I’ve been an avid collector of points for roughly 5 years now and one important lesson that I learned quickly after taking my first free trip is this: Points can only take you so far, status does the rest. When I first started out, I had very few points, no status and I’d never sat in first class. The IHG Rewards card changed all of that for me.

Secret weapon in the sock drawer

The IHG Rewards credit card from Chase offers a lot of value for only a $49 annual fee. Not only do you get 60,000 IHG points after being approved and spending $1,000 in the first three months, but you also get a free night annually at any IHG property in the world. I plan to use mine this year in Koh Samui, Thailand. On top of that, they will give you IHG Platinum status for as long as you keep the card. To me, the status is the best benefit because you can leverage it to gain status with other hotel chains that you may prefer over IHG through status matches or challenges.

I rarely, if ever, use this card unless I just need to show some activity so Chase won’t close it. There are much better cards for daily spend, but this is one that I will keep as long as the benefits remain intact. Also, as of right now, this card is not subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.

Status Matching

A status match is requesting equal status with a competitor and many programs will allow you to do this. I’ve used my IHG status to match to Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Diamond, Club Carlson Gold and Marriott Platinum. While many programs will no longer allow you to do an outright match, they will offer you status if you complete a fixed nights or stays in a specific time frame. If you’re interested in what programs you can match to, check out statusmatcher.com¬†and scroll down to Leveraging IHG Status with Other Brands.

I’ve not only gotten hotel status with this card, but I’ve also leveraged my status to get airline status and car rental status when opportunities and promotions have arisen. A lot of other cards give you mid-tier status, but IHG Platinum is considered top-tier.

Get complimentary Platinum status as long as you have the IHG card

Get complimentary Platinum status as long as you have the IHG card.

Annual Free Night

I’ve yet to use my annual free night certificate for a hotel that costs less than $600 per night. For $49, you can’t beat it. IHG, in my experience, also does a great job recognizing status and upgrading me during these stays. Others have had mixed experiences, but here’s a look at the rooms that I was given during my last two stays on a free night certificate.

Hotel Indigo Nashville - Presidential Suite Entry

Hotel Indigo Nashville – Presidential Suite Entry

Hotel Indigo Nashville - Presidential Suite Card Room

Hotel Indigo Nashville – Presidential Suite Card Room

Hotel Indigo Nashville - Presidential Suite Kitchen

Hotel Indigo Nashville – Presidential Suite Kitchen

The Willard Washington D.C. - Matthew C. Perry Suite

The Willard Washington D.C. – Matthew C. Perry Suite

The Willard Washington D.C. - Matthew C. Perry Suite

The Willard Washington D.C. – Matthew C. Perry Suite

The Willard Washington D.C. - Matthew C. Perry Suite

The Willard Washington D.C. – Matthew C. Perry Suite

Final Thoughts

Status adds a whole new dimension to your travel experience by getting you upgrades to larger rooms or suites, free breakfast, access to club lounges and small perks/freebies at ¬†number of properties. If you’re ready to up your travel game, get this card, it’s a no brainer.