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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express, IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
The TPG Awards ceremony earlier this week was the culmination of months of planning, flights reviews and — of course — voting by you, the readers of The Points Guy. Only a few categories were decided upon by TPG staff. There were two rounds of voting by readers to narrow down nominees and then choose the winners for most categories.
I agree with the reader choices in most categories, but my favorite cobranded hotel credit card wasn’t even a finalist in the Best Hotel Cobranded Credit Card category. For this category, the finalists included:
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (winner)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card
So, today I’m going to try to convince you why the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card deserves a place in every traveler’s wallet.
Annual Free Night Certificate
Like the IHG Premier Card, all of the finalists for best cobranded hotel credit card offer an annual free night certificate. But some of these cards, like the Hilton Honors Aspire Card (See Rates & Fees) and the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card (See Rates & Fees), have $450 annual fees.
The other finalists, as well as the IHG Premier Card, offer free night certificates that should easily justify the card’s annual fee as long as you’re able to use the free night:
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card ($95 annual fee): One night at a 35,000-point or less property each year after your account anniversary
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express ($0 annual fee for the first year, then $95; See Rates & Fees): One night at a 35,000-point or less property each year after your account anniversary
- World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee): One night at a Category 1-4 property each year after your account anniversary
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Card ($89 annual fee): One night at 40,000-point or less property each year after your account anniversary
Although many IHG properties cost more than 40,000 points per night, you should easily be able to get more than $89 of value from your free night. So, I don’t worry about the annual fee on this card since I know I’ll get more than $89 of value from my free night each year. Plus, there are a few other benefits on the IHG Premier Card that provide substantial benefit.
IHG Platinum Elite Status
The IHG Premier Card offers its card holders Platinum Elite status, which is IHG’s mid-tier status. TPG values IHG Platinum Elite status at $1,085, but this valuation assumes you’re staying enough nights each year to obtain the status via nights. I’ve consistently received upgrades at IHG properties where there are upgraded rooms with Platinum Elite status, especially when traveling outside the US. Upgrades are the main benefit, but late checkout (when available, but it’s rarely not available) and 50% bonus earnings on paid stays are also useful.
Granted, each of the TPG Awards finalists also offers elite status. But, as you’ll see below, only the cards with high annual fees offer status that TPG values at more than $180 per year — and that’s assuming you’re staying enough to earn that status via stays. Here’s the status provided by each of the finalists:
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express ($450 annual fee): Diamond status, which TPG values at $2,275
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card ($95 annual fee): Silver Elite status, which TPG values at $45
- Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card ($450 annual fee): Gold Elite status, which TPG values at $725
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express ($0 annual fee for the first year, then $95): Silver Elite status, which TPG values at $45
- World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee): World of Hyatt Discoverist status, which TPG values at $180
So, the IHG Premier Card offers more valuable status than four of the five finalist cards — three of which only offer low-tier status with a comparable annual fee. But there’s another reason why the card is extremely valuable to me…
A 4th Night Free on Awards
The IHG Premier Card offers a relatively rare benefit, especially for a $89 annual fee credit card, that’s not offered by any of the finalists: a fourth night free on award stays. And even better, this fourth night free is available multiple times on longer award stays. So, you’ll get two free nights on an eight-night award stay, three free nights on a 12-night award stay and so on. Plus, the fourth night free on awards also works at PointBreaks properties. You won’t get much value out of this benefit if you don’t usually stay at IHG hotels for four nights or longer, but I personally have gotten excellent value from this benefit since I’m on the road full-time.
If I haven’t sold you on the value of the IHG Premier Card yet, here’s a few other highlights of the card:
- Current sign-up bonus: Up to 120,000 bonus point. Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months from account opening plus an additional 40,000 bonus points after spending a total of $5,000 on purchases within 6 months of account opening . TPG values 120,000 IHG points at $600.
- Bonus earning: 10x at IHG properties (6% return), 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (1.2% return) and 1x on other purchases (0.6% return)
- Discounted points purchases: Save 20% on when you purchase IHG points with your card, but not through Points.com
- Global Entry credit: Get reimbursed for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee every four years
- Gas discounts: Save 6 cents per gallon at Shell
- No foreign transaction fees
- Price protection: The IHG Premier is one of the few Chase credit cards to still offer price protection
If you’re loyal to one or more hotel brands, the most valuable hotel cobranded credit cards for you will likely be ones associated with these brands. But, many travelers are free agents who will take advantage of promotions and the elite status, welcome bonus, benefits and free night certificates provided by hotel cobranded credit cards.
Sure, IHG doesn’t have the most prestigious portfolio, but the mid-tier elite status, annual free night certificate and fourth night free on awards benefit provided by the IHG Premier Card are excellent benefits for a $89 annual fee card.
Featured photo of InterContinental Hotels Presidente Cancun Resort courtesy of IHG.
For rates and fees of the SPG Luxury Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the SPG Amex Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
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