Is the New IHG Credit Card A Good Deal?
This week, we saw the unveiling of Chase's new version of the IHG credit card. Let's see how it stacks up to the old version of the card, which earned a spot in my wallet because of the yearly free night at any IHG worldwide. Note: Citi is a partner of Brad's Deals.
Editor's Note: This offer has now expired. The Chase IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is the name of the newest card offering. It offers 80,000 IHG points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. That's about $400 in value, based on my valuation of IHG points at about 0.5 cents per point. We've seen similar sign-up offers for the old version of the card in the past.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Annual Fee
There's an annual fee of $89, which isn't waived during the first year of card membership (unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred card). This is an increase from the $49 that the old version of the card had offered.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Earning on Spend
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card earns 10 points per dollar on IHG hotel spend, 2 points per dollar on grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. That's an increase on earning from the old version of the card, which offered 5 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels.
For me, this means about 5% back on your IHG spending, 1% back on groceries, gas stations, and restaurants, and 0.5% cash back on everything else. That's not as good of a return if you're putting travel spending on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining, or 6% back at my valuation of 2 cents per point. There are also better everyday spending cards, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.
Other IHG Rewards Club Features
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card also features some good ongoing benefits, though some have been devalued significantly compared to past offerings.
Free Anniversary Night
The biggest change is the anniversary free night, which once was able to be used at any property in IHG's portfolio worldwide. For me, I've used it for rooms that should've cost me over $300, like the Intercontinental Chicago, Intercontinental Hong Kong, Hotel Indigo Scottsdale (no longer in the program), the Willard Washington D.C., and the Mark Hopkins San Francisco. That's over $1,500 in value over 5 years, for spending $245 out of pocket on the old card's annual fees.
Now, the free night has been devalued, with 330 of IHG's top hotels excluded, including all of the hotels I listed above that I had redeemed for in the past. You can find a list of all excluded properties here. I will say that there still can be incredible value for the free night, but its utility has been drastically reduced. Most affected are those that liked to use the benefit in larger cities like New York, which has expensive properties across the board.
4th Night Free on Award Bookings
I love this new benefit—if you redeem your points for a stay of 4 nights or longer, your fourth night is free.
Like the old version, this card still gives cardmembers Platinum status in IHG's program, which is nice to have if you're staying at IHG properties often. I will say that if you plan on using points often with this program, you won't receive all your elite benefits, as you do in other hotel programs when redeeming a reward. This reason alone keeps me from being loyal to IHG.
You'll be able to buy IHG points at a 20% discount, which can come in handy in some cases, but is to be avoided under most circumstances. (What's the point of award travel if you have to pay for it?)
Another new benefit is a Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check $100 statement credit, which many other cards have, but it's a nice offer if you don't already have membership.
This card is not as great a value as the old version of the IHG card. However, there's still value to be had in applying for it, due to its annual free night at many IHG properties, and if you're staying at IHG properties often, it's nice to have Platinum status. If you're curious to learn more about IHG's program, you can check out our write-up.