|Rewards Rating:||3.9 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||2.1|
In a Nutshell:
With a large sign-up bonus and other valuable rewards — including a free hotel night each year — the IHG Rewards Club Premier card is packed with value.
After the first 12 months:
Also, for the first 12 months:
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, automatic Platinum Elite status, free fourth night on every rewards stay, Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA precheck, complimentary room upgrades, guaranteed room availability, extended checkout, priority check-in, complimentary internet, $30 spa credit, 50% bonus on base points, elite rollover nights, IHG Rewards Club concierge, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance, lost baggage insurance, baggage delay insurance
With a large sign-up bonus and valuable travel perks — including up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every four years — the IHG Rewards Club Premier card is perfect for frequent guests of IHG hotels or anyone looking for a generous hotel rewards card with a large hotel network.
Automatic Platinum Elite status offers cardholders even more value, such as complimentary room upgrades, guaranteed room availability and a $30 spa credit for each hotel stay. All of this comes in addition to a great earnings rate on IHG hotel stays and double points on gas station, grocery store and restaurant purchases.
Exciting news for new applicants: The IHG Rewards Club Premier card recently updated its bonus to the most valuable offer we’ve seen in the card’s recent history. New cardholders can earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Keep in mind that, like many other hotel credit cards, IHG points are inflated, worth only about 0.55 cents apiece when used to book rewards nights. Still, this is a valuable offer, worth up to 12 hotel nights — or up to 15 if you use IHG’s free fourth night benefit to your advantage.
Even sweeter, new cardholders get an elevated earning rate in their first year. In the first 12 months, you’ll earn 25 points per dollar on IHG hotel purchases in addition to the points that you earn as an IHG loyalty program member (10 points per dollar after that) and 4 points per dollar on all other purchases. After the first year, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on gas station, grocery store and restaurant purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
If you intend to apply for the IHG Rewards Club Premier card, you should take advantage of this offer before it expires.
Although most cardholders won’t spend enough to qualify, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card also offers 10,000 bonus points each anniversary year in which you spend $20,000 on purchases (and make one additional purchase). The bigger yearly incentive, however, is the certificate for a free hotel night each year on your card anniversary, which can be used at any IHG hotel that costs 40,000 points or less per night. At 0.55 cents/point, you’re looking at a maximum $220 value for the certificate, which more than covers the card’s $89 annual fee.
The free night will become available for redemption on your account renewal date every year and must be redeemed (and stay completed) within 12 months from the date of issue. Rooms are limited and may be unavailable during periods of high demand.
|Tip: Visit the IHG Rewards Club site to view a list of hotels that do not accept the certificate, as well as to get a list of step-by-step instructions on booking your free night.|
What are points worth?
We estimate the value of IHG points at 0.55 cents apiece, placing IHG behind many other hotel loyalty programs. (For example, World of Hyatt points are worth about 2 cents each, while Marriott Rewards are valued at 0.8 cents apiece.) This number is calculated based on the average value when redeemed for properties of different prices across different dates.
Frequent guests of IHG properties, which include budget-friendly chains like Holiday Inn and Candlewood Suites as well as more upscale options like Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza, may enjoy the card’s 10:1 earnings rate on IHG hotel stays. IHG Rewards Club members will earn an additional 15 points per dollar spent with the card during their visit. (If you’re not already a Rewards Club member, you can enroll for free online.) Qualifying purchases include food, drinks, laundry services and in-room movies. Points don’t expire so long as you earn or redeem at least once per year.
In addition, cardholders collect 2 points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, as well as 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Unfortunately, due to the low value of IHG points, those earnings don’t add up to much. When it comes to the value of rewards earned per dollar of spending, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card falls behind most competitor cards — including Hilton Honors cards from American Express. Although Hilton Honors points are valued at 0.5 cents apiece (just about equal to IHG points), the number jumps to anywhere from 2 cents to 2.37 cents when you factor in higher earnings rates in bonus categories like restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations (as well as everyday purchases), depending on the Hilton Honors card.
IHG hotel network
As one of the world’s largest (and oldest) hotel chains, the International Hotel Group boasts more than 5,000 properties in nearly 100 countries. Hotel brands include Regent Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton, HUALUXE, Crowne Plaza, Voco, Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels, avid hotels, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. This expansive hotel network means travelers are sure to find convenient options when redeeming IHG points for free night rewards across the globe.
IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders have a variety of redemption options at their disposal, including hotel stays, gift cards, merchandise, flights and more. Like most hotel loyalty programs, however, the value of points earned with the card varies widely based on how you use them:
IHG Rewards Club redemption options
|Redemption option||Point value (cents)|
|Flights (through IHG travel portal)||0.3|
|Non-IHG Hotels (through IHG travel portal)||0.23|
As you can see, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck when redeeming your points for hotel stays — and you can squeeze even more value out of your rewards balance by using some savvy booking techniques. For example, IHG reward nights work on a fixed redemption chart, which means you might be able to score a pricier (i.e. nicer) room for the same number of points if you’re traveling during a busier time of year.
In addition, one of the best perks for Rewards Club Premier cardholders is the free fourth night on every rewards stay. Other hotel rewards programs, including Marriott and Hilton, offer a free fifth night on rewards stays. This gives IHG a leg up over some competitors — and lets you further maximize the value of your rewards.
Redeeming IHG rewards for gift cards, merchandise, flights (booked through the IHG travel portal) or stays at non-IHG properties will cut the value of each point by half or more, so we wouldn’t recommend these options unless you need to use points but don’t have a trip scheduled in the near future.
Finally, IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders can also choose to transfer points to one of 39 partner airline programs. The transfer rate is poor in most cases, but since many airline miles are worth more than an IHG point, the partners listed below offer better deals than other IHG redemption options:
|Transfer partner||Transfer rate||Miles valuation (cents)||Value of transferred IHG point (cents)|
You can view full list of IHG transfer partners and transfer rates on their website.
How many IHG points do you need for a free night?
A reward night at an IHG property costs anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 points, but your points will stretch a little more when you choose a less-expensive hotel level as seen in this chart:
|Category||Points||Point value (cents)|
IHG regularly publishes a list of hotels worldwide that can be booked for as little as 5,000 points per night. Called PointBreaks, the cost of a night at each participating hotel is discounted by at least 50 percent, and in some cases by much more. Hotels currently on the list can be reserved through end of the quarter (be sure to check in each quarter), and each program member is limited to two nights at each hotel, although there is no limit to the number of hotels you can stay at.
Cardholders who are a bit short on points can also choose to take advantage of the IHG Points & Cash option, although you’ll need a minimum of 5,000 to redeem this way.
IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders are automatically granted platinum elite status with IHG. Elite status offers a number of valuable perks such as free WiFi, priority check-in and exclusive member rates.
Platinum elite status also comes with the following:
- Guaranteed room availability
- Late checkout
- 50-percent point bonus on hotel stays
- Complimentary room upgrades (not available during reward stays)
- Free Amazon Kindle e-books
- Raid the Bar card (free minibar access at Kimpton hotels)
- Hertz Gold status
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
Another notable feature of the Rewards Club Premier card is a credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees charged to the card. Both of these programs allow you to skip to the front of the security screening line prior to heading to your gate. Global Entry and TSA Precheck members aren’t required to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets in the security line, either, further speeding up the time it takes to get through.
According to the TSA, Precheck passengers waited less than five minutes on average to get through security in June 2019, making the $100 credit a valuable addition to the card’s lineup of benefits.
In addition to a stellar sign-up bonus, free anniversary night and automatic platinum elite status, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card comes with a long list of perks for frequent travelers:
- No foreign transaction fees — Save on foreign transaction fees when you use the card for purchases made outside the United States.
- Baggage delay insurance — This benefit provides reimbursement for the emergency purchase of essential items when your baggage is delayed by more than six hours, up to $100 per day for a maximum of three days.
- Lost luggage reimbursement — If your bag is lost or damaged, you can be covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver — When you book and pay for your car rental with your IHG Rewards Club Premier card, you can receive coverage in the case of damage or theft (up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles). In the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance.
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance — If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip for certain travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels.
- Travel accident insurance — This benefit provides coverage of up to $500,000 in the event you experience accidental death or dismemberment, or a combined loss of speech, sight or hearing on a covered trip.
- Travel and emergency assistance services — If you have an emergency away from home, you can receive free referrals to local services (such as medical, legal or transportation assistance) by placing a call to the benefits administrator. Cardholders are responsible for the cost of any goods or services obtained.
- Extended warranty protection — IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders can extend the original manufacturer’s warranty by one year on eligible purchases made with the card, up to $10,000 per claim on warranties of three years or less.
- Purchase protection — This benefit covers eligible items purchased with your card for 120 days in the event of theft or damage, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Price protection — If a purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference up to $500 per item ($2,500 per year).
IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders also enjoy fraud protection and are entitled to at least a 20 percent discount when purchasing points with their card.
IHG Rewards Club Premier vs. IHG Rewards Club Traveler
If you’re looking for a less expensive credit card that still lets you earn IHG points, there’s the IHG Rewards Club Traveler card to consider. The Traveler card offers a lower sign-up bonus than the Premier, with new cardholders receiving 60,000 bonus points when they spend $2,000 in the first three months of account opening, compared to 125,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the same time frame with the Premier.
Beyond that, the Traveler card’s lower annual fee of $29 — a $60 savings over the Premier — doesn’t quite make up for everything it lacks, such as automatic elite status, the Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit and free night each year on your account anniversary. Given the value of such perks, the difference in annual fees between the cards is basically a nonissue.
If you’re a frequent traveler or IHG loyalist who is sure to take advantage of elite status benefits, you’ll be better served with the Premier card; however, occasional travelers who don’t always stay in IHG properties or who want a lower annual fee should stick with the Traveler.
As the issuer for both co-branded IHG credit cards, Chase has a reputation for good customer service. For example, the bank scored 804 in J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction survey, ranking fourth out of 11 major credit card issuers.
Chase customer service is available by phone, secure email or in-person at a branch location. Unfortunately, Chase does not offer an online chat feature for quick questions. Its mobile app, however, is highly rated for both iPhone and Android.
Although your credit score isn’t the only factor in whether you’ll be approved for the IHG Rewards Club Premier, the card is generally designed for users with good or excellent credit. In other words, your score should be at least 670 (preferably above 700) for you to have the best chance of approval.
It’s worth noting that Chase enforces what’s called the 5/24 rule, which essentially means your application will be denied if you’ve already opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months. This includes cards with other card issuers, not just Chase.
How does the IHG Rewards Club Premier card compare to other cards?
While the Club Premier card offers some good hotel perks, the value of its points is extremely low. You have plenty of better options if you’re looking to rack up points for hotel nights:
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
75,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
130,000 Hilton Honors points if you spend $4,000 in first 4 months
|Other things to know
||Other things to know
||Other things to know
If Marriott is your hotel of choice, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card is another hotel rewards card worth considering. In addition to a comparable annual fee and similar sign-up bonus (albeit with a higher spend requirement), the Bonvoy Boundless card offers a lot of value for frequent Marriott guests. At 6 points per dollar on Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases and 2 points per dollar on other purchases, the earnings scheme is a bit less generous than what the IHG Rewards Club Premier card offers. That said, the value of rewards earned per dollar of spending is twice as high with the Bonvoy Boundless.
The combined portfolio of Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotels offers the best coverage of any hotel network in the world, with more than 6,900 hotels in 130+ countries. In other words, cardholders are practically guaranteed to find a rewards room at various price points anywhere you want to travel.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card offers one of the largest welcome bonuses currently available among rewards cards: 130,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first four months. Using these points to pay for stays at the lowest tier of Hilton hotel means you can get up to 25 free nights, more than twice than what you could get with the IHG Rewards Club Premier’s sign-up bonus. Unlike the IHG Premier, however, Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders only receive a free annual hotel night after spending $15,000. The free night at an IHG property doesn’t have a spend requirement attached.
Although the value of Hilton Honors points (0.5 cents apiece) are roughly the same as IHG points, it’s a more lucrative card when it comes to the overall value of the rewards you earn. Factoring in the earnings rate and estimated point value, each dollar of spending gets you an estimated 2.37 cents in rewards value — much better than the 0.9 cents you get with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card.
Despite a lower sign-up bonus, the World of Hyatt credit card from Chase is a more than worthy competitor to the IHG Rewards Club Premier. Points earned with the World of Hyatt card are some of the most valuable loyalty program currencies available, making it easy for cardholders to get the most rewards for their money, even without flashy perks like a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit.
World of Hyatt cardholders also have the chance to snag an additional free night each year when they spend $15,000, and the opportunity to earn rewards on all sorts of everyday purchases (including restaurants, directly purchased airfare, local transit, commuting and gym/fitness club memberships) means you’ll get to your next reward stay even faster. Unfortunately, the Hyatt hotel network is pretty small compared to IHG’s, with less than 1,000 hotels across the globe, so you’ll have to decide whether it has enough options that work within your travel goals and overall lifestyle.
Who should apply for the IHG Rewards Club Premier card?
- Frequent guests of IHG hotels.
- Frequent travelers looking for a hotel rewards card with a large hotel network.
- Existing IHG Rewards Club members who want platinum elite status.
How to use the IHG Rewards Club Premier card
- Spend at least $3,000 within the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus.
- Book your rewards stays in four-night increments to get the fourth night free.
- Redeem rewards for hotel stays over other options to avoid devaluing your points.
- Redeem your annual free night certificate before it expires at the end of the year.
- Use the card to make Groupon purchases and earn up to 10 IHG points per dollar.
- Choose restaurants and bars included in the IHG Rewards Club Dining program when dining out.
- Decline housekeeping services at participating IHG hotels for at least two consecutive nights to earn 500 points per night as part of the Greener Stay program.
- Redeem points for PointBreaks deals to enjoy bigger savings on rewards stays.
- Check the IHG Rewards Club website at least quarterly for special bonus deals to boost your earnings rate.
Is the IHG Rewards Club Premier card worth it?
If you frequently stay at IHG properties around the world, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card is a great way to earn IHG points at a faster clip, especially if you can meet the spending threshold for the sign-up bonus. The benefits of automatic elite status — alongside such perks as a free hotel night on your card anniversary and a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck membership every four years — more than outweigh the card’s $89 annual fee.
That said, travelers who aren’t particularly loyal to IHG properties or who won’t take advantage of the myriad travel perks and benefits of the Premier card are probably better off with the IHG Rewards Club Traveler card, or even a co-branded card linked to another international hotel group.
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