Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
There are few credit cards available that make sense for almost every traveler. But the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card might just be one of those cards. For just an $89 annual fee, cardholders get IHG Platinum Elite status, a free night each cardholder anniversary and — our favorite perk as you’ll see below — a fourth night free on reward stays.
Whether you’re considering getting this card yourself or are already a cardholder and want to maximize the value from your card, here are the top ways to get the most out of your card membership.
Maximize the free night certificate
There’s one benefit of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card that’s valuable enough to easily justify the card’s $89 annual fee: an anniversary free night. Each cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive a certificate valid for a free night at a property costing 40,000 points or less.
NerdWallet values IHG Rewards points at 0.8 cent each. That means a reward night that costs 40,000 points typically would require $320 worth of points.
IHG published a list of properties where you can’t use this free night certificate. However, since May 2020, IHG has expanded dynamic award pricing to more markets and hotels, meaning even pricier hotels can dip to 40,000 points per night when demand is low. That means this free night certificate can take you further than ever before.
For example, the InterContinental Danang used to cost 70,000 points each night. That would make it out of reach for using a free night certificate. Now with dynamic award pricing, there are plenty of nights that cost just 40,000 points. You can apply a certificate to get a free night for dates well into 2021.
This free night isn’t available in the first year of card membership, but IHG makes up for that by offering a nice welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Utilize the benefits of Platinum Elite status
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with Platinum Elite status just for holding the card. This mid-tier elite status typically requires staying 40 qualifying nights in an IHG hotel or 40,000 elite qualifying points. Benefits of IHG Platinum Elite status include 50% bonus points on paid stays, complimentary room upgrades, extended checkout (subject to availability) and a welcome amenity upon arrival.
At many IHG hotels, the room upgrade might not be too fancy. After all, the Holiday Inn Express along the highway probably isn’t going to have a nice suite. However, you might be surprised by the upgrades you get, especially at international hotels.
As an IHG Platinum member, I have been upgraded to the corner room on the top floor of a Holiday Inn Express in Taipei. The room featured a commanding 180-degree view of the city. During a stay at the Regent Singapore, the front desk upgraded my wife and me from a base room to a multi-room suite with a balcony thanks to the elite status.
Likewise, the “welcome amenity” will tend to be a choice of bonus points or a snack at many properties. However, other properties provide drink vouchers for cocktails at the hotel bar, a fruit plate in your room or a unique amenity specific to the property.
» Learn more: Your guide to IHG elite status
Max out your return on IHG stays
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card earns a whopping 10x points per $1 spent at IHG Hotels & Resorts. Based on NerdWallet valuations, that’s a return of 8% on your spending. No other credit card comes close to providing that type of return on IHG purchases.
However, there’s another way that cardholders will be rewarded after IHG stays: elite bonus points.
Non-elite IHG Rewards members earn 10x points per dollar on stays at most IHG properties even without using an IHG-branded credit card.
But thanks to having Platinum Elite status from the card, you’ll earn a 50% bonus on that earning for a total of 15x points from IHG Rewards.
When you add the 10x points earnings from charging your stay to your IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card you’ll earn a total of 25x points on stays at most IHG properties. At a valuation of 0.8 cent per point, that’s a return of 20% on your spending at IHG hotels toward a future reward stay.
Get every fourth award night free
One of the ways that you can get an incredible amount of value from this IHG card is through the card’s fourth-reward-night-free benefit. Here’s how it works: If you book a stay of four or more nights with IHG Rewards points, IHG will automatically set the cost of the fourth night to zero points.
If you’re staying somewhere eight or more nights, you’ll get both the fourth night and the eighth night free. There’s no need to break the stay into two four-night stays.
This benefit is uncapped, and I have put that to the test. In 2019, I saved 185,000 IHG Rewards points across 11 fourth-night-free stays. Because NerdWallet values IHG Rewards points at 0.8 cent each, I saved approximately $1,480 worth of points in 2019 from just this one benefit.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with IHG Hotels
Global Entry / TSA Precheck
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is far from the only credit card that reimburses Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees. But, if you’re signing up for — or renewing — Global Entry or TSA Precheck, this one benefit can save you up to $100.
Just use the card to pay the $100 Global Entry application fee or the $85 Precheck application fee, and you’ll receive a statement credit within 24 hours of the fee being posted to your account.
If you already have Global Entry or Precheck, a friend or family member can use your IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card card to pay the application fee to utilize this perk. Just keep in mind that you’ll only get this statement credit once every four years.
No foreign transaction fees
Plenty of great credit cards have no foreign transaction fees. However, this perk is important when it comes to maximizing the value on your IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. If you’re on a trip overseas, you don’t have to decide between earning 10x points and avoiding foreign transaction fees when paying for your hotel stay. With this IHG card, you can get both.
The bottom line
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is packed with plenty of valuable benefits for just an $89 annual fee. From a free night certificate and a fourth night free on award stays to mid-tier elite status, many of the benefits on this card are each worth more than the annual fee.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card