The IHG credit cards are back – and with a sign-up bonus (Part 1)

With a great sense of timing, just a day after I spent my Sunday evening writing an article on why there are few decent Visa and MasterCard products available, IHG Rewards Club has relaunched its two cards.

The new issuer is Creation Financial Services.  The name may not be familiar to you but they issue a number of co-branded and own-brand credit and store cards, including ASDA Money and Marriott.  The company is owned by French bank BNP Paribas.

The obvious question from existing cardholders will be:  Can I get these cards if I have the old Barclaycard ones?  The official answer from IHG yesterday is ‘yes’.

IHG also told me that the Barclaycard products will continue even though they are not available to new applicants.

The Creation benefits are virtually identical to the Barclaycard cards.  The only difference is that the card is now a MasterCard and not a Visa.  The benefits on the free card have actually improved as you now earn double points for foreign spend.  Given that we are now in the world of 0.3% interchange fees, I think we have done well here.

In terms of account servicing, note that Creation does NOT have an app where you can monitor your transactions.

The cards

There are two different versions of the card.  It isn’t clear if you are allowed to have both as the benefits overlap – one gives Gold status whilst the other gives Platinum.

The free version – IHG Rewards Club MasterCard

IHG Rewards Club credit card free

The headline features of this card are:

No annual fee

10,000 IHG Rewards Club points for joining and spending £200 in the first three months – these are worth about £40 of free hotel room or transferable to 2,000 Avios points or other airline miles

Gold status in IHG Rewards Club for as long as you hold the card.  You won’t get much, frankly, for being Gold – usually a few hundred bonus points or a free drink.  However, if you do a few Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza or Indigo stays then it is certainly better than nothing.

1 IHG Rewards Club point per £1 spent.  I value IHG points at 0.4p so this is a 0.4% return.

2 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you pay at IHG hotels.  This would be roughly a 0.8% return which is good.

2 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you use the card abroad.  This is a new benefit – only the premium card got double points abroad under Barclaycard.  However, as the card has a 2.99% FX fee you would be better off using a card without FX fees instead.

Representative APR is 18.9% variable

There is a minimum income requirement of £10,000, although Creation stress that this cannot come from unemployment benefit!

It is important to note that points from day-to-day spend count towards elite status.  The sign-up bonus does NOT count towards elite status.

10,000 IHG Rewards Club points, on its own, won’t get you much apart from 2,000 airline miles.  A typical UK Holiday Inn in the regions would be 15,000 – 20,000 points.  The best use of the points would be to book two PointBreaks nights at 5,000 points each.  You can learn more about PointBreaks here.

According to the terms and conditions:  “If your IHG Rewards Club Credit Card account is closed within the first 6 months of opening, IHG reserves the right to deduct the 10,000 bonus Rewards points from your IHG Rewards Club account.”  As the card is free and you receive Gold status in IHG Rewards Club just for keeping it, this is unlikely to be an issue for anyone.

What do I think?

You should definitely think about getting this card, unless you would prefer the £99 Premium version.  10,000 IHG Rewards Club points are worth having, and Gold status is better than nothing.  With Creation as the issuer, it is unlikely to clash with any other card you hold

I am not necessarily saying that you should use it as your main card.  After all, you will get Gold status even if you keep the card in a drawer.

If you are tempted by this card, you should also consider the Hilton HHonors Visa cardMy review of that card is here.

The sign-up bonus on the Hilton card is substantially better – you get a free night (valid for 6 months, weekends only) at any Hilton family hotel.  This could be worth £250+ if used at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria property.  Of course, you can get the Hilton card just for the bonus and keep that in a drawer too!

The Hilton credit card is probably more generous (it gives 2 Hilton points per £1 which I value at 0.6p vs 0.4p for 1 IHG point).  That said, this new IHG card is more generous than almost all Avios non-Amex cards so it may come down to whether you prefer Hilton or IHG points.  The fact that IHG credit card points – except for the bonus – count towards status may swing it for you if you are chasing Spire or Platinum.

The application link for the free IHG Rewards Club credit card is here.

I spoke to IHG about the cards yesterday and I was told that there were no plans for any short-term higher bonuses and that such a bonus made no financial sense in the new 0.3% environment.  If you are interested in applying you might as well do it now.

There is NO refer-a-friend deal available for these cards so you might as well apply directly via the links above.

In my 2nd article today, I look at the £99 Premium version of the IHG Rewards Club credit card.  Is that a better deal?

PS. Remember that you will earn DOUBLE IHG Rewards Club base points when you book your IHG stays via Head for Points! Visit this page to find out more.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

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The IHG credit cards are back - and with a sign-up bonus (Part 2)
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  1. avidsaver says:

    Morning Rob. If you hold the Barclaycard version do you still get the 10,000 sign up bonus? As ever, many thanks for all your hard work.

  2. On the subject of IHG can I confirm whether any activity will keep your points active or whether you have to actually stay. Thanks.

    • Any activity Tracy. My father had a few points which were about to expire to I downloaded an ebook from their rewards store for 300 points which reset the expiry by 1 year from the date of download. This also qualified for the Accelerate target of getting 1000 bonus points for using your points !!

  3. JamesWag says:

    I’m confused, I already have an IHG rewards card.

    • JamesWag says:

      Ah, I see, its the Barclay’s one. I didn’t realise they’d stopped offering it.

  4. One reason to perhaps keep my IHG barclaycard visa is a lot of online payment systems treat it as a debit card.

  5. Does anyone know if we have the Barclaycard version can we now apply for the Hilton card… or do we need to wait for our year end, move to this new Creation card first? And maybe wait 6months too?

  6. Louise says:

    OT, upgraded from Amex gold to Platinum and after my first statement with the platinum I notice I haven’t been charged the £450 fee as yet, has this happened to anyone else?

    • Common bug, quite a few people get this.

      • Do we know when one might be charged?

        • Usual card anniversary date (your Gold anniversary)

          • +1

          • Same here. I suspect it’s actually a feature not a bug, as you have the same account, just an upgraded card. So same annual fee date.

            • BlueHorizonUK says:

              Should the upgrade path be:

              June statment just printed – No renewal fee yet
              Gold anniversary is July 10
              Points post soon after July 10
              Upgrade to Platinum now or wait for next statement to be printed with annual fee and then upgrade and pray not charged…

              So my question is really do i wait for next statement to be printed or just upgrade as soon as the 10,000 points post even if it is before the statement.

            • PointsMaker says:


            • Interestingly on my husbands account, he upgraded after his anniversary points posted, and got charged the fee straightaway, but maybe they charged it as they refunded the gold fee

          • jarvester says:

            I plan to cancel before my gold anniversary, will I be charged the pro-rata fee on cancellation? Thanks

            • Genghis says:

              That’s what people have discussed. If cancelling just before: a final statement is produced after you cancel and this being on your anniversary date may well generate a fee.

    • The Urbanite says:

      I think the fee was added to the second statement after I upgraded.

  7. Andrew says:

    Can you apply if you already hold the Creation provided Marriott card?

  8. Thank you – just applied and been accepted.

  9. Barclaycard can issue Amex cards ?

    • Yes. But not for long, Amex is withdrawing. MBNA, Lloyds etc all losing Amex.

      • That’s going to be such a blow to the Lloyds card – with the upgrade voucher, no forex fees, reasonable earning it’s a decent deal – if it all switches to the Mastercard earning rate it’s going to be a lot worse :(

      • Wow. What would be the reason Raffles?

      • Any chance you could expand on this?

        • Word on the street, and I stress this is just gossip, is that Amex is cancelling its licensing deals with MBNA, Lloyds etc. These cards only existed because Amex paid higher interchange fees. As licensed Amex cards are caught by the 0.3% interchange fee cap, they are pointless for both sides. MBNA etc also wants to get rid of them because they are bleeding money – they cannot afford the higher mileage on the Amex cards from 0.3%.

          • Ugh! Does that mean existing cards would be cancelled? Would it be a good idea to apply for a Lloyds Avios card now?

  10. Is there a bonus every 5 years on this card?

  11. trickster says:

    Wondering whether to apply for this or not. I have the current White card, having downgraded after a free year on the Black card several years ago, before the rebrand from Priority Club, and I never got my IHG account downgraded from Platinum to Gold.I suspect if I applied for the White MasterCard, It would trigger a status downgrade.

    Think I’ll just get my wife to apply for the White card instead, as she’s a lowly ‘Club’ member, and the bonus points would be a nice top up of her account that’s going to expire in a few months.

  12. Completely OT. Does anyone know if I can link my new Travelex Supercard to my Uber account to stop paying FX when abroad? I seem to link it easy enough but haven’t used it yet. Any help would be appreciated.

  13. Gerard says:

    Apoogies for the OT post, but I’m trying to work out whether it’s worth my while cancelling my Clarity Rewards and going all in on a card like this new IHG one.

    • Keep the Clarity card for overseas spend, as if you go for the new IHG, you will be paying FX fees on it. I have a Halifax card purely for foreign spend.

      • Genghis says:

        Me too. I use Clarity for overseas ATM withdrawals and the Lloyds Amex / MC for overseas purchases. Seems like a good combo

  14. BlueHorizonUK says:

    looks like the Barclaycard version (which is now closed) and not the Creation one.

  15. Me and my wife both have these Halifax Clarity Rewards credit cards that give £5 back each month you spend £300. Agree 1.66% straight back as cash must be the best earn rate on non amex CC and the least hassle free. Plus no fee on card.
    We always use them up to £300 each focuaing in places that dont take Amex and then use respective Amexes.
    Best thing is your foreign spend is converted at the best (MasterCard) rate and counts towards £300 threshold all the same making it 1.66% back on foreign spend!

    • Your £5/£300 would be £12/£300 for me = Avios @ 2 for £1 plus getting 2p value on flights

  16. Hi do you think the sign up bonus may be a temporary or permanent feature?

    I want to apply but was hoping to leave doing so until about October.