The law of unintended consequences – why I’ve just cancelled two IHG credit cards

When IHG announced the forthcoming changes to IHG Rewards Club last week, I was broadly neutral.

IHG is adding a new elite level after 75 nights or 75,000 base points.  This currently unnamed level, which begins on July 1st, has no major benefits so far apart from a 25,000 point bonus for reaching it (or a free Platinum card for a friend).  You will also get a 100% base points bonus on your stays.

There is some talk of ‘new benefits coming in 2016’ but we need to wait and see what they are.

If you currently have Gold or Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club, you won’t lose anything directly.  You may lose out if hotels start upgrading the new elite tier and choosing to no longer upgrade Platinum members, but we don’t yet know if that will happen.

IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa 2

Both my wife and I have the IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa cards.  They carry a £99 fee but we get a free night at any IHG property after spending £10,000 per year, which we make sure we achieve.

As of today, we have both triggered the voucher in our current membership fee.  My next £99 fee is looming in June.

I have renewed these cards for the last two years.  Now, though, I have decided to cancel them.

Why?  Human nature!  IHG has a new top tier status and I fancy having it.  The problem is that I will never achieve 75,000 base points.

Recently, however, IHG was offering 60,000 points for signing up to the Premium credit card.  These points DO count towards status.

This is my new plan:

Cancel our IHG cards now and start the clock on when Barclaycard will let us reapply (this appears to be 6 months but some people have been successful after 3 months.  I won’t be reapplying for 8 months.)

Hope that, next Winter, IHG repeats the 60,000 point offer

Apply for the card no earlier than December so that the 60,000 bonus points hit after January 1st

Get up to 75,000 base points via card spend or hotel stays to reach the new top tier.  I would then have this status for the majority of 2016 and all of 2017.

Will this plan work?  There are no guarantees – I am clearly reliant on IHG bringing back a generous bonus on the IHG Premium card.  I am willing to take a punt.

There is no downside.  Our free night vouchers are triggered for this year.  In the worst case scenario I re-apply and get a lower bonus.  I may or may not get to retain Platinum status next year on the basis of having had the card for the first four months of this year, although that is not certain.

IHG probably didn’t expect these changes to lead to credit card cancellations!  However, loyalty schemes are a delicate balance of cogs and wheels, and when a programme makes a change somewhere you can never be sure what will pop out somewhere else.

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

Bits: Qatar adds 2nd Heathrow A380, 1200 Avios with Amazon Fire Stick
£10 Heathrow Express tickets available again next Saturday
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.


  1. I cancelled mine earlier this year for similar reasons – I’d achieved Plat for this year already thanks to the bonus points last year and also had the voucher to use, so cancelled just after renewal (managed to get the fee refunded) and will look at reapplying towards the end of the year.

    • James67 says:

      Same here. What I don’t understand is why you and Raffles don’t wait until January 16 to reapply to take two years of whatever elite status comes with the card rather than one, unless you plan on renewing the card without a bonus. If you areholding the Hilton card best cancel that too. Bar lays have been difficukt at times approving one w hen already holding the other although I have had both at thesame time in the past. After thd new status is introduced I suspect Bar lays will need to do something to avoid losing business on theirpremium card. I cannot see people paying £99 annual fee for mid tier status xo if it is not goingto come with the new higher tier then further benefits su h as better sign up bonuses or earni g rates or room upgrades will be necessary. Given that the UK hhonors membership will be small proportion of whole scheme, and the number of premium cc holders smaller still, I am going to be optimistic and hooe that the card premier card will continue to offer top tier status but perhaps with an even higher fee.

      • It would depend on the offer available at the time and potential expiry date and what stays I had in January, but agree might delay until then.

      • That’s what I am doing. I am cancelling now with a view to reapplying in December-ish so that the bonus hits in early January 2016 for 2 years status.

        • James67 says:

          The platinu status hits your IHG account very soon after you are accepted for the card not when you get the points. If you apply to early in December you run the risk of the platinum status being applied before 31/12 in whuch case it will only be valid until 31/12/16 unless things change. I am sure you would likely hold the card anyway so not a factor for you, only for those planning to ditch it.

  2. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    Can you apply for the premium card while holding the regular card?

  3. Trickster says:

    I still have platinum status despite decongestant my black card to blue back when it was still a PC branded card, so you might hold on to that status longer than you think!

  4. Sound logic but the changes in interchange fees payable and the viability surrounding any card subscribed benefits going forward likely lowers the potential for future freebies. As a business owner, I have just gone through the bi-annual (for me) minefield of card acceptance negotiations and if “World Mastercard” such as the Marriott Mastercard numbers start to increase, then they will add about 1% to costs which would require some thinking about. At present, such “World” cards are few and far between, as a percentage of cards used for payment.

  5. Martin says:

    Does anyone know what “holiday” you need to have from the card to guarantee a new sign up bonus if you take it out again?

  6. Just tried cancelling my free card and after going through the cancellation process, they offered me 18 months interest free if I stayed. Said I wanted to leave still. Then they offered me a £20 credit on the account if I stayed!
    I’ve only ever spent £2.16 on the card to trigger my points!

    • Well I hope you took the £20. After you spend it then try cancelling again and you might get another £20.

  7. Flight Risk says:

    They offered me £50 or 18 months interest free, I told them both and I would keep the card.

    They refused so I cancelled. I will be following Raffles plan as this was my original intention

  8. I just took the Premium card out last month and am still waiting for my 60000 points to post. As I am completely new to hotel rewards game I thought I would also buy some points during the recent 60% bonus offer to kick start my balance as I would be spending money on hotels in the future anyway. So I have 63500 points now + the 60000 to post from the credit card. As yet I haven’t done any qualifying stays. Do the points from buying count towards the new 75000 target or do I have to make them up with actual stays. Does credit card spend count and e-reward points count towards the target.

    • Purchased points don’t count but card spend and e-rewards do. BTW, since you use can always “buy” 1000 points for 7 USD, normally it doesn’t make sense to buy points unless there is a 100% bonus promotion.

      • Thanks Kai for that. If I did my sums right I think in total for the points I paid + the bonus it worked out around $7 per points but will watch out for 100% bonuses in the future.

      • Would transferring some miles from Virgin count towards topping up to the 75000 target?

        • Good question. Someone did it once and told me it worked. Someone else then did it and it didn’t work for them. I am tempted to try it myself to get a definitive answer.

        • Please go ahead! If it works I wouldn’t need to manufacture any spend for the 10k points I need to reach 75k 🙂

        • OK let us know how you get on!

  9. pat butcher says:

    Anyone know if there is a new IHG promo coming out after set your sights finishes? I can see there is one for legal residents of USA but nothing for rest of the world.

  10. Danksy says:

    When I’ve racked up enough for my free night voucher I may well go the same way!

  11. I still haven’t had my points posted yet 🙁 1 month now.

    • On FlyerTalk people were saying about 6 weeks for the 60k bonus, generally two weeks after your first “proper” statement (since the 1st statement is the £99 card fee).

  12. Considering how badly “set your sights” is working, (for me at least) does anyone have an experience of the 60K points actually posting to your account. I applied just prior to the expiry date and was successful. My account now shows me as a Platinum, and I guess I need to wait 4 more weeks to see if the 60K posts? Is there an redress if it does not?

  13. Trevor says:

    Hi too cancelled my fee card after gaining status and before renewal date this year. I’d also spend very little, and on cancellation, the phone fool offer me “the exact same benefits without the fee”. I grilled him on this and it turned out he was going to downgrade me, so I branded him a liar! I never got offered any points, cash or interest free period though. Looks like I’ll be following Raffles year-end.

  14. Andrew says:

    Do we know of the points you get from Set Your Sights count towards the 75k?

  15. How often does someone with the credit card status get anything free out of the hotels anyway? I would have thought there has to remain a decent bonus with the fee paying card.

    • UK hotels will offer 500 points or a bar drink and a snack (more valuable!) to Platinum members, irrespective of anything else they may get.

      • Anything more substantial in hotels abroad, or is the status only recognized in the UK?
        Is there a way of paying for the hotels in GBP? I seem to always end up paying in the local currency and getting hit with the CC fees!

        • The free drink or points may be Europe-wide, not done one for a while outside UK.

          The Premium card is double points overseas, 4 per £1, which offsets some of the fee. Or get a Halifax Clarity / Post Office / Lloyds Avios no FX fees card!

        • RIcatti says:

          P.S. Cash outlay for spending £10,000 in foreign currency is £300 plus £99 fee, for which one gets 40,000 points and a ‘free night’.

        • I did this in 2013 – spent £10k almost exclusively abroad (I didn’t have a ‘no FX fees’ card at the time). I figured that the 4 points per £1 offset two thirds of the 3% fee and the free night more than covered the rest. This was my first year having the card so I’d also banked my sign-up bonus.

          Not sure I would do this in future years because you are looking at £99 annual fee (no sign-up bonus to offset it after Year 1) plus £300 of FX fees = £400 spent in return for £200 of points and a £200-£250 free night at an InterCon (£400-£450). The maths doesn’t work.

        • Thunderbirds says:

          If you are paying abroad then someone has to pay for the currency exchange and the hotel isn’t going to want to take the hit so that leaves the customer….

        • Some hotels operate DCC…. occasionally this can be cheaper than with the forex fee but you won’t know until afterwards. However you can then ask them to refund and recharge in local currency, but this runs the risk of GBP dropping in the meantime and paying more anyway!

          In continental Europe I have always gotten free drink(s) in HIEx and points in HI / CP / Indigo, occasionally both.

        • RIcatti says:

          Hotels and caffes in Spain are routinely configured to use DCC and it is a rip off.

          Before giving a payment card to be taken away (in a restaurant) make sure you request to be charged in euro.

      • Raymond Hennessy says:

        Crowne Plaza Dundalk gave me a drinks voucher and a bowl of fruit and I’m only Gold.

  16. Is there anything to say that those holding the card will not be upped in status anyway?

    • No but I can’t see anything saying they will either – the deal was for Plat and that’s what they’ve given CC holders, quite possible they won’t upgrade them any further.

  17. David Ward says:

    I always used to receive in the December post offering me the extras with a fee for the upgrade card, if I bought in the higher level card. I didn’t get this in 2014. I was awaiting for it because I used to play the bonuses et al. Could December 2015 be another non – event?

  18. I have just had the bonus 60k points post from the credit card offer. If I buy 15k points, I assume i will get the new top status that may or may not come with the fee paying card?