Priority Club makes it VERY hard to retain status from January

Priority Club, the loyalty scheme for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Indigo etc, is easily the most frustrating hotel loyalty scheme out there.

Historically, there has been an unspoken bond between Priority Club and its members:

The unspoken deal went something like this:

 “Priority Club promises to make it unbelievably easy to earn top-tier Platinum status (60,000 points required per year) by counting ALL points, however earned, towards the 60,000.”

(This included transfers from American Express Membership Rewards – until PC pulled out in June, points you purchased, credit card sign up points and the vast number of bonus points they give out in their quarterly promotions.)

In general, if you signed up for all the points codes and promotions, you could probably renew Platinum each year with 5 stays!

but in return …

“Priority Club promises that the benefits of Platinum status will be useless.  Despite being our top tier, you will NOT get free breakfast, you will NOT get free internet access and you are NOT guaranteed an upgrade.  Be grateful that you get a 50% points bonus on your base points.”

That was the deal we all accepted.  And we accepted it because the points flowed easily, we got the occasional upgrade, free drink and free internet offer from generous hotels, and because Priority Club has an unparalled global network of hotels for redemptions – including lots of very posh ones.  (Here is my piece on the InterContinental in Cannes, for example.)

Priority Club Gold card

Now, though, Priority Club is changing the game.

The rules of the programme have been quietly updated to say this:

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.

So … for most people, base points and credit card spend are now the only ways to earn status points.  This is a massive change.  At 10 points per $1, you will need to be spending $6,000 (before taxes!) to retain Platinum status.

And, at the moment, there is no real sign of any improved benefits!

There is some movement – hotels in China will be offering free internet for Plats from January.  Perhaps this will be rolled out?  However, to justify this clampdown – which will cut Platinum numbers massively in 2014 – they need to ramp up the benefits massively.  The programme will become a joke otherwise.

And here is the stupid bit.  If you get the Priority Club Black Visa card (£99 fee), you get Platinum status for free!  (See this post.)  That immediately puts you on a par with someone who has spent $6,000 (before taxes!) in their hotels.  Does that make sense to you?

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Avios Redemption University - Lesson 3 - Is it worth using Avios for hotels redemptions?
The BA Seoul service launches - a new redemption route into Asia
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. This was going to happen eventually – there are so many websites and blogs dedicated to playing the system at Priority Club and they have started to crack down on some of them, such as Priorityclubinsider.com and will probably go for the dedicated board on Flyertalk sooner or later.

    I’ve managed to get Platinum in previous years an as few as 10 nights of 2for1 hotel stays, so the amount of (and ease of) manipulation of their systems was getting pretty ridiculous.

    This year, I maintained Platinum with 4 stays and the PC Black Visa…then they gave me Platinum for free – so can they give me a new status of Super Platinum?? LOL.

    They accidentally gave me the 40,000 bonus points TWICE as well, which is nice!

  2. The only thing I’ve ever received from Platinum status is a “thanks for being a platinum member” whenever I check in or call them.

    I have the black card which I feel gives me a decent return so this won’t affect me (yet) but I agree with everything you say about PCR.

  3. As a platinum I was given a jacobs club biscuit, on arrival in reception at the Newport HI on Monday night.

    Who says they don’t treat their top tier well.

    • Holiday Inn Sheffield has occasionally given me a Kit Kat.

      Crowne Plaza Festival City in Dubai gave me a suite almost as big as my house 18 months ago.

      As I posted a while back, Crowne Plaza Marlow – where we take the kids for the weekend sometimes – used to give free Club access (so free brekky as well) and an upgrade, but then cut back to just free internet. Although, of course, that is still more than they are obliged to give.

      The benefits are certainly not standardised!

  4. What about PCR telling their members of this significant change?

    I’m very grateful to Raffles and Flyertalk, but I don’t think it should be up to them to advise me of my membership status – currently platinum for next year but who knows after that?

  5. My original plan was to ditch the card when it came to renewal in Feb 2013. I had signed up with the first year fee waived and the 40k sign up bonus. The change in status earning points seems to indicate that priority club benefits for platinum may significantly improve from 2014 onwards. I may decide to chalk up the £99 fee and see if there are any real improvements.

  6. gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    Each hotel is a law unto themselves. Holiday Inn Ariel Heathrow gives all Priority Club members a welcome gift. I’ve received the same sort of gifts with no status as well as being a Gold.
    Last night, Aylesbury Garden Court gave me a Club (chocolate bar) for being a Gold. I would have preferred to have hot water in the shower, but never mind.

  7. flyforfun says:

    Wow! I’m just surprised to find they don’t offer free internet as standard! I wouldn’t stay in a hotel that didn’t offer it free as standard now days/

    • I agree. It is a pain. Holiday Inn Express’s are looking decidedly second-tier compared to Hampton by Hilton properties, which offer a higher quality free breakfast AND free wi-fi.

      Holiday Inn’s are also well behind Hilton, in that Hilton offers free internet to Gold and Diamond Hilton HHonors members.

      Unless I get dispensation as a Platinum member (which happens occasionally) I will be digging out a 3G dongle and using a laptop for the nights I’ve booked. Not much use for tablet users, though, unless you’ve got a mi-fi unit.

      When Ramada ran a similar £20 promotion for January a few weeks ago, I purposely booked a couple of nights at the Docklands property which does offer free wi-fi to all.