A number of months back, I began taking a look at some of the best rewards credit card products on the market.
In the UK, you will earn the highest number of reward points be it Avios, Virgin, Etihad or Emirates miles by using an American Express-branded card – end of.
Although acceptance of American Express cards is growing, many smaller shops still don’t take Amex. This means you need a suitably lucrative Visa/MasterCard accompaniment to sit alongside whichever Amex you happen to be using currently.
Today I will be reviewing the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card.
With an IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card you’ll earn 20,000 IHG Rewards Club bonus points when you spend £200 in the first 3 months of opening your account.
For perspective, free nights can be had for as little as 5,000 points per night using the excellent PointBreaks promotions that I’ve covered previously. A free night at a hotel such as the InterContinental Hong Kong (pictured below) will cost 40,000 IHG points.
If you need to top-up your IHG Rewards Club balance, you can always convert some Virgin Atlantic miles. Currently, points transferred via this method do count towards elite status. Which effectively means that you could transfer 75,000 Virgin miles to earn top-tier IHG Rewards Spire Elite status.
The annual fee on this card is £99.
Unlike directly issued American Express cards, this fee is generally not refundable (pro-rata) should you choose to cancel at some point during your card membership year.
Representative 41.5% APR variable and 19.9% p.a (variable) for purchases, based on an annual fee of £195 and an assumed credit limit of £1,200.
Day-to-day earnings rate
The earnings rate for spending on the IHG Premium MasterCard varies as follows:
- Earn 2 points per £1 spent in the UK
- For every £1 you spend at an IHG location you will earn 4 points
- Every £1 that you spend abroad will also earn 4 points
Points earned from card spend are considered elite qualifying points and will count towards earning (further) elite status.
There are a couple of other extras of note with this card.
1.) IHG Platinum Elite status
Platinum is IHG Rewards Club’s mid-tier status and you will retain the status for as long as you hold your card. This is a pretty decent benefit on paper as Platinum status normally requires 40,000 elite qualifying points or 40 qualifying nights in a calendar year.
Platinum members are entitled to various benefits including:
- 50% Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points
- Elite Rollover Nights
- Complimentary Room Upgrades – Subject to availability
- Guaranteed Room Availability – Requires 72 hours advance notice. Guaranteed room availability is not valid for Reward Nights.
2.) Free night voucher
This for me is the perk that will make or break your decision on whether to hold this card or not.
When you spend £10,000 on your card in a year (account anniversary, not calendar year) you will receive a free night voucher which can be used at any IHG property worldwide.
There are no special restrictions on when you can use this voucher – if there is standard reward room availability you can use your voucher.
The only downer is that the voucher isn’t issued immediately upon hitting the £10,000 threshold. Instead, it is awarded on your card anniversary date. When Barclaycard issued this card, the voucher was often available in a matter of weeks after hitting the spend target.
If used properly, this benefit can easily be worth £250-£300.
I most recently redeemed my voucher* at the InterContinental New York Times Square around New Year. The cash rates were £500+ per night which made my £99 annual fee outlay look like incredible value.
* earned when the card was issued by Barclaycard
Is this the right card for me?
Provided you are able to channel £10,000 of spending onto this card a year, this card is one you should be seriously looking at as your points-earning Visa/MasterCard.
The £99 annual fee can easily be compensated for by using the free night voucher at one of many lucrative properties worldwide. Even if you aren’t able to take off too much time from work/travel far, you can treat yourself to a staycation at the InterContinental London Park Lane, InterContinental London The O2 or the InterContinental Dublin.
For me, this card is an excellent option. The free night voucher has the potential for substantial value. The fact that a new voucher can be earned each year is something that Barclaycard should look at with their Hilton Honors Platinum Visa Card in order to entice more people to retain it.
In the first year, you also have the benefit of 20,000 IHG points to further offset the fee. If you don’t currently hold a ‘specialist’ card for spending abroad and were to use this card, 4 IHG points per £1 is an impressive return.
Disclaimer: The above information is intended solely as a helpful guide to the relevant card products on the market and their various features. You should always conduct your own research as the recommendations provided may not be suitable for your personal financial requirements.