I have my fair share of travel credit cards. Some of them I keep for the benefits, others I keep for their point earning potential and some I just keep because I’ve had them forever. However, there’s one card I get value from, year in and year out. I gladly pay the annual fee but the card doesn’t have many benefits and I hardly every use the card to buy anything. I’ll tell you about the card first and then the “killer benefit” this card comes with:
While I do have this card, I couldn’t find any way to refer people to it. The link above is to the best offer I found online for new applications.
Annual Fee – $49 per year (fee waived for the first year)
Sign Up Benefits – This card currently has a 60,000 point bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first three months from account opening. I’m not a big fan of adding authorized users and an extra 5,000 IHG points might not be worth it if you are going to be applying for other cards.
The bonus on this card has varied from the current 60,000, to 80,000 and even up to 100,000 for a limited time in the past 12 months. It might be worth it to wait to see if the bonus goes up again before applying if you don’t need the points ASAP.
Spending Bonus Categories – The IHG Rewards Club Select earns 5X points on stays at IHG hotels. It also earns 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. The card earns one point per dollar for all other spending.
No Foreign Transaction Fees – As you would hope a card that can be used at IHG hotels worldwide would, the IHG Rewards Club Select does not charge any foreign transaction fees.
Automatic Platinum Elite Status – Cardholders are upgraded to IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status for as long as you remain a cardholder in good standing. This would normally require 40 stays at IHG hotels per year and is one of the best hotel loyalty levels that can be obtained through having a co-brand card. It’s not the most beneficial level but you get 50% bonus on points earned when staying at IHG hotels, complimentary room upgrades, priority check in and extended check out.
10% rebate on IHG® Rewards Club point redemptions – You get 10% of the points you use to book rooms refunded back after your stay up to 100,000 points a year. So if you have a million points or so in your account…
With a sign up bonus that will get 2 free nights in most IHG hotels (except the most expensive locations), and no annual fee the first year, the card is appealing to most travelers. If you’ve applied for many cards, this is also one that’s not subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.
NOW…Here’s the reason that I pay the fee for this card every year:
Anniversary Free Night – Enjoy a Free night after each account anniversary year at over 5,000 hotels worldwide. Unlike other hotel co-branded cards, like Marriott and Hyatt, the IHG card’s free night can be used at any IHG hotel, regardless of category.
We’ve kept this card for four years and gladly paid the annual fee to get the free night certificate.
The first year I used the free night to book my dad and his wife into a room at the Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C. They still talk about how wonderful this hotel was and thank us for letting them stay there.
The least glamorous use of our free night was the following year at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fort Pierce, Fl. We were visiting friends and needed a overnight stay before driving home and even the cheapest room the area was over $180 a night. We were upgraded to a suite (which was totally a waste for us – we stayed in the room for less than 12 hours) but it was worth more than the $49 annual fee for the card.
The following year we used the free night at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. The rooms were going for $350 a night so we made out on this redemption.
Since rooms here were also going over $300 a night, it was another wonderful use of a free night from the IHG card.
The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card may not be the most glamorous or prestigious card out there. It does have one of the best single benefits of any co-branded card and it’s so valuable that I wonder how long it will be before they start to place restrictions on which hotels you’re able to use it at.
With the integration of the Kimpton Hotels into IHG, this might bring a whole number of high class hotels where you can use your free night and while I’d like to think I’m going to use my certificate for an overwater villa in Bora Bora,
I’m more likely to use it in Sedona at the Kimpton Amara.
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