Credit & Charge Card Reviews (9): IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard

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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 Experian Credit Score.

(EDIT: this review was updated in February 2019 and all of the data was correct as of that date)

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 Bonvoy card.  This is no longer available to new applicants but is expected to return soon.

There are two versions of this card. I reviewed the free IHG Rewards Club credit card here. The Premium card is a far more interesting proposition, especially if you are a high spender.

IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard review

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 to 15,000 points per night. The sign-up bonus would get you up to four free nights if you redeemed it during one of these promotions.

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 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 including tax. On that basis, an IHG Rewards Club point is worth about 0.4p based on a 60,000 or 70,000 point redemption for a room in an InterContinental in a major city.

2 points per £1, using my valuation, 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 Amazon Platinum Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 21.9% 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.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

Yes, to the extent that you earn double points (4 per £1) on foreign spend.

However, as Creation adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months, with no fee.  Representative APR 19.9% variable.

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 no longer count towards status.


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 who will trigger the free night each year.

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.

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  1. Regarding Curve and IHG Premium, I’m away in Bali at the moment and everything but cash withdrawals are working without hitch. Cash withdrawals are being routinely denied, switching to HSBC WE is working for these though. Looks like some tweaks by Creation or maybe it’s just a coincidence.

    • That’s right they won’t let this continue so get in as many withdrawals now as you can to ensure you put enough through the card to reach Spire Elite and qualify for the free night. Don’t worry about curve limits nobody is counting. I am. Hitting all my. Other cards hard now too as this will soon come to an end so max out it. Is.

    • I had a cash withdrawal declined the other day with Curve linked to HH card. Will try again but surely they should be notifying customers if they are deliberately restricting withdrawals when the Ts and Cs say you can still do this?

      • RussellH says:


        You posted yesterday about forward planning for retirement and how this might affect your points earning.
        I only saw it this morning and replied at some length.
        But TBH, my own experience suggests that you should not have any problems.

    • Steve-B says:

      Far more declines now on cash and business service transactions over the past month. Obvious they are tweaking their algorithms and limits, but as @Anna says, not always logical.

      • Definitely something up with Curve/IHG. Payment to a Bristol-based investment company (which used to work) now does not work (tried £1k, £250 and £150 – all blocked). Then straight away a £200 payment to a Brighton-based company went through without issue so they’re not blocking all financial transactions…

    • I’ve not been able to pay a Brighton based company for several weeks now whereas I was previously using IHG premium or JLP as my funding card, GBIT had worked initially but now that won’t work either. Just when I was getting close to Spire level…

  2. How soon after the first year anniversary should the voucher appear in your IHG account assuming you’ve spent £10,000?

  3. Alastair says:

    Can you apply for the premium card and earn the bonus when you already have the white IHG card?

  4. MichaelG says:

    It’s an easy way to earn status reasonably cheaply and converts to other status matches pretty favourably (matched to Hilton platinum with it). I have found creation difficult to deal with though

    • +1 matching IHG Plat to Hilton plat worked (with a challenge).
      Need to be careful to stop using the card after 11th statement so can cancel with the free night and without paying £99 fee again

  5. I have this card but will not renew. Creation are hopeless and rather hard work for simple things. There is no app so Apple Pay and no ability to download transactions to personal finance software. Not allowing access to the free night till the end of the year is an act of desperation.

  6. Sorry not IHG but Amex related..
    Can you refer to the basic Amex Membership Credit Card from Platinum?
    Does not seem to appear as an option,all the others but this..

    • Genghis says:

      Specifically excluded in terms, isn’t it?

    • There are no referral bonuses for the basic card hence it’s absence. From the T&C:
      “You will receive xxx if your friend or family member uses the Referral Programme to apply for a card (other than a Basic Card)”

  7. Brighton Belle says:

    I won’t be cancelling my IHG card. So useful for keeping up my excel skills. Every month: copy/paste transactions into a spreadsheet. Search and replace out various text strings to derive a sortable transaction csv file. Then convert to different file formats. Asked a Creation several times to give customers a bog standard csv file of transactions but they just don’t care. Indifferent to users needs.

    • Lady London says:


      I found Creation never seemed to act consistently when I had a storecard card with them. I looked at getting a storecard with another store. When I found out it was run by Creation, I decided not to do it!

    • You could probably automate that with a macro.

  8. Anybody tried to put money into Interactive Investor with Curve and IHG card? Used to work but all transactions seem to be blocked now. Any ideas why?
    Is this being seen as a cash withdrawal?

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I get system messages now that the Curve Card is not permitted on several financial transactions that require a debit card. It seems to be getting picked out as problematical.

    • Joseph Heenan says:

      What size transaction? I called Creation about various transactions being declined and they said there’s a hard limit for ‘cash like’ transaction of a few hundred pounds per day. (They told me the exact amount but I can’t remember.)

      • There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it – I got £7.99 declined but a short time later £100 accepted to the same institution!

        • I’m definitely getting this for paying Amex as well. £150 per day *usually* goes through, but like you I occasionally get random denials. Likelihood seems to vary with time of day, but maybe I’m just imagining that.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        £10 was rejected. Curve not accepted

      • Small amounts blocked like £50

        • Benylin says:

          Agree super inconsistent, sometimes £7 works, sometimes £150 works. Annoying!

          Are things like ig / plus 500 counted as cash withdrawals? Never explored this

  9. The IHG website suggests Platinum Elites do get an upgrade?

    • Often, but to one notch up which has slightly better amenities e.g. in HI get the executive room which is £5 more than basic and gives complementary bottles of water and bathrobes.

      • Crowne Plazas give lounge access which is a benefit if you can be there during the 1 hour they have the bottle of white wine unlocked. So not as good as Hilton Gold/Diamond.

        • Which CPs give lounge access to Plat? Many don’t even give it to Spire and some which used to have stopped.

        • Spire are supposed to have a choice of Club Lounge access, free drink or points not for platinum so you should be lucky to get club access in that case.

          Some club lounges in Europe have a full bar available not the 1 hour slot

        • Some do, it’s not a standard benefit though – depends on the property, many don’t.

    • Not guaranteed. Spire elites often don’t get upgrades!

      • Lady London says:

        So can anyone explain the benefits of Spire?

        The IC Ambassador status, even though it needs to be paid for, seems to be a package well worth looking at if you stay in the odd Intercontinental. Whereas I can’t see what Spire gets you… can anyone?

        • Brighton Belle says:

          I got Spire after putting a car on IHG. Spire delivers little benefit. When the Marriot card arrives I think that will get the spend. I used Spire to get a Hilton Diamond challenge. But I don’t see much benefit of Diamond over Gold via Amex Platinum. I expected lots of lovely drinks and nibbles in the free entry Executive Lounges. But now I discover there aren’t many Hilton’s with them. My first 8 Hiltons had no lounge. 3 wouldn’t give me a drinks voucher instead. I got a bit spoilt by Hilton Bankside and Tower Bridge on previous trips but it turns out they are the standout properties. Most UK Hilton’s seem a rather faded experience. I should probably try beyond Brexitannia’s sunny uplands.

        • Lady London says:

          Well done on the car @Brighton Belle. I wonder what IHG would think if they hear people are only getting Spire status in order to match it elsewhere?

        • @Brighton Belle – yep don’t expect much in the UK – London Metropole has Exec Lounge, and a few others do (Glasgow is a stand-out example, newly done and very nice) but generally only so-so. Much better further afield, had some amazing spreads at Conrad Singapore, decent offerings in a number of German properties, lovely lounge in Tallinn, etc. Don’t expect much in US because it’s even cheaper/easier to get credit card status there! I do like being guaranteed access as Diamond though, even if not upgraded. Some properties do give Diamonds some pretty good treatment, mainly in the Far East.

        • OT and thread hijack (sorry): which car dealerships take cards? I’m buying at the moment and the stuttgart company doesn’t take more than £1-2k. Where’s my previous purchase at a Munich company allowed the full whack on Amex.

  10. Jovanna says:

    OT: I’m trying to combine my Avios. I’m trying to move from BA to IB. As soon as the landing page opens – the one that loads immediately after selecting ‘Combine My Avios’ from the left hand side options, and not the one after you’ve entered your IB information – I get a banner at the top:

    ‘Sorry, you are not eligible to combine your Avios
    Please refer to the Combine my Avios terms as you may be able to resolve the problem’

    What’s happening there? I’ve never had an issue before. I’m in a HHA but I was in a HHA last time I transferred. I assume this may be something post the Avios/BA account merger?

    How do I make the transfer?

  11. Do you need to spend the free night voucher within a time limit once it’s issued.

  12. The date of expiry for your Free Night voucher can be found on your IHG statement page or next to the “Available to redeem” section of the app.

  13. RussellH says:

    OT but IHG Rewards Club.

    Most of us here complain, quite rightly, about poor CS.
    So I thought it only right to give some credit where it is due too!

    A recent stay showed on my IHG a/c as ‘non-qualifying’. I used the missing points link to complain last night and got the auto response e-mail at 2057. Got a second e-mail at 2214 with an apology, and a note that the points had been credited (calculated on the VAT inclusive price).
    A quick check of my a/c showed that the points were showing, and the stay was also showing on my current Accelerate page.
    If only they could be like this all the time!

    • I find IHG support good for following up bad experiences at their hotels which in the case of Holiday Inn is quite often, not so much at Crowne Plaza

  14. RussellH says:

    Just got my 500 Avios from my BA Amex.

    Turning out to be a good day!

    • FlyUpTop says:

      When did you make your spend requirements?

      • RussellH says:

        One was the day after the offer appeared in my offers. A second qualifying transaction around a week later, so long after the ‘within 5 days’ timescale, but well within the backstop of 90 days from 30 November.

  15. I’ve had fun with Creation this year. I made a payment of £1,000 into my Premium IHG card via bank transfer. My bank screwed up the payment and managed to pay it twice. Bank refunded one of the payments back to my current account within 24 hours admitting the mistake, and I rang Creation to explain what happened, and suggested to them that they owed my bank £1,000. I explained the situation in plain English more than once, but the guy I spoke to didn’t understand and suggested I call back the following day. I said I wasn’t going to do that, it was no longer my problem. He put me onto someone else. I explained again but came away unconvinced that they understood what they needed to do. Sure enough, the £1,000 was still sitting there. 3 months later, my bank rang me and asked if I could speak to Creation again as they were having trouble getting the money back. I did, but the money still sits there, and that was 4 months ago.

    So in theory I’m £1,000 up, despite telling Creation several times that they need to refund the money to my bank. For whatever reason they seem incapable of doing that. No idea what the situation is now, but I feel I’ve done everything I can (short of paying the money directly back to my bank, which they’ve not suggested, and I’m obviously not chasing them to do that). I’ve even kept my card £1,000+ in credit for all this time in anticipation of the money being taken out at some point. Guess we’ll see what happens, but it’s been almost 8 months now.

    • Shoestring says:

      You need to wait about 6 years to feel comfortable

    • Yeah not your problem but expect that they will claim it back at some point, as had a payment received randomly once and then taken out 10 months later without even a letter from my bank which is actually required

      • Genghis says:

        A fintech co I no longer use mucked up a few years ago and basically refunded all monies I had ever topped up to the underlying card. Did well out of that one.

        • Shoestring says:

          I got a free i3 computer by mistake once! [trying to join the conversation!]

    • the_real_a says:

      If you really want to deal with the situation, you would need to open a dual complaint with Financial Ombudsman against both your bank and creation. The risk of not doing something IMO is that further down the line someone screws up the reversal adversely effecting you and then the associated hassle with sorting it out.

      I once had this, the reversal was treat like a fraud clawback which immediately suspended my credit card account and because the clawback then put me over my “limit” caused a credit file issue. Sure, i got a large amount of compensation but it took 8 months to sort out… Luckily i didn’t need a mortgage or the like during this period.

    • Lady London says:

      Can’t you just give them formal recorded notice to take it back within x (> 13) days, otherwise you’ll consdier the money yours?

      Apparently the law works that way with mis-delivered parcels if it gets to that point. So why not money?

  16. Doog1000 says:

    Hi Sorry another OT Curve question:

    Have had no problem paying off Amex and Lloyds using curve linked to Virgin, Hilton and IHG.
    Has anyone tried paying off the underlying credit cards using curve and the same underlying card – eg pay off virgin mastercard by curve linked to virgin mastercard?
    Data points gratefully received

    • I thought financial payments through Curve weren’t allowed?

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I think Curve will take a dim view of cash recycling. See their T’s & C’s. We have probably all thought of that but prefer to keep the card than be shut down.

    • Are you insane?

      You sound insane, or at the very least determined to lose both your virgin and curve accounts…

    • Genghis says:

      You’ll be fine

    • RussellH says:

      I do not have curve – just seems far too flaky, apart from my not having an android or iOS device – but why would you want to do that?

      Surely you would, in any case, be much safer paying off Virgin with Hilton and Hilton with Virgin??

    • Wally1976 says:

      I’d considered doing this but thought it was taking the p*ss a little too much!

    • the_real_a says:

      This is the equivalent of one night stands with financial institutions….

    • RakishDriver says:

      ” pay off virgin mastercard by curve linked to virgin mastercard?”
      I couldn’t stop laughing at first.
      You sir, have some leftfield thoughts.

    • Lady London says:

      Please see comments below. Sorry but I think the consensus is “Are you nuts?” 🙂

      You are clearly a very creative thinker though ! you’ll discover other opportunities that perhaps can be exploited more discreetly .

    • I’ve done it with IHG and Tesco so crack on.. X

    • People on here been racking up loads of points and status on this one. Kept it quiet but we are all on to it now. Easy money! Anyone wanna buy any IHG points? I’ll sort you out. 0.35?
      No more churning for me. Status and points for a grand

    • Not the best time to do financial transaction right before sleep.

      Reading through this article, I was like, can I pay credit card bill with Curve? So I tried to pay my Lloyds Avios Duo, then only realised my Curve is linked to the same card Avios Duo!! I was like OMG. I immediately use Back in time to charge to IHG Premium, but it failed. Later I managed to back in time to charged to other cards. However, I think I might be screwed now, will see in the next few days.

  17. Doog1000 says:

    thanks Guys – I’m definitely not insane and glad that some people have at least thought of it or done it – datapoints appreciated!

    • Doubt you’ll get many here – not exactly the best topic to discuss! Perhaps just do some legwork yourself?

  18. The free hotel night is not nearly as impressive a benefit when compared with the US’s IHG-branded Chase card which costs nothing but provides a free night for ZERO spend (well, actually I think you need to spend a dollar once a year)

    • Genghis says:

      Isn’t US card currently only giving a 40k night but going back to uncapped next year?

  19. What’s the best order to create a stay which uses the following?

    IHG credit card reward night
    ITC ambassador weekend free night
    Regular points redemptions

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