It used to be very easy to answer the question, “What’s the best hotel card offer available right now.” Up until a few days ago I could easily answer, “The US Bank Club Carlson Premier Visa.” Yet a small adjustment they announced last week means that it is being supplanted.
The highlight of the Club Carlson card was that it offered a “last night free” bonus when booking with points. It essentially made it so that you could book one night and get a second night free – something we took advantage of in Boise, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. With the announcement last week, they are discontinuing that benefit, effectively devaluing Club Carlson points in our eyes by 50%. All of the sudden the 85k point bonus isn’t all that grand.
They’re “replacing” that benefit with an offer for a free night if you spend $10k on the card in a given year and pay the annual fee. [Wa…wa…waaaa – you know, the disappointment noise].
The Best Hotel Points Card
Enough about what was the best hotel points card and onto what is the best hotel points card. It’s the IHG Rewards Club Select by Chase. Until May 31st, the card offers a 70k point bonus when you spend $1000 in the first 3 months. That bonus is easily attainable and there are also a number of other key benefits:
- Platinum elite status (This means you don’t even have to sweet talk the front desk for free upgrades, late check out, and other nice perks).
- A 10% rebate on all points you redeem (to a max of 100k points).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- The $49 annual fee is waived the first year.
- A free night at absolutely any IHG hotel on each card anniversary (makes the $49 annual fee to keep the card a no-brainer).
How We Have Used IHG Benefits
Each quarter, IHG releases a list of their “Pointbreaks” hotels which they offer for only 5k points per night. The best way to maximize the 70k points you receive is to take full advantage of these and travel where your points could get you as many as 14 nights! The list is never disappointing, either, with abundant options and amazing properties all over the world.
I capitalized on this for the last night of our insanely cheap trip to Italy, when we had a stopover in Dusseldorf. In addition to an upgraded room, we were also greeted with a cheese and fruit plate, drink vouchers, and free internet.
Also, as I noted, this is a card you should keep forever due to the impressive “free night at any hotel” benefit that you get in exchange for your $49 annual fee. At a bare minimum, you’ll get a $100 hotel for $49, but if you play it right (and I hope you will), you can use that night for an otherwise very expensive hotel.
Sheldon executed on this brilliantly just days ago as he’s making his way around France and the Netherlands. (Follow @worldwanderlusting on Instagram if you want to see his pics). Here’s a shot of the view from the balcony of the $600 hotel room he got for paying the paltry $49 annual fee. Tell me you wouldn’t pay that gladly?
How You Should Use IHG Benefits
Our advice to you is the same as it is always, be flexible and maximize your efficiency in spending the 70k points that will come to you. The first thing you can do is take a look at the IHG Award Chart, which tells you how much they require for each category. You can find this for every hotel program on our “Using Hotel Points” page, which you should bookmark.
Make a plan to keep track of the next update to the list of Point Breaks hotels, and arm yourself with enough airline miles to be able to pounce on whatever is hot. Looking at the list now, I’d love to go to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, or to Bucharest, Romania.
Lastly, if the card is good for you, get one for your wife, too. Then you can put your nightst together and eye a couple nights in an uber-expensive IHG hotel like the one of these. Tie it in with some other nights at a more points-inexpensive hotels for an epic vacation with pampered luxury you never knew $49 could buy you.
What do you think? Is there another IHG hotel property that we need to know about? Where have you used your free nights? Please don’t be shy. Comment and share if you find this opportunity exciting.