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Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier Card

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 3/3/2021 Katie Genter
a body of water surrounded by trees © Provided by The Points Guy
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information. 

Annual fees are a necessary cost for many of the best rewards credit cards. When a credit card annual fee comes due, I typically weigh the card’s perks against its cost. But especially with my decreased travel patterns recently, it can be difficult to justify paying the annual fee on even the best travel rewards cards.

When evaluating my cards, I consider the value of the points I earn from spending on the card and its benefits. But although I rarely put any spending on the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, I never consider axing it when its annual fee posts. Instead, I happily pay its $89 annual fee without a second thought.

After all, the IHG Premier Card offers one perk each year that easily provides more than $89 of value by itself: an anniversary night.

Even if you only stay in hotels a few times each year, or don’t particularly like the IHG Rewards program, this anniversary night easily justifies the IHG Premier’s annual fee each year. Here’s why keeping the IHG Premier is an obvious choice for me.

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In This Post

Anniversary night

© The Points Guy

IHG Premier cardholders get an anniversary night each year on the 12-month anniversary of their account opening. This anniversary night is valid for one night at an IHG hotel that costs 40,000 points or less.

Typically, you must redeem your anniversary night and complete your stay within 12 months from when IHG issued the night. However, IHG has relaxed this policy on some anniversary nights. In particular, anniversary night certificates:

  • Initially set to expire in 2020 will be valid until Aug. 31, 2021
  • Initially set to expire in 2021 will be valid until Dec. 31, 2021
  • Issued in 2020 will offer an 18-month redemption period

How much are anniversary nights worth?

Even though you can only use the IHG Premier’s anniversary night for a night costing 40,000 points or less, you can still get a lot of value each year. After all, based on TPG’s valuation of IHG Rewards points at 0.5 cents each, a night costing 40,000 IHG points is worth about $200. But, as I discovered recently, IHG points are currently worth a lot more and many excellent hotels are now bookable for less than 40,000 points per night thanks to IHG’s dynamic award pricing.

For example, my mother-in-law used her anniversary night to stay in downtown Savannah at the Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District one weekend when cash rates topped $300 per night. Although the rates are slightly lower now for a random weekend night I searched, she could still get great value using another anniversary night at this hotel.

graphical user interface, text: (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

Perhaps my favorite IHG property yet, the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort, currently costs between 27,500 and 32,500 per night for award nights this November and December. As such, if you’re able to visit Vietnam later this year, you may be able to use your anniversary night certificate at this unique InterContinential resort.

graphical user interface, website: (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

And, speaking of excellent InterContinental resorts in Vietnam, I recently used two 40,000-point anniversary night certificates to book award nights at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. This property prices as high as 70,000 points on some nights, so I’m thrilled I found a few 40,000-point nights that were bookable with anniversary night certificates.

graphical user interface, website: (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

Even if you’re looking to stay domestic, it’s still possible to get excellent value from your IHG Premier anniversary night certificates. For example, there are currently many New York City options bookable for 40,000 points per night or less. However, just know that many of the best New York City hotels you can book with the anniversary night certificate charge amenity fees (also known as resort fees).

graphical user interface: Many New York City hotels are currently bookable for 40,000 points or less on Aug. 20, 2021. Here are a few of these hotels. (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards) © The Points Guy Many New York City hotels are currently bookable for 40,000 points or less on Aug. 20, 2021. Here are a few of these hotels. (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

If you’re looking to save on a Disney World trip, there are also many appealing Orlando hotels bookable for 40,000 points or less on select dates. For example, you may be able to snag the Holiday Inn Orlando-Disney Springs Area or a Holiday Inn Club Vacations property using an anniversary night certificate.

graphical user interface, text, application: Some Orlando IHG hotels are currently bookable for 40,000 points or less on Aug. 20, 2021. (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards) © The Points Guy Some Orlando IHG hotels are currently bookable for 40,000 points or less on Aug. 20, 2021. (Screenshot courtesy of IHG Rewards)

Regardless of how you use your IHG Premier anniversary night certificate, you’re likely to get at least $89 worth of value from it. As the examples above show, you’re certainly not limited to Candlewood Suites and Holiday Inn Express properties. Instead, there are plenty of InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Kimpton and voco properties that are bookable with your anniversary night certificate on select dates.

Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Fourth night reward perk

a stone building: IHG Premier cardholders could get a fourth night reward at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa when staying on points. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy IHG Premier cardholders could get a fourth night reward at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa when staying on points. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

The anniversary night will provide enough value to justify the IHG Premier’s $89 annual fee for most cardholders. But, for frequent award travelers who often stay with IHG for four nights or longer per stay, IHG’s fourth night reward may provide even more value than the anniversary night.

In particular, IHG’s fourth night reward benefit means you’ll pay zero points for every fourth night when booking standard room reward night stays of four or more nights. This benefit is only available to IHG Premier and IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card cardholders. And unlike the anniversary reward night, you can use the fourth night reward perk on an unlimited number of stays each year. Plus, you’ll get the fourth night reward benefit as soon as your IHG Premier or IHG Traveler card is linked to your IHG account.

The fourth night reward benefit is the most valuable perk of the IHG Premier card for me. After all, my husband JT (who has his own IHG Premier card) and I used the fourth night reward perk on 11 award stays in 2019 to save 185,000 IHG points. Based on TPG’s valuations, the points we saved are worth about $925. And we already have eight fourth night rewards booked for travel in mid to late 2021.

Related: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status

a group of palm trees next to a pool of water: IHG Platinum Elite status might snag you a pool view villa if you’d booked into a garden view. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy IHG Platinum Elite status might snag you a pool view villa if you’d booked into a garden view. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Another valuable benefit of the IHG Premier card is IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status. You’ll keep IHG Platinum Elite status for as long as you remain an IHG Premier cardmember and your IHG membership account remains in good standing.

The main benefits you’ll get from IHG Platinum Elite status are space-available room upgrades, bonus points on paid stays, late check-out and a welcome amenity. Although I’d like to see IHG improve its loyalty program in several ways, I’ve had fair success asking for upgraded rooms at check-in and securing late check-out when needed as a Platinum Elite member. Plus, thanks to the 50% point bonus offered to Platinum Elite members, I earn 15 points per dollar spent with most IHG brands when I book paid stays directly with IHG.

Related: Why I often choose IHG and Choice hotels, despite limited elite perks

Other valuable benefits

a group of people in a room: You’ll earn bonus points on your purchase when you use your IHG Premier Card at the David InterContinental Tel Aviv . (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy You’ll earn bonus points on your purchase when you use your IHG Premier Card at the David InterContinental Tel Aviv . (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

The IHG Premier Card also provides several other valuable perks. For example, the IHG Premier earns 10 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts, which is a return of 5% based on TPG’s valuations. A 5% return on IHG stays is pretty good if you don’t have a better-earning card for general travel expenses, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The IHG Premier also offers two points per dollar spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Plus, the IHG Premier also offers the following benefits:

  • Save 20% on point purchases when you purchase points with your card
    • You can’t combine this discount with any other points purchase offers. So, you’ll typically do better waiting for an IHG buy points promotion instead of saving 20% through this perk.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for an application fee charged to your card
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year
  • Cell phone protection of $800 per claim and $1,000 per year for phones listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay the bill with your card (maximum of two claims in 12 months, with a $50 deductible per claim)
  • Shopping protections when you use your card:
    • Purchase protection that covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
    • Extended warranty protection that extends the time of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less
  • Travel protections when you use your card:
    • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance that may reimburse you up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations
    • Baggage delay insurance that may reimburse you up to $100 a day for three days for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing if your baggage is delayed over six hours by a passenger carrier
    • Lost luggage reimbursement that covers up to $3,000 per passenger if you or an immediate family member’s checked or carry-on luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier
    • Auto rental collision damage waiver when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is for theft and collision damage in the U.S. and abroad. But in the U.S., coverage is secondary to your insurance.

Related: Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others?

Bottom line

Two benefits of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card — the anniversary night certificate valid for a night costing 40,000 points or less and the fourth night reward perk — can each individually justify the $89 annual fee for me.

However, even infrequent travelers or travelers who are generally loyal to other brands should easily be able to get more than $89 worth of value from the IHG Premier card each year solely due to the anniversary night. If you assume you can get more than $89 of value from a night at an IHG property each year, paying the IHG Premier’s annual fee should be an easy choice.

Featured photo of the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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