Loyalty Battle: Marriott vs IHG


a man holding a pillow and another man holding a pillowMarriott had better wake up and smell the IHG One Rewards coffee. If you had asked me before I left for vacation a week ago whether Marriott or IHG had a better loyalty program, the question would have seemed ridiculous, but on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, Greg pretty much convinced me that the new IHG One Rewards is pulling out ahead (at least on paper). If that doesn’t light a fire within Marriott to improve the program, I could see IHG stealing away some business if they are able to execute on what they’ve promised.

Elsewhere on the blog, Greg, Stephen, and Tim have written a number of interesting posts this week including about how we value free night certificates, the rental car stack you’re probably missing, how you can attend a Formula 1 race (and even sleep on a team’s yacht!) using Marriott points, and more. Watch, listen, or read on for more of this week at Frequent Miler.

1:38 Giant Mailbag: Is the Apple card a better beginner card?
6:15 What crazy thing . . . did Caesars Rewards do this week? The un-matched get rematched.
8:24 Mattress Running the Numbers: Hyatt status fast-track
16:48 Maint Event: Marriott vs IHG
1:12:35 Question of the Week: Is there a trick to finding Qatar availability?

Subscribe to our podcast

We publish Frequent Miler on the Air each week in both video form (above) and as an audio podcast. People love listening to the podcast while driving, working-out, etc. Please check it out and subscribe. Our podcast is available on all popular podcast platforms, including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and many more.

Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast online here.

This week at Frequent Miler

Wow! IHG to offer real elite benefits. Watch out Marriott.

IHG One Rewards (Instagram)

What a week to be on vacation! I spent most of this week almost completely unplugged and IHG decides to go off the rails and announce the details of a revamped program that sounds like a huge improvement. That said, I’m still skeptical. I hope that IHG is able to pull this off, but the difficulty in unifying a program like this is that there are so many different owners. I can’t help but feel like it will take a Herculean effort on the IHG corporate end to get everyone on board with a meaningful free breakfast benefit and other similar potentially-variable benefits. That said, if they can pull off what they have promised, I might just have to start getting spendy on an IHG credit card to go after elite status.

How to earn 2 years of IHG Club Lounge membership

a room with a calendar and chairs

This quick post is worth a highlight because of the potential value in timing out your IHG Milestone qualification at either 40 or 70 nights. I’m not sure how valuable this is given that it doesn’t feel like IHG has that many lounges, but for someone frequenting InterContinental properties with lounges, it could totally be worth timing things out for two full years of lounge access.

Which hotel elite program is best?

a man holding up signs

This post is a great summary look at the benefits of elite status across the major programs, but I have one small bone to pick with Greg. He stated that he was comparing the quality and obtainability of each benefit. He then goes on to note that he can’t compare the quality of lounges, which is fair, but the quality of lounge offerings should be fair game. Given how IHG lounges appear to be so few and far between outside of InterContinental, I just can’t see IHG’s benefit on par with Hyatt and Hilton even if it is more standardized than Marriott’s lounge benefit.

Sapphire Preferred 80K Q&A: Everything you need to know

a hand holding a credit card

The 80K offer is back on the Sapphire Preferred. Whether you’ve been eagerly awaiting this increase or you’re wondering whether you’re eligible if you product change your card, stand on your head, and rub your tummy, Greg probably has the answers for you in this post. Probably.

Flush With Marriott Points? Don’t Forget Marriott Bonvoy Moments For Unique Experiences

Marriott Bonvoy Moments

This post from Stephen highlights the fact that Marriott Moments are once again a thing. I looked at Moments last fall and there wasn’t much worthwhile, but Stephen shows that there are currently some really cool experiences. Given that Marriott points are hard for me to replenish, I am more interested in using them for stays than for experiences at the moment….I think. Those more flush with Marriott points may take interest in this post and some of the unique chances to use Marriott points for some really cool experiences that probably eclipse the Residence Inn redemption I made last week :-).

What are welcome offer free nights worth?

a man holding up a group of tickets

After a lot of consideration and discussion, Greg landed on a new system for valuing free night certificates. This was important for having an objective-as-possible (while still being accurate) value since free night certificates sometimes contribute to the first-year value calculations on credit cards (like the free night certificates that are sometimes offered as part of the welcome bonus on Marriott cards, etc). This post explains the new methodology and numbers.

The American Express Platinum Hertz benefit has saved me over $1000/yr on rental cars

a yellow jeep parked on the side of a road

I have certainly found the Platinum card Hertz rate to be handy, most recently a few months ago when I needed a one-way rental to pick up my new minivan and the 4hr grace period was helpful given the long drive, overnight stay, and slow pace of the dealership. That said, I have often found Autoslash to work bigger wonders with other competitors, so I look at this as a tool in my belt that’s great to take out now and then rather than a go-to discount code. But Tim notes some stacking that I may have missed, so I’ll have to give that a shot next time.

Delta companion certificates quick guide (eCredits now usable)

a man and woman wearing face masks

In this update to our Delta companion certificates quick guide, Greg shares the tip that eCredits can now be used for Delta companion ticket purchases. That’s great news for those who have booked and canceled Delta flights since those credits can now be used on companion ticket bookings.

World of Hyatt Complete Guide

a pair of feet in slippers by a fireplace

This guide has been updated to reflect changes including the new all-inclusive award charts, the addition of the business card, and more.

Hyatt Regency Miami: Bottom Line Review

a person holding a sign in front of a building

Tim recently spent some time at the Hyatt Regency Miami and offers his take on this property.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye on this week’s last chance deals and grab them while you can.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Don’t agree. The new IHG program does not offer any level of membership lounge access or late checkout. Marriott also consistently has a hotel that is more convenient for my purposes in a particular place. With the credit cards, it’s relatively easy to maintain the nights required for Platinum status at Marriott. For those reasons I think Marriott is superior.


Regarding the “taking advantage of avios transfer bonus”, I just booked qsuites/business US->DOH->HKT r/t on qatar site. I did not need the avios in my account to see availability, but I’m not sure if I inadvertently used a trick. Fees were not low, but not high, around $400. It cost ~136k MR transferred. I did not need to formally transfer my BA avios to qatar to book (qatar saw my BA balance automatically). I did need to sign in to my BA account during the booking process to use the miles.

FNT Delta Diamond

I don’t think there is any question that IHG is now the best DOMESTIC loyalty program for business travelers. While Hyatt is better, the footprint isn’t comparable. Only IHG can match Marriott’s footprint. Of course, breakfast and lounge access are worthless at Holiday Inn Express. Even at Holiday Inn, breakfast is kind of worthless since most Holiday Inn restaurants are worthless. But for some Crowne Plazas and all Intercontinentals, this is great.


Crown Plaza, as an IHG property frequently also have club lounges…pretty much on par with Marriott as far as quality. IC lounges easily surpasses Marriott for most properties, but falls slightly short of Ritz


Marriott vs IHG…that reminds me of the giant douche vs turd sandwich in that south park episode.