Chase IHG Premier
It’s about that time. Almost a year ago, I came to the realization that IHG One Rewards isn’t in our long term plans. At that point, we decided to position ourselves to finish up with the program over the next year or so. But the destiny of our two Chase IHG Premier cards remained uncertain. In the meantime, I held out hope something would change with the program or card to convince us to hold onto them. But now, it’s decision time – my card’s $89 annual fee recently hit, with my wife’s close behind. Here’s why we’ve decided to close our Premier cards.
Overvalued Free Night Certificates
Perhaps the easiest justification for paying the Premier’s annual fee is the anniversary free night certificate my wife and I each receive. This version of the cert allows uncapped point topoffs, a substantial upgrade from the legacy IHG card’s inability to add points for a stay at a nicer property.
That’s probably a great benefit for some, but as it turns out, not for us. For the past few years, we’ve ended up using our free night certs at the same Outer Banks property during low season. Nightly cash rates are similar to the card’s annual fee, anyway. On top of this, the dates for our certs only overlap for a few months, making them tougher to line up for a two-night stay. We’d be better off paying the cash rate, given the flexibility of booking any time we wanted, or maybe even not at all!
But you may be wondering why we’re not thinking bigger with the Premier’s supposedly attractive certs.
IHG’s a One-Trick Pony
For our current life season, we find ourselves mostly staying in Holiday Inn Express properties on IHG Rewards stays. I’ve established a (probably) unhealthy relationship with their cinnamon rolls. I can only remember our family staying at a different IHG brand once in the past several years – a Holiday Inn, which pretty much felt like an Express property, anyway.
Again, many others probably stay across multiple IHG brands, and investing in the program is more understandable. That’s just not the case for us.
We Don’t Travel Enough
Between my solo short solo trips and several family vacations annually, our award lodging needs are met with other programs’ currencies. I can’t recall the last time we actually redeemed a sizable amount of IHG points. Burning Hilton, Marriott, and Choice currencies keeps us busy enough. Meanwhile, our IHG point balances grow mold.
Elite Status Means Almost Nothing
For how we use the program, the Platinum elite status which comes with the Chase IHG Premier card is pretty much meaningless. First off, since we primarily stay at a limited service brand like Holiday Inn Express, there’s minimal elite offering. And the little those properties can do, like providing a room upgrade, hardly ever happens for us. Since we exclusively book award stays, the accelerated earning on paid nights might as well not exist for us, either.
Illogical Chase IHG Premier Spend
On paper or screen, the IHG Premier’s earn rates looks attractive: 5x gas, dining, and travel, and 3x everywhere else. But IHG redemption rates are very unpredictable and continue to be devalued in our experience. Individuals can do better spending on other cards, even during temporary spend offers. I’m currently eligible for 5x and 7x IHG points on certain categories, and even that doesn’t make sense when I consider my other options.
My wife and I each spent a little in the 5x grocery category to get to a nice, round number for our IHG balances prior to upcoming redemptions. But now, we’re done and ready to move on.
In my view, the IHG program is probably the most unpredictable hotel program out there, and not in a good way. It’s not one we want to lean into, even with a simple Chase IHG Premier annual fee payment. The only way I can see us not cancelling is if either of us receive a retention offer, but I don’t foresee that happening. We’ve tried that for years with no luck. And we don’t take closing these cards lightly. We have no intentions on being eligible for new Chase accounts ever again, and we’re okay with that deal. But we can no longer squint and justify a credit card annual fee tied to such a wild card program.
How are you feeling about IHG One Rewards and related credit cards these days?
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.