Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard

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

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.

Key links: IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard application form

Key facts: £99 annual fee

The representative APR is 45.1% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

About the IHG Premium credit 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, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, Regent, voco, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

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 IHG Premium credit card 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 100 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 IHG Premium credit card 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 John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% 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 IHG Premium 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.  Representative APR 21.9% 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.

It is worth noting that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into IHG Rewards Club points at a 1:1 ratio.

This means that instead of getting this card, you could get the £160 Virgin Atlantic credit card and transfer the points from Virgin Flying Club into IHG Rewards Club.  There are four big downsides to this, however:

  • you would not receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status
  • you would not receive the free night voucher for spending £10,000
  • the earning rate is lower (1.5 per £1 on the free Virgin Atlantic card vs 2 per £1 on the IHG Premium card)
  • points transferred from Virgin Atlantic do NOT count towards IHG status, whereas points earned on the IHG Premium card do

The upside is increased flexibility.  As well as transfers to IHG, you would have the option of using your points for flights with Virgin Atlantic and its partners.  As Virgin Flying Club miles can also be transferred to Hilton Honors at 2:3, you would have Hilton as an alternative hotel transfer option.

Our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is here.

Conclusion

As a sign-up bonus, 20,000 IHG Rewards Club 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.

For some people, the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card may be more attractive, since it effectively allows you to earn Virgin Flying Club miles or IHG Rewards Club points or Hilton Honors points.  However, you would be missing out on the free night voucher and Platinum Elite status and the earning rate is lower.

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: £30 deal for Glasgow's Lomond Lounge, £50 cashback at Bicester (plus miles!), 30% off Marriott Bonvoy points
Credit & Charge Card Reviews (9): IHG Rewards Club Mastercard

Head for Points is sponsored by:

Magazine montage

Up to 30% off in Hilton's Winter Sale

Click here to find out more and book

Click here to join the 14,500 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
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. The Original David says:

    Does anyone know what the process is for “upgrading” from the free IHG card to this one? Am I eligible for the sign-up bonus? Do I need to cancel the free one before applying for the premium? Or can they do an Amex-style upgrading of my existing account if I ring them up?

    • I don’t know if this is standard practice, or a fluke, but i recently signed up for the premium card while i had [still have] the standard IHG card and i recieved all the perks with no issue.

      I received the welcome bonus and both cards simultaneously deposit the points into my IHG account.

      My IHG status automatically upgraded to Platinum from Gold.

      Only thing i would say [which may be wrong] is it might be worth hanging on until the new year to apply, as then your Platinum status will run until end of 2021, rather than end of 2020 – assuming you don’t renew the card.

      • P.s. i just applied online and entered all my details as normal. I didn’t call Creation or anything. Everything just automatically sorted itself out after i was approved.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Not a fluke, they’re happy for you to hold both concurrently, and you receive the signup bonus on both.

    • They’re discrete products, can be held concurrently and holding one does not impact any bonus on the other.

  2. If you are converting Virgin points to IHG at a rate of 1:1 then you would get 0.75 points per £ with the free card and not 1.5 as the bullet point in the article suggests, wouldn’t you?

    • Correct, but then in the bit above it mentions paying a £160 fee for the Virgin card so I assume he meant the paid for, not free, card, which does give 1.5 points per £ spend.

  3. letBAgonesbe says:

    I had this card about a year ago.
    *Can I reapply and get the 20,000 points bonus?
    *What is the Curve situation? When I stopped using this card, Creation started to be very good at not giving points on most ‘Financial transactions’ (top up Nutmeg, paying off other credit cards etc…)

  4. I’m sure a comment was made on an article the other day that the free night voucher now has a points value limit?

  5. Alastair Actually says:

    I got this card in February and will get my first free night voucher in January, which I hope to use on a city break in Q1.

    What IHG hotels in London do people recommend to get the most value out of the voucher? Any suggestions for other city break destinations easily accessible from Edinburgh?

    • We got George Hotel in George Street last hogmanay on the voucher. Also sneaked breakfast for 4.

      To get value redemptions you need to be looking at booking 4+ months ahead.

    • We have an article on best IHG hotel in London if you search. EDI now has an IC and Rhys will be reviewing the Kimpton soon.

      Quick trip to IC Amsterdam is a good idea.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        Intercontinental or Kimpton. We have used both. I thought the Intercontinental edged it. A ton of cash has been spent at the Kimpton. We had a reward night on a high floor. Looking at the painted wooden window frames I doubt it will look good for long. I think the Intercontinental location a bit better.

    • memesweeper says:

      Kimpton London is great if you can dodge their smallest rooms.

  6. “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.”

    A delayed business trip means I just miss that one, for this year :-(. It’s a good product, but in my experience it sometimes does not work well as a credit card. This is the card I find most likely to get security blocked for spurious reasons (typically when I’m well within my pattern of usage – but using the card for a Didi ride , in Shanghai, did not attract any suspicion).. Also, it doesn’t play with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.