IHG vs. Marriott: Which Is Right For You?

Marriott outpaces IHG on these fronts, but there's no harm in pursuing status with both chains.
Dec 20, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Choosing a hotel loyalty program to stick with can be a daunting task. Seriously, there are so many hotel chains, how do you make a decision? If you’ve narrowed down your choices to IHG versus Marriott, here’s how one might be better than the other.

Hotel availability

Winner for hotel availability: Marriott

Marriott has about 2,000 more properties than IHG, and offers more brands. The more brands, the more price points and styles there are to accommodate different types of travelers or trips.

Marriott

With more than 8,000 properties worldwide, Marriott International is one of the largest hotel groups, second only to Wyndham Hotel Group. More than 5,600 Marriott properties are in the United States, but you’ll also find more than 900 in Asia, about 750 in Europe and more across the Middle East, Australia, Africa and South America.

Hotels brands under the Marriott umbrella include:

  1. AC Hotels.

  2. Aloft Hotels.

  3. Autograph Collection Hotels.

  4. Bulgari Hotels & Resorts.

  5. Courtyard by Marriott.

  6. Delta Hotels.

  7. Design Hotels.

  8. EDITION.

  9. Element by Westin.

  10. Fairfield by Marriott.

  11. Four Points by Sheraton.

  12. Gaylord Hotels.

  13. JW Marriott.

  14. Le Méridien.

  15. Marriott Executive Apartments.

  16. Marriott Vacation Club.

  17. Marriott.

  18. Moxy Hotels.

  19. Protea Hotels.

  20. Renaissance Hotels.

  21. Residence Inn by Marriott.

  22. Sheraton.

  23. SpringHill Suites.

  24. St. Regis.

  25. The Luxury Collection.

  26. The Ritz-Carlton.

  27. TownePlace Suites.

  28. Tribute Portfolio.

  29. W Hotels.

  30. Westin.

IHG

More than 6,000 properties fall under the IHG umbrella, which makes it the fifth largest hotel group in the world. More than 4,300 IHG hotels are located in North and South America. Another prominent region is China, which boasts 575 properties.

Hotel brands included to the IHG portfolio are:

  1. Atwell Suites.

  2. Avid Hotels.

  3. Candlewood Suites.

  4. Crowne Plaza.

  5. Even Hotels.

  6. Holiday Inn.

  7. Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

  8. Holiday Inn Express.

  9. Hotel Indigo.

  10. Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts.

  11. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.

  12. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

  13. Regent Hotels & Resorts.Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.

  14. Staybridge Suites.

  15. Vignette Collection.

  16. Voco.

Marriott vs. IHG credit cards

Winner for best hotel credit card: Marriott

Marriott, hands down, wins this round simply because the chain offers so many more options to both consumers and small-business owners to earn hotel loyalty points. With Marriott, you have a no-fee option, a mid-range option and a premium option. With IHG, you have only one option.

Another edge Marriott has over IHG in the credit card department is the fact that two banks issue its co-branded cards: American Express and Chase. On the flip side, Chase is a sole issuer of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. If you’re over the 5/24 rule, you can’t qualify for a Chase card. American Express doesn’t have the same restrictions, which can make it easier for some to get a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit card.

Marriott credit cards

Two banks issue Marriott credit cards: American Express and Chase. That means more options when it comes to travel rewards cards.

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earning rates:

  • Up to 14 points per $1 on Marriott purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 on other travel purchases.

  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Other benefits:

  • 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year.

  • Silver Elite status once elite nights post.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Welcome bonus: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10X total points on eligible purchases in select categories.

Earning rates:

  • Up to 17 points per $1 on Marriott purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases.

Other benefits:

  • 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year.

  • Automatic Silver Elite status.

  • Path to Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 on the card annually.

  • Free night award every year at renewal (valued at up to 35,000 Bonvoy points).

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earning rates:

  • 6 points per $1 on Marriott purchases.

  • 3 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and on airfare.

  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases.

Other benefits:

  • $300 Marriott statement credit annually.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year.

  • Automatic Gold Elite status.

  • Path to Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 on the card annually.

  • Global Entry / TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit.

  • Free night award every year at renewal (valued at up to 50,000 Bonvoy points).

  • Priority Pass Select membership.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earning rates:

  • 6 points per $1 on Marriott purchases.

  • 4 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping and U.S. mobile phone services.

  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases.

Other benefits:

  • 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year.

  • Automatic Silver Elite status.

  • Free night award every year at renewal (valued at up to 35,000 Bonvoy points).

  • An additional free night award after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

IHG credit cards

Even though your options are more limited with IHG, the credit card's welcome bonus still turns heads.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Earning rates:

  • 10 points per $1 on IHG purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.

  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Other benefits:

  • Fourth reward night free for cardholders.

  • Automatic Platinum Elite status.

  • A free anniversary night every year at renewal (valued at up to 40,000 points).

  • 10,000 IHG Rewards points after you spend $20,000 on the card each anniversary year.

  • Global Entry / TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

  • Save 20% on point purchases.

Hotel loyalty programs

Winner for ease of points: Marriott (for now)

Marriott Bonvoy

In the Marriott Bonvoy program, you earn 10 points per $1 spent on eligible hotel charges at most properties, with the exception of Element, Residence Inn TownePlace Suites, and Homes & Villas by Marriott International, where you earn 5 points per $1.

If you’re an elite member, you’ll earn a bonus on that eligible spend based on your status tier.

Elite status level

Nights needed to earn

Earnings bonus

Silver Elite

10 nights.

10% points bonus.

Gold Elite

25 nights.

25% points bonus.

Platinum Elite

50 nights.

50% points bonus.

Titanium Elite

75 nights.

75% points bonus.

Ambassador Elite

100 nights + $20,000 of annual spending with Marriott.

75% points bonus.

Each Marriott Bonvoy point is worth 0.7 cent, according to NerdWallet’s valuations.

The program divides its properties into eight categories, each of which is assigned a points value based on season: off-peak, standard and peak. When it comes time to redeem your Marriott points, simply follow the table below.

Hotel category

Off-peak

Standard

Peak

Category 1

5,000.

7,500.

10,000.

Category 2

10,000.

12,500.

15,000.

Category 3

15,000.

17,500.

20,000.

Category 4

20,000.

25,000.

30,000.

Category 5

30,000.

35,000.

40,000.

Category 6

40,000.

50,000.

60,000.

Category 7

50,000.

60,000.

70,000.

Category 8

70,000.

85,000.

100,000.

Keep in mind that the program will do away with its award chart sometime in March 2022, and the award nights will then be priced out dynamically. That means the number of points needed for an award night will vary based on season and demand, which is why Marriott Bonvoy is only favored in this category until the switch happens.

IHG Rewards

Like Marriott, you’ll earn 10x points on eligible stay charges with most IHG brands, except for two: Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. You’ll earn 5x IHG Rewards points there.

Elite members will earn bonuses as follows:

Elite status level

Nights needed to earn

Earnings bonus

Gold Elite

10 nights.

10% points bonus.

Platinum Elite

40 nights.

50% points bonus.

Spire Elite

75 nights.

100% points bonus.

Kimpton Inner Circle

By invitation only.

100% points bonus.

IHG Rewards points are worth about 0.8 cent, as per NerdWallet’s valuation.

Unlike Marriott, the redemption rates for award nights aren’t fixed. Instead, rates fluctuate with demand, like cash rates would for most desired dates, and you will see different rates on different dates. You have to check manually how many points a reward night requires at any given property on any given night.

For this reason, IHG is a less customer-friendly program. However, as mentioned above, Marriott is heading in the direction of dynamic pricing as well, and only time will tell how bad redemptions may become at some of Marriott's most popular properties.

If you’re choosing between Marriott vs. IHG …

In the competition of Marriott Bonvoy versus IHG Rewards based on these criteria, there’s a clear winner: Marriott. You have more brands and properties to choose from, more credit cards to earn points with and a more transparent rewards program.

Having said that, you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to earn status in two programs and diversify your rewards accrual methods for future travel opportunities.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.