Editorial Review

IHG Hotel Card Review: Free Nights on a Silver Platter

A big sign-up bonus, generous rewards and automatic elite status make this card a winner for those who regularly stay at Holiday Inn, InterContinental and other IHG hotel brands.

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: The points on this card aren't worth as much as the points in some other hotel programs — but you can earn a lot of points per dollar. IHG is relatively generous with free nights, too.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

on Chase's website

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual Fee
$89
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$89
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • High APR

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: More hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

If you're concerned about finding IHG hotels in your desired locations to earn or redeem points, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. The Marriott family of hotel chains has more than 6,900 locations, from basic lodging options to ultra luxury brands. IHG, by comparison, has more than 5,000 hotels.

Read our review

Full Review

If it's free nights you want in a hotel card, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card delivers.

With a generous sign-up bonus and rewards rate and a free night after each account anniversary, plus a free reward night when you meet redemption and length-of-stay requirements, you could be counting sheep in an IHG-branded property faster than you can count what you saved on the bill.

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, issued by Chase, also grants you Platinum Elite status, which means premium perks like complimentary room upgrades and bonus points on every booking.

The main question to ask yourself before applying is whether you'll be satisfied with your options within the IHG portfolio, whose brands include Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, EVEN Hotels and Indigo Hotels. Someone seeking greater flexibility or different hotel options might fare better with either a general-purpose travel credit card or a different co-branded hotel card.

Key features of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • Card type: Hotel.

  • Annual fee: $89

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

  • Rewards and perks:

    • 25 total points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel (including both points earned from the card and from the hotel stay itself).

    • 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.

    • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

    • Earn an additional 10,000 bonus points each account anniversary year during which you spent at least $20,000 and made at least one additional purchase at least one day after you reach the $20,000 threshold.

    • Automatic Platinum Elite status, which, among other things, gives you 50% bonus earnings on top of the base points you earn through your IHG Rewards Club membership.

  • APR: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

  • Foreign transaction fee: None.

Highlights of the card

  • Valuable sign-up bonus: This card's sign-up bonus alone could get you a nice long stretch at a hotel, depending on how you redeem your rewards.

  • More free nights: The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers you an "Anniversary Free Night" each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels. Beyond that, you'll be eligible for a free award night when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights at the same property.

  • Platinum Elite status: The additional points boost that comes with Platinum Elite status is hard to beat. It gets you a 50% bonus on top of the base points you earn simply by being an IHG Rewards Club member. Stacked with the 10 points you also earn by booking with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you could potentially max out at 25 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels. That's an eye-popping rewards rate. Platinum Elite status also means perks like priority check-in, late check-out, complimentary room upgrades and a dedicated customer service phone line.

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit: You'll get up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card. (Find out whether Global Entry or TSA Precheck makes more sense for you.)

Drawbacks to consider

  • Low point value: NerdWallet estimates the average value of an IHG point at about 0.6 cents. A low individual point value isn't necessarily bad, if you earn enough points per dollar to make up for their lesser value. But it's still something to keep in mind when comparing hotel loyalty programs. This card can earn you a pile of points, but they may not go as far as the points from other hotel rewards programs or travel rewards cards.

  • Limited earning/burning reward options: With any co-branded hotel card, you have to be willing to stay within the hotel group's family of brandsed whenever you travel if you want to maximize your point-earning and -redeeming potential. This could be limiting if there isn't an IHG hotel convenient to your destination, or if the available hotels don't suit your needs. Although IHG does offer airline transfer partners, the value of points in transfers is far less than when you redeem points for hotel stays. You can also use your points for merchandise, gift cards and donations, but the transfer rate is also subpar.

Possible alternatives

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you value flexibility over brand loyalty, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can also get you free nights — or flights — fast. The card earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and on dining at restaurants worldwide, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It, too, offers a rich sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, when you redeem for travel booked through Chase, your points have a value of 1.25 cents each. In this case, that makes a Chase Ultimate Rewards® point worth nearly 80% more than an average IHG point. The annual fee is $95.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

If you're a frequent traveler but the IHG portfolio simply doesn't work for you, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card might be a better fit. It also offers a free hotel night once a year and automatic elite status. And, thanks to the sheer size of the Marriott umbrella, you'll have no shortage of redemption options. The card's annual fee is $95, but you can snag a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Someone looking to amass travel rewards without having to fork over an annual fee can try the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. You'll earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. It's got an annual fee of $0 and a decent sign-up bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. Points are generally worth 1 cent each.

You can visit NerdWallet's roundup of best credit cards to get to see how these options stack up.

Should you get the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card?

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card could earn you a ton of free nights fast, as long as you can stay loyal to hotels within the IHG family and don't mind doing a little work to make sure you're maximizing your point value.

But beyond the upfront incentives, consider whether this card will be a good fit for the long haul. If you want to use your rewards for nights and flights, a general travel credit card will likely be a better option.