There are a lot of good “branded” hotel credit cards available right now. To a certain degree, they all offer the same basic product but some do stand out. Over the next few weeks I want to look at and discuss some of these cards. The first card that I want to take a close look at is the IHG Rewards Club, Master Card, offered by Chase.
The IHG card has some great benefits. First, and foremost, is a 60,000 bonus which I value at $450 ( 60,000 bonus points X .75 cents value of each point). You will receive your bonus after you have put $1000 worth of spend on the card in three months. Like all credit card point valuations the IHG point value can be deceptive and should only be a rule of thumb. Browsing the net for just a few seconds I found the following hotel deals that will help you understand the broad spectrum of value that your IHG bonus points:
This Holiday Inn Express hotel site offers two actual values for IHG points. The first rate is .73 cents per point(219.62 room cost / 30,000 points to get the room).
A second way to look at the value of your points from this hotel is the fact that by just spending 10,000 points you would be saving $139.62 ($219.62 room cost – $80 room cost after using points + cash = $139.62) by using the points this way you would be getting a value of 1.39 cents per. point ( $139.62 savings / 10,000 + points) . Every hotel will be different and every use of points + cash will be different but for the Geezer traveler each point has value and if you maximize that value you are way ahead of the game.
My second example is to show you what not to do with your points:
This $88.27 room will cost you 40,000 points! That’s crazy at this rate your 60,000 point bonus would only have e a value of $132.40 or .22 cents a point. That’s a lousy return but it can get a lot worse.
What if you chose the Points + Cash option for 30,000 points your room only drops $18.27 in this horrible scenario your IHG point is only worth .06 cents ($18.27 / 30,000).
Using just these two examples you can see the value of IHG’s points fluctuate from 1.39 cents per point to .06 cents a point based purely on the point owner’s decisions.
In a word, the IHG’s point value can, to a great extent, be controlled by the owner of the points decisions. In the hands of a thoughtful Geezer the Chase IHG bonus points can generate a lot of free travel.
I always try to evaluate if I want to keep the card in my wallet or get rid of it after using the bonus points. Deciding if I want to pay the annual fee or cancel the card and get another bonus at a later date. With hotel credit cards the answer is almost always to get rid of the card and wait a few years and get the bonus again. The IHG card may be an exception.
This card has good value in your wallet because the annual fee is only $49 and at each annual anniversary you get a free nights stay. That means I will get a room at a IHG motel for $49 after my first year of use and every other anniversary if I keep the card. A lot of Branded Hotel Credit Cards offer this annual benefit but, unlike most cards, the IHG program will allow you to use your free night for any hotel that their website offers in their points program. This means that if you were in a major city like Paris, you could stay in the City Center at a motel that would normally cost $200 or more for your $49 annual fee.
Because of an inventory that consists of nearly 5000 hotels, your IHG card’s annual free room is a great way to get high-end hotels in some of the worlds most expensive cities for pennies on the dollar. For Charlene and I big city motel rooms are a real problem. We love visiting cities like Paris and New York but the motels are crazy expensive if you pay with cash or points. IHG’s premier hotel line is the Inter Continental hotel chain. Some of the best deals for your free room would be:
The Mark Hopkins in San Francisco had rooms available when I looked and if you spent the night using your free room you would be getting a benefit from the card of $194.10 ($243.10 room – $49 annual fee) the Park Lane in London would yield even a better reward for keeping the card.
Another issue I need to address if I am going to keep the IHG card in my wallet, is am I going to use the IHG card to make purchases and build points with the card? The IHG offers two points per dollar spent on gas, groceries and restaurants which is a better rate than many hotels branded cards but the actual points are only valued at about .75 cents on average so the return on every dollar spent on the IHG card is only 1.5 cent (.75 X 2 = 1.5) which is still a very poor return. So should you use the card for purchases? NO, not when cards like the American Express Everyday Preferred can get you a 3 cents to 9 cents return on your dollar of spend.
So to close out, let me describe what my ultimate strategy would be with this card. First, after the $1000 worth of spend needed to get my 60,000 points I won’t use this card for any purchases. Second, with each $49 annual fee I will be getting a free room that can be worth a couple hundred dollars so I will keep this card in my wallet and enjoy the free rooms for a long time.
Geezer Travel is about using the travel assets that are available like the IHG credit card bonus and then maximizing the benefits. If you want to learn more please sign up to get our e-mails. You should get about three articles a week which should make your travel a lot cheaper.