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Here’s the link to apply for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card with a sign-up bonus of up to 120,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirement.
The old IHG Select Card (closed to new applicants) had the unique distinction of appealing to free agent travelers who not only weren’t loyal to IHG, but also might have held elite status with a competing hotel chain. When Chase launched the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to replace the Select, it narrowed the audience of interested applicants, but doubled down on new perks and bonus categories that are more rewarding for IHG customers. With the Premier card now offering an all time high sign-up bonus of up to 120,000 points, now is the perfect time to take a deep dive through this newer card offering.
Who Is This Card For?
Unlike its predecessor, the IHG Premier card is restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule, which prevents you from opening select Chase cards when you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months.
This means that adding it to your wallet is a tougher decision, and as such, this card is much better suited to loyal IHG travelers who will be able to take full advantage of the card’s complimentary Platinum elite status, fourth night free on reward stays, 10x points on IHG purchases and more.
The IHG Premier card is jumping on the bandwagon as the latest card to offer a tiered sign-up bonus that encourages more spending over a longer period of time. New applicants can earn up to 120,000 points: 80,000 after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months and another 40,000 after spending a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months.
At .5 cents per point, IHG points rank among the least valuable rewards currencies in TPG’s monthly valuation series, barely beating out Radisson Rewards and Spirit miles at .4 cents each. As such, the full 120,000 point bonus is only worth $600, less than half the value you can get from some other popular head-turning 100,000 point welcome bonuses.
Since this card is restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule, you’ll want to double check your records before applying as you’ll be automatically rejected if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months. This bonus also 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.
Cobranded airline and hotel cards tend not to shine too bright in the earnings department. The IHG Premier earns 10x points on purchases at IHG hotels, 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x everywhere else.
While 10x points might sound like a great multiplier, remember that at 0.5 cents each that’s only a 5% return. If you booked your IHG stays with a Chase Sapphire Reserve instead, you’d “only” earn 3x points per dollar, but Chase Ultimate Rewards points are much more flexible and valuable, as you can transfer them to various travel partners (including IHG) and you’d end up with a 6% return based on TPG’s valuations.
While at least one major hotel chain has been subtly undercutting its no-blackout dates policy, IHG’s policy has always been one of the weaker ones out there. The terms and conditions of the IHG Rewards Club program say 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. IHG has also confirmed plans to move to a variable award pricing system in 2019, but for now the program operates in a much more conventional sense, with hotel’s costing anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 points for a free night.
You’ll also have the option to mix points and cash for your award stays, and the rates are fairly decent. When you book this way, IHG actually 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 about 0.6-0.7 cents each. IHG frequently sells points at this price (or cheaper), which can be another good way to top up your account.
IHG also runs a promotion several times a year called PointBreaks that discounts award nights at select properties. The quality of the list and the amount of the discount have both eroded over the years (don’t expect to see any InterContinental hotels for 5,000 points a night), but you can still find some decent values around the world with this deal. Just remember the (limited) award space at these hotels goes quickly, so don’t wait to book!
The IHG Premier card comes with a relatively modest annual fee of $89 a year and no foreign transaction fees. It offers a number of perks to offset that cost:
Anniversary Free Night — Card holders receive a free night certificate worth up to 40,000 points each year on their account anniversary. This is a far cry from the uncapped free night of the old IHG Select card, but you’ll find a number of luxurious InterContinental hotels available for 40,000 points or less.
Complimentary IHG Platinum Elite Status — Platinum elites enjoy a 50% bonus on paid stays, room upgrades (excluding suites), a welcome amenity and a number of other perks.
Fourth Night Free On Award Stays — If you can find four nights of consecutive award space at a property you like, this can be a great way to get a 25% discount and stretch your points even further. If you use this even once a year, it should more than recoup your annual fee.
10,000 Bonus Points After Spending $20,0000 — You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points (worth $50) after spending $20,000 and making one additional purchase each account year.
20% Off When Buying IHG Points — Save 20% on your purchase of IHG points when you pay with your Premier card.
In addition, IHG Premier card holders will also enjoy the (now ubiquitous) Global Entry/ TSA PreCheck application fee credit, baggage delay and loss insurance and trip delay/interruption coverage.
Which Cards Compete With The IHG Premier?
If you’re loyal to IHG, another hotel’s credit card won’t be a direct competitor. Instead, the IHG Premier Card’s biggest competition is from other cards that might be more deserving of your limited 5/24 slots with Chase.
The first is the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card, which offers an even lower annual fee of $29 and fewer benefits. It’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months and only earns 5x at IHG hotels for an uninspiring 2.5% return. You’ll still enjoy no foreign transaction fees and a fourth night free on award stays, but there’s no anniversary free night, which is where most of the IHG Premier Card’s value comes from.
If you’re under 5/24 and don’t already have it in your wallet, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card might be a better value for you. The $95 annual fee is comparable to the $89 annual fee on the IHG Premier, and in exchange you get double points on travel and dining. The Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred are much more valuable than IHG points since you can redeem them for a host of different flight or hotel options instead of limiting yourself to a single chain.
Even though it’s offering an all-time high sign-up bonus of 120,000 points, unless you’re an IHG loyalist, the IHG Premier card could be a tough sell for one of your valuable 5/24 slots with Chase. Between the 40,000-point limit on the anniversary free night certificate and the fact that 120,000 points are only worth $600, you can probably do better.
Still, if you’re a loyal IHG traveler looking for a shortcut to Platinum elite status, a fourth night free on award stays and a large bonus multiplier for IHG stays, you might find room for this card in your wallet.
Know before you go.
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