Changes coming to Priority Club (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, etc)

Priority Club, the loyalty program for hotel chains Intercontinental, Holiday Inn brands and others, has always been a bit of an enigma.  In terms of earning points, it is one of the best. They are generous with base and bonus earnings and the credit card is now the best in the business after the fall of Club Carlson. On the other hand, frequent travelers have nothing nice to say about their elite benefits, which trail their competitors badly.

The program (excuse me, “programme”) announced a few changes yesterday, some important, some not so much. I’ll stick to what matters.

  • The elite program is moving from a mish-mash of levels to a typical Gold/Platinum/Yet-to-be-named tri-level standard. Gold status can be achieved with 10 stays or 10,000 qualifying points (QPs), while Platinum and YTBN are 40/40K and 75/75K, respectively.

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  • Priority Club is unique in that it will combine points earned from credit card spend with those earned by staying at the hotel toward the point minimum for elite status.  In other words, you could earn YTBN status by spending $75,000 on your credit card without ever staying at one of their properties (why you’d want to if you never stay there, however, is a different question).  In this sense, Priority Club is the most friendly of hotel programs.  Most bonus points, however, will not count toward elite status, only those for stays and CC spend.  Most hotels give you 10 points per dollar spent, although a few give you five.

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  • The company has yet to announce what the new benefits will be, but a few of them, particularly for YTBN status, look good, including the ability to gift status and the 100% bonus on earned points.
  • The credit card will continue to get you Platinum Status, now the middle tier. The sign-up point bonus does not count toward the point requirement for elite status, however, only what you spend on the card.
  • And a downside: Priority Club points have never expired in the past. That policy is changing, although it is very easy to extend your points: Simply earn or spend any amount of miles and your points will be extended for another twelve months.

The Credit Card

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With the Club Carlson card having cast off its best benefit, the Priority Club card now becomes the best one in the business.  I have had this card for several years and love it. First, they have extended the sign-up bonus promotion, meaning that you get 70,000 points for signing up (The only requirement is that you spend $1,000 in the first three months.). The nicest property in the entire system is only 50,000 points, so you’ll get at least one night of luxury hotel service out of it.  The annual fee is waived the first year, and each additional year is $49.  In return, you get one free night at any property in the system.  A night at an Intercontinental is a great date night activity, usually capped off with what us married couples do when we escape the kids (fall asleep at 8:30 watching Law and Order reruns.).  This card is actually worth a look and can be found by clicking the banner on this page.

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