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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 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 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 $99 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 Premier Credit Card.
Our IHG® Rewards 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 $99 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.
Check out the full review of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card to learn more.
Why get the IHG® Rewards 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 140,000 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 One Rewards points at 0.8 cent each, that 40,000-point certificate has a value of around $320 when maximized.
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 status in the IHG One Rewards Club program. Though Platinum status isn’t the highest tier (that's Diamond) and doesn’t come with extras 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 26 total points per $1 spent on IHG hotel stays. Here’s how that breaks down:
10 points for paying with the IHG® Rewards 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.
6 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 Premier Credit Card comes with a slew of travel protection and trip insurance-related benefits when you pay for the trip with your card.
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 Traveler Credit Card.
You don’t want to be committed to IHG. Once you hold the IHG® Rewards 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.
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 2022, 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