IHG Rewards Club went live yesterday. This replaces Priority Club as the rewards programme for Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
(I have changed the ‘Priority Club’ category on Head for Points to IHG Rewards Club in response.)
So far, the changes are primarily cosmetic. I haven’t spotted anything so far which was not already announced.
The main changes are:
Gold and Platinum members receive free internet on all stays from 1st July. More radically, all members – even those with no stay history who sign up at the free Blue level – will get free internet from 1st January 2014.
The qualification thresholds for Gold and Platinum membership are reduced to 10 nights and 40 nights respectively, when staying at 3 (for Gold) or 4 (for Platinum) different brands
If you stay more nights than you need to retain your status, the extra nights will rollover into next year
Reward nights will now count towards the nights needed to retain or gain status
All of these changes offer a tangible improvement to the programme. However, this does not hide the fact that it comes nowhere close to restoring the damage caused to the programme earlier this year.
The decision to massively increase the points required for Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express reward nights in big cities hit many members very hard (and made redeeming at these properties laughably uncompetitive compared to staying at an InterContinental).
The decision to stop counting bonus points towards status requalification will also lead to a MASSIVE drop in the number of Platinum members in 2014.
It is still early days, though, so lets see how the programme works out.
15,000 points sign-up bonus for the Priority Club credit card
At the same time – although not officially connected to this launch – IHG Rewards Club is promoting a link with an increased sign-up bonus for their free credit card.
The card now comes with 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points, which WILL count towards status requalification. These are good for a free night at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express in a small city (not London, New York etc). They are also good for 3 nights at a PointBreak property – so if the list of PointsBreak hotels I published yesterday appealed, then this is a good way of getting some points for the time the next list comes out. You could have booked 3 nights at the InterContinental Athens for 15,000 points!
You also receive IHG Rewards Club Gold status for as long as you keep the card.
The card itself is not great, and not one I would keep for the long term. Here is my full review of the Priority Club credit card from earlier in the year. The paid card with the £99 fee is more attractive, given the higher sign-up bonus, higher earnings rate, free Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club and the free night voucher for spending £10,000. Here is my review of the Priority Club Black card.
(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.)