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Despite its $89 annual fee, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can be a money-maker thanks to one single benefit: the annual free night certificate.
If you stay at an eligible IHG property (that’s an IHG hotel with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or fewer) and the cash rate of your room is more than the card’s annual fee, then you’re already benefiting from the card with only this perk.
But some cardholders might benefit more than others from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, depending on their appetite for annual fees and what the other cards in their wallets already offer.
The best benefits of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Before diving into who the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is best for, here are some of the card’s best benefits:
An annual free reward night: Each year after your anniversary as a cardholder, you'll receive a certificate good for a night at any eligible IHG hotel or resort. “Eligible,” in most cases, means an IHG-owned property that costs 40,000 points or fewer.
Fourth night free on award stays: When you hold the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and you book a stay of at least four nights with IHG Rewards points, the hotel will automatically set the cost of the fourth night to zero points.
An impressive welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening..
Bonus points on everyday spending: Earn 2x points per dollar spent on gas, groceries and restaurants. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
Bonus points on IHG spending: You also rack up 25x points per $1 for every booking at an IHG participating hotel: 10x for using your card, 10x for being an IHG Rewards Club member and 5x for having Platinum status, which is one of the benefits of the card.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit: Cardholders receive a statement credit every four years for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which is worth $85 or $100, respectively.
Automatic IHG Platinum status: Among the perks that come from automatic IHG Platinum status are:
Complimentary room upgrades.
Guaranteed room availability.
Priority check-in on arrival.
A welcome amenity.
Minibar credit at Kimpton Hotels.
Who benefits the most from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card?
You don’t need us to tell you that the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card benefits people who frequently stay at IHG properties.
But what if you’re not a diehard IHG fan? Maybe you don’t really care whether you’re at a Hyatt House versus a Holiday Inn. Could you still benefit from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, or would you be better off with a more premium travel credit card or a credit card from another hotel brand?
In short, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is ideal for you if….
You’ll hit the sweet spot between the points rate and cash price
With the card’s annual free night certificate alone, you can end up in the black despite the annual fee. If you were going to stay at a $200 IHG property and pay the cash rate, then the card’s $89 is covered — plus, you essentially gain more than $100.
Skip this card if: You only stay at super-high-end or super-low-end IHG hotels. Since the free night certificate only covers rooms under 40,000 points, this card won’t work for you if you only stay at high-end properties like the 70,000-point InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Vietnam. And similarly, if you’re always nabbing ulta-low cash deals, then you might not be able to maximize the night certificate to its full value.
One annoying tidbit we’ve heard from IHG members: While not a documented policy, if you’re planning a stay of two nights or more, you’ll need to book your free anniversary night separately. You’ll have to create two different reservations for stays on consecutive nights. While you can (and should) leave a note in the comments section to link the two bookings, it’s one more step to take — and it comes with the risk that you might have to change rooms midstay.
You’re earning fewer than 2 points back on gas and groceries
This card earns 2 points for each $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. While that’s not the greatest rewards rate out there, it’s certainly better than earning just 1 point (or even worse, no rewards) in those categories. Since we value an IHG point at 0.8 cent, you’re earning roughly 1.6 cents back in the form of IHG points for spending in those categories.
If you already have a better credit card for gas, groceries and dining, then you likely don’t need to charge them to this card. But if you’re the kind of person who only likes having one credit card, then this one can make sense given the solid everyday rewards rate and larger IHG rewards rate.
You want IHG status without having to work hard for it
By holding the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you receive automatic IHG Platinum Elite status for as long as you hold the card.
The other way to attain Platinum Elite status requires a lot more work than submitting a credit card application and paying an annual fee. You’ll have to either stay 40 qualifying nights per calendar year or earn 40,000 elite qualifying points.
You want Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Many credit cards offer TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits, which are statement credits to cover the cost of your application fees (which are $85 and $100, respectively). In fact, most premium travel credit cards offer this benefit, but those cards also entail annual fees far north of $400.
If you’re going to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck anyway, paying for it with this credit card essentially negates (or even saves you more than) the card’s annual fee.
If you’re considering the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Even if you stay at an IHG property just once per year, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can often be worth holding given the free night certificate, automatic elite status and elevated points-earning rates on IHG stays. Throw in the other perks, like airport security statement credits and bonus points on everyday spending categories, and it’s easy to see how any IHG customer — whether the occasional vacationer or frequent jetsetter — can benefit from this card.
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 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card