Last August, I signed up for the Chase IHG Mastercard. IHG is the hotel group which owns Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, Staybridge Suites, etc. The sign-up offer was a decent one: 80,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year.
I’m putting my points to work this summer for a road trip.
It was a bit challenging to find points redemptions that would work for our family. If an award night was available, it might only be for a king bed room, or otherwise a room for 4 people max. Plenty of properties in my search had no award availability for any room type.
Still, I was able to find 3 hotels along our route: a 20,000 point/night Holiday Inn Express, a 25,000 Staybridge Suites, and a 30,000 Holiday Inn Express. The cash rate of these places would have been $390 total, so it is a decent value at about .0052 per point. We’ve stayed at a Staybridge Suites before, and of all within the IHG brand, this one was my favorite for family travel. The suites were spacious, the breakfast actually good. Holiday Inn Express = meh to me. It gets the job done, but it isn’t anything exciting.
I have about 7,000 points remaining, and I can potentially find a 5,000/night Point Saver, or use a cash+points option. Or, I could top off my account by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1:1 if it seemed I’d get a good value.
Some people are able to use their IHG points and annual night certificate for aspirational properties in highly desirable locations — The Venetian in Las Vegas, Intercontinental on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, or upscale properties in London/New York/Paris. Others, like me, just need a place for their family to stay on the road.
Unless you have a specific use for it soon, this isn’t the first card you should get if you are new to the points hobby. For that, I’d suggest working on the Chase Ultimate Rewards trifecta (Sapphire Preferred or Reserve + Chase Freedom + Chase Freedom Unlimited). You’ll get a ton more value out of those points, plus they are transferable to travel partners when you have the Preferred or Reserve. THEN start adding hotel or airline cards.)
Chase/IHG recently changed the credit card to a different product. It appears current cardholders can keep their card and old terms, but new-signups have a choice of two cards: one with a $29 annual fee, and one with an $89 annual fee. You’ll have to compare the terms to see if either is right for you.
When the card renews, I will have a $49 fee and I will receive a night certificate for a property at 40,000 points or less. This is a downgrade from the original offer, as it used to be good for *any* property. Still, after seeing room types in various places I hope to visit, I realize that award space just isn’t going to be there for a family of 5 anyway. So, my annual night will likely be redeemed on a road trip or at an airport hotel. As long as I’m able to use my reward certificate in a way that aids my travel, I will keep this card. If they change the terms on my card and bump it to the $89 fee version, I will have to think long and hard about keeping it. I’m pretty sure I can get at least $100 in value out of my certificate, and if I’m only paying $49 for that — that’s great. If I’m paying $89 and getting $100-150 or so, I dunno. I’d probably just prefer staying somewhere else.
How about you? Do you have the IHG card? Where have you used your points/night certificate?
This post first appeared on Sense To Save : Common Sense Ways To Save And Grow, please read the originial post: here