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Chase issues two IHG Rewards co-branded credit cards and while the premium card usually gets most of the attention, this post focuses on the less often discussed no annual fee IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card which is now offering a truly fantastic welcome bonus and which gives cardholders one of the most valuable IHG Rewards benefits around.
The IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card is the entry-level no annual fee IHG Rewards credit card that can be an incredibly useful addition to the wallets of travelers who like to redeem points for free night stays at IHG properties around the world but who don’t make a significant number of paid stays with IHG.
Here’s what you need to know about the IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card:
- $0 (Zero)
Cost of authorized user cards:
- $0 (Zero)
Current welcome bonus:
- Earn 120,000 IHG Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This is the highest welcome bonus that I recall this card offering.
Are you eligible?
This product is not available to current cardmembers of any IHG Rewards personal credit card, or previous cardmembers of any IHG Rewards personal credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for that credit card within the last 24 months.
Also, as this is a Chase-issued credit card, if you have opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months you are unlikely to be approved for this card.
Earnings (updated as of March 2022)
- Up to 17 points/dollar on spending at IHG Hotels & Resorts worldwide*
- 3 points/dollar on spending at gas stations
- 3 points/dollar on spending on utilities
- 3 points/dollar on spending at restaurants
- 3 points/dollar on spending on select streaming services
- 2 points/dollar on spending in all other categories
*Includes 5x earnings from this card, 10x for being an IHG Rewards member, and 2x for holding Silver Elite status (a benefit of this card).
- Get the 4th night free on IHG award bookings of 4 nights or more
- Save 20% on points purchases*
- No foreign transaction fees
- Silver Elite status
- Gold Elite status after spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year and making one additional purchase.
*Does not apply when IHG Rewards is selling points at a discount
Why this is a great card
The welcome offer
Based on how much value I can easily (i.e without much effort) get out of my IHG Rewards balance, I value IHG points at 0.4 cents each and this means that I value the welcome bonus at $480. That’s $480 of points from a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee so as long as you never carry a balance on this card and get charged interest (no one should ever carry a balance on an interest-bearing travel rewards card), this is effectively free cash.
For those who prefer to look upon the welcome bonus in terms of free nights, the 120,000 points that the IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card is currently offering can be used to book one or more free nights at a variety of IHG’s properties around the world and, thanks to dynamic award pricing, it should also be possible to book up to three free nights during quieter times at some top IHG properties.
Here’s the InterContinental Sydney priced up at 38,000 points per night:
Here’s the Kimpton La Peer in West Hollywood charging just 47,000 points per night:
Here’s the InterContinental O2 London charging just 51,000 points per night:
And here’s the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown charging just 42,000 points per night:
If you’re prepared to do a little bit of research and as long as you’re prepared to travel outside of the busier times of the year, the 120,000 points welcome offer that the IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card is currently promoting can book a free night at some truly fantastic IHG properties and still leave you with points to spare (just be careful not to fall foul of any “resort fees” that some properties now charge).
The 4th-night free benefit
Here are the key aspects of this benefit:
- There is no cap on the number of times this benefit may be used
- The is no cap on the points value of the award booking (this can be used at top-tier IHG properties worldwide)
- Every 4th night of an award booking is free (so an 8-night stay would see a cardholder get two free nights).
- This benefit cannot be used in conjunction with Points & Cash bookings
When you consider that on just a single 4-night stay this credit card can save a cardholder up to 100,000 points and that there’s no cap on how often this benefit can be used, the value of holding this card becomes obvious.
I value IHG Rewards points at 0.4 cents each (based on how I earn my points, how much IHG Rewards sells them for in its promotions, and how I usually redeem them) so, based on that valuation, the IHG Rewards® Traveler credit card can save a cardholder up to $400 worth of IHG Rewards Points in a single 4-night stay (assuming the stay is at a property charging 100,000 points per night).
That’s not bad for a card that costs nothing to hold!
An alternative card
For anyone who pays to stay at IHG properties with any great frequency, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card may be a better all-around choice.
This card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 140,000 points, it comes with an annual fee of $99, it earns twice as many points for stays at IHG properties (10 points/dollar), and bestows IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status on the cardholder for as long as the card is active.
The IHG® Rewards Traveler credit card is currently offering a very generous welcome offer, it doesn’t charge an annual fee, it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and can save travelers a substantial number of points by offering cardholders a 4th night free on all IHG Rewards award bookings. If you like booking award stays at IHG properties but you don’t pay to stay at IHG properties often enough to warrant paying $99/year for the more premium credit card (which also offers this benefit), the no annual fee IHG Rewards Traveler credit card would be a great addition to your wallet.