Advertisement

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (13): IHG Rewards Club MasterCard

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.  The IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard is reviewed here.

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?

My default comparison card is the AA Fuel Saver Credit Card.  This card is free in the first year and offers 0.5% cashback on all spending, 2%-4% cashback on fuel purchases and – in year one – free AA breakdown cover.  The representative APR is 22.4% variable.

0.5% cashback 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 IHG 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.

Conclusion

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 AA FuelSave cashback card.

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

(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. 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.

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (14): IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard
Or not: BA removes Qatar 'R' business class from tier point and Avios earning
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. chris1922 says:

    I’ve got this, and the Barclaycard version, and obviously Gold status. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve received room upgrades at least three times on the basis of being Gold, so don’t knock it.
    And the free drink can be welcome, if like mine, your employer wont pay for alcohol. Assuming you’re staying on business.
    After losing my MBNA Diamond Club cards, this is what i’m using for any non-Amex spend.

  2. Any idea how quickly, or when, you receive your free room voucher? I triggered my spend level about a month ago now & no notification other than on the dashboard for the credit card login.

    • chris1922 says:

      To be clear, which hotel chain are you asking about ? IHG don’f offer a free room voucher. Do you mean Hilton ?

    • If the creation black card, you only receive it on your anniversary. E.g. I started the card I believe in Aug 16, I will get the voucher Aug 17.

  3. For clarification, the points bonus for Gold status varies according to the brand

    Holiday Inn Express is 200, Holiday Inn 300, Crowne Plaza 400. You get them on redemption stays too. I cannot comment on the others. I was not offered anything at the Intercontinental in Porto, which was a 2 night free voucher, as we did get a brilliant upgrade, plus nearly 5000 points credited.

    The free drink is an alternative to the points, and, AFAIK is for just the member booking.

    It always worth asking if you can get two drinks vouchers – I would guess it works about 40% of the time. I also find that if they forget to offer either points or drink, then will always get two free drinks.

    In Reno NV earlier this year we were offered points or goody bag (the hotel had no bar, the goody bag was just silly).

    Best deal yet was a points redemption in Belgium a couple of months ago. No offer made at check-in, so we asked at reception. “Oh, sorry, we did not think, we just gave you the points” was the answer. “Sorry about that, here are two drinks vouchers.” While we were enjoying the drinks the reception manager came up to us, very apologetic for not having offered drinks vouchers and gave us two more vouchers.

    Personally I value the drinks voucher at £4-£5 easily, certainly worth having.

    But Accor Silver is certainly better in this regard, as it is one free drink for every person in the room Could be really good with a family room!

    • Accor Silver is most certainly not 1 drink per person …neither is Accor Gold or Platinum….You are just extrememly lucky getting free drinks.

      • On the Accor website, having clicked on the benifits for Silver, Welcome Drink is clearly highlighted. It is only greyed out for classic. Looking for more information, it says “Different beverages are offered, depending on the hotel brand and your status. The voucher you receive from the hotel lists full details.”

        I have had 4 Accor stays since getting silver just over a year ago. Always got two drinks vouchers at check-in without asking.

        The ones at Ibis Styles on 13 October quite specifically stated that Silver members will always get one voucher for every person in the room.

        • Aspirational Flyer says:

          I have status with Accor and I’m nearly always offered free drink vouchers – even when I’m staying at a Sofitel and have Executive lounge access. On the rare occasions they have forgotten, this has always been very quickly put right when I’ve reminded the person checking me in.

  4. I signed up for this card a couple of weeks ago – not had any reply, email nothing from them
    how long do they normally take to respond?

  5. martyusha says:

    I’ve had the old barclaycard free IHG card for a little while. Accumulated a good number of points from the sign-up bonus and other spending, but I’m only now looking to book some stays and take advantage of the accelerate campaign. I understood that my credit card is supposed to confer Gold status, but when I logged into my IHG account this evening it shows ‘Club’ status.
    Am I missing a step, or have IHG missed a step? Did your status upgrade automatically when you received the card?