Advertisement

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (14): IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard

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 here. The Premium 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 four 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 only receive the voucher at the end of your card year irrespective of how quickly you hit the £10,000 target.  This is a change from how the card operated when Barclaycard ran it.

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?

My default comparison card is the AA FuelSave Credit Card.  This card is free in the first year and offers 0.5% cashback on all spending, 2%-4% cashback on fuel purchases and – in year one – free AA breakdown cover.  The representative APR is 22.4% variable.

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.

Conclusion

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.

(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. 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.

Bits: 8000 Flying Blue miles with one hotel stay, prepaid seating on Comair, Club Carlson Radisson RED triple points
Credit & Charge Card Reviews (13): IHG Rewards Club MasterCard
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Is this new card different from Barclaycard version (ie should I hold on to that or give it up?)

    • They are identical EXCEPT Barclaycard gives you the free night voucher as soon as you hit £10,000 whilst Creation makes you wait the full year. That’s why I am sticking with Barclaycard.

  2. Please note small typo. Sign up bonus would earn 4 stays not eight under points break?

  3. Is it worthwhile spending more than 10K ro achieve spire status? or should one look for another card after hitting 10k target?

    • Yes, it could be. I requalified for Spire Elite this year by putting about £25,000 through my IHG Premium card, earning 50,000 status points (and of course 50,000 reward points). You will also struggle to get 0.8p-ish of value from any other MasterCard or Visa.

      • I used spire for hilton status match which got me at least 20000 extra hilton points from stays (diamond compared to silver) and 15+ free breakfasts (where i would normally buy my own breakfast for about £3-£5 rather than paying horel prices)

    • Best tactic might be to see how many qualifying points you have in early Dec from stays and cc spend etc then to top up from Virgin to hit 75k spire target and trigger the 25k bonus. Status is then valid to end of the next calendar year.

      • That is exactly my strategy Genghis – I’ve just hit Spire again and claimed my 25k bonus points. I just had a large £7.5k purchase which helped tipped me over the 75k line so I didn’t need to convert any erewards or Virgin miles!

      • Sorry, might be being a bit thick here…..
        Does the spire status continue to the end of the following calendar year (as per BA status from anniversary date)? In which case presumably it’s best to hit the target as early as possible in the year rather than in December so that you have the benefit for nearly 2 years?

        • Yes it does.

        • The IHG Rewards FAQs state, “Once you have earned the newest membership status in any calendar year, you will maintain such status until the end of the following calendar year”
          https://www.ihg.com/hotels/gb/en/customer-care/faq

          So it depends where you earn your points. Take for two examples below:

          1) If you do not have an IHG credit card, barely stay in IHG hotels / do not currently have spire elite status but want to get more bonus points from future IHG stays, then it might be worth it for you to do a 75k points transfer from Virgin. However, even with the 25k spire elite bonus, this would be a decrease in value initially (Virgin miles at 1p so 75k = £750 going to 75K+25k IHG at 0.4p each = £400. If you have future IHG stays planned, you will get more points so should perhaps factor this into the calculation.

          2) If you do have an IHG credit card, stay in IHG hotels fairly often and already have spire elite status, then things are a bit different. Say come December you have spent £15k on your IHG black credit card so 30k points, you’ve done a few IHG stays through the year say 20k qualifying points, you then only need another 25k IHG points to get spire elite. Transferring 25k miles from Virgin = £250 to then get 50k IHG = £200 (plus your status for another year) is perhaps a decent deal. If you transferred all of the points from Virgin earlier in the year, the additional qualifying points from cc spend and stays might be considered ‘wasted’.

          As with all of these things, you need to do your own calcs as each person has different circumstances.

  4. OT: does anyone know any points earning cards in either Botswana or South Africa?

    • Nedbank South Africa issues AMEX charge cards so Membership Rewards available.

      IIRC earning rate decent. Beware exchange control regs for foreign spend however.

  5. OT has anyone else been encountering problems with the Moneycorp explorer card? None of the ATMs seem to like it!?

  6. Given that the hotel voucher is awarded at the end of the year, does that mean that you need to sign up for a second year of the card (and pay a second lot of £99 fees) in order to actually get the voucher?
    Also, would the voucher be valid for a family room sleeping three (in, for example, Paris Intercontinental)?

    • Voucher is valid for a standard reward room. If those sleep 3, you’re ok. In Le Grand they do not (and are tight for 2).

      Go to ihg.com and search Paris for a random date in 10 months for 3 people and you will see your options. Or email Le Grand and negotiate an upgrade price.

      If you do not use the card post anniversary date you should not have to pay.

  7. Nick Burch says:

    Another thing to flag up is that Creation have significantly worse customer service than Barclaycard! They seem to get the points wrong on my card most months, and have been pretty terrible about fixing it. Initially when I tried to complain, they even told me that I had to talk to IHG about Creation issuing the wrong number of points! Getting them to admit their issues and fix them is taking a lot more effort that it did with Barclaycard (who also make mistakes but seem much better about solving them and chucking you cash to say sorry)

    • Hi Nick
      I am having the same issue as well. I applied for the creation card as I was fed up with Barclaycard not crediting 4 points for every IHG stay and me having to contact them each month to have the points added.

      Now with Creation I am having the same issue! Like you say, at least with Barclaycard they credited the points although it would take a month. I have had no such joy with Creation so far and am tempted to cancel the card and go back to Barclaycard. I have a Marriott card with creation and they are a lot better though

    • Barclays finally wrote to me implying that they have set up a small team to review my IHG Barclaycard statements for missing IHG bonus points! They say that if any points are missing in month A, they will be piocked up and credited in month B.

      I have not had a chance to put it to the test yet, though – all my recent IHG stays have been points redemtions.

    • I have been having the same problem with them. They awarded me too fewer points – fee like I’m doing their work for them.

      Also, if you pay for an IHG outside the UK you only get 4 points whereas with Barclays you used to get 8. 4 for IHG and 4 for foreign spend.

      I don’t like creation.

  8. I have Barclays IHG card. Do you think I can apply for Creation, get bonus and after 10k spending get a second free night voucher?

  9. “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.”

    Interesting as I am yet to get a top cat hotel with IHG for £250, I believe I average £340/night. I don’t know how to work out the value of a redemption but I would presume it is a fair bit better than 0.5p/point, right?

  10. Agree with comments regarding Creation poor customer service. Continually chasing points posting errors are beginning to make this card not worth the hassle.

    • I also had a particularly terrible experience with Creation customer services. Had to chase 20,000 points for weeks. Same for hotel spend (only awarded 2 points per pound). Was sent Gold instead of Platinum card.

      It took about 7 emails, 3 phone calls to sort out. They tried to bat me off to IHG, who denied all knowledge obviously.

      Even when I made a formal complaint it didn’t work. Had to send a “deadlock” letter and threatened Ombudsman before complaints dept finally responded. They said customer service never told them about the issues until months later.

      Advice: make a formal complaint early, ask for complaints dept (not customer service) and send deadlock letter if no progress. They eventually waived my card fee, offered extra £49 credit and 20,000 extra points. Am still considering whether it will be worth the effort to stay with them.

      • I think that part of the problem is lack of training the frontline staff on what to do when these sort of problems occur. I would guess that they are expected to learn on the job, which is rediculous.

        In the early days of the IHG Barclaycard I too got sent off to IHG, who said that they would put me through to the correct department – in fact they put me through to a Cadillac Dealership in Sarasota, FL: You could not make it up!

        Various heavy threats, pointing out that they had breached the terms of their own contract by not providing the points resulted finally in a cringing apology and the name of someone to contact directly, plus £100 being paid into the card a/c.

        Further sums appeared at fairly regular intervals over several months. I was never offered any extra points, but the cash paid for a couple of stays which did, of course, generate points.

  11. Scottydogg says:

    Is there a best time of the year to hit the points for Spire to get it for the longest ?
    Im sure I gold Platinum in say July , and on the website it says that it runs out in December of the next year , so technically I get it for 18 months .
    Does this work with getting Spire or does it run out after 12 months if ive not hit the points to keep it ?

    • I believe status runs for the calendar year and you start accruing stays/points towards it from January (mines always resets in January). The earlier in the year you hit it the longer you’ll have it.

      EG – Hit it in March ’17 and you’ll have it till Dec ’18

  12. Looking to move business in 2017 from Hilton to IHG after qualifying for HH Diamond five years on the trot. Just applied for the IHG card and been accepted. With regard to spire status, does the card give you a ‘leg in’? ie: my Creation Marriott card gives 10x nights per year towards status. Does the IHG card give you a number of qualifying nights / points to which you need to build on, or are you set at nil from day one, just with the benefit of platinum until you would otherwise hit platinum anyway?

  13. What's the Point says:

    Creation CS are terrible, I am still waiting for any points to credit after my third statement. I have made numerous calls and eventually wrote a complaint letter.
    They now have 4 weeks to formally reply back, its FCA ruling apparently.
    I don’t understand how my Creation Marriott card works fine with points posting, which I have had for years.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Its an odd one and the issue must arise on an odd occasion as many others inc myself have posted without issue

      doesn’t help you of course

  14. Why Hilton > IHG? More a mix of the two. If Hilton has lounge then Hilton has been and will continue to be preference (dependent on non-silly price). If no lounge, for Hilton, gold little better than diamond. Recently stayed at quite a few Crowne Plazas with lounges and was impressed. Plus cost wise, recent promotions from IHG have been better than Hilton. Plus all these status matches to diamond anyway? I think I might have more leverage with Hilton in 2018 if I DON’T hit 30 nights in 2017. So, not abandoning Hilton, but using less, and aiming to use CP more. Purely on a case-by-casis basis. Then using a mix of DT/Hampton/HI/HIX where necessary, where I would say a welcome drink from IHG trumps breakfast 9 times out of 10.

  15. I hit 10k on the Barclaycard during the summer and got my free night in the bag, then applied for the Creation card and put another 10k through that one too. Free night will come next year, at the card anniversary.

    Now the question is, do I cancel the Barclaycard? I don’t want to have to pay two card fees and I only need one card, but I’m ambivalent as to which one to keep. The Barclaycard is no longer available for new applicants, so there’s no going back to it once I pull the plug.

    Thoughts?

    • If you can regularly spend £20k a year wouldn’t it be better to keep them both since the free night voucher should more than cover the annual fee? If you still want to cancel one I’d cancel the Creation card, since you can always re-open that later (and the Barclaycard is better anyway in my opinion as it has Apple Pay, gives you the voucher as soon as you hit £10k spend, doesn’t round down every transaction and award double points on overseas spend more reliably from my experience).

  16. Lewis Watson says:

    Does the free night work at an intercontinental alliance property like the venetian?

  17. Lewis Watson says:

    How long does it take for platinum status to be added?

  18. Anyone know what Creation’s policy is on having both cards? Now that the BMI Avios cards have been cancelled I’m looking for a new day-to-day card but I’ve already got the free IHG card from the creation and the premium looks to be a better bet …

  19. Anyone know if for example if I stay at an IHG hotel in the USA and I pay using this card – would I get 4 points for IHG hotel plus 4 for foreign spend? On my CC statement it says:
    – 4 IHG Rewards Club Points per £1 spent abroad
    – 4 IHG Rewards Club Points per £1 spent in any IHG hotel worldwide
    – 2 IHG Rewards Club Points per £1 spent on all other purchases in the UK

    Reason I ask is with the Barclays IHG Card you get 4 and 4 and for paying for an IHG hotel abroad and their T&C’s have the same conditions as above.

    Also, on a separate note, I have had this card for 4 months – creation are making errors in crediting points I have already found an additional 300 points missing which I found by chance and they have now credited – I advise people to review their spend to ensure they get the right amount of points.

    • If you are missing points from an IHG stay, that is IHG’s fault – they have not given Creation (and they did not give Barclaycard) a full list of the merchant codes for all the hotels.

      • Hi Rob,
        It’s not just the missing points but I was one of the early ones who’s t&c’s stated 4 points for abroad and 4 points for any IHG location. Creation are telling me I can only have 4 points not 8. Their conditions are badly worded.