Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

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.


IHG Rewards Club update – December 2020:

Get bonus points: IHG’s current promotion is ‘2x’, which runs until 15th December 2020. You can learn more in our article here. You can register here using promo code 44480.

New to IHG Rewards Club?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards Club here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards Club points, you can buy them here.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (98)

  • 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.

    • Neil says:

      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!

  • Paul says:

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

  • Roger says:

    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.

  • 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.

  • AndyS says:

    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

  • Brian says:

    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.

    Thanks