IHG or Hilton? Help please.

Old Aug 10, 15, 9:36 pm
  #1  
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IHG or Hilton? Help please.

Hi Everyone,

First post here but long time reader. I'm looking for some help from the pros deciding on my hotel program. I pretty much have it down to IHG or Hilton, as my travel brings me to a lot of small towns where the sheer numbers of Hampton and HIE properties help out. I'll probably have about 30 more nights this year, and somewhere around 75 or more next year.

I currently have IHG gold and HHonors gold status, and about 30-40k points in each program. I'm getting married next year and would like to save for some free nights somewhere in Europe for the honeymoon.

I also have no credit cards besides a regular Bank of America travel rewards, so I know there is some opportunity there. Which program would you guys recommend?

Last edited by GT1009; Aug 10, 15 at 10:02 pm Reason: Content
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Old Aug 11, 15, 12:35 am
  #2  
 
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Both?

Get the IHG card from Chase. $49 annual fee and lousy point earning (other than 5 points per dollar on IHG properties) BUT you get one free night certificate per year on renewal. It's pretty easy to get more value from the annual stay than the cost of the fee even if you toss the card in a sock drawer. IHG plat status comes with the card.

Same deal with the Hilton Reserve card from Citi, except that the annual fee is $95 and the free night requires $10,000 in annual spend AND is good for a weekend night only.

Both cards have nice sign-up point bonuses that can help with Europe, and both have no fees on foreign transactions. Overseas hotels for both IHG and Hilton (but especially Hilton) treat elites better than American properties.

If you want mid-tier status, you can get both IHG and Hilton with no effort thru credit cards. If you want top tier, there is not much difference between Hilton Gold and Hilton Diamond. See the Hilton thread for more info.

Mid-tier status at both hotels is so easy to obtain, I do both and just pick the better of the two chains according the city I visit. The trouble with chains other than IHG or Hilton is that I could never get enough stays at any of them to matter.
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Old Aug 11, 15, 2:30 am
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In the US, IHG has much better small-town presence than HH. I find Holiday Inn Expresses in lots of roadside towns where there's not a Hampton (orfor that matter, Fairfield or Courtyard) to be seen. Of course, if your travel takes you to lots of really small towns you might be better off with Choice.
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Old Aug 11, 15, 2:59 am
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If you reside outside asia, play your credit cards properly and you will receive heaps of points and free night certs.

My bet is to take on IHG and aim for platinum, while doing promotions and challenges to rack up points. IHG is the easiest for points. Then you can wait for a 100% bonus point buy promo to buy 60,000+60,000 points.

You should then plan the best properties to burn these points at such as IC Koh Samui @ 25,000 + $70usd per night. or the IC Hong Kong $550usd a night at only 50k points.
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Old Aug 11, 15, 4:00 am
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Where are you planning to go on honeymoon?
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Old Aug 11, 15, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by MagicWok View Post
Where are you planning to go on honeymoon?
She is pretty heart set on Italy, so that's likely where we will end up.
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Old Aug 11, 15, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by GT1009 View Post
She is pretty heart set on Italy, so that's likely where we will end up.
Have you looked at IHG and Hilton properties in the places you want to visit? For me that would be the deciding factor.

You might consider what cc signup bonuses would do for other chains, particularly if you are traveling around Italy. The Westin in Florence, right on the Arno is 25k a night. The SPG sign up bonus is 25k. So, if you and your fiancé were to each get a card, you'd have 2 nights. The Marriott also has some nice hotels in Italy.

I was in Italy last year traveling around. I'm Hilton diamond and didn't stay in a single Hilton--Westin in Florence, Boscolo in Venice (a Marriott) and an unfortunate Radisson in Rome. Along the way, I stayed at several AC hotels which is a Marriott comparable to a Hampton, but a bit nicer. The Hiltons just weren't in as good locations as other hotels. In Venice, the Hilton is on an island where you have to take a boat to the main part of Venice. In Florence, it is away from the tourist center.

Anyway, my suggestion is to figure out where you want to go and where to stay in each location before tying yourself to a specific hotel chain.
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Old Aug 12, 15, 6:21 pm
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If I were you, I'd choose the IHG card. You can get points from many more: HIE/lower-tier hotels, mid-tier Crown Plaza, and higher-end IC. The free night certificates are valid at any IHG property worldwide - Tahiti, HK, Paris, Maui, etc. And you get a new free-night certificate every year you keep the card. They also have a program to use your earned points at ANY non-IHG property, but it's not the best way. Granted IHG has fewer high-end properties, they do have many in the best cities. But Hilton restricts many of their top-tier properties from the reward nights certificates while IHG does not limit in any way (unless a property is sold-out -- so book early).

IHG: $98/year (1st year free) if both you/fiance get the card, 2 free-nights (not just weekend nights) at any IHG property WW. No foreign trans. fees.

HH: $95/year (1st year not free) for one card, 2 free weekend-only nights at limited # of properties. Can't combine if she gets a card too, since a weekend only has 2 days (if she also gets an HH Reserve card, you'll have to book a 9-night stay to combine the following weekend from her card -- and it'll cost $190/year). No foreign trans. fees.



Ultimately my decision would be based on:
- Ease of getting free/award nights in cities I truly want to visit (e.g. Venice)
- How long do I plan to keep this card & Rewards account
- Cost / difficulty in earning points & free reward nights

Pros/Cons for IHG:

The Chase IHG Rewards Select card currently has a 60k with $50 statement credit offer. They often have an 80k offer -- look on this site in another thread for how to ask Chase to UP your offer to 80K (since it sounds like you don't have an invitation). Do so after applying for the 60k offer.

With IHG, you get 1 free night anywhere WW, per year. Combined with the 80k signup bonus, you can stay 3-5 nights for free at any of their lux properties (IHG's top properties require 25-35k), which includes InterContinental.

If you and your fiance each get a card, you'll have up to 160k points, and 2 free-night certificates at no cost (the card is free 1st year, and $49 for years 2+). That's enough for a very long FREE hotel stay at some very nice properties, on your honeymoon. With up to 10 free nights, you could even do 2 cities in Italy. And with the $$$ money you save on hotels, you can splurge it elsewhere on yourselves or on her.

Pros/Cons for HH:

For the Citi HH Reserve, the annual certificate is for weekend stays only, but it has 2 weekend-nights per card. They give no points as a signing-bonus. And the top Hilton properties take more points your earned (points don't go as far), and their program has more blacked-out properties (they exclude more of their top-tiers from this). The card costs $95/yr (no free 1st year).


Either way, happy travels on your honeymoon & afterwards.
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Old Aug 14, 15, 1:46 pm
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HH Pro only 32 stays a year (32 nites if single nite stays) to achieve top tier Diamond Status.
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Old Aug 14, 15, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Uplift Humanity View Post
HH: $95/year (1st year not free) for one card, 2 free weekend-only nights at limited # of properties. Can't combine if she gets a card too, since a weekend only has 2 days (if she also gets an HH Reserve card, you'll have to book a 9-night stay to combine the following weekend from her card -- and it'll cost $190/year).
To be fair:
1. The number of excluded properties is minute (36 excluded properties), and most of them are time share properties. The others are all-inclusive and few unique properties. They represent a tiny proportion of the Hilton brand.

2. The weekend is actually 3 days long, as the certificate is good for Friday-Saturday-Sunday (or Thursday-Friday-Saturday in the Middle East).

3. You forget that the reserve card gives you a Gold status which has tangible real benefits, as opposed to the Platinum status.

They are both different, and both worth having - I myself have both.
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Old Aug 14, 15, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by GT1009 View Post
I'm getting married next year and would like to save for some free nights somewhere in Europe for the honeymoon.
Congratulations.

However, my better half would divorce me immediately if we spent our honeymoon at an IHG or Hilton hotel, apart from maybe Conrad Maldives.

Hyatt is where you should be focusing if you can. I know their small town footprint is much less but the credit card gives you 2 nights anywhere - Paris, Cannes, Milan, etc. - and fairly frequently you can find Diamond challenges that require only 12 nights. With that, you get to confirm free suite upgrades for your Point & Cash honeymoon stays...
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Old Aug 14, 15, 2:55 pm
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Originally Posted by craigthemif View Post
Congratulations.

However, my better half would divorce me immediately if we spent our honeymoon at an IHG or Hilton hotel, apart from maybe Conrad Maldives.
Really? lol...
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Old Aug 14, 15, 3:13 pm
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Hyatt's small town footprint is nonexistent.

I would never marry any "better" half who would divorce me for spending a honeymoon at IHG/Hilton!

As to the original question, Hampton is much more consistent than HI Express, and while HI has more locations in very rural areas, those are also areas where the nearest Hampton may be an easy drive.

Hampton also has more consistent wifi -- faster (~3 Mbps downlink) and always AT&T Wifi whereas each HI property appears to run fully independent wifi. Either way, for serious work, the best option is probably to tether a phone or hotspot with LTE.
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Old Aug 16, 15, 1:07 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post

I would never marry any "better" half who would divorce me for spending a honeymoon at IHG/Hilton!
Originally Posted by csyoung49 View Post
Really? lol...
I've taken her to enough Park Hyatts that she would really wonder why I proposed a Hilton or IC (I'm not a RA) for our honeymoon, since I've taken her to those chains as well. She knows what she prefers!

Anyhow, people can have different opinions. If you want to earn points / status in small towns, obviously Hyatt isn't really for you. But if you're planning a nice honeymoon, IMO you should be aiming for better than a Hilton...
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Old Aug 16, 15, 1:34 pm
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I would go for applying for SPG cards, then get enough SPG points and then exchange for free nights at SPG properties...

Now if you both apply, you get 60K points, that is enough for the highest category hotel for 2-3 nights... crazy...
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