Published on November 10th, 2015 | by William Charles13
Maximizing IHG Bonuses – The No Annual Fee IHG Card Review
Doctor of Credit was challenged a while back to provide information on a particular card, a “lesser” IHG card.
Many already have the full-featured “Select” credit card which offers platinum status, 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels, 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else, and an annual free night certificate for a $49 annual fee.
This is about a lesser known IHG card with no annual fee, the “Classic” card. The following information was obtained from a Chase rep via secure message:
- The no annual fee IHG® Rewards Club Classic credit card program allows you to earn
- 2 points per $1 spent on IHG hotel purchases
- 1 point per $1 spent on other eligible purchases
- No cap on points earned
- Gold Elite status for as long as you remain a Customer
In addition, it’s a Platinum MasterCard (not World like the Select version) and carries a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Phone reps confirmed the card isn’t advertised online (the only reference I could find was a comment here) and that it’s only available via product conversion. Cardholders should be able to keep previous account numbers (a new card will be issued with a new expiration).
In the notes the rep read, there were references to a Visa Signature and Platinum Visa in addition to the Platinum MasterCard, so that probably applies if anyone still has the Visa version.
Most people advocate getting the IHG Select card and keeping it long-term because of the annual night certificate. However, the signup bonus of the Select card has been known to go as high as 80 000 points plus a $50 statement credit, and it has done so fairly consistently. Given that the highest tier hotel, category 9, runs at 50 000 points per night, I would rather have 80 000 points than a free night certificate, especially since the certificate expires each year. Both can be redeemed at any IHG property, but the certificate is a one and done deal – if you use it at a cheap location, you can’t get the difference in points/cash between that and if you used it at an expensive location.
To get the most value, you could cancel the Select card and reapply when you’re eligible for the bonus. The Classic card instead gives the option of downgrading. This could be advantageous if your IHG card is already one of your oldest cards and you want to preserve its history for your AAoA. Otherwise, this allows you to maintain your old credit limit with Chase and use that as leverage if you need to go into recon (although this is only applicable if you don’t have another Chase card to which you could transfer this limit).
Finally, this could be useful for maintaining your points balance. Starting May 2016, if there has been no point activity for the past 12 months, points expire. However, this is waived for elite members, and the Classic card gives automatic Gold status. If you don’t plan to stay at an IHG property for the next year, it may be wise to downgrade to avoid the annual fee and keep any points you have from expiring.
The timeline of what I’m mentioning goes something like this. Year 0 – 1, apply for Select card when the bonus is 80 000 points or better. Year 1 – 2, get free night certificate and then downgrade Select to Classic to get the annual fee refunded (Chase has a minimum of 60 days to get the fee refunded). Use the certificate during this time (it isn’t revoked if you cancel the card). Year 2 – 3, apply for the Select version again when the bonus increases.
The above allows you to get the signup bonus twice, a free night certificate, and keeps you from having to pay any annual fee. Even though the increased signup bonus has shown up fairly frequently, there’s no telling exactly when it will, so it could be more than twelve months after you downgrade from the Select. The above makes sure that no matter when you decide to reapply, your old points will still be there.
This post was submitted by Arneal P, who also wrote a post on World Points that is well worth reading. He’ll be contributing more often on the site in the coming days.