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Points of view: What credit card should you use for IHG stays?

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) refreshed its credit card lineup in March of 2022. That included a revamp of its two existing cards and the addition of a small-business credit card. That brings us to three credit cards that earn points in the IHG One Rewards program.

And while these cards do offer some level of status, you might pause before automatically pulling out a credit card that bears the logo of the hotel where you’re staying. Is that really the best card to pay with, or should you use something else to maximize your earnings?

Here’s a look at some popular credit cards you might use to pay for your next stay at IHG hotels and resorts, comparing what these cards can offer you in terms of return on spending and perks during your stay.

Comparing credit cards for an IHG stay

Aside from using an IHG cobranded credit card, you could also pay using an all-around travel rewards card that earns transferable points on travel purchases, including your next hotel stay. Here are some cards you might pay with and what you could get when using these cards:

* Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Current welcome offers on IHG credit cards

Which card should you use?

Consider two things when deciding which credit card to use for your next stay at an IHG One Rewards-affiliated property: the benefits you can get and the value of the points you can earn.

TPG values IHG points at half a cent each. Thus, while you can earn 10 points per dollar when paying with the IHG Premier card or IHG Premier Business card, those 10 points are actually worth just 5 cents. That’s less value than you’d get with 3 points per dollar on the Amex Green Card, since Amex points are worth 2 cents each — a total of 6 cents in value for each dollar spent.

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Now, cards like the Amex Green or Chase Sapphire Reserve don’t (by themselves) unlock on-property benefits like room upgrades. Luckily, your IHG elite perks aren’t tied to the credit card you pay with — even if the credit card is the sole reason you hold status.

That means it might be worthwhile to hold an IHG cobranded credit card simply to qualify for elite status and receive the associated benefits. Then, you can pay with a different credit card to earn more valuable points. And if you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points you earn (Ultimate Rewards) can be transferred freely and immediately to IHG if you need to top off your balance for an upcoming redemption — though there are many other (better) ways to make the most of those points.

InterContinental Washington DC — The Wharf. BRIAN BIROS/THE POINTS GUY

That said, it’s worth noting that using a card like the Sapphire Reserve to pay for an IHG stay through the Chase Travel portal may not be the best option. That’s because these reservations are treated as third-party bookings and thus aren’t eligible to earn IHG points. You’ll also miss out on utilizing any elite status perks during your stay, so be sure to factor that in when deciding how to book (and pay).

Related: Why you don’t earn hotel points when booking through an OTA

Bottom line

With IHG’s credit cards and stays at IHG hotels, deciding which credit card to use can involve tradeoffs. If you pay with IHG’s own credit cards, the points you earn aren’t that valuable — even though you’ll get a lot of them. In order to get maximum value, your best bet might be holding an IHG credit card for status benefits but using a different credit card to pay at the front desk.

Editor’s note: “Points of View” is a series evaluating decisions on which credit card to use. If you’re facing a dilemma about which card is best for an upcoming payment, email us at [email protected]

Also in this series:

For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.