IHG Premier 140K welcome offer: Free night certificate can’t be topped off

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Recently, Chase increased the bonus on the IHG Premier card to a whopping 140,000 IHG points and one free night certificate (that is capped at a value of 40,000 points). This a huge offer for the Premier. We’ve seen 140K offers in the past, but the combination of the points and the free night cert makes this the best welcome offer that we’ve ever seen on the card.

The addition of the free night to the welcome offer seemed even sweeter as IHG increased the utility of these certificates for Premier cardholders earlier this year as part of an overhaul of their rewards program. Now, you can “top off” the certificates by adding an unlimited number of points as necessary in order to book a standard room reward at a property with a higher point redemption level. I did this recently in Seville, Spain, where I redeemed 40K certificates for a room at a Mr and Mrs Smith property that was 70K points/night by adding an additional 30K pts/night from my account. This is a great feature and it makes it much easier to max out the value of these certificates.

a large indoor courtyard with columns and plants
Courtyard of the Palacio de Villapanes in Seville, where I used flexible free night certs earlier this year.

We initially assumed that the free night certificate awarded as a part of this new welcome offer would have the same flexibility as any other cert awarded through the Premier card (makes sense, doesn’t it?). Well, we were wrong.

IHG has informed us that the certificates earned through this welcome offer WILL NOT be “top-offable.” This means that they will only be usable on properties that cost 40,000 points or less, making it more difficult to actually redeem the certificate for full value (and making them identical to the certificates earned by cardholders of the old IHG Select Card).

Key Card Details

Card Offer and Details
165K Points ⓘ Non-Affiliate
165K points after $3K spend in 3 months
(Offer Expires 4/3/2024)
$99 Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: 175K after $3K in spend (expired 4/6/23)
Earning rate: 10X IHG ✦ 5X travel, dining, and gas stations ✦ 3X on all other purchases
Base: 3X (1.89%)
Travel: 5X (3.15%)
Dine: 5X (3.15%)
Gas: 5X (3.15%)
Brand: 10X (6.3%)
Card Info: Mastercard World Elite issued by Chase. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: 10K bonus points + $100 statement credit after you spend $20K in a calendar year + make one additional purchase ✦ Diamond status after $40K in purchases + one additional purchase in a calendar year
Noteworthy perks: Anniversary free night e-certificate good at IHG properties up to 40K points per night ✦ Ability to add an unlimited number of points to a free night certificate to book a higher-level hotel ✦ Fourth night free on award stays ✦ 20% discount on points purchases ✦ Platinum elite status ✦ Up to $50 in United TravelBank cash per year (must register your card with your United account)

Quick Thoughts

This is a bit bizarre to me. I get why IHG originally differentiated between certificates earned through the old, legacy $49 annual fee IHG Select card and the $99 Premier. It makes sense that the more premium card has a better free night perk. But why award a different category of certificate for the welcome offer on the Premier than the one that’s awarded annually as an anniversary perk? It just seems unnecessarily confusing, especially since IHG/Chase wasn’t exactly clear that you’d be getting a different type of certificate than the one earned at each anniversary.

If this card appeals to you, the less-valuable certificate shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. It’s still the best offer we’ve seen on the card. But, anyone who’s tried to use the static, non-flexible certs will undoubtedly know the frustration of seeing property after property pricing at 41K or 42K, just out of reach of the point cap. The flexible certs made that a non-issue and it’s too bad that those aren’t the ones that are included with this welcome offer.

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