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
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.
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.