Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card overview
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is IHG’s no-annual-fee card option. With this card, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts as well as 3 points per dollar at gas stations, monthly bills and restaurants with this card. While the IHG Traveler Card offers some useful IHG-related perks, it may not be the best choice for you. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐1/2
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
IHG offers two personal cobranded Chase cards to help customers rack up points and maximize their stays. One of these cards is the no-annual-fee IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card. The IHG One Traveler Card certainly has more to offer to IHG loyalists than most no-annual-fee hotel cards, but it may not be your best choice.
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is for travelers who want to earn IHG points on their purchases without incurring an annual fee. Specifically, this card is best if you stay with IHG frequently and will use the card’s fourth reward night benefit.
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 whether it is right for you.
IHG One Rewards Traveler pros and cons
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.
You may be eligible for the IHG One Traveler Card (and its sign-up bonus) if you satisfy all of the following requirements:
- Don’t currently have a personal (not business) IHG One Rewards card
- Haven’t earned a sign-up bonus on a personal IHG card in the last 24 months
- Are under Chase’s 5/24 rule
IHG One Rewards Traveler benefits
As with even the best no-annual-fee cards, the IHG One Traveler Card doesn’t offer many luxury perks. Here’s a quick overview of the card’s main benefits and perks.
Fourth reward night benefit
Each time you redeem points for a stay of four or more nights, every fourth night will cost zero points. Once you’re a cardholder, this discount will be automatically applied when you redeem IHG points for eligible stays.
Save 20% on point purchases
You’ll get a 20% bonus whenever you buy IHG points with your card. But you can’t combine this discount with other promotions, such as when IHG points are on sale. And IHG sometimes offers a much better 100% bonus when you purchase points. So, although I often buy IHG points when the 100% bonus drops the purchase price to 0.5 cents per point, I don’t find the 20% discount appealing.
Automatic Silver status (with a path to Gold)
IHG One Traveler cardholders will enjoy automatic Silver Elite status in the refreshed IHG One Rewards program. This tier includes a 20% bonus on hotel stays, priority check-in and points that don’t expire.
In addition, you can buy your way to Gold Elite status when you spend $20,000 on your card each calendar year. This tier includes a 40% bonus on hotel stays and rollover elite nights for status the following year.
No foreign transaction fees
Many credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees; however, there are few cards on that list without an annual fee. If you travel abroad frequently, it’s worth having at least one credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Earning points on the IHG One Rewards Traveler
When you use your IHG One Traveler Card to make purchases, you’ll earn:
- 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts (2.5% return, based on TPG’s valuations)
- 3 points per dollar at gas stations, monthly bills and restaurants (1.5% return)
- 2 points per dollar on everything else (1% return)
These returns aren’t great, even compared to other no-annual-fee cards.
The 2.5% return at IHG hotels and resorts isn’t bad. But you can do much better with numerous purchases using several sub-$100 annual fee cards. For example, the $95 annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2 points per dollar (for over a 4% return) on travel purchases. And the $95 annual fee 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 also isn’t a good choice for most other purchases. After all, it only provides a 1.5% return at gas stations and restaurants, plus a 1% return on other purchases. Several simple, cash-back credit cards offer a 2% return on all purchases. For example, you can earn 2% per dollar on all purchases — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay — with the no-annual-fee Citi Double Cash® Card (see rates and fees).
Redeeming points on the IHG One Rewards Traveler
There are many options for redeeming IHG One Rewards points. Not surprisingly, you’ll get the best value from your points when you redeem for IHG hotel stays.
TPG values IHG points at just 0.5 cents each. However, it’s 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 so.
IHG has dynamic award pricing, but there are some good deals to be found. However, one downside to dynamic pricing is that you should more carefully consider when to use your points versus cash for a stay. I tend to use points when I can get better than 0.5 cents per point of value. And I almost always use points when I book a stay of four nights or longer to utilize the IHG One Traveler Card’s fourth reward night benefit. Conversely, I tend to 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 U.S. bookable for 10,000 points. And, if you’re ready to travel internationally, here are some of the best international IHG properties bookable for 10,000 points.
You also can use a combination of Points + Cash to book stays. For a given room, you’ll typically see a chart with discounts from the full nightly award rate in increments of 5,000 points.
On a Points + Cash booking, you’re essentially buying the extra points needed to complete the redemption. So, if you cancel your room, your refund will be given solely in points. I rarely book Points + Cash rates since it’s usually a better value to use just points. However, it’s worth checking to see whether the math works out on each booking.
TPG senior credit cards editor Matt Moffitt likes to use his IHG One Rewards points for four-night award stays. Given he has the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, he gets the fourth night free on award redemptions. He usually targets Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties to stretch his points but occasionally splashes out on a Kimpton or InterContinental property.
Transferring points on the IHG One Rewards Traveler
IHG One has more than 40 airline transfer partners, but we recommend avoiding this redemption option when possible. Points transfer at a nearly 5:1 ratio on the lower side. The transfer process is also cumbersome, as you cannot do it online and have to call the IHG One Rewards service center. IHG generally is slow to process points transfer; 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, you may not be enticed by hotel credit cards from other chains. However, other cards are worth considering as alternatives to the IHG One Traveler card.
- If you want more IHG perks: The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card has a $99 annual fee and provides automatic Platinum Elite status, a free night award each account anniversary (worth up to 40,000 points), $50 of United TravelBank credit each year and reimbursement for your application fee to Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus (available every four years). It also has higher earning rates than the IHG One Rewards Traveler. For more information, read our full review of the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card.
- If you want more flexible earnings: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee and earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to IHG 1:1 for redemptions — plus use them with other airline and hotel programs. Other key perks include a 10% anniversary points bonus and up to $50 in annual hotel spending credits. For more information, read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
- If you’re a business owner and want IHG perks: The IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card has benefits like the fourth night free and a free anniversary night perk, but will not count toward your 5/24 with Chase. For more information, read our full review of the IHG One Rewards Premier Business card.
For additional 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 per year but want elevated perks when traveling, this card may be a nice addition to your wallet. Considering this card has no annual fee, this card is a no-brainer if you are below 5/24 and want entry-level IHG One status and the fourth night free when booking with points.
The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card isn’t a bad option. You’ll get a 2.5% return at IHG hotels and resorts and a few IHG-related perks for no annual fee. For travelers who infrequently visit 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 extra perks during your stays, you’ll be disappointed with this card’s limited benefits.
Apply here: IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card