The better option: Priority Club Buy Points 50% bonus or Points & Cash Awards?

Priority Club is giving 50% bonus points on purchases from March 6 to April 6, 2013. This sale allows the purchase of up to 75,000 Priority Club points for $575.


Purchased points are non-elite qualifying points.

In years past the purchase of points with these offers counted as elite qualifying points. I earned Priority Club top tier Platinum status in 2011 buying points.

While I thought this current sale was a good opportunity to get a fast-track to Platinum elite in 2013 buying 60,000 points for $460, the purchase of points no longer qualifies as elite qualifying points.

Now you may be thinking, “That change happened way back in January, so why is Loyalty Traveler just figuring this out now?”

John at LoyaltyLobby reported in January that his points purchase posted as elite qualifying points. Two weeks ago he posted again that the points purchase he made in January did not post as elite qualifying points.

Points & Cash Awards allow the purchase of 10,000 points for $70.

The workaround for buying Priority Club points is to book Points & Cash awards and then cancel them.

In January 2013, just days before the hotel category changes in IHG Priority Club, there were some InterContinental Hotels mistakenly priced at 15,000 points per night. My account balance was about 65,000 points at the time.

I booked two InterContinental Hotels in Toronto using Points & Cash awards. Five nights cost 5,000 points + $70 per night to buy 10,000 points at the time of booking.

I also booked four nights at the Holiday Inn Alexanderplatz, a 15,000 points per night hotel using Points & Cash awards to pay 5,000 points per night out of my account and buy 10,000 points for $70 for each hotel night. Room Rates were $170 per night and I was getting the room for the equivalent of $105 per night.

5,000 points in my account = $35 value.

10,000 points purchased at time of booking using Priority Club Points & Cash award = $70 payment.

Turned out that Alexanderplatz Holiday Inn dropped to 10,000 points on January 18, 2013 when the new hotel award categories were published.

I canceled my 4-night hotel stay at Holiday Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz.

My Priority Club account received a deposit of 60,000 points for the 4-night hotel stay at 15,000 points per night after I cancelled. Some 40,000 of those points were points I bought for $280 while booking the Points & Cash Award.

I later rebooked the same Berlin Holiday Inn at 40,000 points for four nights.

Priority Club Points & Cash for buying cheaper points.

Priority Club Points & Cash awards allow members to buy either 5,000 points for $40 or 10,000 points for $70.

The points purchased are nonrefundable.

Cancel the Points & Cash award stay and the points you bought for the award stay are redeposited back into your account.

This Points & Cash award system allows Priority Club members with as few as 5,000 points to build up their account balance booking Points & Cash Awards and then cancelling them and earning Priority Club points at $70 per 10,000.

The current 50% bonus sale has a minimum cost of $76.67 per 10,000 points and that $76.67 rate only kicks in for purchases of 40,000 to 50,000 points. This means you have to invest at least $460 to buy 60,000 points at $76.67 per 10,000 points.

Points & Cash Awards allow members to buy as few as 10,000 points for $70.

Since buying Priority Club points through the sale channel where 10,800 points will cost $121.50, you save a significant amount of cash buying 10,000 points for $70 through a Points & Cash award and later cancelling the reservation.

Tips: Do this strategy in moderation.

Book a hotel stay and wait some days before cancelling. You might draw account flags if you buy 120,000 points through Points & Cash awards and cancel all your reservations minutes after making them.

Example: Booking Priority Club Points & Cash  for a member with 5,000 Points.


Holiday Inn Berlin Mitte is €55.27 ($71.38) or 15,000 points per night.

Finding a hotel for 15,000 points is the best find since it requires the Priority Club member to only have 5,000 points available in your account to book a Points & Cash award night.

Obviously this hotel would be better to pay cash than spend points, but that is not the purpose being  shown here.

These are my booking options using Reward Nights.

Option 1: Redeem Standard Award at 15,000 points per night.


Option 2: Redeem 10,000 points and buy 5,000 points for $40.


Option 3:

Redeem 5,000 points and buy 10,000 points for $70.


I always choose what is behind door #3. Normally I buy 10,000 points for each night with all my Priority Club award stays.


The cost of this stay is 5,000 points + $70. The cancellation policy allows day of arrival cancellation with no penalty(always check cancellation policy before you complete a purchase).

Final Booking Page:


Booking Priority Club Points & Cash award stay only deducts 5,000 points from my account when buying 10,000 points for $70 for one award night at a 15,000 points hotel.

Cancellation of Points & Cash Award

After booking this room I can cancel the award stay tomorrow, or next week or anytime before 4:00pm local Berlin time on April 17.

Within minutes or hours or a day or two, my account will be credited with 15,000 points.

My account balance of 7,724 points was reduced to 2,724 points with the Priority Club Points & Cash Award reservation.

Upon cancelling the award stay my account balance will have a new deposit of 15,000 points and be 17,724 points.

I purchased 10,000 points for $70.

Bottom line is the changes to Priority Club to eliminate points purchased through Priority Club regular channels as elite qualifying points means the backdoor route to buying 10,000 points for $70 seems like the best way to acquire Priority Club points for someone needing points without relying on earning points from hotel stays.

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. This seems like a lot of work to attend elite status. You can just get Priority Club CC which will give you plat status

  2. Not every Priority Club can get a credit card. All Priority Club members can buy points for Points & Cash Awards.

    Platinum status is not the point in this case.

  3. great analysis as usual. I like the fact that your offer non CC based analysis. You are one of the few bloggers I read because of this.

    However, In this case though CC makes a difference. 10k points for $70, get 1000 back after the stay, plus 70 x 5 points for using the card. So total of 11350 points for $70 or $6.16/1k points. Now the annual free night is good but most of the time I like to stay in a hotel for 2 nights (hassle of changing hotels on vacation). So you can have 2 free nights in a top hotel for $6.16*50 + $49 (AF) = $357.

    PC Platinum is not that valuable anyway. As you say, work each program to maximize promotions and you will get good value.

  4. Do you get cashback when booking the Points & Cash reward stays or buying the points? It might make some difference since cashback rate for IHG hotels are usually high.

  5. @Andreas – Priority Club credit card makes the numbers look better. That 1,000 points rebate on award stays is good and the free night annually is even better.

Comments are closed.