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Why I Will Hold Onto My IHG Rewards Mastercard & Never Upgrade It

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I Will Hold Onto My IHG Rewards Mastercard

Why I Will Hold Onto My IHG Rewards Mastercard & Never Upgrade It

Chase made a lot of waves a little over a year ago when they changed around their IHG credit card lineup.  They launched the Chase IHG Premier card and discontinued the old IHG Mastercard.  During this time they also destroyed the best perk of the old IHG card, the uncapped free night.  The free night is now capped at 40,000 points which was a sizable devaluation.  My annual fee recently posted and I decided to keep the card even though that was my last uncapped free night.  I also have decided that I will never upgrade the card to their Premier version.

Why I Am Keeping the Card

You may be thinking, but Mark you have called IHG Pointbreaks trash and you put them on your list of do not touch hotel programs, so why keep the card?  The answer is simple, the value offered is still good.  A 40,000 free night certificate is no where near as valuable as an uncapped free night but it still has a value of up to around $200-$250.  Paying $49 for a room that will be in the $200 range sounds like a good deal to me.  And since my wife has the card too we can get a weekend somewhere every year for $100 all in.

It is also nice to diversify our portfolio a bit in case IHG has the best option in an area.  This gives us a life preserver when that is the case since I will not be actively accruing their points in any meaningful way.

I Will Hold Onto My IHG Rewards Mastercard
This is the card staying in my wallet!

Why I Will Never Upgrade the Card

I will keep the old IHG Mastercard as long as Chase keeps the card at the $49 annual fee price point.  I will never upgrade it to the Chase IHG Premier card because that card has the same capped 40K anniversary night but it comes with an $99 annual fee.  Why would I want to pay $40 more for the same thing? The fact that their upgrade offers are laughable at best is another reason I say pass.

If I was an IHG loyalist then it may make sense to take the upgrade since you get the 4th night free on award stays with the card.  It also earns better rates on paid stays.  It would actually be best to get the IHG Premier card and keep the old card since their perks stack.  You could get 10% off all award stays (max 10K back each year) and get the 4th night free. But since I am not actively accruing IHG points it doesn’t make sense for me to pay more for the Premier card.

Final Thoughts

Even though I am not an IHG loyalist I still find value in the capped free night. As long as Chase keeps the annual fee at $49 I will keep it open.  I am still getting around $150 in value for $49.  That’s a win in my book.  If I upgraded the card then the numbers wouldn’t look as good.


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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. My husband and I both have both cards. I am probably in the minority, but we use our 4th night free in Key West and just used it at the Holiday Inn Vacation Resort on Pensacola Beach. We can get enough points on the accelerate offers to definitely make it worthwhile on small vacation trips. We pair it up with the Southwest Companion Pass for some great 4 day vacations!

    • If you have a lot of 4 nights stays and a stash of points then I can see it being a good option – especially paired with the 10% back on the old card.

  2. I have both cards for my wife and I. Just used my last unrestricted free night for a Kimpton in Wash. DC in Sept. Going forward we have 4 free nights for the AF plus the old card still gives us 10% points back.

    I’m really liking Kimpton and Indigo properties and plan to use my IHG points and free nights there whenever possible.

  3. It seems to me a waste to upgrade if they don’t offer a good sign up bonus. I assume it would be better to just get the additional card and the sign-up bonus. My wife and I do a lot of IHG stays for business so 40k is crappy but we even at the worst IHG properties $49 is still a good deal in trade.

    • I do think having both cards is the best way to go but I also can not justify burning a 5/24 spot with the new card though. But people that have a lot of IHG paid stays or work travel etc. may look at that differently.

  4. That 10% discount on points is great if you do a lot of short stays on points. My stays are all 1 nighters and we use points for those. So for me a no brainer to keep the old card.

    • That lines up for me as well – I do a lot of 1-2 night stays. I loved the 10% back when I actually had IHG points to burn 🙂

  5. I actually have both cards, and even though I am Hilton Diamond, I get more value usually from Ihg in the US. I can usually earn more points, I get more upgrades from Ihg in the States, and I utilize getting two reduced nights from Ihg.

    • Do you have a lot of paid stays with IHG? My biggest issue is there is not a good way to rack up points with them without having paid stays.

      • I am an IHG loyalist (because of where I travel) even though their loyalty program benefits is garbage. I get all of my points through paid stays and use my points to stay at high end Intercontinentals only. With both IHG and HH I have had very good success with upgrades.

  6. Don’t you get a free night from the Premium card even if you hold the standard card? (Don’t upgrade standard card, just outright apply for it and have two cards). So that second night costs $89, still less than the $150 or more night value.

    • Yes you do but I am saying I would never upgrade my current card since I would be paying more for the same thing. If you value IHG then I think holding both cards is the way to go.

  7. I’m on the fence where having old and new IHG Mastercard is a decent use of $140 per year… two anniversary certs and the 4th night free…. good middle ground there. If only the earning was much better.

    • That is my biggest problem with their program. If your points are worth close to the same as Hilton points you should make them as easy to earn as Hilton points.

  8. I am a IHG loyalist and have both, eventhough the Premier Card is $89 a year, you still come out ahead. Plus, if you do not a premium card, the Premier Card has the hidden TSA/Global Pass credit. Between work and personal travel, I havent paid for a room in five years.

  9. Yeah. Good thinking.

    In my life I have hoarded many things to save when I can make best use of them and I have ended up either losing them or using them at firesale. Instead i hoard the annual fee now.

  10. Yep I’m holding on to mine for the same reasons. If the annual fee ever goes up substantially I might reconsider but it’s fine for now.

    Upgrading doesn’t appeal to me either. Most, though not all, of my paid IHG stays are for work, where I have to pay with the corporate card. While the 4th night might theoretically be worthwhile, I’m not at all certain that I’d have that long of a stay with an IHG redemption often enough.

    • That is my issue with the 4th night free too. I rarely stay in any one place for longer than a few days so I don’t think I would ever be able to take advantage of it.


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