IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Review (2019)

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Reviews
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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. This card also recently received a huge new welcome bonus, that’s the best we’ve ever seen.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Basics

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), they own InterContinental, 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

At the moment the card an excellent welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points after spending $2,000 within three months.

Card Eligibility

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.

Product Changing

You’re eligible for this 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 both 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.

See this post to learn how to check your 5/24 status.

Annual Fee

The IHG Premier Card has an $89 annual fee, and it isn’t waived for the first year. You can add additional cardmembers to your account at no extra cost.

As I’ll explain below, this 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.

25x Points At IHG Properties

You can earn a very impressive 25x points at IHG properties. That’s a very good return and is a good option for your IHG spending. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • You earn 10X points as an IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember
  • You earn 10X points from IHG for being an IHG Rewards Club Member
  • You earn 5X points from IHG with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of this 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.

10,000 Bonus Points For Spending

The card offers a bonus of 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year. That means if you spend $20,000 per year on the card in non-bonused categories you’d be earning an average of 1.5x points per dollar spent.

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

What truly makes the IHG Premier Card exceptional is the benefits and perks that it offers, which in my opinion more than offset the annual fee on the card.

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 over 95% of IHG properties worldwide (here’s a list of excluded properties), 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 $300+ 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).

I registered for Global Entry for the first time in mid-2011, and wrote about my experience at the time. Global Entry is valid for five years, and I renewed my membership in 2016.

TSA PreCheckSave time with TSA Pre-Check

Chase Offers

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.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement — if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
  • 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 five 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.

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 $300+ when paying cash.

IHG isn’t my favorite hotel group, but they have 5,000+ locations, and I inevitably end up staying at their 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 $29 annual fee IHG Traveler Card. The Premier Card is absolutely worth the additional $60 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

Like I said, the single best benefit of the Premier Card is the anniversary free night certificate, and that’s worth way more than $60 per 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:

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 they’re having a sale. They sometimes offer a 100% bonus, which brings down the cost per purchased points to 0.5 cents each.

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, but because the anniversary free night certificate can be worth way more than the $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.

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.

There has never been a better time to get this card either, given the current bonus.

If you want to learn more about the IHG Premier Credit Card or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

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Comments
  1. Welcome amenity now includes cocktails and bar drinks for Platinums (varies by location – London/Paris just beer/wine, Lebanon/Montenegro included cocktails) or some miserly amount of points. In most of these places adds $20-$30 of value per stay. Which given Platinum comes with the card is a great bonus.

  2. As a European, I’m extremely jealous of all US credit cards (heck, the best here is the Amex Platinum which costs about usd 700/year and comes with very, very limited benefits and 5-6 transfer parters), but words can’t describe how jealous I am over Global Entry, which isn’t availiable for us here in Sweden. I travel to the US at least 6-7 times per year and my average immigration wait time is probably 50-90 minutes wherever I go. Would be VERY willing to pay to skip the line. I really don’t get why it’s always sooo slow since all other nations have much faster immigration and often fast tracks for us in C. This is the only thing about the US that I strongly dislike.

  3. Have the World of Hyatt Visa and love Hyatt, and also have Hilton Amex Aspire (and Surpass) and like Hilton. Still wrestling with the idea of getting this (IHG) card, but can’t quite pull the trigger. Just don’t see many IHG properties I’d really want to stay at (compared to Hyatt and Hilton).

    @Lukas — If U.S. customs/immigration is the only thing about the U.S. you strongly dislike, thank you!

  4. Welcome amenity for recent stays is my choice of either:
    500 IHG points
    or
    @ HI Express: Bottle of Water and Small Snack
    @ Holiday Inn: Free Cocktail at the Bar

  5. @Lucky (and others)… a comment on “secondary” rental car CDW/LDW insurance coverage:
    It’s code for “we pay the deductible on your (primary) auto insurance if an accident happens. Then YOU are on the hook for YOUR increased insurance premiums for several YEARS.” There’s also the question of whether this type of coverage will actually cover “Loss Of Use” or “Diminished Value” charges imposed by the Rental agency. In short, this is a Bad Deal! How do you combat it? Rent cars with an American Express card, *and* sign up for Amex Premium Rental Protection on that card. PRP has ZERO fees until you rent a car. Then, it will cost you $18-$25 per *rental*, NOT per *day*. The variability in price is dependent on whether your Amex card billing address is in California or not. I use Amex PRP with an Amex Blue Sky card, but you should be able to add PRP to any Amex card. Just call the number on the back of the card and tell them you want to add it. After doing so, whenever you rent a car, you’ll see the $18-$25 PRP charge post to your Amex card two days after the Rental car charge posts. Pretty straightforward.

  6. good luck finding points availability for the shanghai wonderland. ive yet to come up with any results.

  7. nvm, its been a while since ive last searched for a room. looks like availability has opened up a lot.

  8. @Keyser Soze, you could just put your car rental charges on a credit card that offers primary rental car coverage instead. 😉 Your card’s annual fee (if it has one) pays for it; no need to shell out $18-25 each rental if you don’t want to. In any case, given the pitiful points earnings of this card (aside from IHG stays), I wouldn’t put car rental charges on it anyway.

  9. I’ve a question on the stacked benefits of holding both the IHG Select and Premier credit cards. Do you have to do anything ‘special’ to activate the 4th night free and 10% points refund benefit? (e.g. using one card or the other during a booking process, dealing directly with a booking agent and mentioning both cards, etc.). Or is this an automatic process when you simply have both cards?

  10. @Paul, it’s automatic. For the 4th night free, that happens when you go book your reservation. If you book a 4 night (or more) stay, you’ll only be charged the lower amount. For the 10% rebate, your account will be credited a few weeks after your stay is completed.

  11. shanghai wonderland – random dates in Aug & Oct for $380 or 70k pts.
    after required spending it will get you close to 2 nights.

  12. @Paul
    But you need to have enough points for a 4 night stay in your account. If you do, your booking will show the 3 nights on points and 4th night free. If you only have enough points in your account for a 3 night stay, for example, those points will be spread over the 4 nights you want to book and enough $$ will be added to make it a points & cash booking.

  13. @Tennen, you’re absolutely right, and I do in fact carry a Chase Sapphire Reserve which does offer “free” Primary CDW/LDW. However, as recently demonstrated by Citi downgrading the benefits on most of their cards including removing “Primary” coverage with little or no warning, I don’t trust “free” Primary CDW/LDW as much as I once did. Paying $25 or less per rental for Amex PRP gets you *solid* Primary coverage that is very unlikely to evaporate when you least expect it.

  14. I keep eyeing and then backing off of IHG and this card. The signup bonus is good, as is the annual free night. Then again, as a hotel chain, IHG comes in 4th place for me behind Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott. The thing that irks me is IHG’s 4-digit PIN for a (weak) password. If I accumulate 250,000 points, my points balance is protected by (only) a 4-digit PIN? That is poor cyber-security posture, and makes me wonder about the caliber of the rest of their operations.

  15. I stay a lot at IHG. They’ve always treated me well and even when I was a lowly gold with IGH and lifetime Plat w/Marriott I often got better service from IHG.

    I have CSR now and usually don’t carry a lot of cards. I am well within the 5/24. Is this card really worth or should I look for something else. The 125k signup bonus isn’t bad though I already have 2 million points with IHG and am Spire every year. Or would it be better to spring for Marriott or Hyatt?

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