Now offering a 100,000-point bonus: IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card review

Oct 8, 2020

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IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card overview

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is IHG’s no-annual-fee cobranded card option. You can earn an elevated 100,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months, currently. And, you’ll earn 5x points at IHG hotels and resorts as well as 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants with this card. But, although the IHG Traveler Card offers some useful IHG-related perks, it may not be the best choice for you.  Card Rating*: ⭐⭐1/2

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with a new sign-up bonus offer.

IHG offers two cobranded Chase cards to help customers rack up more points and maximize their stays. One of these cards is the no-annual-fee IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. The IHG Traveler Card certainly has more to offer to IHG loyalists than most no-annual-fee hotel cards, but it may not be your best choice.

In particular, if you’re going to use one of your Chase 5/24 slots on an IHG Rewards Club credit card, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card will usually be a better option. However, if you already have the IHG Premier Card and want to earn another sign-up bonus, or you refuse to pay any annual fees, you might want to snag the IHG Traveler Card while it has an elevated 100,000-point bonus. So, let’s take a closer look at the IHG Traveler Card so you can decide whether it is right for you.

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In This Post

Who is this card for?

IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is for travelers who want a way to earn IHG points on their purchases without incurring an annual fee. Specifically, this card is best if you stay with IHG frequently and will use the card’s fourth reward night benefit.

But, if you want automatic elite status with IHG, you may be better off with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. The IHG Premier Card comes with Platinum elite status and a slew of other perks. Plus, the IHG Premier Card’s anniversary night can easily justify the card’s $89 annual fee (which is waived the first year).

Like most Chase credit cards, the IHG Traveler Card is restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule. So, Chase will reject your application if you’ve got five or more new cards across all issuers in the last two years. Plus, if you get this card, it will take up one of your 5/24 slots. So, if you have other Chase cards you want to add to your wallet, you may not want to apply for the IHG Traveler Card now.

Related: Earn extra points at your favorite restaurants with IHG Rewards Club Dining

Sign-up bonus: Estimated $500 value

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
You can get at least two nights at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa from the card’s 100,000-point sign-up bonus. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Currently, the IHG Traveler Card offers a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. But, IHG points are some of the least valuable rewards according to TPG’s monthly valuations at just 0.5 cents per point. So, the sign-up bonus is worth about $500.

You may be eligible for the IHG Traveler Card (and its sign-up bonus) if you satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • Don’t currently have an IHG Traveler Card
  • Haven’t earned a sign-up bonus on the IHG Traveler Card in the last 24 months
  • Are under Chase’s 5/24 rule

Related: Maximizing IHG Rewards Club for family travel

Main benefits and perks

As is the case with even the best no-annual-fee cards, the IHG Traveler Card doesn’t offer a ton of luxury perks. Here’s a quick overview of the card’s main benefits and perks.

Fourth reward night benefit

Hotel Indigo Birmingham front desk
I used the fourth reward night perk when I stayed at the Hotel Indigo Birmingham for four nights. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Each time you redeem points for a stay of four or more nights, every fourth night will cost zero points. Once you’re a cardholder, this discount will be automatically applied when you redeem IHG points for stays of four nights or more.

Related: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

Save 20% on point purchases

You’ll get a 20% bonus whenever you buy IHG points with your card. But you can’t combine this discount with any other promotion. And, IHG sometimes offers a much better 100% bonus when you purchase points. So, although I often buy IHG points when the 100% bonus drops the purchase price to 0.5 cents per point, I don’t find the 20% discount appealing.

Related: When does it make sense to buy points and miles?

Path to earn Gold elite status

You can buy your way to Gold elite status when you spend $10,000 on your card each calendar year. Gold status comes with the following perks:

  • 10% earning bonus on hotel stays (meaning you’ll earn 16x on IHG stays when you book directly with IHG and use your IHG Traveler Card to pay)
  • Late checkout in some regions, subject to availability
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenity on each stay, usually consisting of welcome points or a snack

TPG’s Nick Even only values IHG Gold elite status at $60 a year, though. So, it’s certainly not worth going out of your way to spend $10,000 each year with this card.

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards Club should improve its loyalty program

No foreign transaction fees

Many credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees. But, there are fewer no-annual-fee cards without foreign transaction fees. So, especially if you travel abroad frequently, it’s worth having at least one credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Related: Here’s why you still earn points on purchases made in a foreign currency

How to earn points

Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
Earn 5x points on purchases at IHG hotels and resorts, including the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

When you use your IHG Traveler Card to make purchases, you’ll earn:

  • 5x points at IHG hotels and resorts (2.5% return based on TPG’s valuations)
  • 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (1% return)
  • 1x points on everything else (0.5% return)

These returns aren’t great even for a no-annual-fee card.

The 2.5% return at IHG hotels and resorts isn’t bad. But, you can do much better on a wider variety of purchases with several sub-$100 annual fee cards. For example, the $95 annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred Card provides 2x points for a 4% return on all travel purchases. And, the $95 annual fee Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card provides 2x miles for a 2.8% return on almost all purchases.

The IHG Traveler Card also isn’t a good choice for most other purchases. After all, it only provides a 1% return at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and a 0.5% return on other purchases. But, you can earn 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay — with the no-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card.

Related: 13 ways to stock up on IHG Rewards Club points

How to redeem points

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
I redeemed points to stay at my favorite InterContinental so far, the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

There are many options for redeeming IHG Rewards Club points. Not surprisingly, you’ll get the best value from your points when you redeem for IHG hotel stays.

TPG values IHG points at just 0.5 cents each. However, it’s possible to maximize redemptions with the IHG Rewards Club program and get much more value from your points. Here are a few ways you can do so.

IHG introduced dynamic award pricing in early 2020. However, the introduction of dynamic pricing has surprisingly resulted in some good deals. It isn’t easy to compare award night pricing before dynamic pricing with current pricing since IHG doesn’t use an award chart. But I’ve found lower award prices at some of my favorite IHG properties since IHG switched to dynamic pricing.

However, one downside to dynamic pricing is that you should more carefully consider when to use your points versus cash for a stay. I tend to use points when if I can get better than 0.5 cents per point of value. And, I almost always use points when I book a stay of four nights or longer to utilize the IHG Traveler Card’s fourth reward night benefit. But, I tend to use cash when IHG is offering a lucrative hotel promotion.

And, IHG Rewards Club points can go a long way in some regions. Here are some of my favorite IHG properties in the U.S. bookable for 10,000 points. And, if you’re ready to travel internationally, here are some of the best international IHG properties bookable for 10,000 points.

You can also use a combination of Points + Cash to book stays. For a given room, you’ll typically see a chart with discounts from the full nightly award rate in increments of 5,000 points.

A sample Points + Cash booking at the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University.(Image courtsey of IHG)
A sample Points + Cash booking at the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University. (Image courtesy of IHG)

But, on a Points + Cash booking, you’re essentially using cash to buy the added points needed to complete the redemption. So, if you cancel your room, your refund will be given solely in points. I rarely book Points + Cash rates since it’s usually a better value to use just points. But, it’s worth checking to see whether the math works out on each booking.

Related: How to earn and redeem points with IHG Rewards Club partners

IHG Traveler vs IHG Premier: Which is better?

Kimtpon Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
The Kimpton Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman is a popular aspirational IHG redemption that is relatively close to the U.S. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is Chase’s other cobranded IHG Rewards Club card. When you use the IHG Premier Card to make purchases, you’ll earn:

  • 10x points at IHG hotels and resorts (5% return based on TPG’s valuations)
  • 2x points on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (1% return)
  • 1x points on all other purchases (0.5% return)

As you can see, the only difference in earning rates between the IHG Traveler Card and the IHG Premier Card is at IHG hotels and resorts. However, the IHG Premier Card’s 5% return at IHG hotels and resorts still isn’t enough to beat the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s 6% return on all travel purchases. Granted, the Sapphire Reserve does has a much higher annual fee, at $550.

The IHG Premier Card comes with an $89 annual fee that’s waived the first year. But, with the IHG Premier Card you’ll get automatic Platinum elite status, an anniversary night every year and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years. Plus, you’ll get the same fourth reward night benefit as the IHG Traveler Card. And, the IHG Premier Card is currently offering an elevated sign-up bonus of 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

I believe the IHG Premier is worth the $89 annual fee that’ll be charged annually after your first year. In particular, I’ve found that the card’s automatic IHG Platinum elite status provides many useful perks and occasionally facilitates a nice upgrade. And, as long as you use the anniversary night that valid for a night costing 40,000 points or less, you should easily be able to recoup the annual fee. So, it’s worth getting the IHG Premier Card instead of the IHG Traveler Card for most travelers.

Related: Must-have for IHG loyalists: A review of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Bottom line

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card isn’t a bad option. For no annual fee, you’ll get a 2.5% return at IHG hotels and resorts and a few IHG-related perks. But, even if you don’t stay with IHG frequently, you’ll likely do better with the IHG Premier Card due to the anniversary night each year.

Of course, adding a new card to your wallet may take up a valuable Chase 5/24 slot. If you don’t have plans to add more than five cards to your wallet within 24 months, you have nothing to worry about. But, if you’re adding cards to your wallet more quickly, you should have a plan for which cards you want.

In general, you’ll want to apply for cards when they offer an elevated sign-up bonus, which is currently the case for the IHG Traveler Card and the IHG Premier Card. So, if either of these cards is on your list, now is an excellent time to apply.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy.

IHG®  Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Fourth Reward Night Free
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
Regular APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.