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Is the IHG One Rewards Premier card worth the annual fee?

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

Every year, you should evaluate what’s in your wallet and decide which cards you’re keeping. Typically, it’s best to make that decision before the next annual fee is due.

Among the things you should consider are how much the annual fee costs and what kind of value you’re getting out of a card. And remember, even if a card has a lower annual fee, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s worth keeping.

The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card is a popular hotel card with a $99 annual fee — but is it worth a place in your wallet? Here’s what you should know before choosing.

Welcome offer

New applicants for the IHG Premier card can earn 165,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases on the card in the first three months from account opening. TPG values this bonus at $825.



Note that you can’t get this bonus if you currently have a personal IHG credit card (such as the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card) or if you’ve received a welcome bonus on any IHG personal credit card in the past 24 months.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

You can redeem your points for luxury stays at hotels like the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort or budget-friendly properties like the Holiday Inn Agra — the city where you can visit the Taj Mahal. The price you see when searching for hotels will be the number of points required per night.

Annual free night award

On each account anniversary, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 40,000 points, valid for bookings with IHG One Rewards. If you want to redeem it for a hotel that costs more, you can also purchase points.

Related: How to use the IHG Rewards anniversary night certificate

This free night award can be used for $200 in value without much effort. Thus, this benefit alone could justify the card’s annual fee of $99.

$50 in United TravelBank credit

In January and July, you’ll receive $25 credits to your United TravelBank balance. These funds can be used to purchase flights operated by United and United Express. These funds can reduce your out-of-pocket costs when buying cash fares although they do have limitations.

You can’t use these funds to pay taxes and fees on award travel, and you can’t combine TravelBank funds with vouchers from canceled flights. You also can’t use these funds for inflight purchases.

Automatic status

You’ll enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with the IHG One Premier card. This is the second-highest tier in IHG One Rewards.

room view Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman

Benefits at this level include complimentary upgrades at check-in (based on availability), guaranteed room availability, a welcome amenity of snacks or drinks, early check-in, use of a priority check-in desk and earning 16 points per dollar total on paid stays with IHG.

TPG values Platinum Elite status at $1,290 per year.

Fourth night free on award stays

IHG cardholders also can use the “fourth night free” benefit when redeeming points for award stays with IHG.

When using points to cover a stay of four nights or more, each fourth night is free. The value of this benefit will vary, based on how often you use it and the price of the hotels where you use it.

Other perks

On top of earning 16 points per dollar on paid stays at IHG (thanks to your Platinum Elite status), you’ll also earn 10 points per dollar at IHG when paying with the Premier card.

Additionally, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel, hotels, gas stations and dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3 points per dollar on other purchases. That amounts to a 5%, 2.5% and 1.5% return on spending, respectively, based on our valuations.

Other key benefits include reimbursement (once every four years) for your application fee to Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus and a 20% discount on points purchases, though this can’t be added to other sales on IHG points.

You’ll also earn a $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

The IHG One Premier card also offers valuable travel and shopping protections. You’ll enjoy trip cancellation/interruption insurance, purchase protection, rental car insurance (which is secondary in the U.S. but primary coverage elsewhere), lost luggage reimbursement and extended warranty coverage.

Bottom line

If you can use this card’s perks for average value (or better), you should have no problem justifying its annual fee and keeping it in your wallet.

But if your IHG stays are infrequent and you don’t take advantage of the cardholder benefits that come with the IHG Premier card, then the $99 annual fee may not be worth it for you.

Read our full review of the IHG One Rewards Premier here.

Apply here: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card