Hotel credit cards are incredibly underrated. Even if you don’t spend much money on them, they can offer huge perks and sometimes even offer free nights. When you combine these two factors, a lot of these cards offer outsized value.
In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at a hotel credit card that I think just about everyone should have, for the anniversary free night certificate if nothing else. That’s especially true since the card is currently offering an improved welcome bonus.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Basics For April 2021
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is the premium Chase and IHG co-branded credit card. Even if you don’t plan on putting much spending on the card, this card can be worth having for the anniversary free night certificate, fourth night free on award redemptions, and more.
For those of you not familiar with IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), the group owns InterContinental, Six Senses, Regent, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and more.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about this card.
Welcome Bonus Of 125K Points & Free Night Award
At the moment the IHG Premier Card is offering an exceptional two-part welcome bonus:
- Earn 125,000 IHG Rewards Club points after spending $3,000 within three months
- Earn a free night award valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months
Based on my valuation of IHG points and the ability to use that free night award at a property priced up to 40,000 points, that bonus is worth up to $825. This is potentially the best bonus we’ve ever seen on this card.
The welcome bonus on this card isn’t available to those who currently have this specific card, or have received a new cardmember bonus on this card in the past 24 months.
Furthermore, you’re eligible for the IHG Premier Card even if you have IHG’s previous co-branded credit card. These cards are even great complements to one another.
While you can get multiple cards, note that Chase also typically lets you product change between personal cards, assuming you’ve had a card for at least 12 months. You’ll need to phone up the number on the back of your card to find out more.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Chase has what’s known as the 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months you typically won’t be approved for this card. So if you do apply for this card, make sure you’re under that limit.
$89 Annual Fee
The IHG Premier Card has an $89 annual fee. You can add additional cardmembers to your account at no extra cost.
As I’ll explain below, the ongoing annual fee is so well worth it even if you don’t spend money on the card, since you get an anniversary free night certificate.
Earning Points With The IHG Premier Card
The IHG Premier Card offers some bonus categories, though in general, this isn’t a card that I would put much spending on, given the relatively low value of IHG Rewards Club points.
10x Points At IHG Properties
If you have the IHG Premier Card then you can earn a total of 25x IHG Rewards Club points per dollar spent at IHG properties. However, in reality, not all of those points are coming from the credit card as such. Here’s how this breaks down:
- You earn 10x points from IHG for being an IHG Rewards Club member
- You earn 5x points from IHG with Platinum status, which is a benefit of this card
- You earn 10x points for paying with your IHG Premier Card
Earn 10x points for stays at IHG properties
2x Points At Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, And Restaurants
The IHG Premier Card offers 2x points for purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Given my fairly low valuation of IHG points, that translates to a return of about one cent per dollar spent.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend spending money in these categories with this card, since there are much better options out there.
Earn 1x Points On Other Purchases
For categories in which you can’t earn 2-10x points, the card offers one IHG Rewards Club point per dollar spent. I would highly recommend against spending money on the card at that rate, since you can do better with other cards.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The IHG Premier Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good card for purchases abroad. That’s especially true when staying at IHG properties abroad, as well as for dining and commuting outside the US.
IHG Premier Credit Card Benefits
Anniversary Free Night
Every year on your account anniversary you get a free night certificate, valid at any property costing up to 40,000 points per night. This will be issued shortly after your anniversary and is valid for 12 months.
This covers a vast majority of IHG properties worldwide, and I’ve consistently gotten outsized value with this. For example, I’ve now twice in a row redeemed it at hotels that would have cost $250+ for one night if paying cash.
I recently used my free night at the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut
Fourth Night Free On Award Redemptions
Just for having the IHG Premier Card you get a fourth night free on award redemptions. When you stay 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). If you usually redeem points for stays in increments of four nights, this is like getting 25% off all your redemptions.
Get a fourth night free on redemptions at the InterContinental Maldives
IHG Rewards Club Platinum Status
You receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card. While IHG isn’t the richest program in terms of elite benefits, this more than does the trick for those who only occasionally stay with IHG.
Among other things, IHG Rewards Club Platinum members receive:
- Complimentary room upgrades, subject to availability
- 50% bonus points
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Priority check-in
- Complimentary internet
- Welcome amenity
Get room upgrades as an IHG Rewards Club Platinum member
Global Entry Or TSA Pre-Check Credit
The IHG Premier Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years. Just charge the $85-100 membership fee to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.
Why You Should Register For Global Entry Over Pre-Check
If you are going to take advantage of this perk, I’d highly recommend registering for Global Entry over TSA Pre-Check. For those of you not familiar, TSA Pre-Check gets you expedited US security screening, while Global Entry gets you expedited US immigration clearance.
So why should you register for Global Entry and not Pre-Check? Because Global Entry also comes with TSA Pre-Check, while the inverse isn’t true (signing up for TSA Pre-Check doesn’t get you Global Entry).
Save time with TSA Pre-Check
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The program wasn’t launched that long ago, but has already saved me a significant amount of money.
Secondary Car Rental Coverage
The IHG Premier Card offers auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card.
Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the US and abroad. Do note that in the US the coverage is secondary to your personal insurance, though.
Protection With Trip Delays, Lost Luggage, And More
The IHG Premier Card offers a variety of other protection when traveling. Among these features is:
- Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance — be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip when your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather, etc.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement — be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger if you or your immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by an airline
- Baggage Delay Insurance — be reimbursed up to $100 per day for three days for essential purchases when your bag is delayed by over six hours
Make sure you check your cardmember agreement for all of the details, since there are terms & conditions.
Cell Phone Protection
The IHG Premier Card offers a cell phone protection plan. With this, you get up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for phones listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your eligible IHG Premier Card.
You can make a maximum of two claims in a 12 month period, with a $50 deductible per claim. This could prove to be massively valuable.
Is The IHG Premier Credit Card Worth It?
I think the IHG Premier Card is absolutely worth having. While this isn’t a card I would put much spending on, the card is worth the $89 annual fee for the incredible perks that it offers. The card offers an anniversary free night certificate, a fourth night free on award redemptions, IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, a Global Entry fee credit, and more.
Everyone in my family has an IHG Card, if for no other reason than that we consistently redeem the free night certificates at hotels that would cost $250+ when paying cash.
IHG isn’t my favorite hotel group, but there are 5,000+ locations, and I inevitably end up staying at IHG hotels several times per year, because they often have the best options.
Let’s look at a few other aspects of the card, though:
Quick Comparison: IHG Premier Vs. IHG Traveler Card
Above I’ve written about the $89 annual fee IHG Premier Card, though there’s also the no annual fee IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. The Premier Card is absolutely worth the annual fee. Why?
- The Premier Card offers an anniversary free night, while the Traveler Card doesn’t
- The Premier Card offers IHG Platinum status, while the Traveler Card offers IHG Gold status
- The Premier Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, while the Traveler Card doesn’t
- The Premier Card offers a significantly larger welcome bonus
Like I said, the single best benefit of the Premier Card is the anniversary free night certificate, and that’s worth way more than its annual year.
Other Options For Earning IHG Points
The IHG Premier Card doesn’t actually offer great points earning rates when you factor in the fairly low per point value of IHG.
Do keep in mind that IHG is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you could transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. For example:
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining and travel
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) offers 2x points on dining and travel
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), in conjunction with one of the above cards, earns 3x points on dining and drugstores, and 1.5x points on all purchases
- The Chase Freedom FlexSM (review), in conjunction with one of the above cards, earns 3x points on dining and drugstores, and 5x points in rotating quarterly categories
That being said, in general I absolutely wouldn’t recommend transferring Chase points to IHG. As I said, I value IHG points at ~0.5 cents each, while you can instead transfer points at the same ratio to programs like World of Hyatt, where I value the points at ~1.5 cents each (three times as much).
Sometimes it can make sense to buy IHG points when the program has a sale. IHG Rewards Club sometimes sells points with a 100% bonus, which brings down the cost per purchased points to 0.5 cents each. Do note that IHG recently switched to dynamic award pricing (and then backtracked a bit), so award pricing is more variable (and largely less lucrative) than in the past.
When you stack that with the fourth night free offered by this card and the Platinum perks you’ll receive, that could be well worth it.
Have The IHG Select Card?
Back in the day, there was the IHG Select Card, which is no longer open to new applicants. If you have that card, then you should absolutely hold onto it and then also apply for this card, as you’re eligible for both. Why? Because you can stack the benefits on both cards:
- Both cards offer an anniversary free night certificate, so you could earn two of those each year, and use them for back-to-back stays
- The old card offers a 10% refund on redeemed points (up to 100,000 refunded points per year), while the new card offers a fourth night free on award redemptions, and you could stack those benefits; in other words, if you make a four-night stay at a hotel costing 70,000 points per night you’d end up paying 210,000 points, and then would get 21,000 points back, for a total cost of 189,000 points, which is over 30% off
IHG Premier Credit Card Summary
The IHG Premier Card is a card that I highly recommend getting. Not because it makes sense to put a lot of spending on the card long term (especially with the recent devaluation of points), but because the anniversary free night certificate can be worth way more than the ongoing $89 annual fee.
Add in the IHG Platinum status, fourth night free on award redemptions, Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credit, and more, and this card is a no brainer. Add in the great bonus at the moment, and the card is even more valuable.
I know some people are opposed to having a lot of credit cards, but often it can make sense to have some cards just for the perks they offer, even if they’re not worth spending much money on. This is one of those cards.