Sign up for the IHG Premier Card 125,000-point bonus
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest sign-up bonus offer. It was originally published on Aug. 8, 2019.
Since it was launched in April 2018, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has been my favorite cobranded hotel credit card. Thanks to its solid earning rate at IHG hotels and valuable perks, the card has easily saved me hundreds of dollars worth of points and has earned its continued place in my wallet. I’d argue that it’s a card worth considering whether you rarely stay at InterContinental Hotels Group (better known as just “IHG”) properties — such as Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Hotel Indigo — or if you’re a frequent IHG guest like me.
Before we dive into the perks and details of the card, let’s talk about the sign-up bonus, because we’ve never seen a bonus on this card higher than it is right now. If you don’t have the card, and haven’t earned a welcome bonus on the card in the past 24 months, you can get a 125,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your new card. By combining the card’s fourth-night award perk with IHG’s PointBreaks promotion, you could get up to 37 award nights at IHG hotels with this one sign up bonus alone!
While 5,000-point PointBreaks hotel options are limited, there are more than 400 hotels currently priced at 10,000 points a night through PointBreaks or IHG’s standard award pricing, from practical options in the U.S. to options abroad in Berlin, Belgrade, Brazil and beyond. The 125,000-point sign-up bonus earns you up to 18 award nights when used at these sort of 10,000-point properties.
Even if you don’t go chasing the extreme deals, you should be able to secure TPG’s valuation of 0.5 cents per IHG point. That means you should be able to get $700 worth of award stays from this sign-up bonus. But it’s the perks of the card that make it worthwhile to keep.
Reasons to get the IHG Premier card beyond the bonus
Elite status: The IHG Premier Card grants cardholders IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status. TPG values this status at $880 for those who earn it through stays. That value is going to be less for those who stay at IHG-branded hotels less frequently. In my experience, staying at IHG hotels and having Platinum Elite status, I’d say that this perk alone is worth the IHG Premier Card’s $89 annual fee, as long as you’re spending more than a few nights a year at IHG properties.
While the stated benefits aren’t game-changing, I’ve found the additional perks and service to be quite nice — particularly at overseas properties where having an elite guest is much rarer than in the U.S. I’ve also almost always received an upgraded room when one is available, like during a stay at the Hotel Indigo Austin. We scored a five-night stay in a king studio suite in the heart of Austin for just 12,000 points per night by combining PointBreaks with our fourth-award-night benefit and a complimentary upgrade.
Fourth award night benefit: IHG Premier cardholders automatically get each fourth consecutive award night for no additional points paid. This benefit’s value is going to depend on your travel style. For travelers who only spend one to three nights in a hotel, this perk isn’t going to be useful. But for travelers who stay around long enough to utilize this perk, it can be incredibly valuable. And there’s no cap on how many points you can save with this perk.
Again, this is a benefit that I feel justifies the $89 per year annual fee by itself. Just one fourth-night reward stay at a 20,000-point property saves you $100 worth of IHG points at TPG valuations.
Annual award night: On your first cardmember anniversary year — and for each one after that — you’ll earn an award night certificate good at any IHG property that charges 40,000 points or less for an award night stay. While this benefit won’t show up until a year from now for new cardholders, it’s going to make it much easier to keep this card in your portfolio. Those 40,000 IHG points are worth $200 at TPG’s valuations, so you should be able to save more than the $89 annual fee by using this reward night.
Category bonuses: The IHG Premier Card earns 10 IHG points per dollar spent at IHG properties. That’s double what the IHG Select Card (not available for new sign-ups) and no-annual-fee IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card earn.
But it gets better than that. Since the credit card grants you Platinum Elite status, you’ll also earn a 50% bonus on IHG hotel stays. IHG Rewards members get a base earning rate of 10 points per dollar spent at most properties, so after the 50% elite bonus, you’ll earn 15 points per dollar spent directly from IHG Rewards. Add that to the 10x earning on the card, you’ll get (at least) 25x points per dollar spent on the card on IHG hotel stays.
At TPG valuations, 10x earnings on the credit card spend is a return of 5% on your IHG hotel purchases. That’s a solid return. Even the $550 annual fee per year that you get from Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel spending amounts to just a slightly better 6% return.
The IHG Premier Card also earns 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x on everything else. As TPG only values IHG points at 0.5 cents each, that’s only a 1% return on gas, groceries and restaurants, so you’re able to get a better return with other cards for groceries and gas purchases.
Related reading: Best credit cards for restaurants and dining out
20% discount on buying points: This perk was heralded in the card’s rollout, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out as we expected. The discount can’t be combined with any other promotion — such as the 100% bonus on buying points that is often offered. So, while this benefit will save you a little if you need points in a pinch, it doesn’t move the value needle for most potential cardholders.
Annual fee: The annual fee on the IHG Premier Card is $89. Unfortunately, this fee isn’t waived the first year. If you’re set on only signing up for credit cards with waived annual fees, here’s a list of your best options.
Sign-up restrictions: The IHG Premier Card is subject to the 5/24 rule. This means if you’ve opened five or more personal credit card accounts across all banks in the last 24 months, Chase is unlikely to approve you for this card.
However, if you’re under 5/24 and have the now-discontinued IHG Select Card, you can still sign up for the IHG Premier Card and keep both cards. While some benefits overlap, I’ve found that the two cards complement each other well. For example, when you redeem points for award nights, you’ll get the 10% redemption rebate from the IHG Select Card while also getting the fourth award night benefit from the IHG Premier Card.
With a bonus of 125,000 points, an award night on your anniversary, the fourth award night benefit, an opportunity to earn 25x total points on IHG purchases and IHG Platinum Elite status, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card makes a solid case for itself — especially with just an $89 annual fee. While I don’t recommend it as your everyday spending card, it fits well in a credit card portfolio as a specialty card for the perks and the annual award night.
Here’s the link to apply now for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card with a 125,000-point bonus.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.