Who Benefits the Most From the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card?

Even a traveler who stays at IHG just once a year can benefit from the free night certificate and elite status.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Kevin Berry

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Who benefits from holding the IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card? First we’ll give you the short answer: anyone who stays at an IHG hotel just one night a year.

But the long answer is that there are even more specific groups of people who can benefit the most by holding the IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card. That’s because this card offers a bevy of benefits, perhaps the best of which is an annual free night certificate. That alone can make the $99 annual fee worth it.

So with that, here’s a breakdown of the subgroups of people who especially benefit from this card. The IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card is especially great for you if you’re someone who fits into one of the following groups.

You can spend enough to hit the welcome bonus

Right off the bat, new cardmembers can earn an impressive welcome bonus: Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn up to $100 in IHG® statement credits on purchases at IHG® Hotels and Resorts during the first 12 months from account opening.

While you shouldn’t spend beyond your means to reach that threshold, the card’s welcome bonus can earn you a boatload of points in one swoop. If possible, apply for the card around a time when you'll be spending more money than usual, whether it’s on a mundane purchase like home repairs or tuition, or on something more inspiring like a trip or wedding.

Eating out is your thing

If you’re the kind of person who prefers going out to eat versus packing a brown bag from home, this might be the card for you. It offers 5x points for every dollar spent at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery. Based on NerdWallet’s valuation of an IHG point at 0.8 cent each, you’re looking at a 3.5% return in the form of IHG points for restaurant spending.

And the restaurant rewards don’t stop there. The IHG Rewards Club Dine & Earn program is the most valuable of all the hotel dining rewards programs out there based on a NerdWallet analysis. With this program, you simply link your credit card to your IHG Rewards Club Dine & Earn account. Whenever you pay at a participating restaurant using that registered credit card, you’ll earn IHG points. Rates start at 1 point per $1 spent for Basic members, running up to 8 points per $1 spent for VIP members.

Those points stack with existing credit card rewards, so spending on the card at an eligible restaurant could earn 13 points per dollar if you’re a dining VIP, which is just over a 10% return.

Staying at IHG properties is in your plans

It’s only natural that, should you hold an IHG credit card, you frequent IHG properties. And when you do, here are the benefits you can expect:

High earnings rate for IHG spending

Pay for your stay with this card, and you’ll earn a whopping 26 total points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, broken down like this:

  • 10 points for paying with the card at most IHG hotels.

  • 10 points from your free IHG One Rewards Club membership — you'll be automatically enrolled when you are approved for the card if you previously were not a member.

  • 6 points from IHG One Rewards Club Platinum Elite Status, an automatic benefit of the card.

A big discount for booking on points

Perhaps you’d rather pay in points than in cash. That works too. For every standard room night stay of four or more consecutive nights, every fourth night is free. IHG will charge you points for the first three nights and zero points for the fourth night.

This benefit isn’t limited, so flex it as often as you want — at any IHG property. Two nights would be free on an eight-night trip.

Automatic IHG elite status

Not only can you save money and earn big for IHG stays, but you’ll be treated like a VIP once you’re there. You’ll qualify for automatic IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status for as long as you hold the card.

You plan to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

The IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card is among the credit cards that reimburses Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

Use your card to pay the application fee and you will receive one statement credit of up to $100 every four years. Considering the Global Entry application fee is $100, you more than breakeven on the card’s $99 annual fee that year. The TSA PreCheck application fee is $78, so you’ll at least come close to breaking even on the annual fee.

You’re a United flyer

Sure, it’s an IHG branded card, but there are United benefits too. As a cardholder, you'll receive up to $50 in TravelBank Cash each calendar year, doled out in increments of $25 in TravelBank Cash given every January and July. TravelBank Cash can be used to book air travel on United, so think of it as a $25 discount on your next flight.

To get this benefit, you must complete a one-time registration in your IHG One Rewards account.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a travel rewards card that earns you free nights fast, the IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card may just be your ticket. The welcome bonus is generous, and hotel availability is vast. Just realize that unless you book stays in participating hotels frequently or put the annual free night to good use, the benefits of the card may wane after the first year, making it less valuable than some other travel rewards cards in its class.

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 2023, including those best for:

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