IHG Rewards Club Premier 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.

Robin Saks FrankelJuly 31, 2020

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Our Take

5.0

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

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$89

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

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 7,000 locations, from basic lodging options to ultra luxury brands. IHG, by comparison, has more than 5,000 hotels.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$89

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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 when available, 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 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards:

  • 25 total points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Those points break down like this:

    • 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 are approved for the card if you previously were not a member.

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

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

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

NerdWallet values IHG points at 0.8 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.8 cent or more in value from your IHG points.

Perks and other benefits: 

  • Get a free night at an IHG property after your account anniversary every year.

  • Get the fourth reward night free when you redeem points for a stay of four nights or more. Terms apply.

  • 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, a guaranteed reservation when booked at least 72 hours in advance, and a room upgrade, based on availability.

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit. (Details below.)

  • Travel and purchase protections, including baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Highlights of the card

Valuable sign-up bonus: The card comes with a generous offer: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening Reward nights redeem for as low as 10,000 points, so that sign-up bonus alone could get you a nice long stretch at a hotel.

Eye-popping rewards rate: You'll earn 10 points per $1 spent just by using your IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to book a stay at an eligible IHG property, plus an additional 10 points per $1 for being an IHG Rewards Club member (which, if you weren't already a member, enrollment is automatic upon signing up for the card). You'll get yet another 5 points per $1 spent from the Platinum Elite status you're automatically granted with card ownership, swelling your potential earnings with each IHG booking to a sky-high 25 points per $1 spent.

More free nights: The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers you an "Anniversary Free Night" each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels. Note that the free night award is valid only for rooms that cost 40,000 points or less per night and has to be used within 12 months of the date of issue. Beyond that, you'll also 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. Earnings aside, Platinum Elite status also means perks like priority check-in, late checkout, complimentary internet access, complimentary room upgrades (when available) and a dedicated customer service phone line.

Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit: You'll get up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.

Drawbacks to consider

Lower point value: 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 brand family 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 more than twice as much as 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 Bonvoy 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: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!

Discover it® Miles

Someone looking to amass travel rewards without having to fork over an annual fee can try the Discover it® Miles. You'll earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. Miles are generally worth 1 cent each. It's got an annual fee of $0 and Discover's signature bonus offer: "UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match."

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 can earn you free nights fast, as long as you can stay loyal to hotels within the IHG portfolio 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.

Information related to the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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