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. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
There are dozens of reasons why the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the best mid-tier hotel credit cards out there. As long as you’d otherwise stay in an IHG property just one time per year, it’s almost always worth applying for.
Your card journey will start with this welcome offer: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. From there, you’ll receive a free night certificate on your cardholder anniversary. And it doesn’t stop there.
Our IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card review
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is certainly useful for road warriors and business travelers who regularly stay at IHG hotels. But, even if you’re more of a casual vacationer, the relatively low $99 annual fee coupled with tons of benefits (including a free night certificate) helps make the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card wallet-worthy.
NerdWallet’s analysis of the card’s rates, fees, rewards and other features earned it an admirable rating of 5 out of 5 stars, even despite its points being valued less than other hotel programs. The real reason we still rated it highly? Its perks are head-turners. One benefit in particular, the annual free award night, is often worth more than the card's annual fee alone.
Want to know more? Read our full review of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card.
11 best benefits of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
1. Annual free reward night
Here’s a benefit that on its own can easily justify the card’s $99 annual fee: 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 otherwise costs 40,000 points or less.
If you happen to book a property that requires more than 40,000 points, then you can dip into your own IHG One Rewards points balance to cover the difference.
NerdWallet values one IHG point at 0.8 cent, meaning you’re potentially getting $320 worth of value if you book a room that otherwise costs 40,000 points.
That makes this one of the best credit cards to offer free anniversary nights.
2. Fourth night is free on award stays
Next up is a benefit worth potentially even more than that free anniversary night certificate: Book on points while holding this card, and your fourth night is free for any booking of four (or more) consecutive nights.
When you hold the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and you book a stay of this length with IHG points, the hotel will automatically set the cost of the fourth night to zero points.
3. Automatic elite status
Holding this card also means you automatically will hold IHG One Rewards Club Platinum Elite status for as long as you remain a cardmember. This means more upgrades and more points.
Benefits of IHG Platinum Elite status include:
60% bonus points on paid stays.
Complimentary room upgrades.
Early check-in and late checkout (subject to availability).
A welcome amenity at check-in (points or a drink/snack).
Reward night discounts.
Plus, there's another path to getting even higher tiers of IHG elite status beyond just racking up tons of room nights. You'll earn IHG Rewards Diamond Elite status after spending $40,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year with your card.
One note: Don’t apply for this card the week before your trip and expect to get Platinum Elite status. Chase warns that customers should allow up to eight weeks for the upgrade to be applied to your IHG Rewards Club account.
4. The welcome offer
Here’s the current welcome offer: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Considering that IHG point redemptions start at 10,000 points, you could potentially book about two weeks worth of free hotel stays based on just those points alone — assuming you're booking at a lower-cost hotel.
5. An opportunity to rack up even more points for big spending
The intro bonus will land you a huge pile of points in your first year, but what about in subsequent years? There's still a chance. You'll earn 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year.
6. Bonus points on travel, dining and gas (and of course IHG spending)
As far as what you should use this card for? It's a good one for dining, travel and gas. You'll earn 5x points per $1 spent on travel, as well as for purchases at dining and gas stations. You'll earn 3x per $1 spent on all other purchases.
If you were to spend $20,000 on combined travel, gas station and restaurants throughout the year, you'd earn 110,000 points plus an $100 statement credit. Between the standard spending rewards and that additional bonus in point five, that's nearly $900 in value in return for 20,000 in spending (or a close to 5% return, assuming you're fine with the return being in the form of IHG points).
Plus, you’ll earn an incredible 26 total points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, broken down like this:
10 points for paying with the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit 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 Platinum Elite Status, an automatic benefit of card ownership.
7. Up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each calendar year
If you fly United, here's a good deal. 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'll have to register your credit card with your United MileagePlus account to start earning TravelBank Cash to use on United or United Express flights.
Just note that credits expire, so don't hoard them.
8. No foreign transaction fees
It’s not the sexiest perk, but this one could save you a bunch of money and increase the value of the card: no foreign transaction fees.
This is how it works in many cases: When you make a charge overseas, your card network (that’s Visa, Mastercard or American Express) receives the charge in the local currency. It then converts the cost back into your home currency before passing on the cost to your bank (which in the case of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is Chase). For some credit cards, banks will pass on that additional foreign transaction fee to the cardholder (typically 1%-3%, depending on the card).
With this card, you can avoid those fees altogether. After all, a $30 fee just for $1,000 in international spending is not the type of souvenir you want out of your vacation. Pay with this card — which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees — and put that money toward an actually good souvenir instead.
9. Travel protections
Travel protections, like trip cancellation insurance and lost luggage reimbursement, can help you in tough situations — even if it’s in the unsexy-benefit pile too. Even so, you’ll be glad you have it when you’ve booked a vacation in the Caribbean for the same day that a hurricane rolls in and your flight can’t depart.
The slew of travel protection-related benefits available include trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. That means if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations (and you paid for it with this card), you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels.
Other travel protections on the card include:
Travel accident insurance.
Travel and emergency assistance services.
Lost luggage reimbursement.
Baggage delay insurance.
Auto rental collision damage waiver.
10. Cell phone protections
Getting your phone lost or stolen is brutal. While your IHG card can’t help you summon a rideshare service to get you safely back home or call your loved ones for support, it can help you financially. As a cardholder, you receive cell phone protection if you pay your monthly cell phone bill with this card.
You’re entitled to up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year against covered circumstances, and you can make a maximum of two claims in a 12-month period. You’ll still be on the hook for a $50 deductible per claim and you’ll have to show some paperwork (e.g., a police report for claims involving theft). But for $800 toward a new phone, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
11. A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers up to a $100 credit every four years for cardholders who sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Having either of these two security clearances can massively cut back on how long you wait for airport security. Now, you can cut back on the application fee cost, too.
The bottom line
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card has one of the lowest annual fees of any hotel credit card, but it has generous benefits like a free night certificate. Unless you’re not certain you’ll stay at an IHG property this year, or you only stay at ultra-cheap IHG hotels (think, sub-$100 rooms) when you do, it’s hard to come up with a reason why you shouldn’t hold 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 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