InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) includes a number of well-known hotel brands, like Holiday Inn, Indigo Hotels, Crowne Plaza, and Kimpton. IHG offers over 6,000 places to stay when you’re away from home, meaning there’s pretty much a place to rest your head no matter where you’re off to.

And like most large hotel brands, IHG offers a hotel credit card to unlock better amenities and higher rewards.

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (Review), issued by Chase, is your ticket to Platinum Elite status, improving both your rewards and comfort levels when you stay at an IHG property. But what does that get you, how do you rank up, and how does it compare to other hotel membership programs?

The information related to IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Why the IHG Rewards Premier Card Is Key

While travelers are capable of advancing through IHG’s membership ranks without the Rewards Premier card, non-cardmembers miss out on some great perks and have to spend money they could otherwise save.

This credit card offers a boost right to Platinum Elite status, bypassing Gold. That means just by getting the card, you’d be skipping 40 night stays with the hotel. Not only that, but by using the card to fund your hotel stays, you’d generally see a cash back return of 15%–25%, assuming you’re redeeming points for award nights.

And if you are, those award nights will contribute to pushing you further up the ranks, all while saving you money on stays you would otherwise need to pay for.

The IHG Premier card also includes an annual free night stay after the first year with the card, and your fourth reward night free.

Is the IHG Rewards Premier Card Worth the Annual Fee?

In short, yes. The card benefits alone cover the annual fee, provided you use them well. If you don’t stay with IHG often, then the card wouldn’t be worth it for you.

The perks include an annual free night on your account anniversary, which, depending on the room fare, would likely be enough to cover the annual fee by itself. For example, for a weekend stay in Denver, CO, at a Holiday Inn, you’d spend $132. If you were to choose that room for an award night, your annual fee would already be covered, plus a bit extra.

And when you factor in the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, the automatic Platinum Elite status, the slew of shopping and travel protections (including Travel Insurance and Cell Phone Protection), it would be very hard not to get enough value from the card to cover the fee.

Perks of Being An IHG Member

Quick Guide

Every IHG Membership Perk, by Tier

Benefits Club Gold Elite Platinum Elite Spire Elite
Collect points/miles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive rates Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dedicated customer service Yes Yes Yes Yes
No blackout dates for award nights Yes Yes Yes Yes
Reward nights count toward Elite Status Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free internet Yes Yes Yes Yes
Extended check-out No Yes Yes Yes
Elite membership points don’t expire No Yes Yes Yes
Priority check-in No Yes Yes Yes
Welcome amenities (Raid the Bar at Kimpton hotels, Wellness Platter at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas) No Yes Yes Yes
Base point bonus None 10% 50% 100%
Elite rollover nights No No Yes Yes
Complimentary room upgrades No No Yes Yes
Guaranteed room availability No No Yes Yes
Early check-in No No No Yes
Choose 25,000 point bonus or gift Platinum Elite status to family member or friend No No No Yes
Exclusive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star upgrade No No No Yes
Newly opened Kimpton hotel free night No No No No
Free Chef’s Taste at Kimpton No No No No

The benefits afforded by the IHG loyalty program to rewards members are pretty extensive. They range from the simple (but useful) perk of reward points not expiring, to unlocking special member rates and getting a free night at a newly opened Kimpton hotel.

In relation to the IHG Premier Credit Card, the most useful perk is the bonus to base point earnings, and that your points will no longer expire.

With the card, you’re automatically enrolled in Platinum Elite status, and therefore gain a 50% bonus to Base points. Since the card earns 10X Bonus points per dollar at IHG properties, and members earn 10X Base points at most IHG properties, the 50% bonus boosts the rewards to an impressive 25X points per dollar. That means, if IHG points are worth 0.6–1 cent, your card earns a cash back equivalent of 15%–25%.

Platinum Elite status is certainly good, but Spire Elite status is still worth aiming for. It lets club members choose between an annual 25,000-point anniversary bonus or letting a friend or family member into the fun of Platinum Elite status. The 25,000 anniversary bonus points equate to about $150–$250 in value, again assuming IHG points are worth 0.6–1 cent when redeeming for award nights.

IHG also offers two additional statuses: InterContinental Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle. They are separate from IHG’s loyalty program outlined above. InterContinental Ambassador is a 12-month membership for $200, and it gets you Platinum Elite status, one guaranteed category room upgrade, premium WiFi, one $20 restaurant and bar credit per stay, guaranteed extended 4 p.m. check-out, and a free weekend stay.

Kimpton Inner Circle forgoes amenities for experiences. After reaching Spire Elite status and proving your loyalty to Kimpton, you’ll be able to access things like a free night stay at a newly opened Kimpton property, and a special meal from the Kimpton’s chef.

How Do I Increase My IHG Membership Rank?

Your membership ranking is determined by how many stays (Qualified Stays) you have at IHG properties in a year, and how much you spend. How much you spend determines how many EQPs you earn (Elite Qualifying Points). Requirements are:

  • Gold Elite: 10 Qualified Stays or 10,000 EQPs
  • Platinum Elite: 40 Qualified Stays or 40,000 EQPs
  • Spire Elite: 75 Qualified Stays or 75,000 EQPs
  • InterContinental Ambassador: 12-month membership for $200
  • Kimpton Inner Circle: Must be a Spire Elite Member and show loyalty to Kimpton

IHG defines a Qualified Stay as any stay, consecutive or otherwise, and regardless of how often one checks-in or out, for which a member pays a Qualified Rate. And thanks to the Platinum Elite status from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (Review), award nights will count as Qualified Stays. A Qualified Rate covers most rates, whether they be for business or leisure, with some exceptions.

Non-Qualified Rates include net wholesale individual and group rates, certain package rates, employee discount rates, friends and family rates, crew rates, special discounted contract rates, seasonal worker/crew rates, and other special rates.

As for Kimpton Inner Circle, Kimpton doesn’t define what they mean by “show loyalty,” but it’s probably safe to assume you’ll need to stay at Kimpton properties a certain number of times and spend a certain dollar amount annually.

How Does It Compare With Other Hotel Loyalty Programs?

IHG has a pretty strong loyalty program, but how does it stack up with other popular hotel brands?

They’re all largely the same, but with different qualifications and some differences in their advanced membership perks. The lower tiers all offer the typical amenities like early check-in, late check-out, and point bonuses.

Hilton Honors

The Hilton Honors loyalty program is a bit more accessible than the IHG loyalty program. You only need a total of 30 nights, 15 stays, or 60,000 Base points to reach the highest membership tier of Diamond status.

Gold status, which requires 20 nights, 10 stays, or 37,500 base points, is probably Hilton’s Platinum Elite status equivalent. It has a higher point bonus (80% compared to 50%) plus a free fifth night stay offer, but it lacks things like priority check-in, extended check-out, and guaranteed room availability.

At Diamond level, you’ll get:

  • 100% Base point bonus
  • Executive Lounge access
  • Gift Gold status to any member after 30 stays; gift Diamond after 60
  • Room upgrades if available

It’s slightly less impressive than IHG’s loyalty program, but it’s also easier to reach. Hilton does offer more credit cards than IHG, and some of them are quite good. Check out Hilton’s selection of credit cards, plus find out how one could let you stay for free.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy has higher requirements to qualify for its membership tiers.

  • Platinum Elite: 50 nights per year
  • Titanium Elite: 75 nights per year
  • Ambassador Elite: 100 nights per year, plus $20,000 spent ($14,000 spent for 2021 only)

Despite the higher requirements, the perks allotted by each tier aren’t overly impressive when compared to IHG’s perks. At the highest membership tier (Ambassador Elite) you’ll get a 75% point bonus, 4 p.m. late check-out, enhanced room upgrades when available (including suites), lounge access, and a few more.

Marriott Bonvoy’s Platinum Elite status is pretty on par with IHG’s. However, it does offer lounge access and an annual choice benefit of five Suite Night Awards after 50 stays.

Marriott Bonvoy also offers a wider selection of co-branded cards. Take a look at how you could earn free night stays with Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.

World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt has a toned-down membership program in comparison to the other hotel brands. You may think that would mean it’s easier to progress through, but it’s about as easy as IHG’s loyalty program.

  • Discoverist: 10 nights or 25,000 points or 3 meetings/events hosted
  • Explorist: 30 nights or 50,000 points or 10 meetings/events hosted
  • Globalist: 60 nights or 100,000 points or 20 meeting/events hosted

Explorist is closest to an equivalent to IHG’s Platinum Elite status. It offers early check-in, expedited check-in, late check-out, complimentary breakfast for two, and one category room upgrade based on availability.

Globalist provides all of that, plus lounge access, priority access to rooms, and free parking for award nights.

Uniquely, World of Hyatt includes waived fees in its perks. The first tiers (Discoverist and Explorist) waive fees on award nights only, but Globalist waives fees on eligible rates as well. World of Hyatt also offers points for dollars spent with American Airlines.

As of October 2021, Hyatt has one co-branded card for consumers, the World of Hyatt Credit Card (Review). It’ll get you automatic Discoverist status.

Not a fan of IHG hotels? Take a look at other great hotel cards.
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