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Earlier this year, Chase released the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, to replace the current IHG Rewards Club Select card. While it includes some nice features — fourth night free on award stays, better bonus categories and so on — Chase also gutted the most valuable credit card perk out there. The old IHG Select card offered an anniversary free night at any IHG hotel in the world, including high-end properties in London, Bora Bora and Hong Kong that routinely sell for upwards of $600 a night. With the new IHG Rewards Premier, the free night is capped at properties costing 40,000 points or less a night.
Chase has recently begun sending out offers to current IHG Select cardholders to upgrade to the new Premier card in exchange for 5,000 bonus IHG points. While it might be tempting to jump on this upgrade offer and score a few easy points, there are a few good reasons not to — or at least not to upgrade just yet.
Increased Annual Fee
One of the unique aspects of the IHG Select card was the way it attracted customers who were loyal to other hotel chains. I’m a Starwood/Marriott guy myself, but for only $49 a year I was able to get great value out of the Select card. In the last two years, I’ve been able to use my free night certificates from the Select card in very expensive markets (Sydney and Tokyo) when I really needed a hotel room, and I would’ve happily continued paying $49 a year for that perk.
While the IHG Rewards Premier includes a number of new benefits, it also nearly doubles the annual fee to $89 a year. We don’t know how long Chase will leave the old Select cards alone before product changing everyone to one of the new cards, but I, for one, don’t want to volunteer to pay an extra $40 a year. TPG values IHG points at 0.6 cents each, which means the 5,000 bonus points (~$30) aren’t even enough to cover the increase in the annual fee.
One More Unrestricted Free Night
After some back and forth on the issue when the IHG Rewards Premier card was first introduced, Chase recently decided that all existing IHG Select cardholders will receive uncapped free nights for all certificates issued before May 1, 2019, with free nights issued after that restricted to properties of 40,000 points or less. That means almost every Select cardholder can get at least one more uncapped free night.
But if you upgrade to the IHG Rewards Premier now, you’ll lose that unrestricted free night. The difference in cash rates between IHG’s top tier properties and their 40,000 points a night properties can be several hundred dollars, so you’re really throwing away a ton of value.
Don’t You Want That Sign-Up Bonus?
It’s no accident that the IHG Select was a popular card. In addition to the valuable free night it offered, it also wasn’t restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule, so people who’d opened five or more credit cards in the last two years could still be approved.
The new IHG Rewards Premier appears to not be subject to 5/24 as well, and it currently offers a bonus of 80,000 IHG points — worth $480 based on TPG’s valuations — after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. But according to the terms and conditions of the application…
“This product is not available to current cardmembers of this credit card.“
So if you accept the 5,000 point upgrade offer, you won’t be able to get the new sign-up bonus and you’ll end up leaving 75,000 IHG points on the table. If the perks of the new card really interest you that much, you should just apply for it directly and earn that new sign-up bonus.
I’m not saying the new IHG Rewards Premier card is bad — just that if you’re currently grandfathered into the old IHG Select, it might be in your best interest to stay that way instead of taking the upgrade. Of course, you should make the best decision for you and your travel goals, so if you want to learn more about your IHG credit card options, check out our comparison of all the IHG cards, past and present.
Featured image of the Intercontinental Thalasso Bora Bora courtesy of the hotel.
Earn 80,000 points, worth up to $480 with the IHG Rewards Premier Card. With this card you'll get IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status which more than negates the value of the $89 annual fee. You'll also earn 10 points per dollar at IHG hotels, 2 points per dollar on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
- Earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
- IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®