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IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card review: Earn a best-ever 175,000-point bonus

Jan. 27, 2023
13 min read
InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau
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IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card overview

The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card offers many beneficial perks for frequent IHG travelers and a big welcome bonus. With an annual fee of $99, however, you may not get enough ongoing value from this card if IHG One 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.

Plus, the card currently has its best-ever welcome bonus: 175,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

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. 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.

Who is this card for?

The IHG Premier Card is well-suited to travelers who can take full advantage of the card’s perks. These perks include complimentary Platinum Elite status, a fourth-night-free reward when you redeem points for a stay of four or more nights 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 One Rewards loyalists will benefit from this card. Even travelers who only stay with IHG several times a year may get ample value from the IHG Premier Card.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier Card

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The InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Current sign-up bonus

Right now, the IHG Premier Card is offering its best-ever welcome bonus. You can earn 175,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

TPG values IHG points at 0.5 cents each. Based on this valuation, the bonus is worth $875 alone.

Note, however, that you won’t be eligible for this card (or its bonus) if you currently have any IHG personal credit card or have earned a welcome bonus on another IHG personal credit card within the last 24 months. This rule doesn't apply to holding the IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card or bonuses earned on that card, however.

Related: The best time to apply for these popular Chase credit cards based on offer history

Main benefits and perks

The IHG Premier Card carries a relatively modest $99 annual fee. However, the card’s actual value hinges on whether you’ll use the benefits frequently enough to justify that annual fee. Here’s an overview of the card’s main IHG-related perks:

I got a fourth-night-free reward at IHG’s Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives with my IHG Premier Card. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Anniversary free night: Cardholders receive a reward night certificate valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property costing up to 40,000 points. This benefit is annual, starting on the first account anniversary. Although IHG uses dynamic award pricing, it isn’t difficult to find an appealing redemption option for your certificate. For example, I’ve redeemed anniversary free night certificates for stays at the InterContinental Buenos Aires, InterContinental Madrid and Kimpton De Witt.

Note that you can 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 One Rewards account.

Complimentary IHG Platinum Elite status: IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite members enjoy 60% bonus earnings on paid stays when booking directly with IHG One Rewards, room upgrades based on availability at check-in, a welcome amenity and several other perks.

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; 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. Also, these points are considered non-qualifying points and will not count towards elite qualification, so the value will be minimal for most cardholders.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alpharetta - Windward Parkway. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Additionally, IHG Premier cardholders enjoy the following general perks when using their card:

As other cards drop shopping and travel protections, these benefits could be a serious factor when choosing a new credit card. However, as discussed in the next section, you won’t get a high return rate on most purchases with the IHG Premier Card.

Related: Register now: Complimentary IHG Platinum status for select United credit cardholders

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.

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent 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 as an IHG Platinum Elite, you’ll earn 26 points per dollar spent on most IHG stays.

In addition, cardmembers earn 5 points per dollar spent on travel, dining and gas purchases, plus 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Based on TPG’s valuation, this 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 beaten by many other cards.

Related: 7 ways to earn IHG One Rewards points

How to redeem points

IHG One Rewards does not have an award chart. Instead, it uses dynamic award pricing. IHG’s website states that nights start at 10,000 points, although we’ve 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).

You can redeem IHG points to stay at select Six Senses properties, including Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

But, even with IHG’s dynamic award pricing, it’s still possible to maximize IHG One Rewards redemptions. And, with a little bit of searching, you often can redeem IHG One Rewards points for more than TPG’s valuation of 0.5 cents per point.

You also can 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. In this 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.

IHG.COM

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.

IHG.COM

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 One 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.

Related: How to redeem points with the IHG One Rewards program

Competing cards

If you’re loyal to IHG, a card from another hotel brand might not merit your consideration.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Kvosin Hotel in Reykjavik. ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY

However, IHG does have the IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card, which has no annual fee. The current welcome bonus on this card is its best ever too: 120,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. The card earns 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts, 3 points per dollar at gas stations, utilities and restaurants and 2 points per dollar on other purchases. Benefits include automatic Silver status with IHG One Rewards, a 20% discount on IHG points purchases and a fourth night free on award stays.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee and allows for 1:1 points transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG One Rewards. Cardholders can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The card earns points as follows: 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal, 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025, 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 and 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. The card also offers up to $50 in hotel spending credits per year.

Related: Why I often choose IHG and Choice hotels, despite limited elite perks

Bottom line

If you’re a loyal IHG traveler looking to make the most of IHG One Rewards, it makes sense to have the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. After all, the card provides perks like automatic Platinum Elite status, a fourth-night-free reward on award stays of four or more nights and a large bonus multiplier for IHG stays. Plus, it’s possible to get a lot of value when redeeming IHG One Rewards points.

If you've been on the fence about this card, receiving the best welcome bonus this card has ever offered might convince you to apply now.

Official application link: IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Additional Reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Christina Ly and Ryan Smith.

Featured image 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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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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