70,000 Points Plus Four Other Reasons This Is The Best Hotel Credit Card

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Update: This offer is expired. You can find the current offer details here.

Link: IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

I’ve written in the past about the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which I’d argue is the single most compelling hotel credit card to keep long term. Readership on the blog is constantly growing, and I know a lot of people might not be familiar with what makes this card so awesome, so I figured I’d share.

First of all, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card comes with a 70,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening, provided you haven’t received the bonus in the past 24 months. The annual fee on the card is $49, though it’s waived the first year.

With that in mind, here are five things that make this card especially awesome:

Annual free night at any property

One thing that makes many hotel credit cards worth holding onto is the annual free night certificate you receive just for having the card. For example, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers an annual free night at any Category 1-5 property just for having the card. The Chase Hyatt Credit Card offers an annual free night at any Category 1-4 property just for having the card.

But the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers an annual free night certificate at any property worldwide. This is something incredibly valuable to almost anyone, given that:

  • IHG Rewards Club is the world’s largest hotel chain, so chances are they have a hotel where you want to stay
  • There are no category caps, so you can even redeem your free night at a property like the InterContinental Bora Bora or InterContinental London

Redeem your free night certificate at a hotel that would cost ~$450 per night

The best value annual fee of any hotel credit card

Given that the card offers an annual free night at any property in the world, you’d think it would have an annual fee at least as high as the cards which have caps on the categories free night certificates are valid at.

But it doesn’t. The card actually has the lowest annual fee of any hotel credit card with an annual reward. The annual fee is waived the first year, and just $49 per year after that. Compare that to the $95 annual fee on the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card or $85 annual fee on the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, both of which are still extremely rewarding cards.

Top tier elite status just for having the card

You receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. Now, truth to be told it’s not the most valuable hotel status out there, but it’s as good as it gets at IHG properties.


I don’t stay at IHG properties often, but to give an example, I received a suite upgrade without asking at the Crowne Plaza Doha recently, just for being a Platinum member.


10% off award redemptions

Just for having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card you get 10% off award redemptions, up to 100,000 points back each year. That means for the first million points you redeem each year you get a 10% discount.


IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks

Arguably the single best promotion in the hotel industry is IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks, whereby select hotels are available for just 5,000 points per night. Given that IHG Rewards Club points can be indirectly purchased for 0.7 cents each, that’s a way to get hotel rooms for 5,000 points per night.

Why does that matter in the context of this credit card?

  • You get a further 500 point rebate when you have the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, given that you get a 10% refund on redemptions
  • You get Platinum status for those stays, so hopefully get room upgrades, etc.

That adds even more value to what’s already arguably the most lucrative promotion in the hotel industry.

Bottom line

Every hotel credit card has a different selling point depending on what you’re looking for. I don’t think there’s objectively one best card. For example:

  • The Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card offers Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free breakfast/lounge access at Hilton hotels — that’s potentially really valuable, though the card doesn’t come with an annual free night certificate just for having the card
  • If you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card, the second night of every award redemption is free, which is insanely valuable; the card doesn’t offer an annual free night certificate, though

But at the very least, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is worth keeping long term. I’ve had the card for a while, and while I don’t spend money on the card day-to-day, I’ll hold onto the card for a long time. The free night certificate more than justifies the annual fee, and the top tier elite status and 10% award rebate is the icing on the cake.

Also keep in mind that keeping some cards open long term helps your credit score since it increases your average age of accounts, and this is a card that contributes positively to that for me, since I don’t see myself canceling the card anytime soon.

Do you have the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card? If not, what’s stopping you (assuming you’re able to apply for US credit cards)?

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  1. I’ve tested it and anyone can get the 80,000 point card via booking on IHG.com and seeing the offer. It’s semi targeted but most people won’t have a problem, plus it’s not hard to create an account. Anyways, there’s a better 80k offer.

  2. what if you get the free anniversary night but can’t use it? can you trade it for points like with Hyatt?

    i have this card but i may cancel it… it never works for my schedule to use the free night.

  3. It’s the first hotel credit card I ever got and it’s the one that I always recommend “newbies” get for precisely the reason you mention Ben. The free night voucher is great. My wife and I use ours at Intercontinentals and Hotel Indigos. Plus, unlike Ben, I actually stay IHG branded properties (I’ve got about 1.1 million IHG points). They and Hilton are my large footprint chains.

    Oh and something that Ben forgot to include regarding the annual free night perk – with Kimpton coming into the IHG family, you’ll likely get access to those properties as well.

  4. Used to stay at Intercontinental properties all over the world and always had an amazing experience. After a while without staying at their properties I spent last week at the Intercontinental San Francisco. What a disappointment!!! If I were blindfolded to my room and didn’t know I was at the Intercontinental in San Francisco I would guess I was at a Hilton Garden Inn or basic Marriott anywhere. Hope that is the only property that is not up to the standards I was used to when staying at Intercontinental.

  5. I got the 80k points semi-targeted offer back in Oct or Nov last year using the FT link. I’m not sure if it’s still available.
    Given the card is a keeper I’d have to add that the sign up bonus is effectively 77-88k points since you will get 10% of the original points back as you redeem the bonus.

  6. Lucky,
    does one get free night certificate right after the account opening or have to wait a year?

  7. Ben, thanks for covering this. I have this card and is using the signup bonus for a two-day stay in Tokyo. When I signed up the bonus was 60K points, but when I nicely mentioned the targeted 80K points in an email to customer service, they offered me the bonus points after the minimum spend.

  8. Wow, lucky. Pretty disappointed that you are pushing the lower 70k offer when the better offer is well known. I’ve always respected you as a blogger and you are consistently my favorite main stream blogger but this is a BIG disappointment.

  9. I just made a reservation and the 80K offer with $50 statement credit appeared with the reservation confirmation. I signed up and was approved instantly just now.

  10. Signed in to IHG account last night and went to reservations. Checked on availability and the 80K w/ $50 credit ad appeared at the bottom of the page. Had my Wife apply and she was approved instantly. Also, you said Club Carlson doesn’t have a free night w/ the card. It has 40K anniversary points which is actually better than a free night. 44K points will get you two free nights in Barbados or Grenada. Both Club Carlson & IHG branded cards are fabulous values.

  11. @Miles Down Under – I stayed three nights at the IC Thalassos Bora Bora on points. If I had the cert in hand at the time I could have used it.

    @Lucky – Platinum is only low tier status at Intercontinentals. Royal Ambassador Platinum is as good as it gets, followed by Ambassador Platinum

  12. @Miles Down Under: We stayed at the same hotel. I checked-in around 10PM on Monday and although my reservation said king size bed I was told they were sold out and only had double beds available. I told them I had reserved a king size and they replied saying it is never guaranteed. When I told the front desk attendant I would make a complaint to my company’s travel agency a king size room miraculously appeared and I got a key for a room in the 8th floor. My room had a view to the street. The bathroom was very small and only had a tub with a small shower head on it and a cheap shower curtain that you find at Hilton Garden Inn and Marriott Courtyards. The water pressure was a joke. Having stayed at Intercontinental properties in Singapore, Boston and Paris I was very disappointed with the quality of the one in SF. Oh, and the daily rate was $535 plus taxes.

  13. @ kj — I’ve always found availability to be excellent, so not sure why others are having such issues.

  14. @ steven k — You get one starting with your first anniversary, so you have to wait a year from when you apply.

  15. @ Lantean — You can’t trade it for points. But I’m curious, what issues do you have with using it? No availability, or you just don’t want to stay at any of the hotels?

  16. @ Lucky

    it just never works out. i haven’t even tried searching for availability to use it. when i travel i don’t like to spend my whole vacation inside an American chain hotel… so i sort of got this card for the odd airport hotel night or a night where i just can’t avoid staying somewhere on my way to adventure… and it just never works out for me to use it sadly.

  17. Lucky- thanks for the reply. I just got the card through one of the links thanks. When you earn the free night after a year of having the card. Is there a time frame to use it? thanks

  18. Is there any reason to use the 70K link? It seems like the link above has all the same terms, but 10K more points. I feel like normally there’s something sketchy or different about other offers that seem better that are not posted here, but in this case it does not seem that way.

  19. I was about to get the card, when IHG offered the 2000 points sign-up bonus for opening an account last November. But then I was refused the bonus. I got pi**ed at IHG for that, and still am. That’s why I didn’t get the card (yet).

  20. Can you use rewards/credit/free nights at Kimpton hotels? It looks like they just bought them?

  21. Just used my annual certificate to reserve at the Miami Intercontinental. What a great benefit! Well worth the fee for the cert and the status. Thanks for reminding us of the benefits!

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