The IHG credit cards are back – and with a sign-up bonus (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part of my analysis of the two new IHG Rewards Club credit cards.  Part 1, focussing on the free card, can be found here.

The paid-for version – IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard

IHG Rewards Club credit card premium

The headline features of this card are:

£99 annual fee

20,000 IHG Rewards Club points for joining and spending £200 in the first three months – these are worth about £80 of free hotel rooms or transferable to 4,000 Avios points or other airline miles

Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club for as long as you hold the card.  This is no longer the top level following the launch of the Spire tier.  However, if you do a few Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza or Indigo stays then it is worth having.  It is occasionally enough for a Club room upgrade at a Crowne Plaza.

2 IHG Rewards Club point per £1 spent.  I value IHG points at 0.4p so this is a 0.8% return.

4 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you pay at IHG hotels.  This would be roughly a 1.6% return which is very good.

4 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 when you use the card abroad.  As the card has a 2.99% FX fee you would be better off using a card without FX fees instead.  I only value the points at 1.6%.  The only reason to use the card abroad would be to work towards your free night voucher or earn additional IHG status points.

A free night voucher for any IHG hotel for spending £10,000.  Use it at the InterContinental Paris, London, New York etc and you could be looking at £250 of value.

Representative APR is 41.5% variable including the £99 fee, based on a £1200 credit limit

There is a minimum income requirement of £10,000, although Creation stress that this cannot come from unemployment benefit!

It is important to note that points from day-to-day spend count towards elite status.  The sign-up bonus does NOT count towards elite status.  A heavy spender could get Spire Elite status simply by putting £37,500 of spending through this card.

According to the terms and conditions:  “If your IHG Rewards Club Credit Card account is closed within the first 6 months of opening, IHG reserves the right to deduct the 20,000 bonus Rewards points from your IHG Rewards Club account.”  As you do NOT get a pro-rata fee refund for cancelling, this is unlikely to be an issue for anyone.

I have one minor concern.  The rules state, re the free night:

“On the anniversary of your account opening, so long as your account remains active, you will earn one free night voucher to redeem at any IHG property, provided you make annual Purchases totalling a minimum of £10,000.”

The free night has always turned up within a few weeks of passing the £10,000 target.  One interpretation of this line is that you don’t get the voucher now until the end of your card year – although I am more inclined to think that someone at Creation’s law firm failed their English GCSE.

What do I think?

If you are ONLY looking to exploit the sign-up bonus then this is not the card for you.  You would be mad to pay £99 for a sign-up bonus worth £80 at best, especially as the points do not count towards status.  You should focus on the free card where the smaller 10,000 point sign-up bonus is worth £40.

For long term spending, however, this is a very good card.   I have had the Barclaycard version of this card for a couple of years and I put a lot of money through it, including tax payments.

Imagine spending £10,000 on the card in a year.  You would get:

20,000 IHG Rewards Club points, worth £80 or so, assuming all spend is in the UK and not at IHG hotels

Those points count towards status, which could be important if you are pushing for Spire Elite

Your free night voucher, worth say £250 if used at an expensive InterContinental

You are getting £330 of benefits for an annual fee of £99.  That is a gain of £231 or 2.31% of a £10,000 spend, which is excellent.

You also need to add in whatever value you ascribe to Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club.

I have just renewed my Spire Elite status for 2017 and it was almost entirely down to spending on this credit card.  Reaching Spire Elite via 75,000 status points triggers a bonus of 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points.  You could argue that this is an additional bonus for anyone who spends £37,500 on the card.

If you are looking for a new Visa or MasterCard and you have the ability to put £10,000 of spending through the card to trigger the free night, I would recommend it.

I would NOT necessarily recommend it if you will not spend £10,000 to earn the free night.  For low spenders, the higher earnings rate does not justify the £99 fee compared to the free IHG Rewards Club MasterCard.  The only exception is if you stay enough at IHG hotels to benefit from Platinum status but you don’t stay enough to actually earn it from your stays.

You can apply for the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard here.

There is NO refer-a-friend deal available for these cards so you might as well apply directly via the links above.

PS. Remember that you will earn DOUBLE IHG Rewards Club base points when you book your IHG stays via Head for Points! Visit this page to find out more.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

The IHG credit cards are back - and with a sign-up bonus (Part 1)
Lesson learned - how I saved myself a £261 fine for no-showing on an IHG reward night
About Head for Points

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  1. Part 1 doesn’t exist 😉

  2. If I get this card, do I still need to get the full 75000 points to get Spire or is it just the difference between platinum and spire?

  3. I have already triggered my free stay with Barclaycard this year. If I spend over £10k on the creation card would IHG post another free stay?

  4. Daniel says:

    Rob…. do you have anyone at Creation that can advise on when the free night would actually post and how long it would be valid for?

  5. Nick M says:

    Do you know how long the free night certificate is valid for?

  6. How long do earned points last for, my wife got the old care about a year ago, which I cancelled. She had 62k points in the account so transferred 15k virgin miles last week to make spire but found out yesterday her points balance earning year had reset to zero :(

    • Genghis says:

      If no activity on acct, valid for one year. I was reading the Ts and Cs last night

    • If you are gold or plat or spire, points never expire. It is only if you are a basic ‘club’ member that points expire after 12 months.

  7. Genghis says:

    Good review Raffles. I’m thinking of taking this card for me and my wife and also getting the Ambassador status for us both and then using the 4 nights in SIN next Easter.

    I don’t really understand IHG much. I understand we’d get Platinum status from this credit card but that is not the highest level, but if spend £37,500 on the card we can (or get 75k IHG points from virgin miles transfers).

    If we bought Ambassador package, what specific IHG status does that give? Also what level of ambassador membership would I buy? Do you then progress through the levels?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Alex W says:

      Ambassador gives gold ihg status. There is only one level of ambassador you can buy I think? I think to then get spire from zero points you still need 75000 points.

      • Last year I converted a lot of Tesco points to Virgin and then to IHG to get Spire status.
        On my one IHG stay I got a room overlooking the river (after a struggle) and when I stay in IHG again next year it will have expired! I have a very reasonable target for Accelerate and need one stay using points and money and buy a few points to get 40,000 points. I need to stay near Gloucester in a few weeks but it is cheaper to do a mattress run near home for 10,000 points + 40 USD rather than spend 20,000 + 40USD + breakfast to stay at HI in Gloucester when I can stay at Hampton Inn in Newport for 5000 HH points. I have stayed at Newport and it is good whereas HI Gloucester is described on TripAdvisor as ‘tired’.

        However, the Spire status had been matched to Diamond by Hilton two years running so was worth getting!

        • HI Gloucestet really is tired. And the only place I’ve stayed in recent memory that has double beds that you can only get into from one side as they are butted up against a wall.
          Still, normally cheap for a Cheltenham race stay.

    • I bought Amb two weeks ago – account status was moved to ‘Amb Gold’ immediately – I presume now I have the IHG Premium card my account will move to Amb Platinum – I can’t see what else it could be given that Ambassador is Ambassador on your IHG account and IHG Platinum is IHG Platinum and they match the two together, as far as your account goes.

    • Word of warning on using free nights and redemptions at SIN with ambassador status: they do NOT recognise status unless you are paying cash. I am a spire ambassador and I have a blend bookings coming up with them soon, some redemption and some cash. They have upgraded my room for the cash nights but not the redemption nights so I will need to change rooms mid-stay. I have emailed them to check if it really is their intention that I move rooms mid-stay (twice!), and they have confirmed that it is. They have offered me an overpriced upgrade for the redemption nights. I appreciate that upgrades on reward/free night stays are discretionary, but I have always had them at other ICs in the past, and I’ve never been asked to shift rooms during a stay!

      • Genghis says:

        Thanks for heads up Nick. I should perhaps use the free night elsewhere and use SPG points in SIN.

        • Genghis says:

          In fact, I’ve just read the Ambassador Ts and Cs in a bit more detail. It says, “When staying on Reward Nights, all Ambassador and Royal Ambassador Privileges apply with the exception of upgrades, free Pay-TV film per stay, 24-hour guaranteed room availability, 8:00 am early check-in and complimentary mini-bar beverages (where a cost for these benefits is applicable)”.

          So is this the case then at all Intercontinentals (not just in SIN)?

          • That’s the rules, but most ICs seem to ignore it and upgrade you anyway. I’ve certainly been upgraded on points stays at ICs in San Francisco, Vegas, Thailand and Sydney in the last 12 months.

            It’s churlish to complain when a hotel acts within the terms of the loyalty scheme, but I’ve basically got some reward nights sandwiched in between some cash nights and it just seems a bit mean to ask me to move rooms in the middle of my stay!

            To be honest, the upgrades can sometimes be fairly nominal anyway so don’t let it bother you too much. As always with these things, it is generally better to use the free nights and points redemptions while you can, before they get devalued etc. So please don’t let me put you off! The FlyerTalk thread on Ambassador treatment shows that most people have a great time at that hotel, and I suspect that when I come to check in we can sort something sensible out anyway.

            • Genghis says:

              Thanks for sharing words of wisdom, Nick. After your stay, please report back on your experiences as I’d be keen to know what happened. The Intercontinental in Singapore does look like a great hotel.

      • Mycity says:

        I stayed on reward nights in January this year at the IC Sin fantastic hotel and I blended it with paid stays no issue at all with being upgraded and staying in the same room

    • There is an excellent article on here on what ambassador is all about: take a look in the ihg section of current hotels offers and look at the review of the ihg scheme (which provides an excellent summary of the wider IHG scheme) there is a link to the article in there somewhere. You buy ambassador status, and there is a premium version of it that you can earn.

      And a quick word of warning to Neil: don’t assume your account will smoothly move to plat because you now have the credit card. It took mine over 3 months to be upgraded during which time I had had about 20 nights at IHG hotels, following lots of chasing and a complaint to Barclaycard (who, in fairness, provided generous compensation for the lack of benefit).

      • Nick – I was actually astounded yesterday it seems ihg and creation have got their act together. My genuine experience yesterday –

        1030am (Berlin time) – approved for Premium card in room at Waldorf Astoria on my free night from Hhonors card.
        1033am – Book stay at InterContinental Berlin through the IHG app, bonus points plus breakfast which will go towards my Accelerate targets. (was going to stay at the Indigo, decided it would be good yo compare Waldorf vs IC)
        1145am – Walk down the street and turn up at the InterContinental to see if we can drop our bags before heading back into the city for the day, Platinum is already showing on my account to them (not on my app), room immediately available and upgraded from a standard to deluxe and my choice of the 1000 bonus points or 2 drinks in the bar. Saved me €39 on an upgrade bid already!

        • Wow – that’s great! I really want to apply for this card but want to be sure that I get the stated benefits despite the fact that I currently hold the Barclaycard version.

          I would actually like to cancel the Barclaycard version anyway – I’ve earned the free night and there is a significant statement credit sat on there that I could really use! However I am holding out because while I have used my free night certificate to book a free night, I might well cancel it (see above re: IC SIN). If I have cancelled my card and then cancel my free night booking, Barclaycard tell me that the certificate will be forfeited. So I will probably hold it until that stay is completed or cancelled & rebooked.

          I also understand that Barclaycard really do try to ensure that when they retire their products, the customers on those products are not disadvantaged. I could be wrong but I don’t think that they have sold their IHG card portfolio to Creation, so one would assume that they will have to retire the IHG card soon. My suspicion is that it would be advantageous to hold an IHG card when they come to do that.

          • If you’ve got statement credit sitting there you should be able to ask them to move that balance to your bank account without having to close the account – the Post Office Mastercard have definitely done that for me a few times without an issue.

  8. What’s the difference between platinum and gold with IHG. I have just reached gold from 10 stays and am recieving bonus points or free drink and late checkout, I thought these were platinum bonuses. So what extra do you get with plat to be worth the 99 annual fee ?

    • Dannyrado says:

      A free night voucher @ £10k

      • Those are Gold and Platinum bonuses. Plat is most valuable at Crowne Plaza where there is more scope to upgrade although Spire will have priority.

    • With Platinum there will be an even greater feeling of disappointment / annoyance when they dont provide you with a room upgrade, or, you get an upgraded room and then wonder how bad the originally booked room was.

      That said, there is the smugness factor – a business type lady once tried to push past me at check in flashing her gold card and the member of staff seemed to enjoy asking her to wait and then went over my Spire status and free drink/points etc.

  9. Dannyrado says:

    Applied, thanks raffles. Been waiting for a card that I can move to, such that I don’t have to keep earning these pointless arseios.

    I’ll earn the voucher every year. And actually try a little harder on the accelerate promos, should work out well.

  10. Jordan D says:

    How does the overseas FX fees compare with Amex? Might be the defining factor.

    Separately – are we ever going to see the Marriott Rewards card relaunched in the UK?

    • Creation still advertise Marriott as a client on their home page so I imagine it will. They just need to get an FCA licence. Alternatively, as I have a licence, they could let HFP be the exclusive promoter of the card :-)

      It is laughable that the biggest hotel company in the world is incapable of doing something which even I managed to do – unless they are struggling to find UK based staff with the necessary financial services qualifications to be approved.

      • Jordan D says:

        Will we then be in a situation where Creation will only let you have one or the other but not both credit cards? (Assuming Marriott is relaunched).

      • The_Real_A says:

        Rob – out of interest are you not able to contract (outsource!) the FCA responsibility in relation to this? i.e. an accountancy or legal firm

        • Not as far as I know. And why would a 3rd party risk losing their licence if Marriott for example runs ads with the wrong wording?

    • So do you get 6 IHG points per £ for spending at IHG hotels overseas?

      • No. You only get four – at least, that is how Barclaycard did it.

        • This leads to another dilema. If I get this card, and am booking ihg hotel abroad, am I better off using this card for the extra ihg points or supercard for the lack of exchange fees? (Particularly if the supercard is linked to this ihg card so will get some points)!

          • I don’t think it’s too much of dilemma TBH – comparing the forex fee to the IHG points earned you’d be much better going for no fee and lower points by putting it via Supercard. The exception would be if you needed the spend to trigger the free night voucher then it has a bit more value.

            • Thanks, haven’t got my math head on yet so couldn’t work out if the points were worth more than the forex charge

            • If you value them at 0.4p (as Raffles does) then 1.6% back for the 4x earning abroad. Compare this to 2.99% forex fee and you’re losing out. However as I say if you are going to have difficulty hitting the spending target to get the free night voucher then it’s worth considering – personally I’d still put it through Supercard instead and take the lower non-foreign spend 0.8% earning instead :)

            • Scallder says:

              Although Alan if the Supercard spend is hitting this card anyway then the point about using it for the free night voucher isn’t the case as the spend is hitting it regardless :)

            • Haha an excellent point! :)

            • You’ll get 2 points per pound for going via Supercard anyway, so you’re only missing out on an extra 2 points per pound to spend directly on the card – this means you’d be paying about 1.5p per point. One scenario where this might be worth it though is if the extra points push you into Spire, where you could get another 25k points back from IHG. If you wouldn’t be able to reach Spire without those extra points then you might decide it’s worth it.

            • Genghis says:

              1.5p per point is very expensive to me. There are much cheaper ways to do some manufactured spend.

  11. I have Spire Elite at the moment and had a card sent which said expired 2016 – then earlier this year I received a new card saying expiring 2017 – my account says elite status expires 2016 – at the moment I have 45k qualifying pts for this year. I don’t know whether this new card has extended my spire status to the end of 2017 or not – I won’t reach 75k with just cc spend. I could transfer some virgin miles over towards the end of the year but I don’t want to waste them if I already have spire secured for next year – can anyone help me confirm whether I have spire extended to the end of 2017. Have others had this?

    • It wouldn’t necessarily be a waste because you would get the 25k bonus points for renewing Spire. 30k Virgin would get you 55k IHG in total which is decent.

    • Doesn’t status last until March?

      I’ve never received a Spire card despite requesting twice.

  12. How many points per pound at an overseas IHG? I’m thinking probably 6?

    • 4 I imagine.

      On that subject…. I remember the good old days when Amex used to dish out cumulative points on supermarket spend and petrol, and sometimes random additional points too. I am pretty sure I was getting 9 points per £1 at some point. On a free card, that came with a huge sign-up bonus. Those were the days….

  13. Jumble Tales says:

    Raffles, what do you advise for those of us with the equivalent premium Barclaycard IHG, now we can presumably expect it to have a limited lifespan? Should we apply for the Creation version and if so it is better to apply after closing the Barclaycard or while it is still running, given their generous credit limit?

  14. phew finally!

    So long term decent spend, I’m thinking this better than the HH card?

    On thing, I’ve always thought IHG hotels are a little hit and miss with upgrades, is this the case? on spend this year I’ll easily make sprie elite, but subsequent years not, so will Platinum actually be of any use?

  15. I’m holding out for a little bit for that reason too! Only just got a 2yr Halifax no-fee 0% card too so probably will leave it a little bit before making another application. Closing old accounts in the meantime to tidy up my credit file!

  16. Is this card worth having for converting points to Avios?

    • Tesco Premium is 0.6 per £1 rather than 0.4 here – but of course you get the free night voucher and fee lower.

  17. Is the SPG card likely to have an increased bonus any time soon ?

    • Would be surprised, as the card won’t exist soon given the Marriott takeover of Starwood completes this week or next week.

      • Ok thanks – I forgot about that!

      • Mycity says:

        Do we know what’s happening on this takeover what will happen to the SPG rewards programme will it become Marriott?

        • There will be a new merged programme (Marriott Preferred Guest?) launching January 2018.

          There may be some reciprocal status benefits between elite members of each programme from the legal completion of the deal which will be this month.

  18. Apologies, you’re right, it does. That may be funded by ASDA though as the Marriott card was never on there.

  19. Barry cutters says:

    I’ve got 2 accelerate free nights to use and want to use them in London for a specific weekend. Intercontinental park lane is available , the Camden lock penthouse isn’t. Is park lane decent? It seems the most expensive if I was paying cash for it. Or any other recomendations welcome

    • Depends what you want in terms of location, room size and room quality. They are refurbing some rooms at Park Lane. However, if you have IHG status then CP City or Kensington may give you lounge access as an upgrade (or may not). If you need to be central than PL does the job.

  20. Bryan Roebuck says:

    I see that if you currently hold a Barclaycard IHG Visa you can still apply for the new Creation card.
    I have already achieved my Barclaycard free night would spending £10,000 still trigger a Creation free night in the same calendar year and if so could I maintain both cards to obtain two free nights in the coming years? I have a Marriott Creation card would this prevent me having an IHG one?

    • Almost certainly you can get 2 vouchers per year.

      Having 2 Creation cards seems fine.

      • Creation deemed 3 cards too many for me and declined my application. As I have a £20k credit limit over the 2 cards I asked if reducing them would enable them to accept my application (as MBNA do) and they said no! Will try an application for the wife next

  21. I triggered the Barclaycard IHG free night voucher, but my plans have changed and now need to use it for something else. Can I book a hotel stay now before the voucher expires for a future date that is after voucher expiy date?

  22. What’s the significance of it being a World MasterCard. Does this unlock any additional benefits from MasterCard?

    • Doubt it. Is the interchange fee higher? Need to put the 1st 8 digits of the mock up card into the HMRC website to check the fee.

      • Isolde says:

        Seems reasonable based on the mock up on the IHG / Creation website ….. 0.386%

  23. Hi all, just thought I’d let you know that my IHG status moved to ‘Ambassador Platinum’ this morning with the activity narrative ‘IHG Premium Credit Card PLTN Status Upgrade’ – considering I only got approved for the card on Monday evening, I am very pleased with that!

    • I just looked at my statement and mine shows the same entry but I was spire already so no change for me. I applied Monday lunchtime and look forward to spending on the card.

    • Was the card approved instantly online as mine said they will write to me?

      • Yes and an Email a few minutes later to say accepted. I think if they have to write to you it’s a decline :-(

      • If it was a straight decline it would have told you. Yours probably just needs an underwriter – same happened with my first creation card and I got approved with £10k limit.

        • Mr Dee says:

          Thanks, will be a good card to have IMO especially after I cancel the virgin black cards

          • Fingers crossed for you, hopefully you know either way in a few days but update the post.

  24. Has anyone got anymore info on the timing of receiving the voucher? Would I be right in saying if you hit the £10k spend near the end of your card year you would likely be tied into another year at £99 fee due to waiting for the voucher? Thanks

  25. Andrew says:

    I have skimmed the posts, so apologies if the answer is there.

    How quickly is your IHG account updated to Platinum?

    I was approved three days ago, and received an email to state it was approved and told I was platinum. However this is not showing online. I called the bank and they said should be ‘instant’ and provided no other guidance on what to do.

    • Andrew, my status changed this morning having been approved on Monday.

      • Scottnothing says:

        Received an approval text last night and my status updated this morning. Impressed!

  26. Anyone managed to get both versions of the creation cards? Unsure whether they would let you have both.

  27. Just thinking … The £99 card with platinum and a free night may be a better deal than the Intercontinental Ambassador 2nd IC weekend night free and platinum. Not too many ICs to be seen in my travels these days. Obviously, YMMV.

  28. Nathan says:

    Apparently Creation have deemed me ineligible to apply for their product. Oh well, there is as they say ‘a first time for everything’ I suppose.

  29. Does anyone know how long between statement generation and payment required? I need to time my application so that the bill will be due after payday! Assuming statement generated a month after acceptance

  30. Hi do you think the 20k sign up bonus may be a temporary or permanent feature?

    I want to apply but was hoping to leave doing so until about October.



  1. digital Electronics for Less review

    The IHG credit cards are back – and with a sign-up bonus (Part 2)