IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card review: New offer for 140,000 points and a free night, plus solid perks

Jul 6, 2022

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IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card overview

The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card card offers many beneficial perks for frequent IHG travelers and current boasts a lucrative sign-up bonus. With an annual fee of $99, however, you may not get enough ongoing 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.

You can also take advantage of a generous sign-up bonus of 140,000 bonus points plus one free night (worth up to 40,000 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.

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In This Post

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 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 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.

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

Current sign-up bonus

IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Right now, the IHG Premier Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 140,000 bonus points plus one free night (worth up to 40,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

TPG estimates IHG points to be worth 0.5 cents each. Based on this valuation, the 140,000-point bonus is worth $700 alone; adding in a 40,000-point free night puts the value at around $900, and it’s possible to get even more value from IHG points on some redemptions.

Note, however, that 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.

Note that there is a difference between the anniversary free night, which is an ongoing perk, and the free night offered with the current welcome bonus, which is a one-off. The anniversary free night can be topped up with extra points (and therefore redeemed at properties costing 40,000 points or more) whereas the free night with this welcome bonus cannot (meaning you’ll have to use it at a property costing 40,000 points or less).

Related: The ultimate guide to tracking your progress toward a credit card sign-up bonus

Main benefits and perks

IHG’s Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives
I got a fourth-night-free reward at IHG’s Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives with my IHG Premier Card. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The IHG Premier Card carries a relatively modest $99 annual fee. 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 One Rewards Platinum Elite members enjoy 60% 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.

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.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alpharetta - Windward Parkway
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alpharetta – Windward Parkway. (Photo by 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 we’ll discuss 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

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

Hotel credit cards tend to be weak on the earning front, but this card’s potential earnings at IHG hotels is pretty solid — and earlier this year, it 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 26 points per dollar spent on most IHG stays.

In addition, cardmembers 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

Six Senses Laamu
You can redeem IHG points to stay at select Six Senses properties, including Six Senses Laamu. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

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.

IHG points + cash pricing
(Screenshot from 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 fourth night award pricing example
(Screenshot from 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 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 Rewards program

Is the IHG Premier card worth it?

Mr Mrs Smith Kvosin Hotel
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Kvosin Hotel in Reykjavik. (Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

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.

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 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 Ryan Wilcox and Christina Ly.

Featured photo of IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.