Credit & Charge Card Reviews (12): IHG Rewards Club MasterCard

This article was updated in September 2016 and is correct as of that date.

This is my review of the IHG Rewards Club MasterCard credit card.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for.  These posts will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.  My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score.  Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month.  You can cancel at anytime.

As with all rewards cards, this is not a suitable product for you if you do not clear your balance in full every month.  You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the AA Low Rate Card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 6.4% variable on purchases and balance transfers.

Key links:  IHG Rewards Club MasterCard application form

Key facts:  No annual fee

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

About the card

The IHG Rewards Club MasterCard card is issued by Creation Financial Services (part of French bank BNP Paribas) and earns points in IHG Rewards Club.  IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty scheme for Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Creation also runs the Marriott card although this is currently unavailable to new applicants.

There is also a second version of this card, the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard, which carries a £99 fee.  This will be reviewed tomorrow.

What is the sign-up bonus?

You will receive 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points when you spend £200 within your first three months. This is worth 2,000 Avios or other airline miles if converted directly although you will get more value using them for hotel stays.

There are some IHG Rewards Club hotels where you can get a room for as low as 10,000 points, although most big city properties will be 25,000+. However, IHG Rewards Club runs regular PointBreaks promotions where 150 hotels around the world are reduced to just 5,000 points per night.

The bonus compares poorly with the Hilton card where the sign-up bonus gets you a free night ANYWHERE, even the most expensive Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria property.

What are the conditions of applying?

There is a minimum income requirement of £10,000.

Any other benefits?

You will receive free IHG Rewards Club Gold status for as long as you hold the card.

You can see the benefits of being a Gold member here.   It is not worth much in theory (no free breakfast, no room upgrade, 10% points bonus) but some hotels do give holders some recognition and it should give you some priority when the hotel decides who gets the room overlooking the bins.  Status members also receive a choice of 500 bonus points or a free drink and snack at European IHG properties.

The sign-up bonus does NOT count towards IHG Rewards Club status so it will not put you 20,000 points closer to Platinum or Spire Elite.

Your on-going points from using the card WILL count towards IHG Rewards Club status and thus your progression from Gold to Platinum.

What is the annual fee?

There is no annual fee.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

The earnings rate on the card is 1 point per £1 for general spending and 2 points per £1 for spending in IHG Rewards Club properties.  You also earn 2 points per £1 for overseas spend.

Unlike the Premium version of the card there is NO free night voucher to work towards.

Remember that the IHG card has an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.  You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees.  I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions!  It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you.  My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.

What is an IHG Rewards Club point worth?

Whilst this is always hypothetical, I tend to work on the basis on a top-category hotel costing £250 – what you would pay in New York, Paris or London inc tax. On that basis, an IHG Rewards Club point is worth about 0.4p – 0.5p based on a 50,000 – 60,000 point redemption for a room in an InterContinental in a major city.

IHG Rewards Club changed their pricing structure in 2014, increasing the cost of the 2-, 3- and 4-star chains (HI Express, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza) in big cities. These redemptions are now poor value compared with spending 50,000 – 60,000 points on an 5-star InterContinental, and has reduced the value you can get from your points.

On this basis, 1 point per £1 charged to your card is equivalent to a 0.4% rebate on your spend.  This is attractive compared to the rewards you would get from, say, the Tesco or Lloyds Avios Rewards MasterCard.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the ASDA Money card, which pays 0.5% in ASDA vouchers.

This is line with the value of the points offered by the IHG card.  However, cash is substantially more flexible – and less susceptible to devaluation – than a hotel loyalty point!

The sign-up bonus is worth having – roughly £40 of free hotels stays.  You may want to keep the card in a drawer, unused, to continue to benefit from the free IHG Gold status.

You may also value the fact that the points count towards status with IHG Rewards Club – although, if this was important, you should pay £99 for the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard which comes with Platinum status as a benefit and earns 2 points per £1.

Other points to note

American Express Membership Rewards stopped being an IHG Rewards Club partner in 2012. This means that, if you need to top-off an IHG Rewards Club account to get to a suitable level for a redemption, the credit card may offer an easy way to get the points you need.

It is worth noting that you can also transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into IHG Rewards Club points at a 1:1 ratio.  These transfers DO count for status unlike the sign-up bonus on the credit card.


As a sign-up incentive, 10,000 points may get you a free night in a cheap hotel in a small city (worth at least £50) or 2,000 airline miles.  If you got two PointBreaks nights out of it then you would have got a great result.

An on-going earnings rate of 1 point per £1 is not hugely attractive.  If you value IHG points at 0.4p then you would be better off with the ASDA cashback card.

The application for the IHG Rewards Club MasterCard card can be found here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Rob, I spoke with Barclays and they informed me you can’t get the IHG card if you have cancelled/held ‘any’ card within the past six months.

    I was planning to cancel my Hilton card then immediately apply for IHG but they said (both in writing by online message and on the phone) that this was not possible and customers have to wait six months.

    is this your understanding? I think I read on oother posts some people thought you could do what I planning above?


    • That is exactly what Rob states in the post the way I read it. I had same experience as you Brian after being declined for Hilton card back in August. I promptly cancelled my ihg black to give me option of reapplying for that or Hilton card in January next year.

      • Hi James, I read the post as the six months specifically relating to the IHG card. E.g. can’t apply for this if held IHG card in last six months but if held any other card then it’s okay.

        I may have interpreted it wrong. Maybe Rob can clarify when he gets the chance?


        • Correct. You can cancel Hilton today and apply for IHG next week, in theory.

          • Hi Rob, Barclaycard told me via online message and on the phone this was not the case.

            Said that after cancelling ‘any’ card you had to wait six months before applying for ‘any’ new card.

            • I was told the same by Barclaycard. Cancelled my Barclaycard. Was going to wait the six months. Waited about a month and then applied. Was accepted.

              Made a first purchase, got the signup bonus sitting in my IHG account now so that will do nicely a for night on annual USA road trip next summer.

  2. “You may also value…” I think this needs updating Rob; some might take it to mean the bonus points count for status and I believe they no longer do?

  3. Just a quick one. I hold the IHG premium card (almost a year now) and applied for the Hilton card last week with no problem. It arrived on Saturday and have already done the £750 required on sofas.

    My point is I now hold two cards issued by Barclaycard. I did spend around £16,000 through the IHG one. Could this have an effect on the decision process?

    • I’m in the same position, albeit I haven’t applied for the Hilton card yet!
      I have spent over £20k on the card and once this statement is paid off tomorrow I was going to cancel.
      Should I cancel and wait a week or supply whilst I still have the card?

      • Well personally I just applied for the Hilton one online like normal. Put in my existing hhonors number, filled out the form and created a new Barclaycard login ID and passcode. It was referred but I got a text two days later to day the card was in its way. I then ring to merge my log in IDs once the card was received and all had worked well.

        You could try that? Maybe I got lucky? Though there was nowhere to declare I already had the IHG card – perhaps their internal procedures don’t cross reference either.

      • Jason, IIRC you were gearing up to something on Etihad? If so, see my comment on bonus miles in the bits post today.

        • James67

          You have got a good memory :)
          I’m having a nightmare with an Amex transfer to Etihad :(
          Transferred 200k MR points last Tuesday, still nowhere to be seen. Flights became available today, Etihad currently holding the seats for me and Amex have given me some bonus MR points for not sorting it quicker.

          • Good luck with it, seems like good cs from etihad. A bonus from amex not bad either, I probably would not even started chasing the transfer myself until a week passed. In my limitted experience with etihad they are erratic with miles credits, my guess is problem is more likely at their end.

    • Lucky you, Barclays are a PITA, some still seem to be getting two cards no problem while others come unstuck with new rules.

      • FYI – I’ve held the Hilton card since April and just tried to get the IHG card – no luck!

        • was that the paid or free card Nick? I am contemplating applying for the hilton card early January and then trying the paid ihg card when subsequent sign-up promotion comes around; wondering if they will turn up their nose at prospect of the annual fee.

  4. Although I’m generally a loyal Hilton customer, I’m pretty impressed with the treatment as an IHG Gold. Not bad for free.

    I was even more surprised to find I’ve just become Platinum, mainly due to “VISA 30K ACTIVATION BONUS” (as it was back in January)

  5. Hello!

    Does anyone has a tip how to transfer IHG Points between two accounts best?
    My girlfriend has some points that I’d like to transfer to my account, however the normal way is quite expensive. Is there a free way?


    • It isn’t hugely expensive at about £3 per 1000. The alternative is that she buys more at full price to get up the level for a redemption and then she redeems for you.

      • thanks! Yeah would some up for 20k – therefore thought there’s a chance to do it for free :)

  6. Are the points awarded by the card IHG Elite Qualifying Points? If so it makes the card attractive for anyone trying to get to the next elite level!

  7. Hi,
    I have applied for this offer and got the card, and already used it. Is it correct to think I read / understood this deal properly? i.e. the points will be awarded on first purchase? If so, is there a delay between the purchase taking place and the points showing up on the IHG account? I have used the link provided on this post and believe I did everything right to be granted the points
    Did anyone else have any luck with it?
    Thank you

    • ‘Points with first purchase’ is a misnomer. If you have made a purchase you will get them. However they won’t appear until your first statement is generated and the points from your spend calculated.

  8. Very confusing – I just cancelled the Black IHG Visa after almost 12 months and a good level of spend on the card and was told I couldn’t reapply for any Barclaycard for another 6 months. I was hoping to apply for Hilton soon so let’s hope the Indian call centre was just confused.