IHG vs Hilton Hotels & Rewards Compared

If you are trying to figure out if you should be going with IHG or Hilton, this article is for you.

Keeping track of which hotel brands are best and which points programs are better, can be confusing.

So, between IHG and Hilton, which hotel loyalty program should you choose? Let’s dive in and unravel the details.

A Brief Overview of IHG and Hilton

Before diving in, here’s a bit of context to set the stage.

What is InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)?

IHG, or InterContinental Hotels Group, boasts a portfolio of 16 brands with over 6,000 properties worldwide.

Their brands range from budget-friendly options like Holiday Inn Express to luxury offerings like InterContinental and Kimpton. The IHG rewards program, known as IHG Rewards Club, is popular for its competitive point accumulation and redemption rates.

What is Hilton Hotels & Resorts?

On the other hand, Hilton has a slightly larger footprint with over 6,300 properties across 18 brands globally.

Hilton’s portfolio includes affordable brands like Hampton Inn and luxury options like Waldorf Astoria.

The Hilton Honors loyalty program is known for its generous elite status benefits and widespread hotel availability.

5th night free hilton explained

Hilton vs IHG at a Glance

Here’s my high level assessment on the tradeoffs between these two hotel umbrella groups:

Criteria IHG Hotels & Resorts Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Number of Properties 5,900+ 7,000+
Brands in Portfolio 16 (including Holiday Inn, InterContinental, and Crowne Plaza) 18 (including Hilton, DoubleTree, and Hampton)
Loyalty Program IHG Rewards Club Hilton Honors
Points Expiry Points expire after 12 months of inactivity Points expire after 15 months of inactivity
Free Wi-Fi? Yes, for all members Yes, for all members
Lowest Tier Benefits Discounts, late check-out, and exclusive rates Digital check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi, and points towards free nights
Highest Tier Benefits Complimentary room upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, and bonus earnings on top of base points Room upgrades, 48-hour room guarantee, and 100% extra bonus on all the base points
Credit Card Partners Chase (IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card) American Express (Hilton Honors American Express Card)
Point Transfer to Airline Miles Yes, with over 40 participating airlines Yes, with over 30 participating airlines
Global Coverage Hotels in more than 100 countries Hotels in over 110 countries
Notable Unique Features “PointBreaks” program for discounted reward stays “Points Pooling” allows pooling points with family and friends
Average Points Earned per Dollar Spent 10 points per dollar spent 10 points per dollar spent at most brands, 5 at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites
Transferability of Points Can be transferred to other members or converted into airline miles Can be transferred to other members or converted into airline miles
Cost for Buying Additional Points Starts at $13.50 for 1,000 points Starts at $10 for 1,000 points
Green Initiative IHG Green Engage system for sustainable hotel operation LightStay, Hilton’s corporate responsibility strategy

Hotel Availability: IHG vs Hilton

As per the number of hotels in their portfolio, Hilton takes a slight lead over IHG.

Having more properties globally, Hilton Honors offers a wider range of choices for travelers. However, IHG is not far behind and provides ample options across various price points.

Hotel Loyalty Program: IHG Rewards vs Hilton Honors

Both IHG Rewards Club and Hilton Honors offer 10 base points per USD spent. But, Hilton Honors provides a higher bonus to elite members, making it more attractive for frequent travelers.

IHG Rewards Club, on the other hand, shines in its promotional offers and its IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which provides Platinum Elite status.

Further Read: Best Hilton Credit Card Options.

Hilton Honors Membership Levels

Here’s how Hilton Honors levels work:

Membership Level Required Stays, Nights, or Base Points Benefits
Member 0-10 nights No resort fees on Reward Stays, Digital Check-In and Digital Key, Free Wi-Fi, Late check-out (subject to availability), 2nd guest stays free
Silver 10+ nights All Member benefits plus 20% Elite Status Bonus, 5th night free on Reward Stays, 2 bottles of water per stay, Rollover nights
Gold 40+ nights All Silver benefits plus 80% Elite Status Bonus, Room upgrades (subject to availability), Complimentary breakfast at all hotels, 2 bottles of water
Diamond 60+ nights All Gold benefits plus 100% Elite Status Bonus, Executive Lounge access, Premium Wi-Fi, 48-hour Room Guarantee, Complimentary Upgrades (space available)

IHG Membership Levels

Similarly, here’s how IHG arrays their rewards membership levels:

Membership Level Requirements Benefits
Club Sign-up Complimentary Internet, Late Check-out (when available), points don’t expire for Elite members
Silver  Elite 10 nights All Club benefits, plus 20% Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points, Priority Check-In
Gold Elite 20 nights or 40,000 points All Gold Elite benefits, plus 40% Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points, Room Upgrades (when available), Point’s don’t expire, Rollover Points (into next year)
Platinum Elite 40 nights or 60,000 points All Platinum Elite benefits, plus 100% Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points, Choice Benefit upon receiving status, Early Check-In (when available), Complimentary Upgrades
Diamond Elite $70 or 120,000 points All Spire Elite benefits, plus Guaranteed Room Upgrade, 4 PM Late Check-out, Complimentary Weekend Night, Dedicated Support Line

Value of Points: Stretching Your Rewards Further

The value of points can significantly affect the attractiveness of a loyalty program. Both IHG and Hilton have adopted dynamic award pricing, where the number of points required for an award night varies based on the hotel’s pricing, demand, and other factors.

The Hilton Honors program stands out with its “5th Night Free” benefit for Silver, Gold, and Diamond members, stretching your points further. In contrast, IHG Rewards Club offers a “4th Night Free” benefit, but it is exclusively available to IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card holders.

Hotel Credit Card Options: Earning More Points

When it comes to co-branded credit cards, both IHG and Hilton offer lucrative options.

Hilton’s credit cards generally earn more points on hotel spending and offer higher status levels. For instance, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers top-tier Diamond status, an annual free night certificate, and various travel credits.

For IHG, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card stands out with an annual free night, automatic Platinum Elite status, and a generous points earning rate on IHG spending.

Elite Status: A Battle of Benefits

Elite status benefits can significantly enhance your hotel experience.

Hilton’s elite status benefits, especially for Gold and Diamond members, include free breakfast at all brands and potential suite upgrades. IHG, however, offers fewer tangible benefits for their elite members, focusing more on bonus points and occasional room upgrades.

Lifetime Status: A Reward for Loyalty

When it comes to lifetime status, Hilton Honors stands out with its lifetime Diamond status, achieved after 10 years of Diamond status and 1,000 nights.

Unfortunately, IHG doesn’t offer any equivalent lifetime status.

Family and Business Travel Considerations

Both IHG and Hilton cater to family and business travelers with their range of brands and specific amenities.

Brands like Holiday Inn Express (IHG) and Hampton Inn (Hilton) are popular among families for their value and complimentary breakfast.

For business travelers, Hilton’s full-service and luxury brands might be more appealing, while IHG’s value-focused brands like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza offer budget-friendly options.

The Takeaway: IHG or Hilton?

Both IHG and Hilton offer compelling reasons to choose their loyalty programs. Your personal travel preferences, budget, and the importance you place on elite status benefits and hotel availability should guide your decision.

While Hilton may offer more extensive elite perks, IHG’s generous promotions and the benefits of its co-branded credit card could make it more appealing to some travelers. In essence, both programs have their unique strengths, and the choice between IHG and Hilton ultimately comes down to your individual needs and travel patterns.

Final Look: Hilton or IHG?

In the battle of IHG vs Hilton, the winner is not clear-cut. It depends heavily on your personal travel habits and preferences.

  • Looking for more availability worldwide? If you value a slightly larger number of properties and more higher end options, then Hilton is a better bet.
  • Looking for long term rewards and status? The Hilton Honors has more, and better long term perks, like lifetime status. They also have a slightly longer expiry window at 15 months vs 12 months for IHG.
  • Looking to earn points and status quickly? If you prefer robust promotional offers and a credit card that provides automatic elite status, then IHG could be the better fit.

Ultimately, both IHG and Hilton are worthy contenders in the hotel loyalty program arena, offering varied options to suit different types of travelers.

Learn More About Hilton & IHG

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