If you head to IHG’s website, you’ll see a search bar that lets you find where and when you’d like to stay. In the drop-down menu, you can choose whether you want to find the best deals, or if you’re looking for reward nights. Choose the latter, and you can turn your points into hotel stays.
Somewhat uniquely, IHG has recently adopted a dynamic point pricing system. That’s unlike some other hotel brands that choose to divide their properties up into different categories, determined by how impressive their rooms are.
The dynamic point system means the point requirement per night can fluctuate similar to the cash cost of each room. So it’s a bit harder to pinpoint exactly where you’ll find the best value for your points.
We ran through a few examples so you can get an idea of the kind of per-point value you might see. Here’s what a weekend stay might cost:
Cash (per night, taxes and fees included)
Point Cost (per night)
Holiday Inn Chicago-Mart Plaza River North
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Dwtn-Union Stn
Kimpton Hotel Born (Denver)
Holiday Inn Club Vacations: Scottsdale Resort (Phoenix)
Kimpton Muse Hotel (NYC)
InterContinental: San Francisco
At Kimpton Hotel Born, you could see a cash back equivalent of about 16.5%. But at the InterContinental San Francisco, you’re looking at about 7.4%. Clearly, your return on spend can fluctuate quite a bit, but neither of those percentages are bad.
In case you don’t get the point value you were hoping for on the first try, you could try searching for different hotels in the area that might have different rates. But you may have to adjust your expectations, or your budget.
You’ll find a good bit of value from the card benefits here, considering there are very few fees attached. The most useful and valuable of the bunch are the fourth award night free benefit, expedited Gold Elite status opportunity, and coverage from a slew of travel protections.
Fourth award night free: When you redeem your points for four nights or more, you’ll get the fourth one for free. You can redeem your free night at a hotel that has a night redemption value of 40,000 points or fewer. It must be redeemed within 12 months from date of issue.
Gold Elite membership: You can obtain Gold Elite status by spending $10,000 in a calendar year. That’ll get you the added perks of a 10% bonus to Base points, extended checkout, and priority check-in, along with a few more amenities.
Save 20% on purchased points: When buying points from IHG, you’ll get a 20% discount (or better).
Travel Accident Insurance: When you use your card to pay for travel, you and yours will be covered against accidental death and dismemberment by up to $500,000.
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: In a pinch away from home? Call the benefit administrator for help.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the company’s offer and charge the full amount to your card and your rental will get secondary coverage against damage and theft.
Baggage Delay Insurance: If your luggage is delayed for more than six hours you’ll be reimbursed for up to $100 per day, for three days, so you can make essential purchases like toiletries.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or a family member suffers damage to your luggage or your bags become lost due to the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per person.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: If your trip is unexpectedly ended or upset by sickness, weather, or other covered situations, you’ll be reimbursed by up to $5,000 per person, up to $10,000 per trip.
Cell Phone Protection: Your phone is covered against theft and damage up to $600 per claim, and up to $1,000 per year, as long as you pay your phone bill with your card.
Purchase Protection: Your new purchases are covered for damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Extended Warranty Protection: If you’ve got an eligible warranty for three years or less, you’ll get an additional year from the card.
The Terms & Fees
Balance Transfer APR
Cash Advance APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Cash Advance Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Returned Payment Fee
Up to $39
Up to $39
The Bottom Line
The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card provides a pretty good value for no annual fee. The cash back equivalents you could see are still pretty solid, though you could find a better deal, depending on your travel habits.
You’ll get a nice selection of travel and shopping protections, but the hotel-focused benefits are pretty basic, only including a fourth night free award and expedited Gold Elite status.
The fourth reward night free could be useful, but it would take a fair bit of spending to obtain enough points to redeem for four nights. Therefore, it’s probably only good to consider this card if you’re a frequent traveler, and stay at IHG properties often.
Otherwise, you may wish to consider a general-use travel card that might be better suited to the occasional traveler.
How Do I Apply for the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card?
Just follow the link below to apply now. You’ll be directed to the credit card issuer’s site where you can securely fill out an application. You’ll typically hear back instantly if you’ve been approved or not.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card?
The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is recommended for people with good credit.
If you’re within 670–739 for FICO or 700–749 for VantageScore, you’re considered to have good credit.
People may still make the cut though, even if they aren’t in the given range of credit scores. Credit card issuers take more into account, like income and employment.
However, even if you do have the recommended credit scores, the card issuer may choose to not approve you.
Qualifications and Requirements
Must be 18 to apply (19 in Alabama/Nebraska, 21 in Puerto Rico)
Personal identifying information: Birth date, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name
Address and contact information: Email, phone number, address, type of residence
Financial information: Total annual income, source of income
It does carry an annual fee, but it’s bolstered in nearly every way. The rewards are higher, the benefits are better, and the welcome bonus is bigger. That yearly fee shouldn’t scare you off; you’ll also be getting an annual free reward night. So as long as you’re using that for a hotel room that would cost $89 or more, you shouldn’t even notice the fee. You’ll also still be able to earn a fourth night free when redeeming for four nights or more.
And rather than having to spend $10,000 to unlock Gold Elite status, you’ll get automatic Platinum Elite status enrollment. From that, you’ll receive a 50% bonus to Base points, room upgrades when they’re available, and extended checkout, among other perks. There’s also a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit to help alleviate some airport hassle while you travel.
So if you frequently stay at IHG hotels and resorts, this card would be a better value for your money.
Anniversary night: Get a free stay each account anniversary year, starting after your first year. You can redeem your free night at a hotel that has a night redemption value of 40,000 points or fewer. It must be redeemed within 12 months from date of issue.
Fourth reward night free: When you redeem your points for four nights or more, you’ll get the fourth night free.
Platinum Elite status enrollment: You’ll automatically be enrolled into IHG’s Platinum Elite status, which provides a 50% bonus to Base points earned, complimentary room upgrades, priority check-in, and extended checkout.
It offers higher rewards than the IHG Rewards Club Traveler card, an annual free night, automatic membership enrollment, and the chance of earning an additional free night. Your points will be worth a little more too, around 1–2 cents, providing a cash back equivalent of 9%–18%, a bit higher than the 9%–15% the IHG card offers. The only catch is that it comes at the cost of an annual fee.
But the fee won’t matter much as long as you’re taking full advantage of the annual free night award. And, if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn an additional free night. So this card could be even more rewarding for the frequent traveler.
You won’t have to spend $10,000 for your membership enrollment either. Instead, you’ll automatically be enrolled into Discoverist status, which grants a 10% bonus to Base points, premium WiFi, and room upgrades when they’re available.
Free night award: You’ll receive a free night after the anniversary of your account opening, but you might have to wait 10 weeks after your anniversary date. You can use it to stay at any category 1–4 property.
Free night for points: Make $15,000 in purchases in a calendar year and you’ll get an additional free night’s stay. You can use it to stay at any category 1–4 property.
World of Hyatt Discoverist status: You’ll get automatic Discoverist status that gets you a 10% point bonus, premium WiFi, and room upgrades when they’re available.
Five annual Tier-Qualifying Night Credits: These credits help you advance to the higher tiers of the World of Hyatt membership.
Additional Tier-Qualifying Night Credits: You’ll earn two additional World of Hyatt Tier-Qualifying Night Credits for every $5,000 you spend.
Travel protections: Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and rental car insurance
Shopping protections: Purchase protection
Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $95
Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent
Get 1 free night each year after your Cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort
Enjoy complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open.
Receive 5 tier qualifying night credits towards status after account opening, and each year after that for as long as your account is open
Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year
Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
Earn up to 9 points total for Hyatt stays – 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
You’ll earn a whopping 30X points per dollar at Hilton properties. Your points will be worth around 0.4–1 cent, similar to the IHG card. But because you’ll be earning more points, your cash back equivalent will be a higher, sitting at 12%–30%.
There’s an annual fee attached, but you’ll also have the opportunity to earn an annual reward night. There is, however, a spending requirement. You’ll need to spend $15,000 in a year to qualify, which is a bit different than the other hotel cards here.
You’ll be automatically enrolled into Hilton Honors Gold status, which unlike the IHG card, doesn’t have a spending requirement. That gives you a pretty substantial 80% bonus to Base points earned and complimentary room upgrades when they’re available. On top of that, you’ll receive Priority Pass Select membership, providing access to a plethora of airport lounges.
So despite the annual fee, you’ll earn more rewards and a higher cash back equivalent, while gaining an automatic membership status, Priority Pass Select access, and the opportunity to earn a reward night each year. Certainly worth considering.
Annual Weekend Night Reward: You’ll get a free weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases in any calendar year. A redeemable code will be emailed to you after meeting the threshold.
Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status: Cardholders get Hilton Honors Gold status, which is two tiers above the basic Member status. It comes with some nice benefits, like an 80% bonus on all Base points earned and complimentary room upgrades when they’re available.
Fast track to Hilton Honors Diamond status: You’ll be awarded with Hilton Honors Diamond status if purchases for a given year reach $40,000. Diamond status comes with better benefits than Gold, including a 100% bonus on Base points and a 48-hour room guarantee.
Priority Pass Select access: Cardholders get access to over 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. This does not grant access to non-lounge Priority Pass experiences. 10 free lounge visits are provided per year. After that, the entry fee will be $32 per person. You’ll need to manually enroll in this benefit.
Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Get free membership with ShopRunner, which provides free two-day shipping and returns from some online retailers. Cardholders must enroll in this benefit.
Amex Offers: You’ll have access to increased rewards at a wide variety of merchants that changes from time to time.
Entertainment Access: This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences.
Travel protections: Global Assist Hotline, car rental insurance, and baggage insurance plan
Shopping protections: Purchase protection and extended warranty
Purchase APR: 15.74% - 24.74% Variable
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $95
Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Plus, earn a $150 statement credit after your first purchase on the Hilton Surpass Card within your first 3 months.
Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
$95 annual fee.
American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
Rather than earning a great deal of points at any one hotel, you’ll earn 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides and 2X points on travel and dining.
The two most important facets of the Sapphire Preferred are its point transfer rate and its redemption options. It features a 1:1 transfer rate to Chase’s hotel and airline partners, where you could find a point value of 2 cents or more.
With that value, you’re looking at a cash back equivalent of 10% from the 5X point category and 4% from the 2X categories. While that 10% from Lyft is comparable to the IHG card, the 4% from the travel categories is quite a bit less. But it would allow you to choose from a larger selection of hotels and airlines.
Additionally, there’s a 25% bonus when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which gives you 1.25 cents per point.
You won’t have the opportunity to earn any membership statuses and it does require an annual fee, but you will gain the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which provides discounts at a wide variety of locations around the world. There’s plenty of traveling and shopping protections, and the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers discount portals can be handy too.
DoorDash membership: You’ll get a free DoorDash membership for at least a year, known as a DashPass. This gives you free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12, which could help you save quite a bit if you tend to order out.
Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection is provided by Chase, and includes benefits at a plethora of locations around the world.
Shop through Chase: Cardholders can get more points at select retailers with the Shop through Chase marketplace.
Chase Offers: Receive exclusive offers from a variety of different merchants through Chase.
Chase Preferred Experiences: As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder you’ll have access to exclusive events and experiences provided by Chase.
Visa Signature Concierge: You can call 1-800-953-7392 to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge, 24/7.
Travel protections: Trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance, travel accident insurance, rental car insurance, and roadside dispatch
Shopping protections: Purchase protection and extended warranty
Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $95
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.
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