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IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card: A Good Choice for Your Next Stay?

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IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card Editor's Rating: 3.6 / 5

The hotel credit card market is an undoubtedly crowded space. Nearly every major chain has a co-branded card, making it hard to sort through all the options.

For example, the IHG portfolio includes well-known brands, such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental. If you frequently stay at these properties, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is one you might be considering. But is it really your best hotel credit card option, given other choices out there today?

At a glance
Annual fees The $0 for the first year, then $49
Foreign transaction fee None
Rewards program IHG Rewards Club points
Signup bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
Verdict: If you frequently visit at IHG properties and plan to use this card to pay for your stays, go for it.
Good for:
  • Someone who frequently stays at IHG properties
  • Someone who likes the perks that come with achieving status in a frequent traveler loyalty program
  • Someone who doesn’t fly much
Bad for:
  • Someone who wants a travel credit card with flexible redemption options
  • Someone looking for a high rewards rate on everyday spending
  • Someone who needs a chip-enabled card for overseas travel

In this article:

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card: The basics
Where the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card shines
What automatic platinum elite status really means
Where the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card falls short
The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card versus the competition
Is the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card right for you?

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card: The basics

In terms of basic features, IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card has a lot going on. With it, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent at IHG properties (on top of your base earning for being an IHG Club member), 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

This card also offers some other traveler-friendly fringe perks, like automatic platinum elite status in the IHG program, one free night per year at a hotel of your choice and no foreign transaction fees.

And don’t forget that the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card comes with a sizable signup bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Where the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card shines

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card definitely has some sweet spots. For example:

Big earning power when used at select hotels – Every time you use the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card at a Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental or Hotel Indigo and pay with your card, you’ll effectively be earning 15 points per dollar spent. That’s 10 points per dollar for being a member of the IHG Club program and 5 points per dollar with the credit card.

Automatic platinum elite status – With the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card you’ll automatically have platinum elite status in the IHG Club program, as long as your card account is active and in good standing. That’s the highest level of status in the loyalty program, and a lot of great benefits come with it (see below for details).

No foreign transaction fees – The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a fine choice for international use because it charges no foreign transaction fees. You can feel free to swipe it anywhere in the world, without incurring that 3% fee.

Lots of opportunities to redeem points – IHG has one of the most robust portfolios of hotels among the major chains, with over 5,200 properties worldwide. This means that no matter where you go, you’re likely to find a hotel where you can use your points.

And speaking of redeeming, you’ll also get 10% of your redeemed points back. This feature makes it easy to keep rewards in the bank.

Free night every year – Every year, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card will score you a free night at an IHG hotel. Depending on the property, this could easily outweigh the cost of the card’s annual fee.

What automatic platinum elite status means

On the surface, getting automatic platinum elite status in the IHG program with your IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card membership might not seem like that big of a deal. It nets obvious perks, but free Internet, priority check-in and complimentary room upgrades don’t really stand out. Most other hotel credit cards offer the same suite of benefits.

However, there is one extra that comes along with platinum elite status that’s worth singing about: You’ll get a 50% bonus on your base points earnings.

The best way to explain how this will impact your ability to rack up points is with an example. Let’s say you use your IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card to book a $200 room for the night at Holiday Inn. On that spend, you’d receive:

5 points per dollar spent for using the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card = 1,000 points

10 base points per dollar spent for being an IHG Rewards Club member = 2,000 points

50% bonus on base points earning = 1,000 points

= 4,000 total points earned

That’s a very impressive earn rate on just one night’s stay, especially when you consider that you can start redeeming with as few as 10,000 points. Consequently, automatic platinum elite status can be considered one of this card’s most valuable assets.

Where the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card falls short

Although the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card certainly offers value when you’re using it at an IHG hotel, there are some drawbacks to consider. These include:

Low rewards rate on everyday purchases – The Nerds value each IHG point at a mere 0.7 cents apiece, which is much lower than the industry standard of 1 cent per point. This means that your overall rewards rate on IHG hotel spending is at least 6%, but you won’t be doing very well on other purchases. As a result, this card probably isn’t a good choice for your day-to-day spending.

Nerd note: Our valuation of IHG Rewards Club points was calculated based on a random sampling of IHG hotels from around the United States in February 2015. The value you’re able to get from each point depends heavily on the property you choose, the city you’re staying in, the time of year and other factors. Be sure to keep this in mind as you weigh the pros and cons of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card for yourself.

Charges an annual fee – Usually, cards with a low rewards rate don’t carry an annual fee. But the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is an exception. It has a $0 for the first year, then $49. This is hardly astronomical, and might even end up being totally offset by your annual free night at an IHG property. But it’s still something to consider, especially when competitors offer points that are much more valuable.

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card versus the competition

Looking at the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card on its own will only go so far. It’s helpful to see how this card stacks up to its competition, so let’s take a look:

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card versus the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a popular hotel credit card, so it’s smart to see how the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card stands up against such a heavyweight. With the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, you’ll earn 4-5 Starpoints (depending on your status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program) per dollar spent at Starwood properties and 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent elsewhere.

That might seem piddly compared to what you’re getting with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, but keep in mind that each Starpoint is worth 2.3 cents apiece when redeemed for hotel stays. Consequently, you’re seeing a rewards rate of at least 9.2% with this card for your spending at Starwood properties, which blows the earn rate of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card out of the water. This great value may be worth the higher price; the annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Also, be aware that Starpoints can be used for a variety of different travel redemptions, including transfers to more than 30 frequent flyer programs. Racking up points with your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express means you’ll have a lot more travel options later on than you do with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

However, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t come with automatic status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. If you really like the perks that come with status, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card has a slight edge.

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card versus the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

It’s worthwhile to compare its co-branded card with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. With the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, 2 points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, car rental agencies and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

The Nerds value Marriott points at 0.9 cents each, which is much higher than what you’ll typically get with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, but still lower than the industry standard. However, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card will allow you to earn more points in traveler-friendly categories, which is something to consider.

In terms of status, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card grants automatic silver elite status in the Marriott Rewards program. This translates to a 20% bonus on your base points earnings (10 points per dollar spent at most Marriott properties). Other perks of being a silver elite member are decent, but this isn’t the highest level of status in the Marriott Rewards program. If you like the idea of automatically starting at the top, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is the clear winner.

But international travelers will likely get more mileage out of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card because it charges no foreign transaction fees. If you’re frequently abroad, this card is a better choice than the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. Just be aware that the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card charges a $85 annual fee, which is somewhat higher than that of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t technically a hotel credit card, but it’s still a good card to compare with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. With it, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on dining out and travel, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Generally, points are worth 1 cent apiece. But if you use them to book travel (including hotel stays) directly through Chase, the value of each jumps by 25%.

Also, remember that you can transfer your points directly to select frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. In addition to a few major airlines, transfer partners include Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and IHG Rewards Club.

Although you won’t rack up as many points on IHG spending with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card compared with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, the Nerds think that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better pick for most folks. Between the flexibility to redeem with any of the four hotel loyalty programs listed above and the higher value per point makes it hard to make a case for the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card – especially since the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to use your points with IHG.

What’s more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes chip-enabled and charges no foreign transaction fees. Again, this makes it a more desirable option for international travelers than the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, we think that most globetrotters will get enough value out of the card to make this cost worthwhile.

›› MORE: NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Cards

Is the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card right for you?

If you frequently stay at IHG properties, keeping the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card might make sense. Because it offers a free hotel night every year and a number of perks that come with platinum elite status, it’s not a bad card.

However, because the value of an IHG Club point is so low, you should only use this card to pay for your IHG stays. For other spending, one of the cards discussed above – or even a cash-back card that earns a high rewards rate – is a better choice.

Image via iStock.