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Last year, Chase released the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, to replace the IHG Rewards Club Select card (no longer open to new applicants). While it includes some nice features — fourth night free on award stays, better bonus categories and so on — Chase also gutted one of the most valuable credit card perks 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.
After the launch, Chase began sending out offers to current IHG Select cardholders to upgrade to the new Premier card in exchange for 5,000 bonus IHG points. With the IHG Premier card now offering an all-time high sign-up bonus of up to 120,000 points (80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus another 40,000 points after spending a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months), Chase is sending out another round of 5,000-point upgrade offers to customers still holding on to an old IHG Select card.
While it might be tempting to jump on this upgrade offer and score a few easy points, this offer didn’t make sense the first time around and it still doesn’t. Here are a few good reasons not to take this offer — 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 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 was able to use my (then uncapped) 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 a perk that got me $300+ each time I used it.
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 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 many Select cardholders 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 the ones that require 40,000 points a night 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.
While the new IHG Rewards Premier is restricted by 5/24, it’s currently offering an all time high sign-up bonus of 120,000 IHG points, worth $600 based on TPG’s valuations. The bonus is broken into two tiers, with the first 80,000 points being earned after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 40,000 points coming after spending $5,000 total in the first 6 months.
If you take the 5,000-point upgrade offer, you’ll be forfeiting your chance to get a sign-up bonus 24 times larger, since the terms and conditions of the application say the following:
“This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.”
If the perks of the new card really interest you that much and you’re under 5/24, you should just apply for it directly and earn that new sign-up bonus instead of leaving 115,000 points on the table.
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.
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