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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (9): IHG Rewards Club Mastercard

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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 Experian Credit Score.

Key links: IHG Rewards Club Mastercard application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 22.9% variable.

About the IHG Rewards Club credit 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, Hotel Indigo, Kimpton, Regent, voco, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

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 hereThe paid version is a far better choice for higher spenders.

What is the IHG Rewards Club card 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 100 hotels around the world are reduced to just 5,000 to 15,000 points per night.

What are the conditions of applying?

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

Review IHG Rewards Club Mastercard credit card

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 IHG Rewards Club Mastercard 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 earn 2 points per £1 for overseas spend.

Note that the IHG and overseas bonuses do not stack – if you pay for an IHG hotel in a foreign currency with the card, you only receive two, and not four, points per £1.

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 based on a 60,000 – 70,000 point redemption for a room in an InterContinental in a major city.

1 point per £1 charged to your card is equivalent, on my numbers, to a 0.4% rebate on your spend. This is attractive compared to the rewards you would get from, say, the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% 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 – 10,000 points is worth 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.

Is the IHG card a good card to use when travelling?

Yes, to the extent that you earn double points (2 per £1) on foreign spend.

However, as Creation adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

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 free IHG Rewards Club credit card may offer an easy way to get the points you need.

It is worth noting that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into IHG Rewards Club points at a 1:1 ratio.

This means that instead of getting this card, you could get the free Virgin Atlantic credit card and transfer the points from Virgin Flying Club into IHG Rewards Club.  The downside is that you would not receive IHG Rewards Club Gold Elite status, transferred points do not count towards IHG Rewards Club status and the earning rate is lower (0.75 per £1 on the free Virgin Atlantic card vs 1 per £1 on the free IHG card).

The upside is increased flexibility.  As well as transfers to IHG, you would have the option of using your points for flights with Virgin Atlantic and its partners.  As Virgin Flying Club miles can also be transferred to Hilton Honors at 2:3, you would have Hilton as an alternative hotel transfer option.

Conclusion

As a sign-up incentive, 10,000 IHG Rewards Club 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. The John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard offering 0.5% cashback in vouchers would be more valuable, unless you want the IHG Gold Elite status.

You should also think about whether the free Virgin Atlantic credit card would be better for you, given that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club into IHG Rewards Club and Hilton Honors.

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.

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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard
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Comments

  1. Wally1976 says:

    What are the “rules” (either written or from people’s experience) on churning this card and getting the welcome bonus? I.e. if I haven’t had the card in a year or so is it worth trying again? Thanks

    • Recent HFP reports are that they seem to block people reapplying. Not many data points though.

    • the_real_a says:

      Everyone i know who had the card in the first year and tried to re-apply has been declined. All income levels too… from modest through to very high earners. All continue to get approved for other cards. Too much of a coincidence not to be a policy.

      If fact has anyone if HfP land successfully reapplied for the same colour IHG card after cancelling it?

  2. Travel Geek says:

    IHG has to be one of the worst schemes out there.

    I am Spire Elite and it is simply not worth it.

    Have best part of 100,000 points, but can’t see me using them anytime soon as the quality of many hotels is fairly dire. Ironically Holiday Inn Express seems to be better than most as they are many are new.

  3. Upgrades are at the discretion of the hotel. Only Ambassador gets you _a guaranteed_ upgrade. But there could be nice surprises in other places. I’m currently in Moscow staying at HI Lesnaya. I’m gold and got upgrades to slightly better room on an executive floor with access to a lounge with light breakfast. Last time I stayed at this hotel two years ago whilst being platinum and no upgrade 🙁

    • Same experience – got access to a lounge with EXCELLENT food options as a Platinum in a Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv, and free breakfast in a HI in Vinogradovo (SVO airport in Moscow). But nothing is guaranteed…

  4. Does anyone know how this card works with curve re foreign transactions, would you get the enhanced points and avoid transaction fees?
    Thanks

  5. OT slightly: Can you redeem IHG for someone else? eg. I’m looking to book 2 rooms for the same night, one for me and one for a colleague…any issues?

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