IHG boasts one of the largest hotel footprints in the world, with properties ranging from affordable Holiday Inns to trendy Hotel Indigos to luxe Intercontinental resorts, and while its rewards program might not be as lucrative as Hyatt's or Marriott's, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card still unlocks some great perks and valuable redemption options.
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Right now, you'll also receive a massive 140,000 point welcome offer if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, up from a previous offer of 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the same period.
With this card, you'll earn 25 points per dollar total on IHG stays (more on that in a bit), 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
The unfortunate reality of this card is that IHG Rewards points, individually, aren't worth very much. With a valuation of .5 cents each, according to The Points Guy, they're the least valuable of all major hotel currencies. But luckily, the card makes it easy to rack up a lot of points quickly, starting with that aforementioned 140,000 point welcome offer, worth approximately $700.
The card technically pays out 10x points per dollar on IHG purchases, but that stacks with the 10 points you'd earn on the stay for being an IHG member, plus the 5 points you'd earn for being a Platinum Elite (which you will be just by virtue of having this card) for a total of 25 points, meaning you'll effectively earn a 12.5% return on IHG stays by using the card.
Award nights at IHG properties range from 10,000 to 70,000 points per night under normal circumstances, though IHG also promotes a rotating list of "PointBreaks" properties wth rooms priced as low as 5,000 points per night, in some cases.
That means that, under very specific circumstances, your 140,000 point welcome bonus could get you nearly a month's worth of nights at certain properties. Or, if you feel like splurging, at least two free nights at the brand's most high-end resorts like the Intercontinental Bali or the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt.
As is usually the case with hotel-branded credit cards, perks are as big a draw here as points.
The highlight is automatic Platinum Elite status, which you'd usually have to stay 40 nights per year to earn. That gets you priority check-in, late checkout, complimentary room upgrades (subject to availability), $30 spa credits per room (where available), and $10 credits to spend at the hotel restaurant or bar, just for starters.
As is the case with a lot of hotel cards, you'll also receive a free night reward every year on your cardmember anniversary. But IHG's reward certificate is more valuable than most, since it's valid on any room costing up to 40,000 points per night. That covers over 4,900 of the approximately 5,600 properties in the IHG portfolio, a far higher percentage than you'd get from the equivalent Marriott or Hyatt free night certificate.
The card's fourth night reward perk, which is valid on all award stays of four nights or more, could potentially save you tens of thousands of points. Obviously, this perk will only come into play if you ever stay four consecutive nights at a hotel, and pay for the whole stay with points, but it can be incredibly valuable under the right circumstances.
But perhaps the Premier card's most surprising perk is its included TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit of up to $100 every four years. This is a feature we've seen on a lot of cards, but none with an annual fee this low.
The Premier card is well worth the $89 annual fee for its anniversary night alone, which would be easy to redeem for a hotel room costing several hundred dollars per night. Add in the TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit, the fourth night reward perk, and the automatic Platinum status, and you've got a really compelling list of benefits for a relatively small annual fee.
And while IHG points might not be worth much individually, the 140,000 point welcome offer is still worth about $700, and can get you at least two nights at any IHG property in the world, or a lot of nights at perfectly respectable establishments like Holiday Inns or Candlewood Suites.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.