9 Reasons to Get the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

This hotel card is packed with high-value benefits, from automatic elite status to a free anniversary night.
Sally FrenchJun 24, 2021

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If you’re planning to stay at an IHG hotel this year, then you’ve already got a pretty strong reason to hold the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Given that the IHG portfolio includes about 6,000 hotels worldwide — ranging from the modestly priced Holiday Inn to the chic Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants to the opulent InterContinental Hotels & Resorts — IHG offers a hotel room for every type of traveler. And whether you’re a road warrior staying at hotels every week, or you’re planning a family vacation once or twice a year, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a card for every type of IHG guest.

With automatic IHG elite status and free-night certificates, the card has an $0 intro for the first year, then $89 annual fee that almost always pays for itself based on the latter benefit alone. But if you’re still not convinced, we’ll give you nine reasons to consider the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Our IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review

As long as you stay at an IHG hotel at least once a year, then it’s fairly easy to justify the card’s $0 intro for the first year, then $89 annual fee, as cardholders can book a room that otherwise costs 40,000 points or less at least once every 12 months with their free-night certificate. Given that redemptions start at 10,000 points per night and the cash value of those properties is roughly $100, you're well on your way to being in the positive, even if you redeem that award for one of the lower rates.

We gave the card 5 out of 5 stars based on its rates, fees, rewards and other features, noting that IHG points aren’t worth as much as points in other hotel programs. Still, the generous points accrual rates and free nights more than make up for the cost of the card.

Why get the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card?

This card serves you well as long as you hold it, from your first year as a cardholder when you’ll have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus, to subsequent years when you’ll earn a free-night certificate. You won’t have to worry that this card will end up in the bottom of your messenger bag.

We’ll stick to the top reasons why we think it’s worth considering:

1. The welcome offer could be worth more than a week of free stays

You have an opportunity to earn a giant pile of points in one punch thanks to the card’s welcome offer: Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. IHG point redemptions start at just 10,000 points, so this offer could get you pretty far.

2. Your anniversary free night lets you book a room worth more than the annual fee

On each 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 otherwise costs 40,000 points or less.

You're on the hook for incidental charges such as parking fees and mandatory resort fees if applicable. Still, that’s a sweet deal. While you could redeem it at a property that costs 10,000 points, look to maximize its value at a property as close to 40,000 points as possible. Since we value IHG Rewards points at 0.8 cent each, that 40,000-point certificate has a value of around $320 when maximized.

Your anniversary night certificate entitles you to a room worth up to 40,000 points, as is often the price of the Kimpton Aluna Hotel in Tulum, Mexico, located on the southern tip of the Mayan Riviera. (Photo courtesy of Kimpton)

3. Rewards bookings include a fourth night for free

If one night free isn’t enough for you, here’s a chance to earn another (and potentially even more): When you book a stay on points for four or more consecutive nights, your fourth night is free.

If you take advantage of this benefit, you’ll be charged the point redemption rate for the first three nights and 0 points for the fourth night. As long as you’re booking on points, there’s no cap to this perk either. Use it for your once-a-year vacation, or use it weekly if your job has you spending weeknights in a hotel.

4. The card offers automatic Platinum Elite status

The card comes with automatic Platinum Elite status in the IHG Rewards Club program. Though Platinum Elite status isn’t the highest tier and doesn’t come with extras that some other hotel loyalty programs provide (like free breakfast), it still has plenty of decent perks, like:

  • 50% bonus points on paid stays.

  • Complimentary room upgrades.

  • Extended checkout (subject to availability).

5. You can rack up points fairly quickly

If you don’t have enough IHG points to actually book on points, here’s a way to rapidly earn them.

Use this card, and you’ll earn 25 total points per $1 spent on IHG hotel stays. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • 10 points for paying with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

  • 10 points from your free IHG Rewards Club membership. You'll be automatically enrolled when you're approved for the card if you previously weren't a member.

  • 5 points from Platinum Elite status, an automatic benefit of card ownership.

A two-night stay at a $200-per-night hotel means 10,000 points. And yes, room redemptions start at 10,000 points. By paying with this card, you don’t have to work too hard to start earning yourself free nights.

6. Its cell phone protection can save you up to $1,000 a year

We recommend charging more than just your travel purchases to this card — charge your cell phone bill, too. Doing so means you’ll receive built-in cell phone protection.

Covered circumstances entitle cardholders to up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year. You can make a maximum of two claims in a 12-month period. Though you’ll still owe a $50 deductible per claim and are required to show some paperwork (for example, a police report for claims involving theft).

7. Cardholders can get a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit

If you hate waiting for airport security, this card has a slick benefit that’ll help speed you through those winding lines: As a cardholder, you’ll receive a statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees charged to your card.

8. It has no foreign transaction fees

We’ll be frank: Travel credit cards worth adding to your wallet usually shouldn't charge foreign transaction fees, and happily this one doesn’t. If you currently pay for international trips with such a card, it’s almost always a good idea to apply for a card with no foreign transaction fees to save what typically amounts to 1%-3% of your purchases. Keep that money for your own travel fund, not your bank’s.

9. It includes travel protections

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with a slew of travel protection and trip insurance-related benefits when you pay for the trip with your card.

These include:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption.

  • Travel accident insurance.

  • Travel and emergency assistance services.

  • Lost luggage reimbursement.

  • Baggage delay insurance.

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.

That level of protection could potentially save you thousands of dollars. For example, if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations including sickness or severe weather, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, like tours or hotel rooms. Also, if you or an immediate family member checks luggage that's damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.

Reasons to skip it

This card is a winner in many cases, but there are some scenarios where it just doesn’t make sense to have this card, like:

  • You hate paying annual fees. Some people refuse to pay annual fees for credit cards — and that’s fine. While we think this card is worth its annual fee, that’s still money you have to part with upfront. You might not want to front money for a free-night certificate you’ll never end up using. If you don't like the annual fee but still want an IHG credit card, consider the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

  • You don’t want to be committed to IHG. Once you hold the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, it might be tough to justify staying at a different hotel brand or even alternative lodging like a short-term vacation rental. If you don’t like that level of commitment, you might be better off with a more general travel rewards credit card.

  • You’re specifically seeking gas, grocery or restaurant rewards. If you’re looking to earn the best rate at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, this isn't your card. While Chase touts bonus rewards when using this card for such purposes, don’t be fooled. You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on those things, but since we value IHG points at 0.8 cent per point, that’s only a 1.6% return. It’s certainly not a bad card to spend in these categories, but you can earn far higher rewards at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants through other credit cards.

Frequently asked questions

In most cases, yes. Given the card’s free-night certificate worth up to about $360, the unlimited-use fourth-night-free benefit when you book on points, the automatic IHG elite status and 25 points earned per $1 spent at IHG hotels, it’s easy to make the case for why the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is worth it.

No, it’s plastic. But while it might not have that catchy ring when you plunk it down on the counter, you’ll receive far flashier benefits for using this card, including room upgrades at IHG hotels.

It’s generally recommended that your credit scores are good to excellent before applying for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. That typically means scores between 690 and 850. However, an excellent credit score alone isn't a guarantee of approval.

The rewards on the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card are plenty, including a generous welcome offer, 25 points earned per dollar spent on IHG hotels, and automatic IHG elite status.

The bottom line

If you tend to choose IHG hotels when you travel, this card can provide a powerful rewards boost. When you add up the benefits for your time at IHG hotels, including elite status, bonus points earning, free-night certificates, and free fourth nights on rewards stays, plus other travel benefits like a Global Entry application fee credit and trip insurance, you’re looking at access to significant value for less than $100 upfront.


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:

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