Priority Club Rewards has amended its program terms to define “Elite Qualifying Points” and “Non-Elite Qualifying Points”. This is a significant change that will make reaching elite tiers more difficult for Priority Club members who earn elite status with IHG hotel stays.
Beginning January 1, 2013, for purposes of determining Elite Status, Priority Club points are classified as either Elite Qualifying Points or Non-Elite Qualifying Points.
Priority Club Rewards is the loyalty program for InterContinental Hotels Group including the hotel brands Holiday Inn, Holiday Day Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and InterContinental Hotels. InterContinental Hotels also has a separate paid membership for Ambassador elite membership and an invitation only Royal Ambassador elite program for privileged top-tier Ambassador members.
Priority Club offers two levels of elite status with Gold at 15 nights or 20,000 Priority Club points and Platinum at 50 nights or 60,000 Priority Club points in a calendar year.
The unique aspect of Priority Club Rewards has been that virtually all points posted to your account were eligible for elite status. This meant a Priority Club credit card enrollment with 60,000 bonus points or the purchase of 60,000 points instantly conferred Platinum elite status with its 50% bonus points and occasional upgrade on hotel stays. The only points that did not count for elite status were points purchased when making a Points & Cash reservation.
Priority Club Elite Qualifying Points
- Base points earned from Qualifying Rates paid for hotel stays
- points collected from partner transactions [Update Jan 18: according to LoyaltyLobby, Priority Club points purchase appears to be a Points.com partner transaction and count as elite points. You can buy 50,000 Priority Club points per calendar year as low as $11.50 per 1,000 points.]
- PCR Bonus Points Packages
- Meeting Rewards
All other point earning transactions, including promotional points, points vouchers, points purchase, points transfers, and points deposits, will be considered Non-Elite Qualifying Points and will not be counted towards elite status.
Elite bonus points accrued on Base points from qualifying stays are Non-Elite Qualifying points and do not count towards elite qualification.
Priority Club Non-Elite Qualifying Points
- Promotional points
- Points Vouchers
- Points Purchases (
Loyalty Traveler update 1/18/13: LoyaltyLobby reports a points purchase posted as elite points so this may apply to Points & Cash Reward stay points purchases, but it is reported that Priority Club points purchases, up to 50,000 points per year, are considered a Points.com partner transaction and elite qualifying points.) Update March 21, 2013 – Apparently the crediting of purchased points counting as elite qualifying was an anomaly. Purchased points do not count as elite qualifying points.
- Points Transfers
- Points Deposits
- Points for Elite Status – For purposes of determining Elite Status, Priority Club points are classified as either Elite Qualifying Points or Non-Elite Qualifying Points. Base points earned from Qualifying Rates paid for hotel stays, points collected from partner transactions, PCR Bonus Points Packages and Meeting Rewards are considered Elite Qualifying Points and counted towards membership elite status. A Qualifying Rate includes the following: non-discounted rate, standard corporate rate, worldwide sales negotiated rate, national/regional/local government rate and specified leisure rates as confirmed by the IHG HOLIDEX®Plus reservation system. All other point earning transactions, including promotional points, points vouchers, points purchase, points transfers, and points deposits, will be considered Non-Elite Qualifying Points and will not be counted towards elite status.
- Priority Club Rewards Gold membership will be awarded to you if you have a minimum of 15 nights at Qualifying Rates or if you earn at least 20,000 Elite Qualifying points during a calendar year. Priority Club Rewards Platinum membership will be awarded to you if you have a minimum of 50 nights at Qualifying Rates or if you earn at least 60,000 Elite Qualifying points during a calendar year. Once you have earned elite membership status in any calendar year, you will maintain such status through the end of the following calendar year. Members may also purchase a Gold membership for a fee of $50 USD which can only be paid for by an accepted credit card. Gold memberships that are purchased are only valid for the duration of the calendar year in which they are purchased. Follow the instructions at www.priorityclub.com/purchasegoldor contact your nearest Priority Club Service Center for assistance. No cancellations or refunds are permitted.
- Priority Club Rewards Gold members will receive a 10% elite bonus on all base points earned during the period in which they are Priority Club Rewards Gold members. Priority Club Rewards Platinum members will receive a 50% elite bonus on all base points earned during the period in which they are Priority Club Rewards Platinum members. Elite bonus points accrued on Base points from qualifying stays are Non-Elite Qualifying points and do not count towards elite qualification.Future bonus/benefits for Gold and Platinum members may vary. Gold and Platinum level bonus points are credited only to members who choose to collect Priority Club points. Bonus points for Gold and Platinum members apply only on the base points collected by a member and not on any additional points received due to a special offer or promotion.
- Hotel Room Upgrades for Platinum Members:Platinum level members will be offered a complimentary upgrade, as determined by the hotel, which might include rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, or rooms with preferred views. The upgrade will be offered at time of check-in, based on availability, and will only apply to the member’s personal guest room. The hotel is not required to upgrade members to suites or specialty rooms. Upgrade benefit will not apply to rooms booked as a Reward Night reservation.
- Guaranteed Room Availability for Platinum Members: When contacting the Priority Club Service Center directly and guaranteeing the reservation with a valid credit card, each Platinum level member will be guaranteed one room for personal use, for reservations made at least 72 hours prior to the date of arrival, except during special events that result in extraordinary room demand, as determined solely by the hotel. The member will not be charged more than the prevailing rate for the accommodation requested, and the member is not entitled to a rate less than the prevailing rate. Once made, Platinum Guarantees may not be dishonored for any reason. If the member does not arrive and has not obtained a cancellation number prior to 6 p.m. (4 p.m. in Europe), the credit card may be billed for one night’s room and tax. Platinum Guarantees do not apply to Reward Nights. A minimum stay duration requirement may apply at select Holiday Inn Club Vacations locations.
Looks like the banks win again with their credit card enrollment bonus offers and complimentary Platinum elite status for certain co-branded Priority Club credit cards. And other partner transactions will offer elite qualifying bonus points incentives.
It seems that buying shit is more important in the new loyalty world order than staying at hotels.
Even more disconcerting is the change that bonus points like the 50% bonus Platinum members earn as an elite member staying at IHG hotels and bonus points from hotel stay promotions are not elite qualifying points.
These changes eliminate earning Priority Club Platinum elite status quickly on far fewer than 50 nights from stackable promotions.
The 60,000 bonus points earned from Priority Club credit card enrollment will still confer Platinum elite, but buying 60,000 points during a Priority Club 50% bonus points on a points purchase will no longer count as qualifying points.
Basically Priority Club is steering hotel guests to purchase Bonus Points Packages at higher hotel rates for your stay. Priority Club commonly has higher rates that include bonus points of 1,000 to 10,000 points. These packages will be the quickest way to Platinum elite on far fewer than 50 nights for members who earn elite status by staying at IHG hotels.
PCR Bonus Points Package at Holiday Inn Express Las Vegas South offers 1,000 bonus points per night at rate $10 higher than $99 Best Flexible rate Jan 3, 2013.
All in all though, aside from the 50% bonus points and the occasional one category upgrade to high floor, preferred view and maybe even a larger room, the benefits of Priority Club Platinum are weak compared to other loyalty programs.
Hopefully the change to elite status qualification will also be accompanied by improved hotel stay benefits.
There are apparently improved benefits for elite members in the greater China region hotels for 2013. We will need to see if these changes will be rolled out globally?
Brian Cohen of The Gate, a FlyerTalk blog states changes will happen for elite benefits at hotels in Greater China including Macau and Hong Kong.
◦15 percent off difference in room rates to upgrade to Club Floor or suites, or Club Lounge access when upgrading to Club Floor
◦Free in-room Internet access
◦Free upgrade to next room category
◦30 percent off difference in room rates to upgrade to Club Floor or suites, or Club Lounge access when upgrading to Club Floor
◦Free in-room Internet access
The Gate Dec 3, 2012
Follow this FlyerTalk thread for updates on how these Priority Club elite points changes are implemented.
Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.