I’ve had the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and its earlier iteration in my wallet for years. Though I don’t use it as a primary spending card, the benefits it provides for its low annual fee make it a keeper – even if I only stay a handful of nights annually at IHG properties.
Most reward travelers are familiar with the Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott awards programs and have at least one of these co-branded hotel credit cards if they’re serious about free hotel nights.
But these aren’t the only great programs out there. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that next to my World of Hyatt Credit Card, my second favorite points-earning hotel credit card is the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
I’ve had this card and its earlier iteration in my wallet for years. I consider it a hidden treasure because of the value I can get from it every year from the anniversary reward night.
Though I don’t use it as a primary spending card, the level of other benefits and reward stays that the card provides for its low annual fee make it a keeper – even if I only stay a handful of nights annually at IHG properties.
See related: When is a credit card annual fee worth it?
Where can you use IHG credit card benefits
IHG may not be as well-known as Marriott or Hilton, but it’s global and is home to many hotel brands that you’ve certainly heard of like the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Six Senses and the entire Kimpton hotel chain.
While points earned with the IHG Rewards card can be used to stay at nearly 6,000 hotels around the world, I’ve personally discovered that my favorite sweet spots to use IHG points are for visits to the South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia), extended stays in London and roadside stops at North American Holiday Inns.
Reward anniversary night
Hands down, the best benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Premier card is the reward night you are given once a year on your card anniversary.
This benefit is easy to use and gives you one reward night at any IHG hotel with award redemption rates set at 40,000 points or fewer. In fact, there are plenty of hotels with rack rates well over $200 or more where you can max out the value of redeeming your reward night.
Because of IHG’s global footprint, you can make great use of your award nights around the world, particularly in destinations where fancy hotels often come with lower rates. For example, you can use that award certificate to stay at the Intercontinental – a higher-end IHG brand – in Bali, Bangkok, Cancun, Jakarta, Berlin, Budapest, Lisbon, Saigon, Madrid or Fiji and have the costs covered with your award certificate.
If boutique hotels are more your speed, redeeming award certificates at a Kimpton property is another great option. I love how Kimpton hotels are each unique and themed around the destination where you’re visiting.
In fact, with no big international travel on the horizon during the pandemic this year, I used an anniversary night certificate to stay close to home at The Vintage hotel in Portland, Oregon – a Kimpton designed to highlight Oregon’s Willamette and Colombia Valley wine regions. And of course, even mid-pandemic there was free wine.
The IHG card anniversary night is also a great win for road trips in the U.S. with the classic Holiday Inn brand as part of the portfolio. Many of the Holiday Inn Express hotels are super convenient if you need to spend a night on your way to a national park or in what may seem like the middle of nowhere.
And most of the ones I’ve stayed in are also pretty nice – on par with a Hyatt Place or a Courtyard by Marriott. Of course, make sure you don’t spend your reward night at a hotel that costs less than the IHG card’s $89 annual fee!
See related: The hidden costs of free hotel award nights
Elite status benefits
All IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders are gifted with IHG Rewards Club Platinum status – the second-highest elite level – which normally requires you to stay 40 nights per year at IHG hotels to earn outright (or 30 nights in 2021 due to decreased earning requirements as a result of the pandemic).
Since I don’t stay at IHG hotels as frequently as I stay at other brands, I never try to achieve their higher level of Spire status. Complimentary Platinum status is good enough to get me some solid benefits like late checkout and occasional upgrades and breakfast based on which hotel group I’m staying with.
My complimentary Platinum elite status got me special perks at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa in Polynesia. They included special check-in, an in-room snack delivered to my over-the-water bungalow and a special invite to the manager’s reception for champagne and canapes.
At the Crowne Plaza Dead Sea in Jordan, my credit card status got me upgraded to a sea-view suite. In New Zealand, I got free breakfast and an upgraded room with a view of the Remarkable Mountains in Queenstown.
See related: Which hotels offer free breakfast and dinner?
Other great benefits
Beyond my favorite benefits of complimentary status and anniversary nights, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers a handful of other benefits that help the card pay for itself even if I’m not using it all of the time.
For example, cardholders get credit for applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (a value of up to $100), discounts on IHG’s lucrative points sales and an exclusive “fourth night free” benefit when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights.
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card isn’t a card I use for daily spending, but I keep it in my wallet year after year. Because I can always use and max out my anniversary reward night, and take advantage of status benefits when I do stay at IHG hotels, the cost of the annual fee is less than the benefits.