Is the IHG Rewards Club Premier or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Free Night Award Better?

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Two new travel rewards credit cards hit the shelves this spring and they both promise stellar rewards and free night benefits. But which is better: The IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card? Both have numerous incentives and both come with a free annual night certificate, but which one is better?

Depending on where you like to stay and where you spend your money, you may find that one is a better choice than the other. Read on to find out which is the best option for you: IHG Rewards Club Premier versus Marriott Rewards Premier Plus free night award.

IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card

Who wouldn’t want 80,000 bonus points right off the bat? The IHG Rewards Club Premier card offers just that for an extremely low initial spend requirement: $2,000 in the first three months. Plus, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus points after you add an authorized user and make your first purchase in the first three months after account opening. You’ll also get 10,000 bonus points on every account anniversary after you spend $20,000 that year (plus at least one additional purchase after that amount).

As for elite status, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card gives you automatic Platinum elite status. That means you’ll get 20% off any time you buy points with your Premier card. You’ll also get a free award night at an IHG hotel valued at 40,000 points on your account anniversary each year. If you redeem points for at least a four-night stay you’ll automatically get the fifth night free.

You will earn 10x points per dollar on all charges made at any of the over 5,200 IHG hotels worldwide. Gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants will net you 2x points per dollar. It’s 1x point per dollar on everything else. The annual fee is $89 and the card also comes with a $100 Global Entry credit.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card offers an extremely satisfying sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. As for earning additional points, you’ll collect 6x points for every dollar spent at over 6,500 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. For non-hotel spending, expect 2x points per dollar on everything else.

Marriott Gold Elite status is attainable when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year. With your Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, you are given automatic Silver Elite Status. That’s a win because Silver Elite members are credited with a 20% bonus on base points earned during every stay. Other perks like a dedicated guest service line and gift shop discounts are included, too. Starting in 2019, you can also get up to 15 elite night credits every calendar year.

And if that wasn’t enough, As a Marriott Rewards Premier Plus cardmember, you’ll enjoy a free night award every year after your account anniversary. It’s valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level of up to 35,000 points. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus free night award is also offered for the fifth night free when redeeming four reward nights.

The annual fee is $95.

IHG Premier vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Free Night Award Earnings

The bonus that comes with the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card is enough for at least two free nights, possibly four or more depending on the hotel. Some require as little as 15,000 points. That doesn’t even include the free night and 10,000 bonus points on your account anniversary or 5,000 points for an authorized user. Plus there’s that fifth night free when you stay four nights in a row. Add in just the required spending to get those bonus points ($22,000) and even if all those purchases were only on fuel and groceries, that’s an additional 44,000 points. That works out to up to almost three free nights at the cheapest hotel option. If you’re spending at IHG hotels often, that total could be even more, as the calculator below shows.

Stays at Marriott Hotels can cost as little as 10,000 per night, though that is rare. The average is closer to 30,000 per night. But that means you could score as many as 10 free nights right off the bat with the bonus points the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus offers. Points collected per dollar spent is lower than the IHG Premier card, though, so rewards won’t stack up as fast unless you aren’t using either card for hotel stays very often.

The IHG Premier vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Free Night Award Breakdown

Obviously choosing which card is right for you will depend greatly on which hotel rewards program you participate in regularly. A Marriott Premier card will do little good if you tend to remain loyal to IHG hotels. Likewise, the IHG Premier card will have limited value after the bonus if you regularly stay at Marriott properties.

The exception is if you are loyal to neither hotel group and are just looking to earn some free nights and earn for periodic stays while you’re at it. If you stay at hotels fairly infrequently and your normal spending is spread in categories across the board, the Marriott Premier card might offer the best return on investment. It offers more points per dollar spent in all categories other than Marriott stays and the potential for a few more free nights the first year.

However, if you do a significant amount of spending at hotels, the IHG Premier card offers far more bang for the buck. Plus there’s that Global Entry credit.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus free night award

In short, where to redeem the IHG Rewards Club Premier versus Marriott Rewards Premier Plus free night award depends on you.

Mary Renking

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Is the IHG Rewards Club Premier or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Free Night Award Better?
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About the Author

Mary Renking
Mary writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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