IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Review

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The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase is a hotel rewards credit card with a $89 annual fee. It’s ideal for frequent travelers who regularly stay with InterContinental Hotel Group brands, which includes thousands of Holiday Inn, Staybridge Inn, and Candlewood Suites properties in the U.S. and around the world.

Every purchase with this card earns points that can be redeemed for hotel stays at thousands of IHG properties worldwide, usually at rates ranging from $0.005 to $0.01 per point. Cardholders in good standing also get a host of useful perks at IHG hotels, including 1 reward night per year and automatic upgrade to Platinum Elite status, which accelerates point earnings and entitles members to complimentary room upgrades.

If you’re interested in alternatives to IHG Rewards Club Premier, look to hotel-specific rewards cards such as Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase. It may also be worth considering airline-specific credit cards such as United MileagePlus Explorer and general-purpose travel cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

Earn 140,000 bonus points when you spend at least $3,000 in eligible purchases during your first 3 months of cardmembership. That’s worth more than 10 free nights at participating IHG properties.

Earning IHG Rewards Club Points

This card earns rewards at these rates:

  • Every $1 spent at IHG properties earns an unlimited 10 points, for up to 25 points total on every $1 spent at IHG properties.
  • Purchases made at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores earn an unlimited 2 points per $1.
  • All other purchases, including hotel stays at non-IHG hotels, earn an unlimited 1 point per $1.

Redeeming IHG Rewards Club Points

Points can be redeemed for free hotel stays at IHG properties, starting at a minimum of 10,000 points for lower-tier properties and 70,000 points for the highest-tier properties. If you don’t have enough points to pay for a full night’s stay, you can purchase up to 10,000 additional points at $0.007 apiece ($70 maximum) through IHG’s Points & Cash option. Redemption thresholds are subject to change at any time.

At redemption, point values usually range from $0.005 to $0.01, sometimes more or less. Points don’t expire as long as you redeem any or earn more – through card purchases or hotel stays – within any 12-month period.

Fourth Reward Night Free

When you book a reward stay of four nights or longer (paid entirely with points), you automatically get the fourth night free.

Annual Spend Bonus

When you spend at least $20,000 in purchases and make one additional purchase within the same calendar year, you get an additional 10,000 bonus points.

Point Purchase Subsidy

Enjoy a 20% discount on the purchase of IHG points with your IHG Rewards Club Premier card.

Anniversary Reward Night

Every year, you get 1 reward night good for use at thousands of properties worldwide. Redeeming your reward night doesn’t cost any points, but you don’t earn any additional points for the stay.

Platinum Elite Status Upgrade

As long as you remain a cardmember in good standing, you enjoy IHG Platinum Elite status. You do have to formally apply for this status after you receive your card, but it doesn’t cost anything to do so.

Platinum Elite status confers numerous benefits:

  • Priority check-in
  • Complimentary room upgrades whenever available
  • Guaranteed room availability with at least 72 hours’ advance notification
  • 50% point-earning bonus for all IHG hotel stays – for instance, a stay that would have earned 2,000 points earns 3,000 with Platinum Elite status

Important Fees

The annual fee is $89. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5% and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.

Credit Required

This card requires good or excellent credit.

Advantages

  1. Generous Sign-up Bonus. This card has one of the most generous sign-up bonuses in the hotel rewards category – particularly at this relatively modest price point.
  2. Automatic Platinum Elite Status Upgrade. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Card comes with an automatic upgrade to Platinum Elite status, IHG’s second-highest frequent traveler status. Platinum Elite entitles you to 50% faster point earnings when you stay at IHG hotels, complimentary room upgrades whenever available, 72-hour guaranteed availability, and other perks. This benefit doesn’t cost anything extra, and its value is potentially huge for frequent travelers. By contrast, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cardholders only earn Silver Elite status, a lower frequent traveler level that doesn’t include complimentary room upgrades, guaranteed room availability, or 50% faster point earnings.
  3. Save 20% on Purchases When You Buy Points With Your Card. If you need to buy additional IHG points with your card, you’ll save 20% on face value – not a bad subsidy for your award travel.
  4. 2x Points Categories Are Broad. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Card’s categories that reward 2 points per $1 spent cover broad, everyday expenses: gas, groceries, and restaurants. This is a big advantage for frequent travelers seeking a boost on everyday spending.
  5. No Foreign Transaction Fee. IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. That’s great news for cardholders who regularly travel abroad. By contrast, Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Disadvantages

  1. Has an $89 Annual Fee. This card’s $89 annual fee applies as soon as you open your account.
  2. Inflexible Redemption Options. While you can redeem your IHG Rewards Club points at more than 5,000 properties worldwide, there’s not much else you can do with them. You can’t redeem them for merchandise, statement credits, gift cards, or even incidental purchases at participating hotels. Citi Hilton Honors Reserve allows you to redeem for hotel incidentals, while U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards allows you to redeem for general merchandise and cash equivalents, such as gift cards and statement credits, in addition to travel purchases.
  3. Limited Travel and Experience Benefits. Although it does come with an automatic upgrade to Platinum Elite status, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card offers few travel and experience benefits not directly related to IHG hotels or the rewards system. For instance, it doesn’t have a concierge service, travel protection insurance, or exclusive/VIP event access (these things aren’t included in Platinum Elite status). By contrast, Citi Hilton Honors Reserve comes with 24/7 travel booking assistance and exclusive access to a raft of special events, such as concerts and sports contests.
  4. Potentially Low Point Values at Redemption. Although the value of IHG Rewards Club points varies based on the monetary cost of the hotel stay for which they’re redeemed, the range generally works out to $0.005 to $0.01, and IHG charges $0.007 per point when purchased through Points & Cash. U.S. Bank FlexPerks points are reliably worth $0.02 apiece, and points accumulated with Chase Sapphire Preferred are worth up to $0.0125 when redeemed for travel at Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

Final Word

InterContinental Hotel Group isn’t a well-known name, but some of its hotel brands certainly are. If you’ve ever stayed at a Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, or any other related property, you’ve stayed at an IHG hotel. Depending on how often you travel and how frequently you encounter IHG-branded properties along the way, this could be a powerful rewards card to keep in your wallet – even if you use another product, such as an airline rewards or cash back rewards card, as your primary card.

On the other hand, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card isn’t great for infrequent travelers, cardholders who prefer not to deal with annual fees, cardholders who prefer more flexible rewards programs with a wider variety of redemption options, and travelers looking for value-added perks such as concierge service and VIP access. Of course, if you prefer another hospitality family – say, Hilton or Marriott – there’s sure to be a suitable card for you as well, as many other hotel rewards credit cards are available.

Source: moneycrashers.com