IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

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An amazing rewards rate for value travelers.

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The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card can help you quickly earn free nights and elite status for stays. When you combine an IHG Rewards Club membership with the boosted rewards rate for using the card, you can earn up to 15 points per $1 spent.

Owning this card also scores you a free night at any IHG Rewards property on your cardmember anniversary, even at a pricey spot like the InterContinental Paris-Le Grand, which can go for up to $340 a night. If you take advantage of this perk, the value can be worth far more than the $49 annual fee, which is waived the first year.

Review

When you look at the attributes of the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, it stands tall among the top travel and hotel cards we’ve reviewed. But the question you must ask when it comes to hotel-branded credit cards is, will you stay in the properties you’re accumulating rewards for? The vast IHG portfolio of more than 5,000 hotels includes many value-priced brands like Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.

If a hotel room is just a place to lay your head, this may be a great choice for you. If your tastes run toward more luxurious accommodations, your best bet within IHG brands are the InterContinental hotels, which are upscale but almost exclusively located in urban city centers. If these options are palatable to you, the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card can help you pile on the points with each stay.

Just by having a membership in the IHG Reward Club you’ll earn 10 points for every $1 spent at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hualuxe Hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo and the Holiday Inn properties. Stays at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites will earn 5 points per $1 spent.

Now add the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card into the mix to pay for those stays and earn an additional 5 points per $1 spent. This means a stay at an Indigo hotel or a Crowne Plaza hotel, for example, paid for with the card will earn you a total of 15 points per $1 spent.

Although this point stacking isn’t clearly spelled out on either the IHG Rewards Club page or the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card application page, it’s a huge points-earning opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked. Bankrate spoke to an IHG Rewards representative to confirm this earnings rate.

Note that although Kimpton hotels are part of the IHG brand, they do not participate in the IHG Rewards program.

This card also offers a modest sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points, worth about $375, after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening an account. You’ll find higher bonuses elsewhere, but the low annual fee helps make this bonus more appealing.

A major drawback to this card are the lackluster rewards on everyday spending, as the rewards rate of 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases can easily be bested by a different credit card.

The value of IHG Rewards ranges depending on what type of property and location you redeem them for. As an example, some hotels within the portfolio, such as a Holiday Inn near an airport may only require 10,000 to 15,000 points per night for a free stay. IHG’s most luxe brand, the InterContinental, can cost a maximum of 60,000 points for a night.

Here’s an interesting twist for what you could do with your IHG points if you’ve accumulated a stash you can’t use: transfer the points to one of IHG’s 41 airline partners, which include both domestic and international brands. But this works in one direction only. You cannot transfer an airline’s rewards into your IHG account.

Keep in mind it’s not a 1:1 transfer either. For all except a handful of these airlines, the transfer rate is 10,000 IHG points to about 2,000 miles of an airline partner. So, for example, 10,000 IHG points can be transferred into 2,000 TrueBlue points with JetBlue, 2,000 Aeromexico miles or 2,000 Emirates miles. You can’t do much with 2,000 points on any of these airlines, but it could be a nice way to top off your account if you’re close to earning a free flight or if your IHG rewards are going to expire soon.

Who should get this card

Frequent travelers who like IHG-owned properties can benefit from the rewards structure of this card.

Advantages
  • One night free annual perk can be worth far more than the cost of ownership.
  • Low annual fee for a hotel credit card.
  • You can transfer your IHG points to one of its airline partners.
Disadvantages
  • You can only use your points at IHG-branded properties, which may be too limiting for some.
  • Not a great rewards rate on everyday spending.
  • Redeeming points for merchandise or gift cards gives you less value then using towards hotel stays.

Fees and APR

  • The annual fee is $49, waived the first year.
  • The APR on purchases and balance transfers is a variable 16.99% to 23.99% based on creditworthiness.
  • The balance transfer fee is 5%.
  • Foreign purchases won’t be charged a transaction fee — a must for any good travel card.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you may be charged a penalty fee of up to $37.

Extras, perks and using points

Cardmembers receive Elite Platinum status, which gives a 10% rebate on points redemptions, up to 100,000 points back each year. You also get access to an IHG Rewards Concierge and a 50% bonus on base points earnings and complimentary room upgrades when available.

This card also comes with travel and auto insurance, price protection and extended purchase protection against damage or theft.

Points will expire after 12 months of inactivity. In order to keep your points active you must either earn or redeem points within a 12-month period.

You can transfer points to another IHG Rewards member’s account at a cost of $5 per 1,000 points transferred.

IHG Rewards members have access to IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks, where select rooms are available for only 5,000 points a night at a maximum of two nights per hotel.

You can redeem your points or a combination of points and cash to book a rewards stay. Points can be redeemed for free nights and upgrades at more than 5,000 hotels worldwide. Free nights start at 10,000 points and top out at 60,000 points.

How this card compares

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at over 5,700 Marriott locations.
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at SPG properties.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants, car rental agencies and on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline.
  • Earn 1 point on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $85
Balance Transfers Intro APR

If you stay in a hotel at least a couple of nights a year and you can stay within the Marriott portfolio each time, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card can be a smart addition to your wallet. The rewards rate for stays within their portfolio of properties can be generous and you’ll earn a free night each year of card ownership.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Card Details
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.24%-20.24% Variable
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is much-loved by points and miles strategists for its wide range of eligible airline transfer partners. And, Starpoints can also be transferred to Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties making it one of the most flexible credit card rewards currencies available.

The Hyatt Credit Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 3 World of Hyatt points for every $1 you spend at all Hyatt properties with your Hyatt Credit Card.
  • Earn 2 World of Hyatt points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies.
  • Earn 1 World of Hyatt point for every $1 you spend on other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $75.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

Although it may seem like you’re earning less points with The Hyatt Credit Card than other hotel-branded cards, Hyatt hotels have a lower points requirement to earn free nights, starting at just 5,000 points. If you prefer the Hyatt brand, this card may be better for you.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.