About IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: May 25, 2018

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is the newest hotel rewards card among Chase’s IHG cards, providing increased points rewards and a bigger welcome bonus than the IHG Rewards Club Select.

What makes this card unique is that its launch in 2018 made it a second option for people who were looking at IHG credit cards, as Chase was the only provider of cards for the hotel chain.

Previous to this card, the Club Select was the only option that travelers had and, with a $49 annual fee, it was cheaper than many of the popular hotel rewards cards.

But, now that the Premier is available at $89 year, you’ve got a new choice that’s similar in its rewards to Chase’s Marriott and Hyatt cards, as well as American Express’ Hilton Honors Ascend card.

As a consumer looking for a good credit card, the Club Premier presents you with two different scenarios. Is it better than the other IHG credit card? And, is it better than other hotel rewards credit cards with a similar annual fee?

We’ve used this review to answer these questions for you, applying in-depth research that includes an overview of how to earn rewards, which perks you get every year and how the card compares to its IHG counterpart and other hotel rewards credit cards.

The IHG Rewards Club Premier’s Rewards

When you sign up for this credit card, IHG will create a Rewards Club account, which is basically a frequent flyer account but in hotel form.

This account is important because this is where all the rewards you earn with your credit card will go. Those rewards include the following methods of earning points:

  • 80,000 sign-up points
  • 10,000 bonus spending points
  • 10x points on IHG purchases
  • 2x points on gas, groceries and restaurants
  • 1x points on everything else

You’ll earn the 80,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend at least $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of owning the card.

If you can spend $20,000 in one year, then you’ll earn another 10,000 points, with the caveat that you have to make one additional purchase after you hit the $20,000 mark.

If you can meet these two requirements the first year you own the card, you can get 90,000 bonus points.

Remember, though, that it will take up to 8 weeks for the points to show up in your Rewards Club account. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your 80,000 points are going to appear the day you hit the $2,000 requirement.

When it comes to daily spending, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar on IHG purchases, 2 points per dollar on gas/grocery/restaurant purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

So, for example, if you spent $200 booking a room at a Holiday Inn Express, then spent $30 at the hotel on various things, your $230 in spending would earn you 2,300 in points.

Now, let’s say you left the hotel that morning and, while driving home, you spent $50 on gas and another $15 on lunch at a restaurant. That $65 in spending would get the 2x bonus, which equals 130 points.

The next day you make your utility bill payment of $80 with your card, which earns you the 1x bonus, or 80 points.

Now, on a yearly basis, we believe, based on our research of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, that you could earn around 45,000 points including the 10,000-point bonus for spending $20,000 in a year.

When you add in the sign-up bonus to your first-year rewards, you’re looking at 125,000 points after one year of owning the card.

Later on in this review, we’ll help you see how those points stack up against other cards.

Hotel and Travel-specific Perks

Like most hotel rewards credit cards, the Club Premier offers perks that enhance your hotel stays and save your money. Here’s what you get with this card:

  • Upgrade to Platinum Elite Status
  • Free anniversary night
  • Credit for Global Entry/Pre-Check application fees

The first perk on this list is definitely the most robust one. With Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club, you get late check-out, complimentary room upgrades and a 50% bonus on points you earn from IHG purchases.

Also, you’ll earn a free anniversary night at any IHG property that costs 40,000 points or less per night.

The final perk on this list is actually a surprising one, as it’s something that you usually only find with luxury cards.

Whenever you apply to the Global Entry or Pre-Check programs (expedited security at airports), you’ll be reimbursed for the application fee -- $100 or $85, respectively.

Redeeming IHG Rewards Points for Free Nights

Now that you’ve got a good sense of how the Club Premier’s rewards work, we’re going to take a look at how many points you need to book a room and we’ll frame the discussion around the 125,000 points you can earn your first year.

IHG rewards bookings start at 10,000 and go up to, based on our research, 70,000 points. The 10,000-point properties are lower-end IHG brands like Candlewood Suites whereas the top-tier point totals are usually for hotels like the InterContinental.

Based on our numbers, you could book 12 nights at Category 1 hotels with your first-year points. Now, it’s important to point out that IHG will give you your fourth night free if you book at least four nights in a row.

So, if you split your points up into three four-night stays, you could end up getting 12 nights for the price of nine, giving you enough leftover points (35K) to book three more nights in a Category 1 hotel.

Compared to other hotel chains, 10,000 points for the cheapest room is slightly below average. Marriott’s Category 1 hotels are 7,500 pints, Hyatt’s Category 1 hotels are 5,000 points and Starwood Category 1 hotels are 3,000 points.

A Quick Word About the IHG Reward Club Premier’s Rates and Fees

A credit card’s rates and fees are just as important as its rewards because, unlike rewards that provide value, interest and fees take away value:

  • APR: 17.49%-24.49%
  • Cash advance APR: 26.49%
  • Annual fee: $89
  • Late/returned payment fee: $37
  • Foreign transaction fee: $37

These fees are pretty standard for hotel rewards credit cards. In fact, the $89 annual fee is $6 less than the annual fee you find from Chase’s Marriott card and Amex’s Starwood card. The Amex card, however, waives the annual fee the first year.

Comparing the IHG Rewards Club Premier to Other Hotel Rewards Cards

Throughout this review, we’ve mentioned IHG’s Rewards Club Select, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus, the Hyatt Visa and the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest. Here’s a table showing the differences and similarities between the cards:

IHG RC Premier IHG RC Select Marriott Rewards Premier Hyatt Visa AmEx SPG
Sign-up bonus 80,000 60,000 100,000 40,000 $200
First-year rewards 125,000 95,000 152,000 65,000 25,800
Yearly rewards 45,000 35,000 52,000 25,000 25,800
Category 1 cost 10,000 10,000 7,500 5,000 3,000
Annual fee $89 $49 $95 $75 $95 ($0 first year)

Based on the data we’ve presented, we believe that the IHG Rewards Club Premier is the second-best card you can get in this group.

It offers a formidable sign-up bonus, the yearly rewards are strong and the cost of a Category 1 hotel is middle of the road.

The only reason we don’t deem the card the best in the group is that the Marriott Rewards Premier offers a bigger sign-up bonus and better yearly rewards.

As far as the comparison to the IHG Select card, the IHG Premier’s complimentary Platinum Elite status has significantly more value over the Select’s Gold Elite status. The Premier also has double the points earning power when it comes to IHG stays and its sign-up bonus is 33% bigger.

The Final Word: Pros and Cons of Using the IHG Rewards Club Premier

Based on our research, the IHG Rewards Club Premier’s strengths are in its sign-up bonus, the reimbursement for Global Entry/Pre-Check and the complimentary upgrade to Platinum Elite. These three features are key for you if you love to travel and want to maximize the free nights you get.

Also, the card’s yearly rewards get a big boost from the fact that a four-night rewards booking results in a free fourth night.

The downside of the card is that your points won’t get you far when you start booking rooms beyond Category 1. Once you get to Category 5, you’ll only get two free nights with your yearly rewards. Also, other hotel rewards cards offer cheaper hotel rewards rates.

We believe this card is a great fit for someone who is an IHG loyalist and wants an upgrade from what the IHG Rewards Club Select offers. The $40 difference in annual fee is well worth the Platinum Elite, 10,000 yearly points bonus on $20,000 spending and the extra points you earn from better bonus rates on spending.

» See Also: Best Travel Credit Cards of 2018

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