My good friend and fellow blogger, Sean, texted me over the weekend asking my opinion on which hotel credit card that he should apply for. He was in the midst of applying for a new set of travel credit cards and was torn between the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card and wanted my input.
Just a quick recap, here’s a quick glance of what the two offers look like side-by-side:
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 50,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months; one free night at any category 1-4 property upon account approval, $85 annual fee – waived the first year, annual free night at any category 1-5 property every year after your account anniversary date, no foreign transaction fees.
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, automatic free Platinum status, free annual night at any IHG property, $49 annual fee – waived the first year.
While they are both great hotel cards (Dad has even had one for over 20 years), between the two, without second thought, especially now, I told him to pick the IHG card for some very specific reasons:
Given the recent 2015 category changes that were just announced for Marriott (out of the 35-page PDF, the first 9 pages display the hotel properties that are decreasing in categories, and the rest are hotels moving up a category), it’s no secret that it was a devaluation of Marriott points and free-night certificates.
Even with all that aside, here’s why the IHG card trumps the Marriott card at moment, in my opinion:
- Annual free night with no category or property restrictions: This perk is hands-down the best thing about the card. After paying the annual fee each year, you’ll receive a certificate in your IHG each year that is good for a free night at ANY IHG property worldwide, even those with nightly rates of over $1,000. Hey – if all else fails, and I end up using my free night at a nearby Holiday Inn, I still make out like a bandit considering how low the annual fee is.
- One of the lowest annual fees out there: $49 annual fee, which is waived the first year, is a no-brainer to me (which is why this will always be a hotel credit card that is never leaving my wallet).
- High sign-up bonus: I applied for this card a few years ago when the highest public sign-up bonus was 80,000 points. The offer usually lingers at 60,000 points, which is still generous. To put redemption possibilities in perspective, that’s enough points to redeem for up to 12 free nights (if redeeming from the PointBreaks list). My favorite place to redeem my IHG points is at the Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach.
- IHG Platinum Status actually gets me perks: Usually mid-level hotel status is nothing to write home about, but I personally have nothing but good things to say about my experiences as an IHG Platinum. On all occasions, I’ve received a nice upgraded room, a great welcome amenity (such as a free bottle of wine), late check out, and free breakfast. Since being a card holder automatically grants me Platinum status, I don’t have to worry about re-qualifying through paid nights each year.
- PointBreaks: Though none of the PointBreak hotels work with my travel plans this time around, I love the fact that several times a year IHG makes it possible to book award nights at extremely discounted redemption-rates (only 5,000 points a night!). This is an extremely generous program perk, and I look forward to the list each time it is released.
- I love Kimpton: I’m going to leave off this post by repeating for the umpteenth time that I love Kimpton. With IHG’s recent acquisition of the Kimpton brand, I’m excited to see how details of the partnership will unfold. I love the idea that I will soon be able to possibly redeem IHG points at some of my favorite Kimpton properties. As of now, you could use proof of IHG Platinum status to ask for a reciprocity status match with Kimpton (and believe me, this brand does loyalty the right way).
What do you think? Do you agree with me that the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a better choice?