Must-have for IHG loyalists: A review of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
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IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card overview
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card currently offers a 140,000-point sign-up bonus and waived annual fee for the first year (then $89). The card offers many beneficial perks for frequent IHG travelers, but it may not be worth a Chase 5/24 slot unless you stay at IHG hotels consistently throughout the year. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with a new sign-up bonus offer.
When Chase launched the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to succeed the old IHG Select card, it replaced a product that appealed to travelers who weren’t loyal to IHG and might have held elite status with a competing hotel loyalty program. That was mainly due to the card’s unrestricted annual reward night valid at any IHG property worldwide.
The IHG Premier Card is still a hotel credit card with an annual reward night, but this night is capped at 40,000 points. Although the IHG Premier Card offers more perks and bonus categories, Chase narrowed the audience of interested applicants by restricting the anniversary night.
Especially given Chase’s 5/24 rule, the IHG Premier Card may be a tough sell for some travelers. After all, choosing it might preclude you from getting other valuable Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, or even cards with other hotel chains such as Marriott and Hyatt. So, you need to be 100% sure about your commitment to IHG before you apply for the Premier card. Today, we’re going to take a look at whether the IHG Premier Card is a good choice for you.
Who is this card for?
Although the old IHG Select card appealed to a broader audience, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is better suited to loyal IHG travelers who will be able to take full advantage of the card’s perks. These perks include complimentary Platinum elite status, fourth-night reward on award stays of four or more nights, anniversary reward night and more. With a generous sign-up bonus, solid return on IHG spending and plenty of perks, any IHG loyalist will benefit from having this card.
However, the IHG Premier Card is restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule. So, Chase will reject your application for this card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards across all issuers in the last 24 months. Adding this card to your wallet will count as one of those five spots, so you’ll want to be sure you’ll regularly use the IHG benefits if you’re going to apply.
140,000-point sign-up bonus
Right now, the IHG Premier is offering a sign-up bonus of 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. At 0.5 cents per point, IHG Rewards Club points rank among the least-valuable rewards currencies in TPG’s monthly valuations, barely beating Radisson Rewards points and Spirit miles at 0.4 cents each. Even so, the 140,000-point bonus is still worth $700.
Remember that this bonus isn’t available to current IHG Premier cardholders or customers who’ve received a bonus on this card in the last 24 months. So if you’re eyeing an upgrade offer on your old IHG Select card, you might want to hold off and apply directly for the Premier instead.
Main benefits and perks
The IHG Premier Card currently offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year. But, after the first year, you’ll need to pay a relatively modest $89 annual fee. So, the actual value of the card hinges on whether or not you’ll use the card’s benefits frequently enough to justify IHG Premier’s annual fee. Here’s an overview of the card’s main perks:
Anniversary reward night — Cardholders receive a reward night certificate valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points a night each year starting on their first account anniversary. This is a far cry from the old IHG Select card’s uncapped reward night, but there are many appealing IHG hotels bookable for 40,000 points or less.
Complimentary IHG Platinum Elite status — IHG Rewards Club Platinum elites enjoy 50% bonus earnings on paid stays when you book directly with IHG Rewards Club, room upgrades based on availability at check-in, a welcome amenity and several other perks.
Fourth night reward — When you redeem points for a stay of four nights or longer, you’ll pay zero points for every fourth award night. If you can find four nights of consecutive award space at a property you like, this can be a great way to stretch your points even further. If you use this benefit even once a year, it should more than recoup your annual fee.
10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 — You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 and making one additional purchase each account year. Based on TPG’s valuations, this is worth about $50 and is enough for a complimentary night at IHG hotels that cost 10,000 points per night.
20% off when buying IHG points — Save 20% on your purchase of IHG points when you pay with your IHG Premier Card. However, this discount doesn’t stack onto other discounts when IHG puts points on sale. So this perk’s value may be minimal.
Also, IHG Premier cardholders enjoy the following perks when using their card:
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Reimburses up to $100 every four years for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: When you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card, most rental cars in the U.S. get secondary coverage against theft and collision
- Baggage delay insurance: If a common carrier delays your baggage for more than six hours, you can be reimbursed up to $100 a day for three days for essentials
- Lost luggage reimbursement: If your checked or carry-on luggage is damaged or lost by a common carrier, you can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short for a covered reason, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses
- Purchase protection: Your new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim
- Extended warranty protection: U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less can be extended by an additional year
- Cellphone protection: When you pay your monthly cellphone bill with your card, you can get up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year for covered theft or damage
As other cards drop shopping and travel protections, these benefits could be a serious factor when choosing a new credit card. However, as we’ll see in the next section, you won’t get a high return rate on most purchases with the IHG Premier Card.
How to earn points
Hotel credit cards tend to be weak on the earning front, but this card’s potential is pretty solid. Earning 10x points on IHG purchases adds up quickly — especially if you’re a business traveler who gets to book reimbursable travel. The 5% return you’ll earn on IHG purchases is one of the best of any cobranded hotel credit card.
But if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re still better off using it at IHG hotels. After all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points on travel, which equates to a 6% return based on TPG’s valuations. And, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are much more valuable since they transfer to various travel partners. IHG Rewards Club is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, but you’ll likely find other partners provide more value.
Unfortunately, the IHG Premier only earns 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. And it only earns 1x points on all other purchases, which makes it one of the worst possible cards to use for everyday spending.
How to redeem points
Earlier this year, IHG introduced variable award pricing. IHG states that nights start at 10,000 points, although I’ve recently seen nights priced as low as 7,500 points. And, although there’s no stated maximum, the highest I’ve seen is 100,000 points per night. But, even after the switch to dynamic award pricing, it’s still possible to maximize redemptions with IHG Rewards Club. And, if you search for high-value redemptions, you can often redeem IHG Rewards Club points for more than TPG’s valuation of 0.5 cents per point.
You’ll also have the option to mix points and cash for your award stays. And, in some cases, this may provide good value. When you book this way, IHG sells you the extra points at the price listed and then debits your account the full number of points.
In the example below at the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin, points + cash bookings value IHG points at 0.58 to 0.68 cents each. IHG frequently sells points at this price (or cheaper), which can be another way to top up your account.
It’s also worth mentioning the IHG Premier’s fourth-night reward perk again. When you book a reward night stay of four nights or longer, every fourth night of that stay will cost zero points. You can use this perk unlimited times each year, but points and cash stays are not eligible.
Finally, some travelers believe IHG’s policy on blackout dates makes it one of the weaker hotel programs for award night availability. The terms and conditions of the IHG Rewards Club program note the following:
There are no blackout dates for Reward Nights; however, room inventory is limited and subject to prior sale. In addition, Members may not be able to redeem Points for Reward Nights at InterContinental Residences.
So while there are no blackout dates per se, hotels can limit the number of rooms they make available for award bookings.
Is the IHG Premier card worth a 5/24 slot?
If you’re loyal to IHG, another hotel credit card won’t be a direct competitor. And, IHG loyalists will easily get enough value from the IHG Premier Card‘s perks to justify it over the no-annual-fee IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.
So, the IHG Premier Card’s biggest competition is from other cards that might be more deserving of your limited 5/24 slots with Chase. Though the IHG Premier card comes with many valuable benefits for frequent IHG travelers, it isn’t necessarily the right card for those who stay with multiple hotel brands throughout the year.
For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card might be a better value for you. Its $95 annual fee is comparable to the $89 annual fee after the first year on the IHG Premier. And, you get double points on travel and dining. Plus, the Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred are much more valuable than IHG Rewards Club points (2 cents versus 0.05 cents respectively, according to TPG valuations) since you can redeem them for a host of different flight or hotel options instead of limiting yourself to a single chain.
If you stay at IHG properties frequently and are interested in the perks offered by the IHG Premier Card, I would say it’s worth the 5/24 slot. Just make sure you’ll take advantage of everything the card offers before hitting the “apply” button.
If you’re a loyal IHG traveler looking to make the most of IHG Rewards Club, it makes sense to have the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. After all, the card provides a shortcut to Platinum elite status, a fourth-night reward on award stays of four or more nights, a large bonus multiplier for IHG stays and more. Plus, it’s possible to get a lot of value when redeeming IHG Rewards Club points.
On the other hand, the IHG Premier could be a tough sell for one of your valuable 5/24 slots with Chase if you are not loyal to IHG. After all, the anniversary night is only useable for a night costing 40,000 points or less. But, the 140,000-point sign-up bonus makes it an enticing offer.
Official application link: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card with a 140,000-point bonus
Feature photo of the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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