Credit Cards

One Thing Chase and IHG Should Do to Attract (or Keep) Its Cobranded Cardholders

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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.

Quick History

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.

But then the IHG hammer dropped.

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.)

Look, I still argue that the IHG Premier card is a good card for some people.

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.

InterContinental San Juan

Liquidity

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.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card https://clicks.surehits.com/ListingDisplay/Click/?I=ZDQ1YWJhN2QtNDBjNS00Y2NkLWFhNGItODM2MmExNDk2Mjhm&U=aHR0cHM6Ly9jbGljay5saW5rc3luZXJneS5jb20vbGluaz9pZD1LQjRxb1NUS2tDOCZvZmZlcmlkPTcyMjU2OC4zMTQ4OCZ0eXBlPTE1Jm11cmw9aHR0cHMlM2ElMmYlMmZjcmVkaXRjYXJkcy5jaGFzZS5jb20lMmZhMSUyZmloZyUyZjE0MGtwcmVtaWVybmFlcCUzZkNFTEwlM2Q2SDhYJnUxPSRjbGlja2tleSQ%3d&SI=OTJjNmQ1ODEtMTE4NS00NjliLTliNzgtZDUzYjFmMTFlNGVh&SDT=NjM3MTUzODAzNDI5OTk0NDE3&T=MQ%3d%3d&ZZ=1579805143

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.

That feeling when you forget to use a free night certificate.
That feeling when you forget to use a free night certificate. (©iStock.com)

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.

A two bed guest room is seen at the Holiday Inn & Suites Anaheim hotel near Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Two-bed guest room at the Holiday Inn & Suites Anaheim (review). InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort it is not.

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?).

Atrium and lobby restaurant at InterContinental ANA The Strings Tokyo.
Atrium and lobby restaurant at InterContinental ANA The Strings Tokyo.

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.

Final Approach

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.

— Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 Comments

  1. The biggest problem with either of these cards is that the earning rate is terrible given the value of a point. My card sits in a sock drawer. Doesn’t create loyalty.

    • Exactly right. The earning rate on the IHG cards is not competitive. I value IHG points about the same as Marriott points (although I have gotten some huge redemption values occasionally), but the Marriott cards offer 2X base points. I
      only use my IHG cards at IHG properties and keep these cards entirely because of the perks.

  2. I still have the $49 card in the sock drawer, and similar to you, was able to take advantage of many free nights in NYC, Tahiti, D.C., Johannesburg, and so on complements of the annual free night certificate. While I was disappointed to see the cap on free nights implemented, I continue to keep the card, as $49 for a free night is a bit of a no-brainer for the annual certificate.

    What really disappoints me with both the $49 and $89 cards is that the earning rates are so poor compared to the competition. I never charge anything to the card. Even with the recent grocery promotion, I had much greater value on my other cards. I really wish I could use the card, as IHG has an attractive footprint, as well as some prime locations. I just haven’t been able to see any value in doing so.

  3. They gave me 140,000 fora 89.00 annual fee …..a homer un …….and I get the 4th night free Grand slam …….and every year still get a free night ……I love more ….but there offer it still good as I see it

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