No, you shouldn't rush to sign up for IHG's crappy credit card

Chase and IHG Rewards Club have offered a co-branded credit card for a number of years with the following features:

  • a $49 annual fee;
  • a signup bonus between 50,000-100,000 IHG Rewards Club points;
  • an anniversary free night certificate good at any IHG property in the world.

I've written multiple times about why such a card (like the similar Marriott Rewards Premier credit card) isn't interesting to me. Free night certificates require you to either move mid-stay (when you run out of free night certificates) or pay cash for nights you could otherwise pay for with fewer or more easily acquired points.

If IHG were an important hotel chain, with important hotels, where it was important to stay, I wouldn't have any problem with folks saving money on their annual IHG stays by paying a $49 annual credit card fee.

But no one has ever been able to give me a convincing argument for why a travel hacker should stay at an IHG Rewards Club property except that they have an expiring free night certificate from this crappy credit card.

Now the crappy IHG Rewards credit card is being replaced by two crappy IHG Rewards credit cards

Spencer Howard reported yesterday that the Chase IHG Rewards credit card is being retired, to be replaced by a couple of equally bad credit cards.

This has given an opportunity to affiliate bloggers to flog their old workhorse one more time before it shuffles off its mortal coil. My takeaway is a lot simpler.

Why don't you have an IHG Rewards Club credit card already?

I have a World of Hyatt credit card because I can redeem the annual free night certificate at Hyatt properties, where I'm also able to redeem my Ultimate Rewards points for good value.

I have a Hilton credit card because I stay at Hilton properties and manufacture spend with it at grocery stores, which gives me a solid discount off retail at the many Hilton properties around the world.

I don't have an IHG Rewards Club credit card because IHG Rewards Club sucks.

When I talk about travel hacking, I mean one thing and one thing only: paying as little as possible for the trips you want to take.

If you've got a favorite IHG property you stay at every time you visit your family, don't let me stop you from knocking off a couple bucks by using a credit card free night certificate.

But if, after all these years, you've never felt it was worthwhile to sign up for a $49-annual-fee credit card offering a free night at a chain you never stay at, why would it suddenly become worthwhile just because the card is going away?

The false urgency of now

There will always be people telling you that this, right now, is your last, best, or only chance to buy whatever it is they're selling. And there's usually not much harm in that. If you need a pair of socks, who cares if the haberdasher tells you they're his very last pair and how lucky you are to have them? If you need the heel of your shoe repaired, what's the harm in the cobbler telling you how close he was to shutting up the shop for the night before you walked in?

But there's a big difference between getting a little buttered up by the guy who's selling what you want to buy, and being suddenly hectored on all sides by people whose produce is about to spoil, and who need to get it off their shelves as quickly as possible.

The urgency they're expressing doesn't have anything to do with the once-in-a-lifetime offer you're about to lose out on. It's about the rotting produce they're not going to be able to sell for much longer.

So, are you buying it?