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Two popular hotel credit cards are the IHG and Marriott credit card. Both hotel cards provide a free night every year and have reasonable annual fees. If you could only pick one card, the IHG credit card or the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card, which would you choose? The answer will probably depend on how you plan to earn and redeem your rewards points. Here’s our post on the IHG vs. Marriott credit card.
Link: IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Link: Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Editor’s Note: Some of the offers below may have expired or are no longer available on our site.
IHG Reward Club Select Credit Card (Expired)
Annual Fee: $49 (waived the first year)
Sign-Up Bonus: Highest Bonus Ever! 80,000 Points plus 5,000 for an authorized user.
For a limited time, you will receive 80,000 IHG points after spending only $1,000 in the first 3 months of your card membership. This is the highest bonus ever offered publicly for the IHG card.
The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is the rewards credit card for the Intercontinental Hotels Group. You can earn additional rewards points when you stay at the following properties:
- Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- Crowne Plaza
- Candlewood Suites
- Staybridge Suites
- Even Hotels
- Hotel Indigo
Additional IHG Credit Card Benefits
You will also enjoy the following benefits of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card:
- One free anniversary night at any property!
- Automatic Platinum Elite status
- 10% Point Redemption Bonus
- Travel Protection Benefits
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
The free anniversary night alone pays for the $49 annual fee as most nightly rates are at least $100. Even if you only keep this card in your wallet for the one free night, you can be money ahead. I love that you also receive Platinum Elite status and a 10% rebate on point redemptions! All these benefits on the IHG card made it the one card I regret canceling.
You will earn the following purchase rewards with the IHG credit card:
- 5 points per $1 on all IHG Rewards Club stays
- 2 points per $1 on all gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases
- 1 point per $1 on all remaining purchases
Because of the point redemption values of 0.5 cents on average, the IHG credit card is best for the purchase that either earn 2 or 5 points per $1 to maximize the value of your rewards points. All purchases that only earn the base rate will be more lucrative on another rewards card.
Value of IHG Rewards Points
Hotel credit cards are notorious for having relatively low point redemption values that rarely find value higher than one cent each. The IHG credit card is no exception and most points will only be worth 0.5 cents each (i.e. a $100 nightly stay requires 20,000 points) in many cases. It’s possible to find stays where you can increase the value to 0.7 cents and even 1-cent per point (i.e. $100 nightly stay requires 10,000 points).
There are a few ways you can maximize redeeming your IHG points. Each quarter, IHG releases a list of properties across the world that only require 5,000 points per night with the IHG PointBreaks program. This can be a break as most reward nights cost between 15,000 and 25,000 points per night depending on the property and extend your 80,000 point IHG signup bonus to 10 reward nights!
The best way to make each IHG point worth 1.0 cent apiece is by staying at the Candlewood Suites or Holiday Inn brand as the average nightly rate is usually $100 and the reward night value is 10,000 points.
Marriott Rewards Premier (EXPIRED)
Annual Fee: $99
Signup Bonus: 80,000 points plus 7,500 points for adding an authorized user
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card will earn bonus Marriott points at the following hotel brands at over 5,700 properties:
- JW Marriott
- Residence Inn Marriott
- Courtyard Marriott
- Springhill Suites Marriott
- The Ritz-Carlton
- Starwood Preferred Guest properties including Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, and Four Points
In all, there are over 30 brands that belong to the Marriott Rewards Premier portfolio.
Additional Marriott Premier Card Benefits
You will also enjoy the following card benefits with the Marriott Rewards Premier:
- One free anniversary night at any Category 1-5 Marriott property
- Automatic Silver Elite status
- Additional Elite credits for every $3,000 in purchases
- 5th night free when you redeem points for the first four nights
- No foreign transaction fee
Like the IHG credit card, the free anniversary night pays for the card’s annual fee. It is a little bit tougher with the annual fee being $99, but, as Marriott tends to have more high-end properties, this task can still be relatively easy.
The Marriott Rewards Premier also offers tiered purchase rewards:
- 5 points per $1 at all Marriott Premier and SPG properties
- 2 points per $1 on restaurants, car rental agencies, and airfare booked directly from the airline
- 1 point per $1 on all remaining purchases
Marriott points are generally worth more than IHG points overall, but, you will still be better using your primary rewards credit card for all purchases that only earn one point per dollar spent with the Marriott Premier.
Value of Marriott Premier Points
Marriott points can be redeemed for Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton stays. It’s possible for Marriott points to be worth 1.6 cents each at Marriott properties if you can lock in a PointSavers Reward rate (i.e. $100 nightly stay for 6,000 points). In most cases, your average value will be closer to 0.8 cents each.
It’s also possible to transfer your Marriott points to Starwood on a 3:1 ratio (30,000 Marriott points equals 10,000 Starpoints) as Starwood points can easily be worth 2 cents each.
If you’re sheerly looking at the overall value of points, Marriott points are typically more valuable than IHG points. And, you have more redemption options. But, you might have to spend more points to stay at a Marriott property than an IHG property depending on where you travel.
IHG vs. Marriott Credit Card
Now that we’ve looked at each card individually, let’s see which one can be a better fit for you.
The IHG Credit Card is Better If…
You will prefer the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card because:
- Free anniversary night easily out values the $49 annual fee
- 10% point redemption bonus
- Rewards nights start at 5,000 points each
- Earn bonus points on everyday purchases like gas, groceries, and dining
- Can earn and redeem points at over 5,000 properties
The IHG Rewards Club Select can be a great primary or secondary credit card for IHG fans. Even though points are rarely worth more than one cent each, the tiered purchase rewards make it easier to offset the lower redemption values.
You Will Like the Marriott Rewards Premier If…
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card will be the better option when you want:
- Points to be redeemed at any Marriott, SPG, or Ritz-Carlton property
- Anniversary night can be redeemed at any Category 1-5 Marriott property
- Earn bonus points for more travel-related purchases instead of on everyday purchases
- Want elevated status in Marriott and SPG loyalty programs
As a primary or secondary credit card, the Marriott Rewards Premier is a good choice. The higher annual fee will be a deterrent for some, but, it is still easy to find value in this credit card. As you can only earn bonus purchase rewards on travel-related purchases, it can be harder for casual travelers to earn additional Marriott points to justify the annual fee beyond the free anniversary night.
Summary: IHG vs. Marriott Credit Card
While there are many similarities between the IHG and Marriott credit cards including anniversary nights and annual fees below $100, the best choice boils down to personal preference. You must first decide which brand you will visit more frequently. After that, you need to determine if the tiered purchase rewards can be beneficial to earn more loyalty points. If not, does the anniversary night and additional card benefits justify the annual fee?
The IHG card does have a lower annual and it is waived for the first year, so it’s a more affordable credit card to hold in your wallet. Plus, there’s a limited time offer. It’s also worth noting that the IHG credit card doesn’t fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule so it’s easier to get approved.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.