Disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with the companies listed in this post.
Every now and then, I get asked for my recommendation on the best credit cards to apply for. In my opinion, a good credit card is one that fits your needs. I always start by asking the questions: “What is it that you really want to get out of it? Do you want to earn cash back or travel rewards? Are you looking for airport perks, such as priority boarding or lounge access?” For those who are unsure, I tend to steer them towards cards with flexible rewards programs — the ones that allow you to transfer points to either airline or hotels, or allow you to book directly using points.
The BEST hotel-branded credit card
For those who are looking for the best hotel-branded credit card, the clear winner in my book is:
I am happy to pay the reasonable annual fee ($49USD) year after year. You’d get an anniversary free night certificate for a stay at any IHG property at renewal. IHG includes Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, and Crown Plaza properties. There are over 4600 IHG properties worldwide, so it’s relatively easy to find an IHG property no matter your destination. While other hotel branded cards (i.e. Marriott) also offer a free night certificate, they are often restricted to hotels of certain categories. This makes the IHG free night anniversary certificate all the more valuable.
Platinum Status! (but don’t hold your breath)
As a cardholder, you are given Platinum status in the IHG hotel program. In truth, the loyalty program at IHG is quite disappointing. With other hotel programs, you’d get useful perks like free breakfasts or room upgrades. The IHG elite perks are a little less inspiring. From my experience, I’ve not been given at room upgrades other than perhaps a room on a higher floor. As a Spire elite (highest level) in the program this year, I’m eager to see if it makes much of a difference on a paid reservation coming up later in the year. However, given my past experience as a Platinum member, I’m not really holding my breath.
Socking Away the Best Hotel Branded Card
While I highly value the Chase’s IHG card, it’s also a card I rarely use for regular purchases. I personally prefer a more flexible rewards program. The Chase’s IHG card is the best hotel card based on value of the anniversary free night alone. Since I don’t want to be restricted to just earning points in the IHG program, it also ended being my favorite hotel branded credit card that is worth paying for every year — yet rarely use.
Do you have Chase’s IHG card? Is it one of your favorite hotel branded credit cards? If not, which hotel branded card is your favorite?