Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): 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 most 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 Tesco Clubcard MasterCard Low Rate card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 5.9% variable – and you can transfer your Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles.

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 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 no longer open 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.  The paid version is a far better choice for high spenders.

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 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.

Your on-going points from using the card count towards IHG Rewards Club status and so will speed up your progression from Gold to Platinum Elite.

The sign-up bonus does NOT count towards IHG Rewards Club status so it will not put you 10,000 points closer to Platinum Elite or Spire Elite.

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.

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.

On this basis, 1 point per £1 charged to your card is equivalent to a 0.4% – 0.5% 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 ASDA Cashback Credit Card which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 19.9% 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 – £50 of free hotels stays. You may want to keep the card in a drawer, unused, to continue to benefit from the free IHG Rewards Club 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 Elite status as a benefit and earns 2 points per £1 spent.

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 – 0.5p then you would be better off with the ASDA Cashback Credit 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 (11): IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard
Iberia drops Amex, gives STATUS with its new credit card - BA to follow?
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Comments

  1. Is it possible to upgrade from the free IHG card to the premium one and retain the spend value from the past year?
    I’m regretting going for the free one now.

    • Unfortunately not, they treat both cards separately.

      • Genghis says:

        I asked if they would move my limit from my previous White to my Black card but they were unwilling to. They would add a few extra £k though. Strange way to run a credit business…

  2. RussellH says:

    > Status members also receive a choice of 500 bonus points or a free drink and snack at
    > European IHG properties.

    I have never seen 500 points, but then I never stay at Intercontinetals either (unless someone else has paid!). 200 at HIE, 300 at HI, 400 at Crowne Plaza + Indigo. I forget what I would have got at Staybridge. These rates are for Gold – maybe higher for Platinum?

    There should be an alternative of free drink(s) offered. Platinum get free drink(s) and nibbles.
    In theory it is just one drink, even when there are two of you staying. In practice, at the sort of places we stay, this year we have been given two drinks vouchers without comment, and everywhere else, except Gatwick CP, but including Manchester Airport CP, a smile and a “is that just for me or for both of us?” has always produced two drinks vouchers. HI Corby-Kettering (actually a very nice place to stay out in the country) has, twice this year not only given us an executive room for 10 000 points, but also two drinks vouchers and an invitation to help ourselves from the crisps and nuts shelves.

    USA is different – last year got 200 points at an HIE + Suites (alternative was a “goody bag” which contained nothing of interest; this year absolutely nothing.

    TBH, it is the free drinks (and the accelerate offers) that tend to keep us going to IHG rather than, say, Hiton, though of course, IHG has far more places to stay outwith cities and large towns as well. One exception is Newcastle/Tyne – the Hampton is much nicer than the HIE, and at 10 000 max is a real giveaway. I do like the Indigo in Newcastle, though, but the Hampton is better situated than anywhere else, right opposite Central station.

    • Genghis says:

      Isn’t Corby supposedly one of the most depressing places to live in the UK?

      • RussellH says:

        Quie possibly, but the hotel is not **in** Corby, it is out in the country on the road towards Stamford. Several palatial country mansions worth visiting nearby too.

        Golden Rule:- Never let the official name of an HI govern whether or not you stay there; find out where it actually is (often many miles from where the name might lead you to suspect).

        This one has been extensively refurbished reasonably recently, and at 10 000 points for an exceutive room has become one of our favoured stopevers en route from Calais to home.