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What are the benefits of the free IHG Rewards Mastercard credit card?

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Why should you get the IHG Rewards credit card?

Today, I want to look at the top 10 card benefits you get if you apply for a free IHG Rewards credit card.

Here is the legal information we need to tell you:

Sainsbury's Nectar credit card

IHG Rewards Mastercard

Bonus: 10,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Receive Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards
  • Points from spend count towards elite status
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.9% APR variable

See if you qualify for the 10,000 points sign-up bonus +

You receive 10,000 IHG Rewards points as a sign-up bonus when you spend £200 within 90 days.

There are no restrictions on receiving the bonus if you have previously held this card or the (no longer available) IHG Rewards Premium Mastercard.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All IHG Rewards cardholders receive Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards for as long as they hold the card.

This is the only UK travel card where the points you earn from spending count towards elite status.  The 10,000 points you receive as a sign-up bonus do not count towards elite status, however.

The top 10 benefits of the IHG Rewards credit card:

1. There is a generous sign-up bonus of 10,000 IHG Rewards points

You will receive 10,000 IHG Rewards points when you sign up and spend £200 within the first three months.

IHG Rewards is the loyalty scheme for Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Kimpton, voco, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

2. You receive one IHG Rewards point for every £1 you spend on the card

There are a few exceptions (cash withdrawals do not earn points) but in reality virtually every £1 you spend will earn another IHG Rewards point.

3. Points earned from credit card spending count for status

IHG Rewards is the only loyalty scheme which allows the points you earn from credit card spending to count towards status.

This means that, if you were a very heavy spender, you could receive top-tier Spire Elite status without ever setting foot in an IHG hotel.

Note that the points earned from the sign-up bonus do NOT count towards status.

4. You receive DOUBLE POINTS when you spend in a foreign currency

Unfortunately, the IHG Rewards credit card adds a 3% foreign exchange fee when used outside the UK.  This means that the double points offer is not as generous as it appears.

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.

Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than the IHG card charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Benefits of the IHG Rewards Club mastercard credit card

5. You receive DOUBLE POINTS when you spend in IHG hotels

You cannot double-dip, unfortunately!  Spending in a foreign currency in an IHG hotel still only gets you double points, not quadruple points.

6. The card is free for life

The IHG Rewards credit card is free for life.

Other cards with annual fees may offer better earning rates but, unless you are a very heavy spender, you will often struggle to justify the fee from the extra miles earned.

7. You receive Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards

For as long as you hold the card – which is free – you will have Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards.

This doesn’t come with a lot of benefits but you will receive bonus points or a drink at most properties in Europe, and potentially an upgrade.

8. As a Mastercard, it is far more flexible than an Amex card

Many of the travel rewards credit cards we cover are American Express cards.  The problem with these is that they are not universally accepted.

As a Mastercard, the IHG Rewards credit card is accepted virtually everywhere that cards are taken.

9. You don’t need a high income to apply

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

10. You pay 0% interest for 12 months on balances transferred from other credit cards

This offer is valid for three months after opening your account.

Conclusion

The IHG Rewards Mastercard is a very generous credit card, given that it has no annual fee.  1 IHG Rewards point per £1 spent is a decent deal. 

Getting automatic Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards is a useful extra bonus.

You can sign up for the IHG Rewards credit card on the official website here.

Sainsbury's Nectar credit card

IHG Rewards Mastercard

Bonus: 10,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Receive Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards
  • Points from spend count towards elite status
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.9% APR variable

See if you qualify for the 10,000 points sign-up bonus +

You receive 10,000 IHG Rewards points as a sign-up bonus when you spend £200 within 90 days.

There are no restrictions on receiving the bonus if you have previously held this card or the (no longer available) IHG Rewards Premium Mastercard.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All IHG Rewards cardholders receive Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards for as long as they hold the card.

This is the only UK travel card where the points you earn from spending count towards elite status.  The 10,000 points you receive as a sign-up bonus do not count towards elite status, however.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – December 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

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