Credit & Charge Card Reviews (11): 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 most 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 Tesco Clubcard MasterCard Low Rate card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 5.9% variable – and you can transfer your Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles.

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 no longer available 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+.

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 Honors 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.  You get this every 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. This article explains the process for cancelling the card if you do not want to renew for another year but are still owed a voucher.

You will receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite 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 Elite 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 – but not the sign-up bonus – count towards IHG Rewards Club status.

This will help your progression from Platinum Elite to the top tier Spire Elite status.  Note that 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.

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.

On this basis, 2 points per £1 is equivalent to a 0.8% – 1% 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 ASDA Cashback Credit Card which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 19.9% 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 IHG Premium card 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 – £100 of free hotel stays – is not to be scoffed at but is worth no more than the annual fee.  Even if you don’t want to spend on the card, you may want to keep it in a drawer, unused, to continue to benefit from IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status for just £99 per year.

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 £80 – £100 of free hotel stays if used well. You will also benefit from your Platinum Elite 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 want the Platinum Elite status, but any regular guest at IHG hotels would value this.  My personal view is that this is arguably the best Visa or MasterCard on the market for high spenders.

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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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): IHG Rewards Club MasterCard
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Comments

  1. I have this card and will trigger the £10k spend for the year but based on previous comments if I want to cancel after year 1 then I am going to need to factor in a 2nd year fee of £99 regardless. Not sure if anyone has experiencied receiving the free night voucher and not having to pay for the 2nd year?

    • A link in the review takes you to an article explaining how to avoid the 2nd year fee.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Glad I am not the only one reading comments at 5am.

        • I think Rob is on the same time zone as me 😉
          I’m reading this over breakfast, whilst the rest of the family are upstairs sleeping, and can almost see Rob’s hotel, although the Burj al Arab is easier to see 🙂

      • I should read more carefully next time ! Thank you Rob

  2. My go to non-Amex. Good when your employer is paying the bill on non-UK spend (not FX spend. Ie a Euro transaction done on internet in. UK is only 2 IHGs/£). Easy for high spenders to obtain Spire.

    The fixed date you receive the free night is liked by some and not by others. But if you want to stay somewhere after you’re likely to receive the voucher and you have lots of IHGs, you can always book for points and then swap once you’ve received the voucher. Cancellations go straight back to reward inventory.

    • Roger I* says:

      But don’t cancel the ‘free’ night.

      AIUI it’s lost if you do, unlike for example the BAPP 2-4-1 which reappears if the reservation is cancelled.

      • Do you have empirical evidence?

        • Roger I* says:

          I came across this when planning a trip to include an Ambassador 2nd night free voucher. As the trip was still fluid, I didn’t go any further. I just made a ‘what if?’ reservation and see it can be cancelled. No mention in the T+Cs whether the voucher can be re-used.
          Thinking back, it was either in a hotel’s own T+Cs or in a blog. Now where? Likely to have been FT or HFP.

        • I cancelled a free night and had it returned to my account immediately – but that was under the IHG barclaycard. Never occurred to me it would be different under creation.

  3. Brighton Belle says:

    I like the card but Creation’s customer service is pathetic. I have argued with them about how to export transaction history into excel and they just fob you off with ignorance. If anyone here has found a simple way please share it. None of the PDF to excel/word converters I have tried can do the job neatly. Most credit card providers give you a CSV file export function.

    • Scottydogg says:

      I fully agree about their customer service , they all sound like no one knows what they are talking about and that they don’t even care . I imagine a load of minimum pay workers sat there not caring ….
      Ive also had a complaint registered with them in August that is still on going and not dealt with , its now the end of october and they have ‘not got round to it yet’ , as they have ‘lots of complaints to get through and they are back logged’ .
      Seem strange that they would even admit to you on the phone that they have so many complaints to get through that even after 2 months they have not looked at mine !!!

    • Using a mac, I simply “select all” and copy everything on the statement page (of the web site not the PDF) and paste into Excel. The transactions get added in columns, and I then delete the extra rows of text at the top and bottom.

  4. Can anyone advise if you get 4 X £1 IHG REward points for overseas spend at a IHG property, or do you get 8 pointsX £1?

    I’ve recently started using it and have a stay at an overeseas IC property in a couple of weeks. I’m guessing it would just be the 4 X £1 for overseas apend, but it would obviosly be nice to get the 8 X points! 🙂

    • Only 4.

      • Earn IHG Rewards Club points: 4 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent at IHG locations in the UK (including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man). 4 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent at IHG locations outside the UK. 2 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent on all other Purchases in the UK, 4 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent on all other Purchases outside the UK.
        http://www.creation.co.uk/ihgcctermsandconditions/

  5. Worth saying. Creation cards don’t do Apple Pay on iPhone. Also, that as part of IHG Accelerate, you are often rewarded with points for spending on the IHG Card

    • Michael Jennings says:

      Also, you will often get a “Sign up for an IHG credit card” as an Accelerate target if you don’t already have one. This in effect increased my signup bonus on the free card from 10,000 to 15,000 points. In addition, it’s one of the four targets I have to hit for an extra 17,000, so if I do that (I will) in conceivably makes the signup bonus more than that, but how much more is a little hard to say. (I might have hit the four targets bonus differently if I had not got the bonus for the credit card, but that would have required me to stay at least a couple of extra nights in IHG hotels. To do this, I would have probably stayed a couple of nights fewer in Hilton properties, which would have meant I might have missed some Hilton bonuses. Which means….).

  6. Has anyone considered churning this card? My year is up in a few days and think I may cancel then reapply after 3 months to try getting the bonus again.

    • Scottydogg says:

      When i spoke to someone on the phone from Creation and asked about churning , he said six months , but to be fair he didn’t sound like he was completely sure . Creation customer service have given me wrong advise in the past .
      I cancelled in August so will wait 6 months and apply again .
      I told him that if i didn’t get the sign up bonus again that i would revert to that phone call as all their calls are recorded apparently ! Will see , will report what happens on head for points about February time

  7. I long suspected I was being short changed on the points I was accumulating so I manually calculated what I should have earned. Turns out I only accumulated 2 x £ on most but not all foreign transactions where i ordered over the internet. Anything in person whilst abroad I always correctly accumulated 4 x £.

    I queried this with Creation a while back who confirmed my suspicions. They manually credited the missing points but wasn’t very clear whether they were treating this as a good will gesture or to rectify a cockup.

    Issue is still ongoing so going to be frustrating to keep checking and correcting. As far as I’m concerned the T&Cs state 4 x £ on any foreign spending and the method of the transaction is irrelevant as far as im concerned. Something people should watch out for.

    • As I posted above, it’s “4 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent on all other Purchases outside the UK”. No mention of in a foreign currency. I.e. you need to physically need to be outside of the UK.

      • Ah but I made a transaction whilst in NZ in NZD but was all done online. Only attracted 2 x £ so physical location not always a factor.

      • Re-reading the T&Cs I’m not sure that your interpretation is correct in any case. Quoted from the Creation site.

        4 points are allocated per £1 (one pound) spent on all other Purchases outside the UK.

        If you are saying that I have to be physically outside of the UK, then by the same extent if I paid for my Council Tax bill in GBP whilst on holiday (effectively doing the reverse type of transaction) then I would be entitled to 4 x points!

        I read it that as long as the merchant is non UK domiciled and the transaction is not GBP then 4 x points should be credited.

        • It’s certainly unclear drafting and I don’t know how it’s all coded. I doubt it follows any logic to do with VAT point of sale etc.

          I just know I got stung once on an internet purchase so never again (should only really be doing it if you’re not paying the bill anyway).

      • SIDIDDLY says:

        I got a stack of points earlier in the year for making a ‘foreign currency’ transaction on hotels.com. I paid in GBP, booked it in the UK but I received 4 points per £1 as it was billed outside the UK.

  8. I more than met the £10K target to get the free night voucher. My anniversary has come & gone (I’ve kept the card as overall I like it).
    What I can’t figure is whereabouts in my IHG account the free night voucher appears – can you give me a pointer?

    • If you’ve received the email notifying you you’ve got the free night, it should appear under “Free Night Status”.

      • Thx Genghis.
        Nope not had the email (or if I have it was a loooooooong time ago) & have had 2 statements since the 2nd annual fee went on. Also I don’t see the “Free Night Status” bit on my IHG account when I login.
        I think I shall be phoning Creation to see what they’re playing at.

        • the_real_a says:

          Hahahahahah make sure you have a stiff drink. The default answer is that its all IHG`s fault before you even ask your question.

          Long story i needed to involve the FOS and forceful challenging the muppets who man the call center. Rob i believe has a contact who can deal with these things with common sense.

  9. By my own calculations my Netflix account fees are considered to be foreign spend by Creaton. Very odd

  10. the_real_a says:

    It has been mentioned before – the customer service here is awful. Do not take this card unless you are fully prepared to involve the ombudsman WHEN things go wrong. The customer service team are woefully trained with the attitude of petulant teenagers who will fob you off at any opportunity. There are a handful of sensible people in the back office/senior positions but you have to get to them first… You have been warned.

  11. David Jones says:

    Has anyone had any joy swapping an existing IHG booking made on points to the credit card free night voucher, if there is no availability for new points bookings? I tried to do this last week and the contact centre told me it couldn’t be done.

  12. Took this out with £99 fee for our holiday last week in US as we would clock up a high spend staying with Intercontinental. They are totally rubbish – notified before we went that we would be in US and, since it was a new card, even told them roughly what we expected the bill to be. Refused on check in when cashier tried to block holding amount and we then found out Creation don’t have 24 hour service and hours on a weekend (we arrived Sunday PM US time) are even more reduced, so what happens if you lose your card out of hours I have no idea. Fortunately had my Amex card to use temporarily. Called Creation Monday to be told it was fine and hotel could now put card through – they didn’t know why it hadn’t gone through the day before as they confirmed they had got all travel info. noted – but no apology for the inconvenience or embarrassment caused! Their online message system for emails is inadequate and I have subsequently found out that customer service staff can’t see email messages until their back room staff have sifted them and put on the account. As noted before their staff are rude, poorly trained and seem to have no experience in dealing with the expectations of high spending customers.I will be complaining to IHG as Creation are doing IHG’s reputation no favours (or Mastercards either for that matter) – why on earth they changed to this shower I have no idea!.Perhaps with your influence Rob you can pass on comments to IHG in the hope that they will give Creation the kick up the backside they so badly need!

    • Oddly I managed to get £2,500 through my wife’s new IHG card in Dubai last week – and they hadn’t even taken a preauthorisation as I’d handed over another card at check-in.

      They are odd though. I can make higher tax payments from my wife’s card, even though it is new, than I can from my own 5-year old Marriott Rewards Creation card!

  13. If I cancel the card mid way through the year do I get a pro rata refund of the £99 fee?