IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card Review: Free Hotel Stays, No Annual Fee [2021]

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is a great card to earn points for free hotel stays and valuable travel insurance — especially if you’re traveling with a family.
Last updated Sep 29, 2020 | By Brett Holzhauer

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Earning hotel points through reservations alone can seem a bit frustrating. It can sometimes feel like you’ll never accrue enough points for a free hotel stay. For those looking to earn hotel points for an annual family trip or simple economy travel, there is another way to build up your rewards toward free accommodations.

With hotel credit cards like the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card, you can earn points to use for free hotel stays on your future travels. Because hotels can be expensive, especially if you travel as a family, collecting hotel rewards points can potentially save you hundreds of dollars on any given trip.

In 2017, the average hotel room in the United States cost $180 per night, and that figure is projected to continue climbing. But instead of spending so much on accommodations, you could use IHG hotel points for your room(s), and then use the money you saved for added fun on your adventures.

IHG points can be used at any of the 17 IHG brands, which include Intercontinental, Holiday Inn (where your kids can eat and stay for free), Crowne Plaza, and Staybridge Suites. So if you want either economical travel or a luxurious vacation, IHG has a brand that will suit your accommodation needs.

Sound interesting? Then keep reading — in this article, I will talk about the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card and some of its benefits that can help you save money on your next trip.

Earn Points for Family-Friendly Travel


  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Fourth night free reward
  • Up to 15X points at IHG hotels
  • No annual fee


  • Best for members of IHG Rewards program

Who should get this card?

A perfect candidate for the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is someone looking to earn hotel points and have travel insurance coverage with no annual fee. If you travel once or twice per year with your family and want to keep your trip affordable, IHG points are a great reward system for you. And having additional insurance on your travels such as trip cancellation insurance, travel accident insurance, luggage insurance, and rental car insurance is great reassurance in case things go wrong.

If you are just beginning your journey into earning credit card points and want to start slow, this card is simple enough. You will be able to use the majority of the perks without lots of spending or consistent traveling.

Before you apply for the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit card, though be aware it is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. The 5/24 rule means you will be essentially blocked from being approved for additional Chase cards if you have already had five credit card approvals in the last 24 months. This rule has never been publicly announced by Chase, but has been proven out by data points collected by online credit card experts.

So if your goal is to have multiple points-earning credit cards, be careful in how you use your five slots. I would strongly argue this card is not worth a 5/24 “slot” because it doesn’t come with perks such as automatic hotel status or a high sign-up bonus. However, credit cards with these perks typically also come with an annual fee. If paying an annual fee is something you prefer to avoid or you are just looking for a card that can earn enough points for one or two simple trips per year, then this card is a great choice.

Card basics

Card Type Travel
Annual Fee $0
Intro Bonus 60,000 points
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Generous welcome offer: You can earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Savings on points purchases: If you are short on points to book your next vacation, you can save 20% off the retail price of IHG points when you use your IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card to make your points purchase.
  • No foreign transaction fees: If you travel abroad, you can use your IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card without incurring any annoying (and expensive) foreign transaction fees.
  • Path to valuable hotel status: If you spend $10,000 in a calendar year with the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card, you will earn Gold Elite status. Gold Elite status comes with several perks, including late check-out, no black-out dates on using your points for free rooms, and no expiration date on your points.
  • Trip insurance: If your trip goes awry, you will have plenty of insurance coverages including trip cancellation/trip interruption, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and rental car insurance.

Earning & redeeming

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card has great earning categories that will reward you with IHG points for your purchases. You will earn Up to 15X points at IHG hotels (5X for being a Cardmember plus 10X for being an IHG Rewards Club member); 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; and 1X on everything else. You can redeem these for award nights or you can shop in the IHG rewards catalog or bid on unique experiences.

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn IHG points is to stay in their hotels and pay for your room with your IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. However, it can be tough to earn a sizable amount of points if you don’t stay in hotels often. Outside of staying in IHG hotels, there are other ways to earn points.

If you use the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card at IHG Hotels, you can earn up to 15X points per dollar. However, you can only earn this rate if you are also part of the IHG Rewards Program. The card details that you will earn five points per dollar when you stay at any IHG hotel, and ten points per dollar from IHG for simply being a member of the rewards program.

It only takes about two minutes to sign up to become an IHG member. Once you have your IHG Rewards numbers, you can put this in your credit card application to ensure your earnings from the card go to your account.

If you enjoy eating out, the IHG Reward Club Dining Program is another great way to earn rewards. It is free to sign up, and you can start earning rewards right away. Once you link your IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card or another preferred card to the dining program, you will start earning additional IHG points when you eat at participating restaurants. If you often dine enough to be at the highest tier of earning (which isn’t that hard to achieve), you will earn eight IHG points per dollar. This is a great return on your spending.

If you don’t stay in hotels or eat out often, your best bet to earn IHG points is to use the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card for your everyday purchases. You will see below that you can earn points on all your purchases, and even more points on specific purchases you may make regularly.

Categories Rewards rate
IHG Hotels 15X per dollar
Gas station, grocery stores, and restaurants 5X per dollar
All other purchases 2X per dollar

Maximizing your redemptions

Once you are ready to redeem your IHG points, it is important to keep the value of these points in mind. The value is not officially given by IHG or Chase directly, but many credit card rewards experts online have calculated IHG points to be worth .5 cents per point.

When you’re considering redeeming your IHG points for a hotel stay, you can use this valuation plus the equation below to determine the cash equivalent:

(Price of room in IHG points) x .005 = the cash value of the redemption

You can then compare the cash value of your points to the cost of booking the room the regular way with cash. If the value of your points and cash are close, you should consider using your IHG points. If the cost to book a room normally is considerably less than the cash value of your points, then you may want to just pay cash (or, rather, book it with your IHG credit card) and save your points for another purchase.

You can also transfer your IHG points to a long list of airline frequent flyer programs such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and more. While it may be tempting to do this if you are short on airline miles for your next flight, I would caution against it. Overall, it is a bad deal as far as the monetary value you get out of your points as you need to transfer a significant amount of IHG points to get just a few airline points.

In summary, it’s always nice to feel like we are saving money when we spend our points on travel redemptions. Who doesn’t love a free hotel room? But it’s an even better strategy to save our points for a great deal. So be sure to evaluate when spending your points is worth it or when you may be better off paying cash and saving your points for later.

Common questions

Is the IHG card worth it?

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is a great card for someone who wants to earn hotel points and have travel insurance coverages without paying an annual fee.

Do IHG credit card points count towards status?

No, IHG credit card points do not count toward hotel status. However, spending on the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card does count toward Gold Elite status. You can achieve Gold Elite status after spending $10,000 in one calendar year with the card. Gold Elite status includes perks like late checkout, complimentary Wi-Fi at IHG properties, and no blackout dates when booking a room with IHG points.

Do IHG points expire?

Yes, IHG points do expire. If your IHG rewards account has no activity over 12 months, you will lose your points. However, there are many ways to keep your IHG account active including staying at an IHG hotel, earning more IHG points through spending on the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card (or other IHG cards), or by redeeming your points for various items such as gift cards.

How many IHG points does it take for a free night?

The minimum amount of IHG points needed for a free night is 10,000 points. However, rooms for 10,000 points will be a bit tough to find. With IHG brands ranging from economy travel to luxury, the amount of points needed per night will range widely. Across all IHG brands, the average IHG room will run you roughly 25,000 points per night.

Can you have both IHG credit cards?

Yes, you can. In fact, it is a great idea as you can earn two sign-up bonuses to earn more rewards. If you have the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card and the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you will have automatic Platinum Elite status, great travel insurance coverages, and the opportunity to earn two separate sign-up bonuses.

Other cards to consider

If the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is not a good fit for your travel needs, there are other options for earning hotel rewards points.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a similar card to the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card as it has a $0 annual fee. Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months (plus earn a $100 statement credit after your first purchase in the first 3 months) of holding this card. As you use the card for your spending, you will earn 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases. Lastly, you will earn automatic Silver Elite status with Hilton Honors by simply being a cardholder.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is another great hotel card to get started with. Once you are approved for the card, you can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Using the card for your spending will earn you 6X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. You will be given an automatic Silver Elite status while you have the card. While the card has a $95 annual fee, this fee is easily offset by the fact you will earn a free night award every year after your account anniversary. This free night is valid at any Marriott property and has a value of up to 35,000 points.

Earn Points for Family-Friendly Travel

See how these cards compare:

Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Point welcome offer
  • High rewards rates
  • Complimentary Silver status
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
  • 75,000 bonus point welcome offer
  • 6X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy
  • One free night each year
  • No foreign transaction fee