Now offering a 100,000-point bonus: IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card review
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
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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Who is this card for?
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.
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.
Sign-up bonus: Estimated $500 value
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
How to earn points
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.
How to redeem points
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.
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.
IHG Traveler vs IHG Premier: Which is better?
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 (based on TPG valuations). Granted, the Sapphire Reserve does has a much higher annual fee, at $550.
The IHG Premier Card comes with an $89 annual fee 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 a sign-up bonus of 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
I believe the IHG Premier is worth the $89 annual fee that’ll be charged annually. 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.
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.
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