Yes, The Sign-Up Bonus On The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card Looks Impressive…But It’s Not For Everyone


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Chase and IHG appear to be making an extra effort to push the IHG Rewards Premier credit card right now as, not only have old IHG Rewards credit card holders been receiving upgrade offers, Chase has also launched a huge sign-up offer for new applicants.

Still, amongst all the excitement that the new sign-up offer has generated, I’d like to urge caution – this isn’t just a case of an amazing sign-up offer that everyone should jump on.

The New BIG Chase IHG Premier Card Sign-Up Offer

For a “limited time” Chase is offering an impressive-looking 125,000 points bonus for anyone who successfully applies for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit and…here comes the most impressive bit…Chase will also award new cardholders 40 points per dollar on all IHG spending for the first 12 months they hold the card.

I value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.4 cents each, so the sign-up bonus is effectively offering a one-off bonus worth $500 and a 16% rebate on all IHG spending in the first year…and that all sounds great.

There are, however, two big issues that need to be considered…and they need to be considered together.

Firstly, there’s the issue of the IHG Rewards Club and, secondly, there’s the issue of Chase’s 5/24 rule which restricts the number of cards the card issuer will allow people to open.

Whichever way you look at it, IHG Rewards Club is not a very good loyalty program – its elite benefits are mostly very poor (and often ignored) and it is a program which has significantly devalued its award chart time and time again over recent years.

This is the program which essentially ruined its PointsBreaks awards in 2018 and is the program which has increased the cost of its top-tier properties from 50,000 to 70,000 points per night in just a few years (and has recently allowed some properties to start charging as much as 100,000 points/night).

While the cost of booking IHG’s top-tier properties has skyrocketed, some properties have become almost unbookable with points

As it’s highly likely that we’ll see another devaluation to the IHG Rewards award chart in January 2020 (a little over 4 months away), anyone not using the 125,000 point sign-up bonus before then will almost certainly get less value out of it thereafter and, more importantly, will also get less value out of the 40 points/dollar that cardholders will earn at IHG properties.

On top of all this looms the specter of Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Chase generally restricts people from applying for most of its credit cards if they have opened 5 or more cards in the preceding 24 months (this applies to all credit cards which appear on your credit score, not just Chase-issued credit cards), so this makes it important (for anyone considering applying for Chase credit cards) to be careful what other cards they apply for.

If you haven’t applied for many (any) credit cards over the past few years then this may not be a consideration for you but, ultimately, its unwise to “waste” an application on a poor credit card (and therefore increase the number of cards Chase will see you have applied for) if it may exclude you from applying for other, considerably better, Chase credit cards in the future.

Should You Apply For The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card?

The key to making a sensible decision about whether or not to sign-up for the IHG Rewards Premier card is honesty – you have to be brutally honest with yourself when considering what this card will offer you.

Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • How easily will you be able to hit the $3,000 spending requirement to earn the 125,000 point bonus? Will it be a stretch? If yes, then applying for this credit card may not be a good idea.
  • Will you be able to get good/great value out of the 125,000 points before the near-inevitable devaluation in January? If not, do you have a plan to get value thereafter?
  • Will you really spend enough money with IHG in the first year you hold the IHG Rewards Premier credit card to make the 40 points/dollar earnings a true benefit? (I strongly suspect that most people will overestimate just how much they’ll spend with IHG)
  • How many new cards have you applied for (and got) in the last 24 months? Are you in danger of pushing the limits of Chase’s 5/24 rule?
  • Are you sure that if you get the IHG Rewards Premier credit card you won’t be excluded from applying for other Chase credit cards for a considerable period of time?
  • If you will be excluded, are you sure there are no other Chase credit cards that would offer you better value than the IHG Rewards Premier credit card?

If you come up with positive answers to all (or at least most) of those questions, then perhaps this is a credit card you should be considering…but I suspect a lot of people who read this blog may not be able to be quite as positive as they’d like to be.

Bottom Line

As impressive as the sign-up bonus numbers look, I don’t think this is a credit for me and I don’t think it’s a credit card that will be worth it for a lot of readers either.

The 125,000 point sign-up bonus looks good but won’t get you more than a single night (plus change) at a good number of IHG’s top properties and, while the 40 points/dollar earnings look very good too, I suspect most people won’t earn as many points out of it as they’d like to think.

With Chase frequently publishing sign-up bonuses worth at least $1,000 on cards which offer considerably more everyday value than the IHG Rewards Premium card (e.g. the current offer on the Ink Preferred Business card) you should be very sure of the value that the IHG Rewards Premier credit card will offer you if an application for it would potentially prevent you from applying for further Chase cards in the next 12 – 24 months.

Please think long and hard about just how much this card is worth to you before applying because, unless you spend a lot of time (and money) at IHG properties, this isn’t as good a credit card as it may appear.

1 COMMENT

  1. I completely agree with your analysis and have decided this card is not for me. Aside from higher end IHG brands, I don’t care for their hotels. After I use my last uncapped night from the old IHG credit card, I am cancelling that card. I don’t care if the annual fee is low. I have no desire to redeem a free night for a Holiday Inn Express stay. IHG has killed most good U.S. redemptions.

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