IHG One Rewards Traveler card review: An excellent hotel rewards card, outshone only by its sibling, the Premier.



Our take: The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is the Liam Hemsworth of hotel rewards cards. Sure, it can stand on its own two feet, offering a hefty 80,000-point welcome bonus worth at least $500 in IHG redemption and up to 7X per dollar spent, but it lives in the shadow of its bigger brother. In this case, “Chris” is the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card with a beefier 140,000-point welcome bonus, up to 16X, instant Platinum status and free anniversary night. 

But for those who aren’t committed to the IHG brand or shun the idea of spending $99 on a hotel rewards card, baby brother will do just fine.

Pros

  • Generous 80,000-point welcome bonus worth up to two free nights (worth between $500 – $700 in value) far outshines what you typically can get with a no-fee hotel rewards card
  • 5X on IHG purchases can stack up to 17X with free IHG membership (10X) and Silver Elite membership (2X)…
  • …Which is included with the card
  • Redeem points for three nights, get a fourth night free
  • Includes trip interruption/cancellation insurance, lost/delayed baggage insurance and purchase protection
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • IHG One Rewards points are only worth about 0.7 pennies a pop…
  • …But they’re worth even less for non-IHG redemption options, so you’ll want to save them for hotel stays
  • Silver Elite status offers 2X points and that’s about it. You won’t receive free room upgrades until you reach Platinum Elite.
  • No free anniversary nights (though it’s hard to complain with no annual fee)

IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card Highlights

Card type: $0 fee, hotel rewards, travel rewards

  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 
    • 5X on purchases at IHG hotels and resorts
    • 3X points on purchases on monthly bills, gas stations, and restaurants and select streaming services (incl. Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and more)
    • 2X points on all other purchases

IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card Overview

For a no-annual-fee hotel rewards card, the is extremely rewarding to non-committal hotel hoppers. If you meet the minimum spending requirement, you’ll get an 80,000-point welcome bonus worth at least $500 in redemption value, up to 17X total rewards on IHG bookings, no foreign transaction fees and a comforting bundle of travel insurance – all for $0. 

For those less familiar with the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) family of properties, here’s a list: 

  • Atwell Suites
  • Avid
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Even
  • Garner
  • Holiday Inn
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Hotel Indigo
  • Hualuxe
  • Iberostar Beachfront Resorts
  • InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
  • Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  • Regent
  • Six Senses
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Vignette Collection
  • Vovo

While your 80,000-point welcome bonus is good for two nights at most properties, we recommend saving your points until you can redeem them for a three-night stay. That way, you can attach a fourth night to your stay for free using the card’s buy-three-get-one deal. 

In essence, the Traveler card is a no-annual-fee card that offers a two-night stay practically right away or a four-night stay after just a little spending. We’d say it’s a no-brainer for anyone planning to stay at an IHG property this year, but the truth is that the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is massively overshadowed by its own bigger brother, the IHG One Rewards Premier. 

So what does the Traveler have to offer, and at what point is it worth paying $99 for big bro? 

Who is the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card good for?

The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is ideal for someone who wants to score a few free nights at an IHG property without committing to an annual fee. If you’re the kind of person who likes having a fleet of $0-annual-fee travel cards so you’re ready to maximize points wherever you eat, fly or stay, the IHG One Rewards Traveler card is the IHG card you’re looking for. 

Who shouldn’t get the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card?

If you’re even mildly committed to the IHG brand, you’ll probably find more value out of the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card. The Traveler’s beefier sibling may charge a $99 annual fee but it comes with a beefier 140,000-point welcome bonus, 10X points from the card only (26X total with membership plus automatic Platinum Elite status) and a free anniversary night worth up to 40,000 points. 

The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is also not a great fit if you need a general-purpose travel rewards card since the points you earn are really only good for IHG stays. For a more versatile travel companion, check out our best travel credit cards of 2024. 

IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card: How to earn rewards

The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card offers the following rewards tiers: 

  • 5X on IHG Hotel and Resort purchases (stays, upgrades, breakfast in bed etc.)
  • 3X on dining, utilities, gas, and select streaming services (includes Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and most of the big ones – here’s the list)
  • 2X points on all other purchases

Chase touts that you can earn “up to 17X points when you stay at IHG Hotels & Resorts” by using the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card. That’s technically true but a little misleading since the card itself isn’t doing most of that heavy lifting. 

In truth, you’ll earn 10X just for joining IHG rewards. Next, you’ll earn 2X for being a Silver Elite member, which you can earn after 10 qualified nights or points or receive instantly with the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card. Finally, the card tops you off with 5X. 

So even if you skip the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, you can book with a regular travel rewards card to earn roughly 2X from your bank and 10X from IHG One Rewards for a total of 12X points. 17X is better, sure, but it may not be as impressive as it sounds. 

Putting aside the rewards, you’ll also score a whopping 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and another 10,000 points after spending $10,000 in a year. 

That 80,000 sure sounds like a lot, especially for a card with no annual fee. After all, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card “only” grants a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening and that card costs $95 a year. 

So what’s the catch with those 80,000 points? Well, you might want to buckle in for some good and bad news. 

How to redeem IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card rewards 

When it comes to redeeming IHG One Rewards points, there’s good news and bad news. Psychology says it’s better to deliver bad news first, so here goes. 

IHG One Rewards points are worth about 0.7 cents each. Depending on the stay you book, their value could rise to roughly 1 cent – or plummet to 0.5 cents. 

That also means that if we convert IHG points to real-world value, your rewards chart looks more like this: 

  • 5X or 3.5 cents on IHG hotels and resorts
  • 3X or 2.1 cents on dining, utilities, gas and streaming
  • 2X or 1.4 cents on all other purchases

That’s the bad news. The good news is that an 80,000-point welcome bonus still goes quite a long way, being worth between $500 and $800 in value towards future IHG stays. Compared to other no-annual-fee rewards cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠  or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold , a welcome bonus worth at least $500 is rather generous and may be able to cover up to a two-night stay. 

As for redemption options, you have several: 

  • Free nights
  • Points and cash (i.e. combining points with cash for a booking)
  • Experiences and tours
  • IHG One Rewards Access (e.g. courtside tickets to a sporting events, VIP concert tickets etc.)
  • Gift cards and shopping
  • Points donations
  • Digital rewards (e.g. magazines, eBooks, movies)
  • Transfers to one of IHG’s 41 airline partners

But generally speaking, you’re going to want to save your IHG points for IHG stays. Redeem them for something else and their values will plummet even further, as showcased by the 5:1 ratio with most airline partners. 

IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card rates and fees

For context, most no-annual-fee rewards cards have a 3% foreign transaction fee and a 0% introductory APR period on purchases and/or balance transfers. The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card is the opposite – you won’t get charged 3% when you run your card at the Parthenon gift shop.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Regular APR: 21.49%–28.49% variable

Additional benefits

In terms of icing on the cake, the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card offers trip insurance, instant status and a compelling buy-three-get-one free night bonus on award stays. The card gets an odd amount of flak for not offering a free anniversary night, but c’mon—not even the $250 Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card offers an automatic free night these days. 

  • Redeem three nights, get the fourth free. When you redeem your points for a three-night stay, IHG will tack on a fourth free of charge. It has to be during the same stay at the same resort, however. 
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 in a calendar year. Not bad, but if you’re planning to put that much on an IHG card you’ll probably want to put it on the IHG One Rewards Premier card instead for the higher max rewards rate (26X) and free anniversary night.
  • Automatic Silver Elite status which nets you that extra 2X towards your max 17X on IHG purchases with the card and little else.
  • Gold Elite status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year, which is a weirdly-high threshold when you can also reach Gold Elite status by staying two nights at any IHG property through December 2024.
  • Travel insurance including Trip cancellation/iInterruption (up to $5,000/person, $10,000/trip), baggage delay insurance ($100/day for three days), lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)
  • Purchase protection of up to $500 per claim within 120 days of purchase. 

Credit cards similar to IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card

The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card primarily competes with its own big brother, the IHG One Rewards Premier card. 

Let’s see how it stacks up with big bro, along with our favorite overall no-annual-fee travel rewards card. 

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card vs. IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card

The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card ups the fee to $99 per year but adds a 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, automatic Platinum status and a free anniversary night. It’s also a bit more rewarding, adding 10X base earnings with the card, 6X for Platinum status and 10X for being a rewards member for a total of 26X on IHG purchases. You’ll also get 5X points on travel, gas stations, and restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases. 

Basically, it’s the IHG One Rewards Traveler if it did CrossFit and drank daily protein shakes, and we’re here for it. The card is more rewarding across the board, and the bigger welcome bonus and free anniversary night worth up to 40,000 points are more than enough to justify the $99 annual fee. 

As a result, the only reason we’d recommend sticking with the no-annual-fee IHG One Rewards Traveler is if you’re truly uncertain whether you’ll book at least one IHG stay per year. If you’re certain you’ll pop by a Holiday Inn or a Crowne Plaza at least once, you’ll instantly squeeze $99 worth of value out of the Premier. 

Wells Fargo Autograph vs. IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card

The $0-annual-fee, commitment-free Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card offers 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans plus 1X points on other purchases. The points are worth a penny each, and you’ll score a nice 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months (that’s a $200 cash redemption value). The cherry on top is $600 worth of cell phone protection (a $25 deductible applies) in case your Samsung flies off the vespa in Saigon. 

The Wells Fargo Autograph made its way onto our best travel cards of 2024 list due to its high earnings rate on general travel purchases; you’ll get 3X on virtually everything, pay no foreign transaction fees and enjoy 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening in case your trip goes a little over-budget. 

If you join IHG One Rewards and book IHG stays with your Wells Fargo Autograph card you’ll get the equivalent of 3% cash back plus 10X IHG One Rewards. If you book with your IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, you’ll get 17X points worth. Of course, going with the former means forfeiting your 80,000-point bonus, Silver Elite status and buy-three-get-one perk, but if you’re looking for a more versatile travel rewards card with no annual fee and a cash-back redemption option, the Autograph is a better fit. 

Is the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card right for you?

With no annual fee and a generous 80,000-point welcome bonus worth at least $500, the IHG One Rewards Traveler card is virtually a no-brainer if you plan to stay at an IHG property this year. 

The only caveat is that you might like the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card better. For an extra $99 you get a larger 140,000-point welcome bonus, instant Platinum status (and free room upgrades when available) and a free night each year to continue justifying your $99 investment. 

If you aren’t brand loyal to IHG whatsoever and you’d simply like a single rewards card you can use for multiple hotels and airlines, check out our list of the best travel rewards cards of 2024. 

Frequently asked questions

What is the annual fee for the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card?

  • The IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card has no annual fee. 

How many points do you need for a free night at IHG?

  • Chase claims that the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card’s 80,000-point welcome bonus is good for up to two nights, so it’s safe to assume you’ll need roughly 40,000 points (worth roughly $200+) to redeem for one free night at most properties. That said, IHG reward nights are dynamically prices so you’ll occasionally see one under 10,000 points a night or one over 100,000 points per night.

What is the credit limit on the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card?

  • Your initial credit limit will depend on multiple factors including your credit score and reported income level, as well as if you’re carrying any other debts with the issuer Chase. 

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.



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