Must-have for IHG loyalists, now with new perks: A review of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
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IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card overview
The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The card carries an annual fee of $99 (for cardholders who applied prior to March 24, 2022, you’ll pay $89 until your 2023 renewal date) but offers many beneficial perks for frequent IHG travelers. However, you may not get enough value from this card if IHG Rewards isn’t your primary hotel loyalty program. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card offers a lot of perks for travelers who frequently stay with IHG. For example, you’ll get automatic Platinum Elite status as long as you’re an IHG Premier cardholder. The card also offers a unique fourth-night-free reward perk that allows cardholders to pay zero points for every fourth night when redeeming points for award stays of four nights or longer.
But, one perk alone — the anniversary free night each year, valid for a night costing up to 40,000 points — can easily provide enough value for you to justify paying the IHG Premier’s annual fee each year. And as of March 24, 2022, Premier cardmembers can also top off their award nights with points, allowing you to use the certificate to stay at higher-priced hotels like the Six Sense Laamu in the Maldives.
So, let’s look at whether the IHG Premier Card is a good choice for you.
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Who is this card for?
The IHG Premier Card is well-suited to travelers who will be able to take full advantage of the card’s perks. These perks include complimentary Platinum Elite status, a fourth-night-free reward of three or more nights when you redeem points, and an anniversary reward night each year and more.
With a generous sign-up bonus, solid return on IHG spending and plenty of perks, IHG Rewards loyalists will seriously benefit from having this card. Even travelers who only stay with IHG several times a year may get ample value from the IHG Premier Card.
Current sign-up bonus
Right now, the IHG Premier Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
You won’t be eligible for this card (or its bonus) if you are a current IHG cardholder or if you’ve earned a new cardmember bonus for an IHG Premier Card within the last 24 months.
Main benefits and perks
The IHG Premier Card carries a relatively modest $99 annual fee. (Note that existing cardholders who applied for the card before March 24, 2022 will continue to pay $89 through the end of 2022 — but the new, $99 fee will kick in with your 2023 renewal.)
However, the card’s actual value hinges on whether you’ll use the card’s benefits frequently enough to justify that annual fee. Here’s an overview of the card’s main IHG-related perks:
Anniversary free night: Cardholders receive a reward night certificate valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level of up to 40,000 points each year starting on their first account anniversary. Although IHG uses dynamic award pricing, it typically isn’t difficult to find an appealing redemption option for your certificate. For example, I’ve recently redeemed anniversary free night certificates for stays at the InterContinental Buenos Aires, InterContinental Madrid and Kimpton De Witt.
Note that you can now use an unlimited number of points to top off this certificate and use it for higher-priced properties. For example, a room priced at 55,000 points can be booked using the free night plus 15,000 points from your IHG Rewards account.
Complimentary IHG Platinum Elite status: IHG Rewards Platinum Elite members enjoy 50% bonus earnings on paid stays when you book directly with IHG Rewards, room upgrades based on availability at check-in, a welcome amenity and several other perks. However, bonus earnings will jump to 60% in April 2022 when IHG Rewards changes earning rates for some elite tiers.
Fourth-night-free reward: When you redeem points for a stay of four nights or longer, you’ll pay zero points for every fourth 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. Of course, the value of this perk depends on how frequently you redeem IHG points for stays of four nights or more.
10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000: You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 and making one additional purchase in an account anniversary year. Based on TPG’s valuations, these bonus points are worth $50 and combined with the statement credit, this bonus can be worth up to $150. However, consider whether you’ll realistically spend $20,000 on your card during your account anniversary year — especially if you can otherwise put those purchases on a solid everyday spending card.
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 with other discounts when IHG puts points on sale. These points are also considered non-qualifying points and will not count towards elite qualification, so its value will be minimal for most cardholders.
Additionally, IHG Premier cardholders enjoy the following general perks when using their card:
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: You can get reimbursed up to $100 every four years when you charge a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee to your card.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: When you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card, you’ll get coverage against theft and collision. However, coverage is secondary when renting within the U.S.
- Baggage delay insurance: You can be reimbursed up to $100 a day for up to three days for essentials if a common carrier delays your baggage for more than six hours.
- Lost luggage reimbursement: You can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger if your checked or carry-on luggage is damaged or lost by a common carrier.
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance: You can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and up to $10,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or cut short for a covered reason.
- Purchase protection: Your new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per account.
- Extended warranty protection: Get a one-year extension on eligible purchases with a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.
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 discuss 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 earnings at IHG hotels is pretty solid — and it just launched new bonus categories and boosted its base earning rate on all other purchases.
You’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent when you use your IHG Premier to pay at IHG hotels and resorts. And, when you combine the 10 points per dollar spent earned by using your card with the points you’ll earn at most IHG brands as an IHG Platinum Elite, you’ll earn 25 points per dollar spent (26 points per dollar spent once IHG updates its elite tiers in April) on most IHG stays.
In addition, cardmembers can now earn 5 points per dollar spent on travel, dining and gas purchases. Cardholders also earn 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Based on TPG’s valuation, the translates to a 2.5% return when using your IHG Premier Card in these bonus categories — though on everyday purchases, the 1.5% return is easily beat by many other cards.
Related: 13 ways to earn IHG Rewards points
How to redeem points
IHG Rewards no longer has an award chart. Instead, the IHG Rewards program uses dynamic award pricing. IHG’s website states that nights start at 10,000 points, although I’ve recently seen nights priced as low as 5,000 points. And although there’s no stated maximum, the highest I’ve seen is 120,000 points per night (excluding Six Senses and Mr and Mrs Smith properties, which do frequently cost more).
But, even with IHG’s dynamic award pricing, it’s still possible to maximize IHG Rewards redemptions. And, with a little bit of searching, you can often redeem IHG Rewards points for more than TPG’s valuation of 0.5 cents per point.
You can also mix points and cash for your award stays. In some cases, this may provide good value. When you book this way, IHG sells you the extra points and then debits your account for the full number of points. For example, in the below example, you’d effectively purchase IHG points for 0.63 to 0.66 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-free reward perk again. When you book a reward night 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 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, IHG Army Hotels, select Six Senses Hotels Resorts and Spas and select Mr & Mrs Smith hotels.
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 it?
If you’re loyal to IHG, another hotel credit card won’t be a direct competitor. Also, IHG loyalists will easily get enough value from the IHG Premier Card perks to justify it over the no-annual-fee IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card.
So, the IHG Premier Card’s biggest competition is from general travel rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee is comparable to the $99 annual fee on the IHG Premier, but the Sapphire Preferred comes with the following earning rates:
- 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal.
- 3 points per dollar spent on dining.
- 3 points per dollar spent on select streaming services.
- 3 points per dollar spent on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
- 2 points per dollar spent on other travel.
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
These rates are lower than what you’d get on the IHG Premier Card, but Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each per TPG’s valuations — four times higher than IHG Rewards points. While you can transfer Chase points to IHG at a 1:1 ratio, there are many other great transfer partners in the Ultimate Rewards program, and you can also book travel (include IHG hotels) directly through the Chase travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. That flexibility may appeal to many travelers, though note that you typically won’t get elite earnings and benefits when you book IHG stays through the Ultimate Rewards site.
So, if you stay at IHG properties frequently, enjoy getting elite perks and earnings when booking directly with IHG, and are interested in the perks offered by the IHG Premier Card, it’s likely worth adding the card to your wallet. But, if you don’t particularly care about IHG elite perks or are not a IHG loyalist, you may be better off applying for a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you’re a loyal IHG traveler looking to make the most of IHG Rewards, it makes sense to have the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. After all, the card provides automatic Platinum Elite status, a fourth-night-free 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 points.
And the current sign-up bonus on the IHG Premier Card may be enough for you to give IHG a try.
Official application link: IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card.
Additional Reporting by Christina Ly.
Featured photo of IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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