The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) is phenomenal — it’s worth getting for the very good welcome bonus, and it’s worth keeping for the long-term perks. Not only did the IHG Premier Card recently undergo a refresh, but IHG’s overall loyalty program also underwent a refresh, and the changes are almost entirely good news.
In this post, I wanted to look at nine reasons to apply for this $99 annual fee IHG Premier Card, in particular in light of the exceptional welcome bonus on the card. In no particular order:
Best-ever welcome bonus
The IHG Premier Card has a welcome bonus of 140,000 IHG points plus a free night certificate (valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points) after spending $3,000 within the first three months. This is an excellent bonus, and on top of that, the card has a reasonable spending requirement that most people should be able to achieve.
I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so to me the 140,000 points are worth ~$700. Add in a free night worth up to 40,000 points (another $200 in value) and you’re up to a total bonus value of $900.
Anniversary free night certificate
Arguably the single best benefit of the IHG Premier Card, which more than justifies the ongoing annual fee, is the anniversary free night certificate. This certificate can be redeemed at an IHG property retailing for up to 40,000 points per night, which covers a vast majority of IHG properties around the world.
With the recent changes to the card, you can also use points to top off a free night certificate, in order to redeem at a more expensive property. For example, you could book a hotel costing 60,000 points per night by redeeming the free night certificate plus 20,000 IHG points.
I’ve gotten lots of value with this free night certificate. For example, I’ve stayed at the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut, InterContinental Johannesburg Airport, and Kimpton EPIC Miami using free night certificates, all without having to top off these awards. In each case, a night would have otherwise cost $250+.
Fourth night free on award redemptions
The other best perk of the IHG Premier Card is that it offers a fourth night free on award redemptions. If you stay for four consecutive nights on an award redemption then you only have to redeem points for the first three nights.
This is an awesome perk, since it can be used an unlimited number of times (you can even use it to book multiple rooms at the same hotel, and you can even use it at Six Senses properties). If you usually redeem points for stays in increments of four nights, this is like getting 25% off all your redemptions. This is a fantastic perk.
IHG One Rewards Platinum status
- Room upgrades, subject to availability (including potentially to suites)
- A 60% bonus on base points
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- A welcome amenity
- Access to award night sales throughout the year
- The ability to earn Milestone Rewards, which could get you club lounge access, confirmed suite upgrades, and more
With the recent changes to IHG’s loyalty program, status is more valuable than ever before.
IHG One Rewards Diamond status with spending
While the IHG Premier Card offers Platinum status for being a cardmember, you can earn Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. This is IHG’s new top tier elite status, which includes legitimately valuable perks. Among other things, Diamond members receive a 100% points bonus and free breakfast.
If you stay at IHG properties with any frequency, it could be worth going out of your way to earn this status.
Up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each year
- Each calendar year you’ll receive one $25 United TravelBank Cash deposit around January 1, and another around July 1
- Deposits made between January 1 and June 30 expire on July 15, and deposits made between July 1 and December 31 expire on January 15
- You must complete one-time registration to receive this benefit
If you fly United with any frequency, then this is like $50 worth of travel on United per year.
Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS credit
For some, this will be valuable, and for others, it won’t offer much value. The IHG Premier Card offers a statement credit of up to $100 when you use your card for a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS enrollment fee, up to once every four years.
This is a nice perk that could easily get you more value than the annual fee.
Valuable rewards for spending
While the IHG Premier Card has long had strong perks for being a cardmember, the value proposition of spending money on the card has improved considerably:
- The IHG Premier Card offers 10x points on IHG spending, 5x points on travel, gas stations, and dining, and 3x points on other purchases
- The IHG Premier Card offers a $100 statement credit plus 10,000 bonus points if you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus make one additional purchase
- As mentioned above, the IHG Premier Card offers Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
In the past the card was exceptionally unrewarding for spending, while I’d say for some people there could now be value in spending on the card.
Anecdotally easy approval
However, anecdotally many report that the IHG Premier Card is easier to get approved for, and that also matches my experience, as I got instantly approved when I applied (and I don’t remember the last time prior to that where I was instantly approved for a Chase card).
It’s my understanding that Chase has different approval requirements for some co-brand cards, depending on the customer base the card is targeting, and it sure seems like the IHG Card is among the easiest of the travel rewards cards to get approved for.
Assuming you’ve otherwise struggled to be approved for Chase cards (while still being under 5/24, etc.), then this could be a good card to consider.
Looking for a business credit card?
If this card sounds intriguing but you’re instead interested in a business card, there’s good news — the IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review) was recently launched. The card has an excellent welcome bonus (though it doesn’t include a free night certificate), and very similar perks to the personal version of the card.
Best of all, you’re eligible for both of these cards, so you could pick up both the personal and business version of the card to really maximize your perks.
The IHG Premier Card is a useful hotel credit card that just about everyone who is eligible should have, even if they’re not otherwise IHG loyalists. Personally, I’d get the card for the anniversary free night certificate alone, though there are potentially valuable benefits beyond that, including the fourth night free on award redemptions, IHG Platinum status, $50 in United TravelBank Cash, etc.
This card is even more compelling with the recent refresh, given the perks that were added, including more flexibility with free night awards. The card even has a best-ever welcome bonus now.
If you’re looking for a business card instead, consider the IHG Premier Business Card, which has equally good perks, though the bonus isn’t quite as good.
If you have the IHG Premier Card, what has your experience been like?