If Chase and IHG want new customers (or retain their loyal cardholders) of the IHG Premier Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, there’s something I think may help them:
Uncap the free anniversary night restriction.
Once upon a time, there was an IHG Rewards Club Select Mastercard. It charged a $49 annual fee and carried a fantastic perk: one free anniversary night starting your second year of membership at any IHG hotel — cheap or expensive.
Want to treat yourself to the InterContinental Resort Tahiti Hotel in Faa’a? Enjoy! Need a place to sleep in Bakersfield? Sweet dreams, my friend.
Pretty great, right? René praised it as “one of the best ever travel cards.” Any travel enthusiast with half a brain owned an IHG Select card.
Both my wife and I loved our cards — simply for the welcome bonus and free nights. We had no problem paying the $49 annual fee. I didn’t even bother with retention calls when our annual fees posted.
The company limited the perk to hotels valued at 40,000 points a night. Many cardholders were disappointed. But such a good deal had to end at some point, right?
So Chase and IHG introduced their Rewards Club Premier Credit Card last summer (and discontinued new applications for the IHG Select). The product carried an $89 annual fee. We hoped against hope that the Premier would have an uncapped bonus night.
But no. It’s still locked at 40,000 points. (For what it’s worth, IHG extended free night certificates this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
But if Chase and IHG still care about this card — and want more members — I think it’s time to uncap the free night perk. At least for a while.
The IHG Premier Rewards Club Premier Credit Card doesn’t waive the $89 annual fee for a cardholder’s first year. That immediately puts coins in the coffers of IHG and Chase.
And new cardholders receive 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within three months of being approved. So the swipe fees give Chase a little scratch. And IHG benefits because Chase buys Rewards Club points from IHG.
Granted, that money alone won’t dig a corporation out of a recession.
But when the anniversary night benefit kicks in, someone who signs up for the card today will spend $178 in annual fees over two years. Spread that across a bunch of new cardholders and that adds up to something better than the current economic situation. Last I heard, IHG had to cut about $150 million in costs.
But finding — and keeping — loyal customers certainly means something to recoup some of those numbers.
So here are a few reasons I think it’d behoove IHG to uncap the anniversary night.
Not Everyone Uses Their Award
I personally know four people who signed up for IHG cards and planned to use the award each year — but didn’t because their schedules didn’t permit. Or they forgot. Multiple times. That’s their responsibility, to be sure. You snooze, you lose.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say those four aren’t the only people who wasted their certificates.
According to a Bankrate survey earlier this year, “more than half (55%) of rewards credit cardholders who pay their bills in full each month are missing out on rewards because they are opting to use cash or debit instead.”
So the gamble might be worth it to IHG.
Not Everyone Maximizes Their Award
There have been a couple of times when it became apparent I wouldn’t use my IHG card free night award somewhere fancy.
So I redeemed it for an airport hotel the night before an early morning flight. I still saved money in the long run and got some extra sleep. Heck, we had an expiring free night and cashed it in at a Holiday Inn near Disneyland (we joke that we got our money’s worth). But, honestly, free was better than anything else in that neighborhood. And even though the place was disappointing, it saved us a lot of time and money.
People Spend Money at Hotels
One time, my wife and I used an anniversary night certificate at the InterContinental-ANA The Strings Tokyo. (We highly recommend this fantastic property, which also boasts an amazing location. And it has a pond spanning most of the lobby floor because why not?).
We spoiled ourselves and spent some time inside the hotel. We bought breakfast at a hotel restaurant. I enjoyed a cocktail at the bar before we went out to dinner in Shinjuku. So we happily gave some money back to the hotel.
Even when we stayed at the Holiday Inn & Suites Anaheim, we paid for and ate a great dinner at their restaurant.
Not everyone spends money on spa treatments and stuff like that. But many of us are known to drop a few bucks on high-margin goods — like food and beverage.
The unrestricted free night benefit was a fantastic perk for the IHG Select card. Frankly, that and its welcome bonus helped create some loyal IHG Rewards Club members. But constant program devaluations are officially tiresome — and show a disdain for loyalty.
It’s time for IHG to reinstate the uncapped free night award.
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