IHG Priority Club Rewards Gold, Platinum, Ambassador, and Royal Ambassador

IHG Priority Club Rewards Gold, Platinum, Ambassador, and Royal Ambassador

The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the parent company of Holiday Inn.  IHG Priority Club Rewards is the hotel loyalty program for this hotel chain with the brands of Holiday Inn Express on the lower end of its economic scale of room rates to the Crowne Plaza brand on the upscale and InterContinental Hotels on the upper upscale to luxury end of room rates.  Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites are the extended stay brands of IHG.

Priority Club operates one of the more complex hotel loyalty programs. 

Let’s blame it on beer — Bass ale to be more precise.

The British brewer Bass diversified into hotels in the 1990s acquiring first the ubiquitous Holiday Inn brand. 

Holiday Inn Park View Singapore

Holiday Inn Park View, Singapore

Bass Breweries also acquired the InterContinental Hotels luxury brand properties in 1998.  This hotel chain was established by Pan Am Airways in the era of post-WWII global travel, and hotels are currently located in about 140 major global cities and prominent resorts around the world. 

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

InterContinental Hotels was an early player in the hotel loyalty industry and Six Continents Club was established in 1966.  It is the longest running frequent guest hotel loyalty program.  The merger of the Priority Club Rewards program with the Six Continents Club loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels began in 2003 when the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) corporation was established with the break-up of the Bass empire.   

[InBev, the Belgian-Brazilian company that just bought Budweiser, also bought Bass Breweries and Becks in the past decade and pretty much controls global beer distribution along with the Dutch (Heineken) and Danish (Carlsberg).  This is my UC Davis fermentation science beer background  coming to the forefront.  Time for another Stella Artois.]

The main distinction of the IHG Priority Club hotel loyalty program from other major loyalty programs is the ability to buy elite membership.  Two of the four elite levels as a Priority Club member are available for a fee.  Priority Club Rewards Gold membership is $50 for a calendar year and InterContinental Hotels Ambassador membership is $150 with complimentary Priority Club Rewards Gold status included and generally a far better deal if you can work an InterContinental Hotel stay in your travels.

InterContinental Monterey, The Clement, Suite bed-bath

InterContinental Monterey, The Clement, suite bed with view to bath

Note on qualifying for Priority Club elite status on points

Priority Club is quite lenient from a frequent guest perspective in counting points earned from a variety of activities for elite membership qualification like purchased points, affinity credit cards, and hotel promotional bonuses rather than just base points from hotel stays. Hilton HHonors requires 100,000 base points for HHonors Diamond and this is essentially $10,000 in hotel stay spending in a calendar year.  Priority Club Platinum membership requires 60,000 earned points in a calendar year and with all the ways to earn points this threshold can be achieved for under $2,000 with a bit of planning and for far fewer than 50 nights in hotels.

 InterContinental Monterey, The Clement, suite living room

InterContinental Monterey suite living room, The Clement, Monterey, CA

InterContinental Hotels Group elite membership levels

Priority Club Gold is earned with 20 paid nights or 20,000 earned points in a calendar year.  Gold level membership lasts for the remainder of the year earned and until the end of the following calendar year.  Gold membership is also available for $50 for the calendar year, but has the disadvantage of expiring at the end of the same calendar year.  Your status will be upgraded within 48 hours of purchase.  Another strategy, particularly if you are fairly certain an InterContinental Hotel luxury trip is not in your near future, is to buy 20,000 Priority Club points for $230 and earn Gold Elite based on points and you will have the points ready for good hotel room redemption opportunities like PointBreaks 5,000 point free nights. 

Gold Elite Benefits

·         10% Priority Club bonus on base points (base points are 10 points/$1 for hotel spending and Gold members earn 11 points/$1).

Priority Club Platinum = 50 nights or earn 60,000 points in a calendar year 

·         50% Priority Club points bonus on base points (base points are 10 points/$1 for hotel spending and Platinum members earn 15 points/$1).

·         Complimentary upgrade on paid hotel rooms which might include a higher floor, corner room, or preferred view.  The hotel is not required to provide an upgrade to a suite, however, anecdotal evidence indicates this is frequently a benefit.  The upgrade benefit does not apply to award room nights (but again, anecdotal evidence indicates Platinum members are typically upgraded on award night stays.)

InterContiental Monterey suite TV, The Clement

InterContinental Monterey, suite TV and Fireplace, The Clement

InterContinental Ambassador = $150 (includes complimentary upgrade to Priority Club Gold) or renewal is currently 20,000 Priority Club points.

Following Benefits apply only to InterContinental Hotel stays:

·         Your $150 membership fee includes a certificate for a free second night when a minimum two-night weekend stay is booked at an InterContinental Hotel and the first night is a paid night.  Certificate is valid for six months.  Considering there are very few hotels in the InterContinental chain that have a lowest room rate for any room at under $150, your Buy One, Get One (BOGO) certificate is essentially a complete rebate of your $150 membership fee and even more.  Weekend nights are defined as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for most locations.  Certificate is non-transferable.

·         Membership packet also includes a 5,000 points Priority Club Rewards certificate

·         Guaranteed Room Upgrade (this will be a $50 to $100+ per night benefit at most hotels)

·         Free “pay” TV film per stay

·         Fresh fruit or mineral water

·         Late check-out of 4pm.



InterContinental Royal Ambassador = by invitation, but anecdotal evidence from indicates stays in at least 3 to 5 different InterContinental Hotels and 50 nights overall  (Platinum elite status) in IHG hotels during the Ambassador membership year (one year from Ambassador membership enrollment date and not the calendar year) may trigger an invitation.

Royal Ambassador Benefits in addition to above:

·         Complimentary mini-bar beverages

·         Early check-in available at 8am

·         Complimentary use of health club facilities

·         Royal Ambassador members receive a Royal Ambassador membership referral allowing another person to receive Royal Ambassador status for $150


I have a feeling 2009 is a going to be a much closer year between IHG and this Loyalty Traveler. 



About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. As of January 1, 2013, the point purchasing method to obtain Gold/Platinum status is no longer valid.

    I know – I used it in 2012 to lock in Platinum, just as this article described.

    In 2013, IHG established “Elite Qualifying” hotel stays and points. No longer do purchased points or reward nights count towards tier status on Priority Club.

    That means that your best bet is to buy Ambassador at the start of the year. You’ll get everything that Platinum tier has, except for Guaranteed Room Availability… which, let’s face it, isn’t really guaranteed due to all the exceptions.

    The alternative is to sign up for the Priority Club Chase card, but that’s your call as to if it is worth it.

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