IHG Traveler Card Review: Plentiful Points and No Annual Fee

Earn up to 15 points per dollar spent at Holiday Inn, InterContinental and other IHG properties, plus double points on gas, groceries and restaurant dining. You get a substantial sign-up bonus, too.

Robin Saks FrankelOctober 7, 2020

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.

Our Take

3.2

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Although this card's points don't have an especially high individual value, you get a lot of them when you book a stay. If you refuse to pay a fee for a hotel card, it's worth a look.

IHG&® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • None

Alternate Pick: Flexible Travel Rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Flexible Earnings, 25% More Value for Travel

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you use your earnings for an adventure of your choosing—including airfare, cruises and rental cars, and more at a 25% increase in value. Cash-back, merchandise or gift cards are also options. It has an annual fee of $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card presents you with the same value trade-off as some other hotel chains' $0-annual-fee credit cards: It won't cost you anything to carry it, but you won't get an automatic free night's stay every year.

Even so, the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card gives you a nice pile of points for each dollar you spend at IHG's hotel brands — including Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, EVEN and Indigo — as well as a bump toward elite status and a good-size sign-up bonus. No, it's not as generous as its $89-a-year cousin, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. But did we mention there's no annual fee?

If your travel style takes you (or could take you) to IHG on the regular, but not so often that you'd be willing to pay an annual fee, it's an option worth a look. But if you prefer far-flung destinations or small-town USA, or you just want to use credit card rewards for something besides hotel stays, a card with wider-ranging redemption options could be a better companion.

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card: Basics

Card type: Hotel.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards:

  • 15 total points per dollar spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Those 15 points come from two sources:

    • 5 points per dollar from using the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

    • 10 points per dollar from your IHG Rewards Club membership. If you're not already a member of the program, you'll be automatically enrolled when you're approved for the card. Exceptions: When you stay at Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites, you'll earn only 5 points per dollar from the loyalty program.

  • 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.

  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Points will expire if you go 12 months without activity in your IHG rewards account. (Using the card counts as activity.)

NerdWallet values IHG points at 0.9 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.9 cent or more in value from your IHG points.

Perks: 

  • Get the fourth reward night free when you redeem points for a stay of four nights or more. Terms apply.

  • Earn Gold Elite status when you spend at least $10,000 on your card in a calendar year. Once earned, this status is good through the end of the current year and the next full calendar year. Gold Elite status comes with a $30 in-room spa credit at participating locations, a 10% bonus on base points earned through your IHG Rewards Club membership (not points earned with the card), and extended checkout and priority check-in when available.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Traveler vs. Premier

If you're committed to IHG, consider the extra value you'd get from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. The free night every year can more than make up for the annual fee all by itself, you'll rack up more points per dollar on hotel stays, and you'll enjoy the additional perks of Platinum Elite status automatically. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two cards:

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

$0 intro for the first year, then $89

Sign-up bonus

Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate

15 points total per $1 spent at IHG (5 from card, 10 from loyalty program). • 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

25 points total per $1 spent at IHG (10 from card, 10 from loyalty program, 5 from automatic elite status). • 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Other perks

Fourth night free when redeeming rewards for four or more nights.

Earn Gold Elite status when you spend $10,000 or more on your card in a calendar year. Gold Elite benefits include: • 10% bonus on base points earned through your IHG Rewards Club membership. • $30 in-room spa credit at participating locations. • Extended checkout and priority check-in when available.

Free anniversary night each year (up to 40,000 point value).

Fourth night free when redeeming rewards for four or more nights.

Automatic Platinum Elite status. Benefits include: • 50% bonus on base points earned through your IHG Rewards Club membership. • Guaranteed reservations at least 72 hours in advance and room upgrades when available. • $30 in-room spa credit at participating locations. • Extended checkout and priority check-in when available.

10,000 bonus points each account anniversary year during which you spend at least $20,000 and then make at least one additional purchase.

Foreign transaction fees

None.

None.

Highlights of the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

Solid sign-up bonus: The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card comes with a pretty generous welcome offer for a $0-a-year card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Rewards nights range from as low as 10,000 points up to 70,000 points, so you could turn your bonus into a multiday stay or combine it with cash for a night at one of the fancier hotels in the portfolio.

Great rewards rate: Use your IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card to book an eligible IHG hotel room and you'll earn 5 points per $1 spent. On top of that, you get 10 points per dollar spent for being an IHG Rewards Club member. (If you aren't already a member, you'll automatically be signed up when you're approved for the card). It's worth noting that stays at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites will net you only 5 extra points per dollar, rather than 10.

A boost toward elite status. Putting $10,000 a year on the card earns you Gold Elite status through the end of the next calendar year. Ordinarily, to reach this status, you have to stay 10 nights at IHG or earn 10,000 points from hotel stays in a year. Gold Elite comes with an array of benefits, described above.

Free night potential: Redeem points for a stay of four or more nights at the same property, and you'll get the fourth night free.

Drawbacks to consider

Lower point value: A low individual point value isn't necessarily bad if you earn enough points per dollar to make up for their lesser value. But it's still something to keep in mind when comparing hotel loyalty programs. This card can earn you a pile of points, but they may not go as far as the points from other hotel rewards programs or travel rewards cards.

Limited use of your rewards. If you're considering a particular hotel card, take into account how much you'll benefit from the loyalty program. If you don't see yourself spending most of your travel nights at an IHG property, then this isn't the card for you. Although it's possible to transfer points to one of IHG's airline partners, you won't get great value going this route, nor with options such as merchandise, gift cards or donations.

Possible alternatives

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you'd appreciate greater flexibility, consider a general-purpose travel rewards card whose points aren't locked into a particular loyalty program. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide, and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. It also comes with a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® for travel through Chase at a 25% increase in value, making points worth 1.25 cents each, which is twice as much as an average IHG point. The annual fee is $95.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

The IHG portfolio includes more than 5,600 hotels and resorts, but if you want even greater variety for both earning and redeeming hotel rewards, consider the Marriott network of over 7,000 properties. Marriott offers multiple cards, but if you're looking to avoid an annual fee, check out the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card. It pays 3 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases (including airfare, taxis and trains) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It, too, comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. NerdWallet estimates the value of Bonvoy points at 0.9 cent apiece.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

If tracking points and values sounds like more work than it's worth, a no-fuss option like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card could be your best bet. You'll earn 2 miles per dollar spent, and you can use your miles to pay for any travel expense — any flight, any hotel, etc. It does have an annual fee, but it comes with an impressive sign-up incentive that can be enough to cover the cost of ownership for five years. Plus, you'll also get up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years, something you won't find on the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

Should I get the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card?

If you get your shut-eye at hotels multiple times a year and an IHG property is your preferred place to do it, this card is a great way to rack up the rewards without any carrying costs. But if you can stomach the annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $89, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers a high enough rewards rate and value-added extras to offset the cost of ownership.

However, if your travel is literally all over the map, pick a more flexible rewards card that lets you choose how to use those earnings.

Comments

NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.

Write a review

Read Our Posting Guidelines
user avatar
Overall Rating:
Select your rating
undefined reviews

Some of the reviews on the NerdWallet site were purchased through a third party provider. Users who post a review directly on the NerdWallet site will not be compensated in any way. Please see our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines for more information.