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Points of View: What credit card should you use for IHG stays?

Oct. 24, 2022
7 min read
InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea - canal bungalows
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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) refreshed its credit card lineup in March of 2022. That included a revamp of its two existing cards and the addition of a small-business credit card. That brings us to three credit cards that earn points in the IHG One Rewards program.

And while these cards do offer some level of status, you might pause before automatically pulling out a credit card that bears the logo of the hotel where you're staying. Is that really the best card to pay with, or should you use something else to maximize your earnings?

Here's a look at some popular credit cards you might use to pay for your next stay at IHG hotels and resorts, comparing what these cards can offer you in terms of return on spending and perks during your stay.

Comparing credit cards for an IHG stay

Aside from using an IHG cobranded credit card, you could also pay using an all-around travel rewards card that earns transferable points on travel purchases, including your next hotel stay. Here are some cards you might pay with and what you could get when using these cards:

Card nameEarning rate at IHG propertiesValue of the rewards earned*IHG-related benefits from the cardAnnual fee
IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card10 points per dollar.5 cents.Automatic Platinum Elite status, offering perks like 60% bonus points on paid stays, room upgrades at check-in (possibly to suites), early check-in and late checkout privileges, and a welcome amenity of points or a snack.

Fourth night free on stays using points.

$99.
IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card5 points per dollar.2.5 cents.Automatic Silver Elite status, offering 20% bonus points on paid stays and access to the priority check-in line.

Fourth night free on stays using points.

$0.
IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card10 points per dollar.5 cents.Automatic Platinum Elite status, offering perks like 60% bonus points on paid stays, room upgrades at check-in (possibly to suites), early check-in and late checkout privileges, and a welcome amenity of points or a snack.

Fourth night free on stays using points.

$99.
American Express® Green Card3 points per dollar.6 cents.None.$150 (see rates and fees).
Chase Sapphire Reserve3 points per dollar (or 10 points per dollar if booked via the Chase travel portal).6 cents (or 20 cents).None.$550.
Citi Premier® Card3 points per dollar.5.4 cents.None.$95.

* Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Current welcome offers on IHG credit cards

Which card should you use?

Consider two things when deciding which credit card to use for your next stay at an IHG One Rewards-affiliated property: the benefits you can get and the value of the points you can earn.

TPG values IHG points at half a cent each. Thus, while you can earn 10 points per dollar when paying with the IHG Premier card or IHG Premier Business card, those 10 points are actually worth just 5 cents. That's less value than you'd get with 3 points per dollar on the Amex Green Card, since Amex points are worth 2 cents each — a total of 6 cents in value for each dollar spent.

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Now, cards like the Amex Green or Chase Sapphire Reserve don't (by themselves) unlock on-property benefits like room upgrades. Luckily, your IHG elite perks aren't tied to the credit card you pay with — even if the credit card is the sole reason you hold status.

That means it might be worthwhile to hold an IHG cobranded credit card simply to qualify for elite status and receive the associated benefits. Then, you can pay with a different credit card to earn more valuable points. And if you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points you earn (Ultimate Rewards) can be transferred freely and immediately to IHG if you need to top off your balance for an upcoming redemption — though there are many other (better) ways to make the most of those points.

InterContinental Washington DC — The Wharf. BRIAN BIROS/THE POINTS GUY

That said, it's worth noting that using a card like the Sapphire Reserve to pay for an IHG stay through the Chase Travel portal may not be the best option. That's because these reservations are treated as third-party bookings and thus aren't eligible to earn IHG points. You'll also miss out on utilizing any elite status perks during your stay, so be sure to factor that in when deciding how to book (and pay).

Related: Why you don't earn hotel points when booking through an OTA

Bottom line

With IHG's credit cards and stays at IHG hotels, deciding which credit card to use can involve tradeoffs. If you pay with IHG's own credit cards, the points you earn aren't that valuable — even though you'll get a lot of them. In order to get maximum value, your best bet might be holding an IHG credit card for status benefits but using a different credit card to pay at the front desk.

Editor’s note: “Points of View” is a series evaluating decisions on which credit card to use. If you’re facing a dilemma about which card is best for an upcoming payment, email us at tips@thepointsguy.com.

Also in this series:

For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.

Featured image by DARREN MURPH/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees