|Rewards Rating:||4.7 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||4.0|
|Issuer Customer Experience||4.0|
In a Nutshell:
With a large sign-up bonus and other valuable rewards — including a rewards night each year — the IHG Rewards Premier card is packed with value.
140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Chase Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, automatic Platinum Elite status, fourth night reward 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, cell phone insurance
Carrying a slate of valuable travel perks — including up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every four years — the IHG Rewards 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 points on everyday purchases like gas, travel and restaurants.
New sign-up bonus
The IHG Rewards Premier credit card recently updated its sign-up bonus, and though it’s a drop from the card’s most recent bonus offer, it still carries solid value.
You now have a chance to earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 with the card in your first three months — a 35,000-point drop from the card’s previous bonus of 175,000 bonus points after a $3,000 spend in the first three months. To be fair, though, that was the card’s highest-ever sign-up bonus.
Like many other hotel reward currencies, IHG points have a low estimated value, but the current offer is still quite valuable. Based on Bankrate’s latest hotel point valuations, we estimate IHG points are worth about 0.7 cents apiece, so 140,000 points could be around $980 when redeemed for a hotel stay.
The IHG Premier bonus has mostly remained in the same range since the card’s launch, wavering between 80,000 and 150,000 points, so there’s no way to know when or if a much higher will be offered on the card. Now could still be a great time to apply if you have a trip on the horizon and want to get started earning hotel rewards.
Although most cardholders won’t spend enough to qualify, the IHG Rewards 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 rewards night each year on your card anniversary, which can be used at any IHG hotel that costs 40,000 points or less per night. Assuming an IHG point value of 0.7 cents/point, you’re looking at around $280 in value for the certificate, which more than covers the card’s $99 annual fee.
The rewards 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 rewards night.|
What are points worth?
Base on Bankrate’s estimates, we peg the value of IHG points at 0.7 cents apiece, placing IHG on par with several other hotel loyalty programs, but short of a few (for example, Bankrate values World of Hyatt points at around 2.1 cents each, while Wyndham Rewards are valued at 0.9 cents apiece.) This number is calculated based on the average value when redeemed for properties of different prices across different dates.
When it comes to the value of rewards earned per dollar of spending, the IHG Rewards Premier card falls behind most competitor cards — including Hilton Honors cards from American Express. Although Hilton Honors points are valued at 0.6 cents apiece (just about equal to IHG points), the number can jumps to over from 2 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.
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 bookings, plus an additional 10 points per dollar as an IHG Rewards loyalty program member and an additional 6 points per dollar with Platinum Elite Status. (If you’re not already a Rewards Club member, you can enroll for free online.) Points don’t expire so long as you earn or redeem at least once per year.
In addition, cardholders collect 5 points per dollar on travel and purchases at gas stations and restaurants, as well as 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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 rewards stays across the globe.
IHG Rewards 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
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 rewards 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.
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 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 may offer better deals than other IHG redemption options.
You can view full list of IHG transfer partners and transfer rates on their website.
How many IHG points do you need for a rewards night?
A rewards night at an IHG property costs anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 points, but your points may stretch a little more when you choose a less-expensive hotel level.
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 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)
- Raid the Bar card (free minibar access at Kimpton hotels)
- Hertz Gold status
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
Another notable feature of the Rewards 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.
See related: TSA Precheck, Global Entry credits now offered on lower-annual-fee cards
In addition to a stellar sign-up bonus, anniversary rewards night and automatic platinum elite status, the IHG Rewards 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 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 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.
- Cell phone insurance — This benefit gives you 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 IHG Rewards Premier card.
IHG Rewards Premier cardholders also enjoy fraud protection and are entitled to at least a 20 percent discount when purchasing points with their card.
IHG Rewards Premier vs. IHG Rewards Traveler
If you’re looking for a less expensive credit card that still lets you earn IHG points, there’s the IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card to consider. The Traveler card offers a lower sign-up bonus than the Premier, with new cardholders receiving 80,000 bonus points when they spend $2,000 in the first three months of account opening, compared to 140,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the same time frame with the Premier.
While the Traveler card has no annual fee, this doesn’t quite make up for everything it lacks, such as automatic elite status, the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and a rewards 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 card with no 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 809 in J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, fourth among 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 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 Premier card compare to other cards?
While the IHG 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
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus one Free Night Reward if you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
|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, the Bonvoy Boundless card offers a lot of value for frequent Marriott guests. At up to 17 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 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 and Ritz-Carlton hotels offers the best coverage of any hotel network in the world, with more than 7,000 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 a large welcome bonus: 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a Free Night Reward if you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Unlike the IHG Premier, however, Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders only receive an annual rewards night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. The rewards night at an IHG property doesn’t have a spend requirement attached.
Although the value of Hilton Honors points (0.6 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 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 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 rewards 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 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 Premier card
- Spend at least $3,000 within the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus.
- Redeem rewards for hotel stays over other options to avoid devaluing your points.
- Redeem your annual rewards night certificate before it expires at the end of the year.
- 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 Premier card worth it?
If you frequently stay at IHG properties around the world, the IHG Rewards 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 rewards night on your card anniversary and an up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck membership every four years — more than outweigh the card’s $99 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 IHG Premier card are probably better off with the IHG Rewards Traveler card, or even a co-branded card linked to another international hotel group.
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