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With over 5,200 properties worldwide, IHG has hotels and resorts to fit your budget no matter where your travels take you. IHG credit cards are perfect for family vacations, business travelers or luxury travel to exotic locales. But which IHG card is best?

Whether you are a frequent IHG customer or a casual traveler,  IHG credit cards offer a way to earn points to use towards free hotel accommodations.

Both the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card allow individuals to earn rewards towards free IHG stays, along with a host of other benefits.

Which IHG credit card is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at each card to find out.

IHG Rewards Premier Card Versus IHG Rewards Traveler Card?

There are many similarities between the Premier Credit Card and the Traveler Credit Card. But that doesn’t mean they are the same card.

There are distinct differences that separate these IHG credit cards from each other. Here are ways that these cards differ from each other.

Traveler Card Premier Card

Annual Fee

$0

$99

Sign-Up Bonus

120,000 points†

175,000 Points†

IHG Hotels Rewards

17X per dollar

26X per dollar

Gas Stations and Restaurants

3X per dollar

5X per dollar

Monthly Bills

3X per dollar

Travel

5X per dollar

Other Spending

2X per dollar

3X per dollar

Platinum Elite Status

Yes

Silver Elite Status

Yes

Anniversary Night

Yes††

Global Entry/NEXUS/TSA Pre✓

Yes*

Foreign Transaction Fees

No

No

† Terms and conditions apply. †† Exclusions apply.* Terms apply.

IHG Card Sign-Up Bonuses

The IHG Rewards Traveler Card offers new cardholders 120,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

One night’s stay at the most expensive IHG properties in the world costs 70,000 bonus points, but most accommodations fall under that amount.

In comparison, the IHG Rewards Premier Card comes with 175,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The IHG Rewards Premier Card is a better choice based on the sign-up bonus alone.

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 Read the review
  • APR20.24% – 27.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$99
  • 175,000 175,000IHG Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 175,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening Dollar Equivalent: $875 (175,000 IHG Rewards Points * 0.005 base)

With an impressive welcome offer and an unbeatable rewards rate, the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card comes with a mile-long list of benefits. It even comes with automatic Platinum elite status, which is almost unheard of for a card with a $99 annual fee.

Overview

Frequent customers of IHG hotels and other people who enjoy earning rewards nights for hotel stays and premium hotel status should consider picking up this card.

Pros

  • Generous rewards rate on IHG Hotels and Resorts purchases
  • Automatic IHG Rewards Platinum elite status which gets you perks like upgrades
  • Free reward night every account anniversary, with the potential to be worth hundreds of dollars

Cons

  • Has an annual fee
  • Only makes sense if you plan to stay at IHG properties

IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4/5 Read the review
  • APR20.24% – 27.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • 120,000 120,000IHG Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 120,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening Dollar Equivalent: $600 (120,000 IHG Rewards Points * 0.005 base)

Whether you’re a family looking for some free hotel nights while making your annual road trip or you’re a loyal customer of the IHG hotel brand, the IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card — which has no annual fee, by the way — offers you a chance to earn some decent rewards.

Overview

Whether you’re a family looking for some free hotel nights while making your annual road trip or you’re a loyal customer of the IHG hotel brand, the IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card — which has no annual fee, by the way — offers you a chance to earn some decent rewards.

Perks

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Silver Elite Status included with the card

Pros

  • One of the top picks for a no-annual-fee hotel credit card
  • Book three nights with points, get your fourth free
  • Entry-level Silver Elite status, with the chance to upgrade to Gold with $20,000 or more in annual spend

Cons

  • No free night account anniversary reward

Points Earned for IHG Hotel Stays

Another factor to consider is how many points are earned for IHG stays. Rewards rates are the same for each card, with the exception of IHG purchases.

Traveler

The IHG Rewards Traveler Card earns 17X total points at IHG properties worldwide if you’re an IHG Rewards member:

  • 5X points per dollar spent at IHG Hotels & Resorts
  • Up to 10X points for being an IHG Rewards member
  • Up to 2X points for being an IHG Silver Elite member—a perk of the card

That’s impressive earning, considering the next highest rewards rate is 3x points per dollar.

Premier

Now, let’s look at the IHG Rewards Premier Card. It also offers a higher rewards rate for IHG stays, but at 26x bonus points instead:

  • 10X points per dollar spent at IHG Hotels and Resorts
  • Up to 10X points just for being an IHG Rewards member
  • Up To 6X IHG points for being an IHG Platinum Elite member—a perk of the card

It’s easy to see how your bonus points could snowball if you stay at IHG hotels regularly.

Both cards provide excellent earning rates, but the IHG Rewards Premier Card comes with more value in this area for sure.

Benefits and Fees

Silver Elite Status

IHG Reward Traveler cardholders automatically earn Silver Elite status includes:

  • Exclusive access to member rates
  • Extended check-out
  • Free internet
  • Accelerated bonus earnings
  • Points don’t expire

Platinum Elite Status

We mentioned Platinum Elite status earlier. What does this status mean for IHG Rewards members? Perks that come from having Platinum Elite status include:

  • Exclusive access to Reward Night discounts
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Accelerated bonus earnings
  • Welcome amenity at check-in
  • Elite Rollover Nights

Having Platinum Elite status provides considerable value to travelers. Cardholders with the IHG Rewards Premier Card automatically receive Platinum Elite status.

Anniversary Night

Another benefit only found with the IHG Rewards Premier Card is a free reward night every year on your card anniversary. Anniversary nights are good for 12 months and are redeemable at IHG properties with a redemption level of 40,000 points or less.

Global Entry/NEXUS/TSA Pre✓® Credit

For frequent flyers, having Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA Pre✓® status can be extremely valuable. Individuals have to apply for this status and pay an application fee. The IHG Rewards Premier Card comes with a one-time statement credit that covers an application fee once every four years.

Annual Fee

The one area that the IHG Rewards Traveler Card gets the better of the IHG Rewards Premier Card is annual fees. The IHG Rewards Traveler Card doesn’t have an annual fee, while the IHG Rewards Premier Card has a $99 annual fee.

Looking at the benefits listed already, you can see that the value that comes with the Premier Card far outweighs the cost of this annual fee. If you’re not interested in paying an annual fee, though, the Traveler Card also comes with considerable value.

Earning Rewards With IHG Credit Cards

Beyond earning rewards for IHG stays, both cards also earn bonus points in other categories. Both the IHG Rewards Premier Card and the IHG Rewards Traveler Card have similar rewards earning structures:

With the IHG Rewards Traveler Card, earn:

  • 3x points per dollar spent at gas stations, monthly bills and restaurants
  • 2x points per dollar spent on all other purchases

The more premium IHG Rewards Premier Card earns:

  • 5x points per dollar spent on travel, dining or at gas stations.
  • 3x points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Most people will find that bonus points add up quickly with either IHG credit card with the inclusion of these spending categories.

Redeeming IHG Rewards Points

The best use of IHG Rewards points is for free hotel accommodations at IHG properties. That’s not the only way to use your points with IHG, though. Here are other redemptions available:

  • Points & Cash Option for Hotel Nights
  • Gift Cards
  • Airline Miles
  • Merchandise
  • Digital Rewards
  • Charitable Donations

The popular IHG PointBreaks program was a staple of IHG loyalists’ redemptions, with free nights available for purchase for as little as 5,000 bonus points. Unfortunately, this program is no longer available.

IHG Credit Card FAQ

  • Yes, IHG Rewards Premier is a valuable option for both IHG loyalists and people who stay at hotels a couple of times each year. This card offers a free stay every cardholder anniversary, fourth night reward, and complimentary Platinum Elite Status — which offers perks like late checkout and priority check-in. That’s a lot of value for a hotel credit card with a modest annual fee that is easily offset with its sign-up bonus. Even though IHG is a global hotel chain with multiple brands across the U.S., you’ll want to ensure that there are locations in places you visit frequently before you apply.

  • Hotel brands that are part of IHG range from low-cost options to five-star luxury rooms. Brands include Atwell Suites, Avid Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, EVEN Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Hotel Indigo, HuaLuxe, InterContinental, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Regent Hotels & Resorts, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and Voco.

  • Redemption varies depending on hotel location and season, but you can book IHG rewards nights for as little as 10,000 points.

  • One credit card carries an annual fee with extra perks and a larger sign-up bonus, while the no-annual-fee version has fewer benefits and a more modest bonus for new account holders. Frequent travelers who value a premium experience during their hotel stays may find the IHG Rewards Premier meets their needs. Whereas people who are interested in earning hotel rewards, but do not want to commit to an annual fee, may find the IHG Rewards Traveler is a stronger option.

  • Yes, IHG credit cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 Rule. This unofficial but well-known rule works like this: If you’ve opened five or more new credit card accounts in the last 24 months, you’re likely to be denied for any Chase credit card. Take inventory of your current credit cards before applying for either IHG credit card.

  • Yes, you can carry multiple IHG credit cards. However, when opening co-branded Chase cards, you are subject to the issuer’s unofficial 5/24 rule that automatically denies approvals for Chase products once you’ve opened five lines of credit within the past 24 months.

  • Yes, you can have both the IHG Rewards Premier Card and the IHG Rewards Traveler Card. There’s no guarantee that you will qualify for both cards. Also, because they have the same spending categories and both offer many of the same rewards, it doesn’t make sense to have both cards unless you want to earn both sign-up bonuses.

  • The IHG Rewards Premier Card is the better credit card choice. Whether you’re an avid traveler or only stay at IHG hotels a few times a year, it offers so much more value than the Traveler Card. The value far exceeds the $99 annual fee. Both IHG credit cards offer ways to earn free stays at IHG properties around the world, but the IHG Rewards Premier Card provides too much value to pass up for the Traveler card just because of its $99 annual fee. If you’re going to get an IHG credit card, opt for the Premier Card.

KP

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance, credit card, and travel writer. He is the family travel and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids. His work has appeared on several websites, including FinanceBuzz, Credit Karma, Millennial Money, Club Thrifty, Student Loan Planner and Slickdeals.