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 sign-up bonus of 125,000 points and a free night. The card carries an annual fee of $89 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.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with a new sign-up bonus offer.

The IHG Rewards Club 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.

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?

IHG Premier Card
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

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 on award stays of four or more nights, 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 125,000 bonus points and a free night 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 125,000-point bonus is worth $625 and the up to 40,000-point free night is worth up to $200. However, it’s possible to get more value from IHG points on some redemptions.

You won’t be eligible for this card (or its bonus) if you are a current IHG Premier cardholder or if you’ve earned a new cardmember bonus for an IHG Premier Card within the last 24 months.

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 $89 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.

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 March 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 after spending $20,000 and making one additional purchase in an account anniversary year. Based on TPG’s valuations, this is worth about $50. However, consider whether you’ll realistically spend $20,000 on your card during your account anniversary year.

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 — 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. You’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent when you use your IHG Premier to pay at IHG hotels and resorts. If you value IHG points at 0.5 cents per point, you’ll get a 5% return when using your IHG Premier Card to pay for IHG stays.

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 March) on most IHG stays.

Unfortunately, the IHG Premier only earns 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. And it only earns 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases, making it one of the worst possible cards to use for non-bonus category spending.

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 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.

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 Club 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 $89 annual fee on the IHG Premier. And 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each per TPG’s valuations. You also can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. However, note that you typically won’t get elite earnings and benefits when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

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 and earnings, 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 Club 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.

On the other hand, the IHG Premier could be a tough sell if you are not loyal to IHG. That said, the current IHG Premier sign-up bonus may be enough for you to give IHG a try.

Official application link: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Feature 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.