IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card Review
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is IHG’s no-annual-fee card option. Earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts and 3 points per dollar at gas stations, monthly bills and restaurants with this card. While the IHG Traveler Card offers some useful IHG-related benefits, it may not be the best choice for you. Card rating*: ⭐⭐1/2
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG editorial staff and is not influenced by the card issuer.
IHG offers two personal, cobranded Chase cards that allow customers to earn points and maximize their stays. One of these cards is the IHG One Rewards Traveler credit card with no annual fees. The IHG One Traveler Card certainly has more to offer IHG loyalists than most hotel cards without annual fees, but it may not be the best choice.
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is for travelers who want to earn IHG points on their purchases without being charged an annual fee. This card is particularly best if you stay with IHG regularly and take advantage of the card’s fourth reward night benefit.
Specifically, if you’re going to use one of your Chase 5/24 slots on an IHG One Rewards credit card, the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card is a better option for most people.
The recommended credit score for this card is above 670. Now let’s take a closer look at the IHG One Traveler card so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Related: Earn extra points at your favorite restaurants with IHG One Rewards Dining
Pros and cons of IHG One Rewards Traveler
IHG One Rewards Traveler Card welcome offer
Currently, the IHG Traveler Card offers a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. TPG values IHG One Rewards points at 0.05 cents each, making this bonus worth $500.
This isn’t quite the best offer we’ve seen on this card (120,000 bonus points), but it meets our criteria for an offer worth jumping on.
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You may be eligible for the IHG One Traveler Card (and its sign-up bonus) if you meet all of the following requirements:
- You do not currently have a personal (non-business) IHG One Rewards card
- I have not earned a sign-up bonus on a personal IHG card in the last 24 months
- Falls under Chase’s 5/24 rule
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Application Restrictions
IHG One Rewards traveler benefits
Like even the best no-annual-fee cards, the IHG One Traveler Card doesn’t offer many luxury benefits. Here you will find a brief overview of the card’s main benefits and perks.
Fourth reward night benefit
Whenever you redeem points for a stay of four or more nights, every fourth night costs zero points. If you are a cardholder, this discount will be applied automatically when you redeem IHG points for eligible stays.
Save 20% on point purchases
You get a 20% bonus when you buy IHG points with your card. But you cannot combine this discount with other promotions, for example when IHG points are on offer. And IHG sometimes offers a much better 100% bonus when you buy points. So while I often buy IHG points when the 100% bonus lowers the purchase price to 0.5 cents per point, I don’t find the 20% discount attractive.
Automatic Silver status (with a path to Gold)
IHG One Traveler cardholders automatically benefit from Silver Elite status in the updated IHG One Rewards program. This tier includes a 20% bonus on hotel stays, priority check-in and points that don’t expire.
Plus, you can buy your way to Gold Elite status by spending $20,000 on your card each calendar year. This level includes a 40% bonus on hotel stays and elite nights for status the following year.
No foreign transaction fees
Many credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees; However, there are few cards on that list without an annual fee. If you travel abroad often, it’s worth having at least one credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Related: How to Maximize Longer Hotel Stays by Taking Advantage of a Free Night Benefit
Earn points on the IHG One Rewards Traveler
When you use your IHG One Traveler Card to make purchases, you earn:
- 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts (2.5% yield, based on TPG valuations)
- 3 points per dollar at gas stations, monthly bills and restaurants (1.5% return)
- 2 points per dollar on everything else (1% yield)
These returns aren’t great, even compared to other cards with no annual fees.
The 2.5% yield at IHG hotels and resorts isn’t bad. But you can do much better with numerous purchases using various annual subscription cards under $100. For example, the $95 per year Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns you 2 points per dollar (for a return of more than 4%) on travel purchases. And the annual fee of $95 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees) earns 2 miles per dollar for a 3.7% return on almost all purchases.
The IHG One Traveler Card is also not a good choice for most other purchases. After all, it only yields a 1.5% return at gas stations and restaurants, plus 1% return on other purchases. Several basic cash back credit cards offer a 2% return on all purchases. For example, you can earn 2% per dollar on all purchases – 1% at purchase and 1% at checkout – with no annual fees Citi Double Cash® Card (see rates and fees).
Related: The Best Credit Cards for Every Bonus Category
Redeem points on the IHG One Rewards Traveler
There are many options to redeem IHG One Rewards points. It’s no surprise that you’ll get the best value from your points when you redeem them for IHG hotel stays.
TPG values IHG points at just 0.5 cents each. However, it is possible to maximize redemptions with the IHG One Rewards program and get much more value from your points. Here are a few ways you can do this.
IHG has dynamic award pricing, but there are some good deals to be found. However, one downside to dynamic pricing is that you need to consider more carefully when to use your points or cash for a stay. I tend to use points if I can get more than 0.5 cents per value point. And I almost always use points when I book a stay of four nights or longer to take advantage of the fourth Reward Night benefit of the IHG One Traveler Card. Conversely, I usually use cash when IHG is offering a lucrative hotel promotion.
IHG One Rewards points can go a long way in some regions. Here are some of my favorite IHG properties in the US, bookable for 10,000 points. And when you’re ready to travel internationally, here are some of the best international IHG properties you can book for 10,000 points.
You can also use a combination of points + cash to book stays. For a given room, you will typically see a chart showing discounts off the full nightly rate, in increments of 5,000 points.
With a Points + Cash booking, you are essentially purchasing the additional points needed to complete the redemption. So if you cancel your room, your refund will be given in points only. I rarely book Points + Cash rates because it’s usually cheaper to use points alone. However, it is worth checking whether the calculation is correct with each booking.
TPG senior credit card editor Matt Moffitt likes to use his IHG One Rewards points for four-night award stays. Since he is the IHG One Rewards Premier business credit card, he gets the fourth night free when redeeming prizes. He usually focuses on Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties to grow his points, but every now and then he dabbles in a Kimpton or InterContinental property.
Related: Earn and redeem points with IHG One Rewards partners
Transfer points to the IHG One Rewards Traveler
IHG One has over 40 airline transfer partners, but we recommend avoiding this redemption option if possible. Points transfer at a ratio of almost 5:1 at the bottom. The transfer process is also cumbersome as you cannot do it online and have to call the IHG One Rewards service center. IHG is generally slow to process points transfers; some have said it took up to six weeks for the points to transfer.
You can also transfer your points to other IHG One members starting at $5 per 1,000 points and free for Diamond and IHG Business Rewards Program members up to 500,000 points per calendar year.
Which cards compete with the IHG One Rewards Traveler?
For IHG loyalists, don’t be tempted by hotel credit cards from other chains. However, other cards are worth considering as an alternative to the IHG One Traveler card.
For more options, check out our full list of the best hotel credit cards.
Related: The Best Credit Cards for IHG Stays
Is the IHG One Rewards Traveler worth it?
If you stay at IHG properties a few times a year but want more benefits while traveling, this card could be a nice addition to your wallet. Since there is no annual fee, this card is a no-brainer if you’re under 5/24 and want entry-level IHG One status and the fourth night free when you book with points.
Related: 7 Ways to Earn More IHG One Rewards Points for Your Next Redemption
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card isn’t a bad option. You get a 2.5% return on IHG hotels and resorts and a number of IHG-related benefits with no annual fees. For travelers who don’t frequent IHG properties but want access to the fourth night free benefit, this is a solid addition to your wallet. However, if you’re looking for additional benefits during your stay, you’ll be disappointed with the limited benefits of this card.
You can apply here: IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card