Credit & Charge Card Reviews (13): IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard

This article was updated in September 2016 and is correct as of that date.

This is my review of the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard credit card.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These posts will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score.  Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month.  You can cancel at anytime.

As with all rewards cards, this is not a suitable product for you if you do not clear your balance in full every month.  You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the AA Low Rate Card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 6.4% variable on purchases and balance transfers.

Key links:  IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard application form

Key facts:  £99 annual fee

The representative APR is 41.5% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

About the card

The IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard card is issued by Creation Financial Services (part of French bank BNP Paribas) and earns points in IHG Rewards Club.  IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty scheme for Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Creation also runs the Marriott card although this is currently unavailable to new applicants.

There are two versions of this card. I reviewed the free IHG Rewards Club card last week. This card is a far more interesting proposition, especially if you are a high spender.

IHG Rewards Club credit card premium

What is the sign-up bonus?

You will receive 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points when you spend £200 within three months. This is worth 4,000 Avios or other airline miles if converted directly although you are better off using the points for hotel stays.

20,000 points is usually enough for a free night in a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express in a provincial city, although most big city properties will be 25,000+.  In London, the Holiday Inn Wembley is 20,000 points per night.

IHG Rewards Club runs regular PointBreaks promotions where rooms in 150 hotels worldwide are reduced to just 5,000 points per night.  The sign-up bonus would get you eight free nights if you redeemed it during one of these promotions.

Purely comparing sign-up bonuses, the Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa is a better deal.  You receive a voucher for a free weekend night at ANY Hilton Family hotel worldwide for spending £750 on the card, and it has no annual fee.

Any other benefits?

The IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard gives you a voucher for a free night at any IHG Rewards Club property when you reach £10,000 of spending per card year.

This is a very impressive benefit. Use your voucher at an InterContinental in London, Paris or New York and you will be getting a £250+ room. You need to offset the value of this against the £99 card fee of course.  However, £250 less the £99 fee still represents a 1.5% return on £10,000 of spending – and that is before you factor in the value of the standard points on your spend.

You will receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you hold the card.

Platinum is the middle tier in IHG Rewards Club following the launch of the new Spire Elite card.  There are no major guaranteed benefits (no free breakfast, no room upgrade).  You can see the list of Platinum benefits here.

Some hotels – especially Crowne Plaza hotels – do choose to give Platinum holders decent recognition, including upgrades, lounge access and late check-out. You also receive a 50% base points bonus on your stays.

Your on-going points earned from using the card count towards IHG Rewards Club status and will help your progression from Platinum to the top tier.  The sign-up bonus does not count towards status.

What are the conditions of applying?

There is a minimum income requirement of £10,000.

What is the annual fee?

There is a £99 annual fee.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

The earnings rate on the card is 2 points per £1 for general spending and 4 points per £1 for spending in IHG Rewards Club properties.

You also receive 4 points per £1 on foreign currency spend which makes this card one of the most generous for overseas use.

Remember that the IHG card has an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.  You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees.  I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions!  It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you.  My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.

What is an IHG Rewards Club point worth?

Whilst this is always hypothetical, I tend to work on the basis of a top-category hotel costing £250 – what you would pay in New York, Paris or London inc tax. On that basis, an IHG Rewards Club point is worth about 0.4p – 0.5p based on a 50,000 or 60,000 point redemption for a room in an InterContinental in a major city.

IHG Rewards Club changed their pricing structure in 2014, increasing the cost of the 2-, 3- and 4-star chains (Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza) in big cities.  These redemptions are now poor value compared with spending 50,000 points on an 5-star InterContinental, and has reduced the value you can get from your points.

On this basis, 2 points per £1 is equivalent to a 0.8% rebate on your spend.  This is very good for a Visa or MasterCard product.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the ASDA card, which pays 0.5% in ASDA vouchers.

The IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard is roughly twice as generous as this.  However, you need to factor in the £99 annual fee.   My personal view is that the card, long term, is very good value if you know you will spend £10,000 to trigger the free night but more marginal otherwise.

The sign-up bonus is OK – roughly £80 of free hotels stays is not to be scoffed at – but is worth less than the annual fee.  You may want to keep the card in a drawer, unused, to continue to benefit from IHG Rewards Club Platinum status.

You may also value the fact that the points count towards status with IHG Rewards Club.  At 2 points per £1 (4 per £1 for foreign charges), a high spender will make a decent dint in the annual 75,000 point requirement for Spire Elite status.

Other points to note

American Express Membership Rewards stopped being an IHG Rewards Club partner in 2012.  This means that, if you need to top-off your IHG Rewards Club account to get to a suitable level for a redemption, the credit card may offer an easy way to get the points you need.

You can transfer Virgin Flying Club points to IHG Rewards Club points at a ratio of 1:1.  These transfers DO count towards status unlike the sign-up bonus on the credit card.


As a sign-up bonus, 20,000 points is worth around £80 of free hotel stays if used well.  You will also benefit from your Platinum status when you redeem your points.  This is a good return on the £99 fee.

If you managed to spend £10,000 on the card in a card year, in order to trigger the free night voucher, then the earning rate is attractive.

After the first year, if you felt that you would spend under £10,000, it becomes less attractive unless you value the Platinum status.

The application for the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard can be found here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Unless the additional benefits are of perceived value then this card makes no sence as £99 fee for the additional 20k bonus over the free card exceeds the xost of purchasing them via the current sale or the book cash and points and cancel trick.

    • Disagree. The extra cost is almost the same (‘cash and points and cancel’ is $7 per 1000 vs £5 per 1000 here) but the extra point per £1 spent, the voucher at £10k and Platinum easily make it preferable.

      If you already have Plat it is a different story but that is a lot harder to get purely from stays these days.

      • That was my point Rob, only worth applying for if you believe platinum will still be worth something, you can spend £10k or you sprnf enougg to make extra point worthwhile.

  2. Does anyone know how long you have to use the free night voucher?

  3. AviosNewbie says:

    are these points transferable Raffles? I got the Spire level when this promo was launched, and am now thinking of taking another card in my wife’s name.

  4. What changes are there likely to be to this card as a result on the EU rulings?

    • Not clear. If it was free, the rewards would no longer be sustainable. However, the £99 fee may make it economically sensible for Barclays to keep the current structure.

      • Thanks, I was hoping that this would be the case.

        I’d like to see them double pack it though and issue an AMEX along with the Visa. IIRC the AMEX is going to be exempt from the changes for a good while yet, or am I reading things wrong?

  5. I cancelled this card on Saturday, anyone know how long I should wait to apply for the Hilton card?
    I’m thinking January as I need a cc voucher night on the 8th April.
    My wife’s voucher took 2 weeks, from the card arriving, to be emailed last month.

    • Based on comments here in past few weeks there seems to be no patter. Work out when you need voucher, take your chance and apply accordingly is probably best you can do. If your are in no rush for a free night then probably safer to wait 6 months but it could be all change on card in the interim due to EU rules.

  6. I am cancelling my Tesco Mastercard and applying for the IHG Premium. Cannot justify keeping the former following the devaluation

  7. Disappointing that Barclaycard no longer allow double dipping … might be time to churn the Hilton card and reply in July/Aug 2016.

  8. “You will not be accepted for the card if you currently hold any other card issued by Barclaycard.”
    This wasnt the case for us.
    I got the Hilton card in May 2015 and without cancelling it successfully applied for the IHG Premium Visa in September 2015
    My wife got the IHG card in May 2015 and without cancelling it successfully applied for the Hilton card in September 2015

  9. Is the free night voucher sent out at the time of crossing the £10k threshold or at the card anniversary?

    Do Barclaycard offer pro-rate refunds for the fee when cancelling?

    Is the voucher still valid once the card has been cancelled?

    • Sent out within a few weeks of you crossing the £10k target. It is deposited straight into your IHG account and you receive an email telling you it’s there.

      The free night is then bookable for twelve months. Once it’s in your IHG account it’s yours regardless of what you do with the card.

    • answer to Q2 is NO; only Amex are kind/foolish enough to do that!

    • A few weeks after



  10. Here’s a horribly technical question for someone cleverer than me:

    I was accepted for a Premium IHG Card on 31st December 2014.
    My statements are spewed out on the 2nd of each month.
    I’ve noticed that my spend up to my 2nd December 2015 statement totals about £9,000.

    My question is if I make a purchase of £1,000 today to get me over the £10k, does that qualify me for the £10k free night voucher, even though that transaction won’t appear on a statement until 2nd January, which is after 31st December (my “anniversary date”)?

    I’ve just come off the phone from Barclaycard, and didn’t get anywhere with this. Against my advice, they put me through to someone at IHG, who initially said it was nothing to do with them, but as far as they were concerned, my anniversary date was the date I first spent on the card, which was February 2015 (which for the record is correct).

    Any ideas anyone?



    • I had contacted Barclays recently to check whether I had reached the 10K £. Barclays told me that I had spent about 9000 £ but that this did not include this month purchases (around 1500£) which would bring me over the 10K threshold at the next statement (end Dec) They said they would send the voucher with the next statement.
      But the next day my IHG statement showed that the voucher had already arrived.
      So based on this, I would recommend to spend the 1K, contact Barclays saying you would like to know if you have already reached the 10K threshold as you did not receive your voucher and then hope they will process it manually

  11. Given that 40,000 points = £200 worth of hotels if used the most efficient way (from article), if you then also purchased 120,000 points in the current 100% bonus promo for ~£450 you’d be getting £800 worth of hotel stays for ~£550 (including the £99 credit card fee).

    Not a bad deal really if you usually book into the high end hotels.
    I’ve no idea what cash price 32 nights at one or some of the PointsBreaks hotels has ? But I expect they cost more than £18 per night in cash !!!!
    (160,000 points / 5,000 points = 32 nights…..£550 / 32 = £18.)

  12. Is there any recent evidence of points transfers from Virgin Atlantic still counting towards IHG status?

  13. OT: If I book a rewards stay and use the 10K free night certificate and subsequently cancel – do I get the certificate back? Second Q – if I use my IHG CC in the restaurant of an IC without staying there do I earn the 4 points?

  14. I want to do a Virgin to IHG transfer to achieve Spire Elite but want to do it so it starts in January so I get all of 2016 and 2017. However I also want to try and get the Hilton Diamond match once I get it so need to get it before 17th Jan when the status match closes. So when would you suggest doing the Virgin transfer? Around 28th Dec? Don’t want to leave it too late but at the same time, I don’t want to to do it too early and risk becoming Spire Elite this year…

  15. I’ve just signed up for the Premium IHG card, does anyone know how long it’ll be before the Plat Elite status comes into effect? I’m hoping to use it to make a booking for next week.

    Thanks in advance. Great website.


  16. A new IHG Accelerate Promotion has started. Running from Jan 1st – April 30th.

    I have platinum status (via credit card) and have only been a member for less than 1 year. Had 4 stays over the past 2 months (my only stays at IHG this year) (leisure user only) and those 4 nights earned me 2 free nights in any IHG property via the previous accelerate promotion.

    The promotion will be different depending upon your past use of the chain I would suggest.

    In summary it seems the minimum I need to do is download their app then stay twice for a combined total of three nights at two different brands of hotel to earn 31,500 points. Shouldn’t be too tricky but then I would usually choose to stay in cheaper hotels so this will encourage me to stay at IHG properties when I really wouldn’t have in the past – I still won’t pay over the odds mind you, I will be sensible about it ! I will do a bit of number crunching to decide if it’s worth it but it probably is at this low level for a decent amount of points. If things were harder or with fewer points I really wouldn’t bother.
    So…. They are achieving their goal of encouraging me to use their properties and send my business their way. As I use mostly for leisure I find my Gold status Club Carlson perks of 2-for-1 & 4-for-2 nights better value than IHG at the moment.

    Offer Details:

    Earn 31,500 total bonus points.

    Complete all of your Accelerate 2016 offers and earn 31,500 total bonus points.

    500Download the IHG® App
    Earn 500 bonus points when you download and sign in to the IHG® App. You’ll get mobile-exclusive rates, access your virtual membership card & find more ways to go further, faster. TermsDOWNLOAD THE APP

    2,000 Stay More, Earn More
    Get closer to the rewards you want when you stay 3 night(s) and earn 2,000 bonus points. TermsBOOK NOW

    2,000Book with IHG
    Book 2 stays directly through IHG and earn 2,000 bonus points. From our website, your mobile device or through our Central Reservations Office, book with us for the best rate. TermsBOOK NOW

    2,000Discover Our Brands
    Stay at 2 number of brands and get 2,000 bonus points. TermsBOOK NOW

    10,000Your Achievement Bonus
    Complete 3 of the 4 offers above and earn (an additional) 10,000 bonus points. Terms

    15,000Your Achievement Bonus
    Complete 4 of the 4 offers above and earn (an additional) 15,000 bonus points (excluding the January Bonus Offer). Terms

  17. So wondering about the 10K voucher.. my renewal date is is 20th January. If I reach the £10K spend on the card just before January 20th, but ask to downgrade to the basic account before the £10K voucher has been issued, will I still receive the voucher?