Priority Club is a strange and fickle beast but when tamed, is the most rewarding program in terms of free nights. Priority Club is the rewards program for the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). They give points out like candy and let you redeem them for cheap but the program’s benefits are really limited to free nights and often little else.
Best Rate Guarantee
As stated before, IHG has the most lucrative best rate guarantee. If you book a stay on the IHG website and find a cheaper rate on a competitor’s website, you get 1 night free. Yes, even on 1 night stays. However, this is the hardest BRG to pull off as you can’t book refundable rates when lower non-refundable rates are available.
Free nights range from 10,000 – 50,000 points, however they often have sales. Their best sale comes out every few months offering a list of hotels for 5,000 points. These are called “points breaks.” This can include all brands but you can imagine the InterContinentals sell out quickly.
This list could be longer if the program weren’t so fickle. Every once in a while they have “buy one get one free” nights on weekends, and their flash flood sales come without warning. It can work for us since we’re so flexible but for someone with a strict schedule, it might not work out.
This is where things get good. Priority Club sends you promotion codes you can enroll in giving bonus points every once in a blue moon, usually 1,000 – 5,000 points on your next stay. All these bonuses go on top of any bonuses on current promotions and any promotions that come with the hotel (check the promotions section of the priorityclub.com before booking). The beautiful thing is that all these codes are gathered on a flyertalk thread so that we can all register for these promos. In the glory days I registered for 20 promotions for one stay.
Register at priorityclub.com/register. Make sure you go through the more recent post as the first two posts seem to be a little dated. Luckily there has been a lot more activity lately after a long lull of nothing. One stay should give at least enough for a free stay on a points break. But if you are a regular and complete the higher long term goals, it could be very rewarding. Also, don’t go calling if your points don’t show.
Although I just bought points that were on sale at $67 per 10,000, you can always buy points at $60 per 10,000 using a little trick. There is a “cash & points” option for reward nights which values 5,000 points at $30. You can book a 15,000 point room under “cash & points” option for “5,000 points & $60.” When you confirm booking it just buys 10,000 points. The cash cannot be refunded. So if you cancel the booking, 15,000 points get refunded rather than 5,000 points and 60$ cash. I don’t really need to do this because I can book a room for $50 and get near the same points and a stay. Plus the points don’t count towards status with this trick.
I say it is “the most rewarding program in terms of free nights” because the elite status perks can be rather unimpressive. Though compare the program to others, they focus on having hotels everywhere – not having the best hotels. But on the flip side, it is the easiest to earn. To earn Platinum status you need 60,000 points, including bonus points and bought points. The main benefits are room upgrades and a 50% bonus on points.
My least favorite aspect of IHG is the disconnect from Priority Club from their best hotel brand, InterContinental. My status means very little there as a PC Platinum since they have their own status called Ambassador. My main gripe is neither of these programs have “club lounge access” listed in their benefits. You can get upgraded to a club level room but in my experience, it’s rare. Really the benefit is “free night certificate” valid for paid weekend nights. However, you have to buy Ambassador status and in terms of food (lounges) and free nights, it helps very little.
There is an invite-only status one rung higher known as Royal Ambassador (suspected to be invited after 50-60 nights and 3 stays at different ICs). When you get the invite you also get the ability to invite another person to join you. These invites end up on ebay and run for $500. It proves to be very rewarding but why not just have it as a real program? It seems to be the equivalent as some mid-tiers and top-tiers at competitor hotels but I don’t have to guess when I get club lounge status with any other hotel program. Plus I don’t rave about IC’s.
There is currently an 80,000 point sign up bonus floating around. The card has a low annual fee of $49 (waived for the first year), and the annual benefit of a free night at any hotel is worth way more than $49. In fact, you get the free night on the first year, so using the points you get upon sign-up, you could get 17 free nights out of this card if you are really flexible (during a PB). Again, hotel points aren’t worth near the same value as airline miles but this is a good offer for a hotel card.
I’ll try to add if I think of anything else.
Sign up here for a bonus 6,000 points after first stay.