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If you’ve been holding out on applying for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, now might be the perfect time due to the newly announced welcome offer. Currently, new card holders have the opportunity to earn 140,000 bonus points plus a free night after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months after opening account. With the addition of the free night certificate, this is one of the best welcome offers we’ve seen on the card.
The free night certificate can be redeemed for a one-night stay at a property that costs up to 40,000 points. However, with the new suite of benefits that were added earlier this year, you can “top off” your IHG free night certificates by using points from your account so they can be used at any IHG in the world, including Holiday Inns, Kimpton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and many others.
For most travelers, this will get you about $900 towards IHG hotels worldwide, all for just a $99 annual fee — according to the valuations of frequent-flyer site The Points Guy.
With the perks alone, you’ll notice that having this card in your wallet year-after-year outweighs the annual fee — even if you only stay at an IHG property once a year. So why is this card so beneficial? We’ve outlined the details below to highlight the many benefits you’ll receive — even after your first year as a cardmember.
IHG Premier credit card benefits
Although this might not be the credit card you use for your everyday purchases, it’s a card that will save you a boatload of money — and points — throughout the year.
Annual free night award
Starting with your second year as a card holder you’ll receive a free night awards annually on every card holder anniversary. This free night award works in the exact same manner as the certificate that comes with the current welcome offer, where it can be used at any IHG property that normally costs 40,000 points or less. Again, with the recently added enhancements, you can use points from your IHG account to make up the difference if you’re looking to stay at a property that exceeds the 40,000 point requirement. Keep in mind though that this perk won’t apply to the annual free night attached to the no-longer available IHG Select card — even if you have both cards.
Depending on the time of year, some notable properties where these certificates can be redeemed without having to use any additional points include the InterContinental Hotel Lisbon, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba and the Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar, just to name a few. But now that you can make up the difference with points from your account, the options are endless and makes redeeming the free night certificate extremely simple.
The free night certificate (including the one earned from the welcome offer) expires a year after it’s deposited into your account — which means within a few weeks from your card anniversary date (or after meeting your minimum spend requirement in the case of the current welcome offer). This means you must travel by this date, not simply book by this date.
Fourth night free
The IHG Premier card will give you a fourth night free on all point reservations. When booking your stay, the least expensive night on a four-night (or more) stay will automatically be zeroed out.
This is a huge discount and even with just one-four night stay a year, you can save thousands of IHG points. For example, let’s say you find a property that typically costs 40,000 points per night during your ideal travel dates. Instead of spending 160,000 points for the stay, you’ll only have to redeem 120,000 points for that same exact reservation — a 25% savings.
Automatic IHG Platinum status
IHG Premier credit card holders automatically receive complimentary IHG Platinum elite status. Although IHG Platinum status isn’t the best hotel status around, having some sort of elite status when you walk in the front door of a hotel is better than no status at all.
One of the main benefits of holding IHG Platinum status is that your points will never expire. Typically, IHG points expire if there’s no account activity within a 12-month time frame. IHG is very strict with this policy outside of the pandemic, so not having to worry about your points expiring is a great benefit.
Additionally, IHG Premier card holders will have the opportunity to earn IHG’s recently announced new top-tier Diamond elite status. By spending $40,000 on purchases in a calendar year on the card and making one additional purchase after that, you’ll be able to reap the new Diamond benefits, including a 100% bonus on points earned on IHG stays, along with other perks to be announced.
Earn bonus points at IHG properties and elsewhere
Currently, you’ll earn a whopping 10 points for every dollar you spend on the IHG Premier at IHG hotels, along with 5 points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, travel and on dining, as well as 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
While the number of points you’ll earn for your IHG stays with the IHG Premier is better than any other credit card out there, you can probably get more rewards in the other bonus categories and on everyday purchases with a different card. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 3 points on travel (or 5 total points on flights and 10 total points on hotels and car rentals if booked through Ultimate Rewards) and 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining. But based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, Chase points are worth at least twice as much as IHG points, and possibly even more depending on how you use them.
Even with CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, you’ll earn 2% cash back — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off — on everything you buy. Since IHG points are only worth 0.5 cents apiece according to The Points Guy, you’re getting a 12.5% return on spending at IHG hotels with the IHG Premier card, but only a 1.5% return on your non-category bonus purchases once the changes go into effect.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
When you apply for either the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck trusted traveler programs, just pay with your IHG Premier card and your application fee up to $100 will be reimbursed in full. The TSA PreCheck program gets you through TSA security faster at U.S. airports, while Global Entry expedites going through immigration when you return to the U.S. from being overseas.
Even if you already have one of these memberships, you can always use your IHG Premier to pay for a friend or family member’s application fee and you’ll still receive the reimbursement — the name on the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application doesn’t need to match the name on the credit card. And you can receive this fee reimbursement once every four years.
United TravelBank cash
A new benefit of the IHG Premier is up to $50 in United TravelBank cash each calendar year. This TravelBank cash can be used toward air travel purchases on United and United Express flights. You can get up to $25 in credits every six months, with the first set starting around Jan. 1 each year and a second set around July 1 each year.
Deposits made in the first half of the year will expire on July 15, and the ones made in the second half will expire on Jan. 15 of the next year, so you won’t be able to just bank these credits for the long term. But as long as you typically fly United at least twice a year, this is an easy way to offset your annual fee.
10,000 bonus points and $100 statement credit
Another new benefit of the IHG Premier is the opportunity to earn 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase on the card each calendar year.
We probably wouldn’t recommend putting that much spending on this card since you can earn more rewards with other credit cards, including other travel credit cards. But if you’re strongly committed to IHG, then it’s a nice extra bonus for using the card regularly.
Should you consider the IHG Premier credit card?
If you don’t spend a lot of time at IHG hotels, it’s likely that the IHG Premier isn’t right for you, since you won’t be able to take advantage of its best benefits and perks. If that’s the case, check our our guide to the best travel credit cards to find a card that’s more suitable for your needs.
But between its benefits and sign-up bonus, the IHG Premier card is worth a look for even occasional IHG travelers. In the first year alone, you’ll end up with 140,000 bonus points and a free night when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account, plus Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement worth up to another $100 and up to $100 in United TravelBank cash.
So, if you’re planning to do some traveling this year and expect to have at least two or more stays at an IHG hotel in the near future, regardless of whether you have the old IHG Select card or not, the sweet haul of bonus points from the IHG Premier credit card can get you well on your way.
Looking for a new credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards available right now.