Hotel credit cards are incredibly underrated. Even if you don’t spend much money on them, they can offer huge perks, including elite status and free night certificates. 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 is more compelling than ever before, not only because it recently underwent a refresh, but also because IHG’s loyalty program has just been improved.
IHG Rewards Premier Card Basics For May 2022
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is the premium Chase and IHG co-branded personal 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, elite status, and much 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 140,000 IHG Points
At the moment the IHG Premier Card is offering a welcome bonus of 140,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. Personally I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so to me that bonus is worth $700, which makes this one of the better credit card welcome bonuses out there.
IHG Credit Card Eligibility
The welcome bonus on the IHG Premier Card isn’t available to those who currently have a personal IHG Rewards credit card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on a personal IHG Rewards credit card in the past 24 months. So you aren’t eligible for the card if you have the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card (review).
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. Chase’s other general application restrictions apply.
$99 Annual Fee
The IHG Premier Card has a $99 annual fee. You can add additional cardmembers to your account at no extra cost. As I’ll explain below, the annual fee is 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 has a refreshed points earning structure, and it very well could be worth spending money on the card. That’s especially true when you consider the new spending threshold bonuses.
10x Points At IHG Properties
If you have the IHG Premier Card then you can earn a total of 26x IHG 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 program member
- You earn 6x points from IHG with Platinum status, which is a benefit of this card
- You earn 10x points for paying with your IHG Premier Card
5x Points On Travel, Gas Stations, And Dining
The IHG Premier Card offers 5x points for purchases made on travel, gas stations, and dining. Those are some well-rounded bonus categories, and based on my valuation of IHG points, that’s like a ~2.5% return on that spending. In and of itself that’s not so amazing, but there are further incentives to spend money on the card.
3x Points On Other Purchases
For categories in which you can’t earn 5-10x points, the IHG Premier Card offers 3x points per dollar spent. Previously the card offered just 1x points per dollar spent, so the value proposition here is greatly improved. However, there are potentially still better cards for everyday spending.
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 United States.
$100 Statement Credit & 10,000 Bonus Points With Spending
As a further incentive to spend money on the card, the IHG Premier Card offers a $100 statement credit plus 10,000 bonus points when you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus make one additional purchase.
As I mentioned above, I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so between the statement credit and points, that’s like $150 of additional value, making it an incremental 0.75% return on $20,000 worth of spending. When you stack it with the card’s other perks, that could add up.
IHG Diamond Status With Spending
The IHG Premier Card offers IHG Diamond status if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year. This is IHG’s new top tier elite status, which offers perks like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, late check-out, and more.
With the Milestone Rewards program (which you can unlock based on how many elite nights you earn with IHG per year), you can receive benefits like confirmed suite upgrades, club lounge access, food & beverage credits, and more.
Historically IHG’s elite status really hasn’t been competitive, but that has finally changed.
IHG Premier Credit Card Benefits
IHG 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. What’s awesome is that with the recent refresh of the card, you can use points to top off your award and redeem at a more expensive property. In other words, you could book a hotel costing 60,000 points per night by using the certificate and redeeming an additional 20,000 points.
This free night certificate will be issued shortly after your anniversary and is valid for 12 months. I’ve consistently gotten huge value with these certificates, and have been able to redeem them at properties costing $250+ per night. And that’s before the ability to top off these certificates was even introduced.
Fourth Night Free On Award Redemptions
Just for having the IHG Premier Card you get a fourth night free on award redemptions. When you book 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.
IHG Platinum Status
You receive IHG Platinum status for as long as you have the IHG Premier Card. IHG has just refreshed elite status, meaning that Platinum status should offer more value than ever before. Among other things, IHG Platinum members receive:
- Complimentary room upgrades, subject to availability
- 60% bonus points
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Priority check-in
- Complimentary internet
- Welcome amenity
- Access to award sales throughout the year
- Access to the Milestone Rewards program based on how many elite nights are earned, offering perks like confirmed suite upgrades, club lounge access, and more
Up To $50 United TravelBank Cash Per Year
The IHG Premier Card now offers up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash per 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, which is awesome.
Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, Or NEXUS Credit
The IHG Premier Card offers a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS credit once every four years. Just charge the membership fee of up to $100 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.
Secondary Rental Car 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 United States and abroad. Do note that domestically 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.
Is The IHG Premier Card Worth It?
I think the IHG Premier Card is absolutely worth having, and with the recent changes to the card and the changes to IHG’s loyalty program, it’s more lucrative than ever before. The card’s $99 annual fee is easy to justify based on the perks that it offers. The card offers an anniversary free night certificate, a fourth night free on award redemptions, IHG Platinum status, up to $50 in United credits per year, 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. It’ll be easy to get even more value out of these certificates, given that you can now use points to top off these awards.
Even if you’re not an IHG loyalist, the group has thousands of hotels around the world, so you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where an IHG property is convenient. If you’re trying to decide between cards, let’s just compare a couple of different options.
$99 Annual Fee IHG Premier Card Vs. No Annual Fee IHG Traveler Card
Above I’ve written about the $99 annual fee IHG Premier Card, though there’s also the no annual fee IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card (review). The IHG Premier Card is absolutely worth the annual fee. Why?
- The IHG Premier Card offers an anniversary free night, while the IHG Traveler Card doesn’t
- The IHG Premier Card offers IHG Platinum status, while the IHG Traveler Card offers IHG Silver status
- The IHG Premier Card offers up to $50 in United credits per year, while the IHG Traveler Card doesn’t
- The IHG Premier Card offers a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS credit, while the IHG Traveler Card doesn’t
- The IHG Premier Card offers a larger welcome bonus
Like I said, the single best benefit of the IHG Premier Card is the anniversary free night certificate, and to me that’s worth way more than its annual year. I think the IHG Premier Card is the obvious choice between the two.
IHG Premier Personal Card Vs. IHG Premier Business Card
- Both cards offer an anniversary free night certificate, IHG Platinum status, a fourth night free on award redemptions, up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each year, etc.
- The major differences are that the business card has a few more bonus categories, and offers an additional free night award if you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
Both of these cards are excellent, and personally, I think it’s worth picking both up, so that you can earn two free night awards per year without having to spend anything.
Other Options For Earning IHG Points
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining and travel
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining, online groceries, and streaming services, and 2x points on 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 sometimes sells points with a 100% bonus, which brings down the cost per purchased point to 0.5 cents. 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.
The IHG Premier Card is a product that I highly recommend getting. The card’s $99 annual fee is really easy to justify, thanks to the anniversary free night award, up to $50 in United credits, IHG Platinum status, and much more.
This free night certificate is the single biggest benefit of the card, and consistently offers outsized value. It’s now even more valuable, given that you can use points to pay the difference in points for a more expensive property.
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 you don’t necessarily plan on spending much money on the card. This is one of those cards.