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Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

April 13, 2022
8 min read
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Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information.


When a credit card annual fee comes due, I typically weigh the card's perks against its cost. Specifically, I usually consider the value of the points I earn from spending on the card and its benefits.

But although I rarely put spending on my IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, I never consider closing it when its annual fee posts. Instead, I happily pay its sub-$100 annual fee without a second thought.

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After all, the IHG Premier card offers an anniversary night certificate each year — a perk that easily provides more value than the annual fee of $99 (or $89 until your 2023 renewal date if you applied prior to March 24, 2022).

Of course, the IHG Premier card provides other perks as well. But even if you only stay in hotels a few times each year or don't particularly like IHG's loyalty program (which just relaunched as IHG One Rewards), the anniversary night certificate can still justify the IHG Premier's annual fee. Here's why keeping the IHG Premier is an obvious choice for me.

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Anniversary night

Room at the Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

IHG Premier cardmembers get an anniversary night each year on the 12-month anniversary of their account opening. This anniversary night is valid for one night at an IHG hotel and has a redemption value of 40,000 points or less. However, now you can add points from your IHG account to redeem your anniversary night at hotels above the 40,000-point redemption level.

Typically, you must redeem your anniversary night and complete your stay within 12 months from when IHG issued the night. You can see the expiration date for each certificate in your IHG account.

How much are anniversary nights worth?

Even though the IHG Premier's anniversary night only has a redemption value of 40,000 points or less, you can still get a lot of value each year. After all, based on TPG's valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents each, a night costing 40,000 points is worth about $200.

But I typically get a much higher value when redeeming IHG points. And many excellent hotels are bookable for less than 40,000 points per night, thanks to IHG's dynamic award pricing.

For example, I recently redeemed three anniversary night certificates for a stay at the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam. Most nights cost over 40,000 points at this hotel, but there are still some dates on which you can redeem your anniversary night without needing to top it off with points.

(Screenshot from ihg.com)

And my mother-in-law used an anniversary night to stay in downtown Savannah, Georgia, at the Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District one weekend when cash rates topped $300 per night. Many dates now cost more than 40,000 points at this hotel, in which case you'd need to top off your certificate with points. But there are still some weekend nights that cost less than 40,000 points:

(Screenshot from ihg.com)

One of my favorite IHG properties, the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort, is bookable for under 40,000 points per night on many dates. If you visit Vietnam, consider checking out this unique InterContinental resort. However, you may prefer to use points or cash instead of your anniversary night certificate on less expensive nights.

(Screenshot from ihg.com)

And, speaking of excellent InterContinental resorts in Vietnam, I plan to visit the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort later this year. This property usually prices above 40,000 points per night, but you can redeem points alongside your certificate to make up the difference.

(Screenshot from ihg.com)

If you're looking to save on a Disney World trip, you can book many appealing Orlando hotels for 40,000 points or less on select dates. For example, you may be able to snag the Holiday Inn Orlando-Disney Springs Area or a Holiday Inn Club Vacations property using an anniversary night certificate.

(Screenshot from ihg.com)

Regardless of how you use your IHG Premier anniversary night certificate, you're likely to get at least enough value to justify paying the IHG Premier's annual fee.

Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Fourth-night-reward perk

A pool at the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The anniversary night will provide enough value to justify the IHG Premier's annual fee for most cardmembers. But, for frequent award travelers who often stay with IHG for four nights or longer per stay, another perk of the card — IHG's fourth-night reward — may provide even more value than the anniversary night.

In particular, IHG's fourth-night-reward benefit means you'll pay zero points for every fourth night when booking standard room reward stays of four or more nights. This benefit is only available to those with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card or IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. And, unlike the anniversary reward night, you can use the fourth-night-reward perk on an unlimited number of stays each year. You'll get the fourth-night-reward benefit as soon as your IHG Premier, IHG Traveler or IHG Premier Business card is linked to your IHG account.

The fourth-night-reward benefit is the most valuable perk of the IHG Premier card for me. After all, my husband (who has his own IHG Premier card) and I used the fourth-night-reward perk on 11 award stays in 2019 to save 185,000 IHG points. Based on TPG's valuations, the points we saved are worth about $925. If you're wondering how we earned so many IHG points, remember that IHG frequently offers sales to buy points for as little as 0.5 cents each.

Related: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

Other valuable benefits

A pool at the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The IHG Premier card includes several other valuable perks. For example, the card earns 10 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts, a return of 5% based on TPG's valuations. The IHG Premier also offers 5 points per dollar spent on purchases at gas stations, other travel and restaurants and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Plus, the IHG Premier offers the following benefits:

  • IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status.
  • Save 20% on points purchases when you pay with your IHG card. You can't combine this discount with any other points purchase offers. So, you'll typically do better waiting for an IHG points-buying promotion instead of saving 20% through this perk.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for an application fee charged to your card.
  • Earn a $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year.
  • Up to $50 United Airlines TravelBank Cash each year (registration required).

Related: IHG’s credit card portfolio gets a major revamp — here are all the changes you need to know

Bottom line

Two IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card benefits — the anniversary night certificate and the fourth-night-reward perk — can each individually justify the card's annual fee for me.

However, even infrequent travelers or travelers who are generally loyal to other brands should easily be able to get enough value from the IHG Premier card each year solely due to the anniversary night. So for most travelers, paying the IHG Premier's annual fee should be an easy choice.

Featured image by Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases