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

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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:

Marriott brands
  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:

IHG brands
  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 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
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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
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Welcome bonus: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.

Earning rates:

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

  • 3 points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations and dining.

  • 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
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Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. 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 (Effective Sept. 22, 2022, the $300 Marriott credit will be replaced with a new benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year — up to $25 per month — for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide).

  • 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
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Welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22. 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 Premier Credit Card
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Welcome bonus: Earn 140,000 Bonus Points + 1 Free Night after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from 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 One Rewards points and $100 statement credit 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.

Best for hotel loyalty programs

Winner for ease of points: IHG

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.

As of April 2022, the brand uses dynamic pricing for its award nights rather than its former semi-fixed award chart. That means the number of points needed for an award night will vary based on season and demand.

IHG One 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 One Rewards points there.

Elite members will earn bonuses as follows:

Elite status level

How to earn.

Earnings bonus

Club Member.

Free to join.

N/A.

Silver Elite.

Stay 10 qualified nights.

20% points bonus.

Gold Elite.

Stay 20 qualified nights or earn 40,000 qualified points.

40% points bonus.

Platinum Elite.

Stay 40 qualified nights or earn 60,000 qualified points.

60% points bonus.

Diamond Elite.

Stay 70 qualified nights or earn 120,000 qualified points.

100% points bonus.

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

IHG 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.

InterContinental Hong Kong’s lounge. (Image courtesy of IHG)

Best for hotel lounges

Winner for gaining access: IHG

IHG One Rewards

Both brands offer lounges at many of their properties which not just anyone can access. While they can vary in quality, hours and availability, they typically offer free food (including buffet breakfast at some lounges), a quiet escape (which can help if you need to get some work done during your vacation and don't want to take a Zoom from your room) and concierge service. Some also offer complimentary alcohol beverages, which can be a big money-saver.

You can get into them by booking  top-tier rooms, typically marked as being located on the Club level. But you can also get into them by holding elite status. IHG makes it easier.

Marriott offers access to its M Club lounges to anyone with Platinum or higher Marriott Bonvoy elite status, which can be earned by staying 50 nights in a year.

To get into IHG Executive Club lounges, you'll need to first stay 40 nights. That unlocks a new tier of milestone rewards, upon which you can select two rewards of your choice — and one of them is annual lounge membership. This lounge membership is valid for the year in which you earn it and the entire following year. If you time your milestone reward correctly and earn it in January, you could have close to two years worth of lounge membership.

If you’re choosing between Marriott vs. IHG …

In the competition of Marriott Bonvoy versus IHG One 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:

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