Pros & Cons Of IHG Rewards Club (Formerly Priority Club)

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IHG Rewards Club has gone through quite a few changes in the past 12 months. The old Priority Club name was retired and IHG Rewards Club introduced.

The elite status requirements were changed getting Platinum status with the program more challenging for many.

ihg-rewards-club-pros-cons

IHG Rewards Club can be very rewarding program IF you can work the promos of earning points and using them for Point Breaks hotels at 5,000 points per night.

My main gripes are the lower end hotels like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inns that are very inconsistent especially in North America and the lack of uniform status recognition at them.

You can access IHG Rewards Club webpage here.

What do you like and don’t like about IHG Rewards Club? Please leave your comments and opinions below.

Pros

Point Earnings – Points, Points & More Points

Easy Status

Easy Status Match (New)

Number of Properties

Working Website

Worldwide Coverage

InterContinental Brand

Award Availability

Points Breaks, Social Flash & Last Minute Rewards Nights (Expanded)

Type of Awards

Any Hotel Any Time

Cashback (Not as good as in 2012)

Number of Discount Programs

Friends & Family

Consistent Lower Brands

Stay/Point Postings

Best Price Guarantee

Points never expire

Cons

Social Media Representation

Customer Service – Philippines

IHG Rewards Club Club Vs. Ambassador

Elite Treatment at Properties (Getting better)

Promotions (can register but don’t always work)

Elite Benefits on Award Stays

Points Earnings are not Uniform

Big Win (New)

Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza Hotels in North America

No hip brand

Best Price Guarantee (Getting worse)

No list of properties moving up/down

No stay/night credit for award stays

ihg-brands

Positives of IHG Rewards Club

Point Earnings – Points, Points & More Points

IHG Rewards Club is the easiest program to rack up points really fast by signing up for numerous overlapping promos that I have written about there on LoyaltyLobby.

Easy Status

It used to be very easy to get status with IHG Rewards Club before only base points started to count towards it.

Up until the end of this year, all the points earned have counted towards meeting the Gold or Platinum status requirements. Next year, this will change, however.

Easy Status Match (New)

If you have status with a chain that IHG Rewards Club matches, you can get Platinum status match easily (read more here).

Number of Properties

InterContinental Hotels Group has around 4700 properties under its brands as of December 2013.

Working Website

The branded and mobile websites are quite functional. The InterContinental.com, however, is not the easiest one to use to make bookings.

Worldwide Coverage

The group has a good presence around the world.

InterContinental Brand

For some reason, I really like the InterContinental brand. It was found by Pan Am and first hotel opened in 1946 in Belem Brazil.

Award Availability

I have never really had award availability problems with IHG Rewards Club. Sometimes the discounted Point Breaks or Social Flash award room inventory is gone very fast, however.

Points Breaks, Social Flash & Last Minute Rewards Nights (Expanded)

This is absolutely the best deal when it comes to hotel rewards. Every two to three months IHG Rewards Club releases number of Point Breaks hotels for bookings in the following couple of months. These are only 5K points per night regardless of the usual number of points required for night and best properties tend to go fast.

IHG Rewards Club also has Last Minute Reward Nights for the first weekend of each month at 50% off. Social Flash sales at 25% to 75% off took place few times at the end of 2013. We’ll see if they make a return in 2014 as well.

Type of Awards

In addition to Point Breaks, IHG Rewards Club has last minute awards, regular awards, you can use points for gift cards, flights etc.

Any Hotel Any Time

You can use IHG Rewrds Club points to redeem for Any Hotel Any Time Amex branded stored value cards. You can use these to pay for any hotel that is classified as lodging on Amex’s systems.

These can be very lucrative if IHG Rewards Club has promotion for discounted Any Hotel Any Time cards like they did few years ago.

Cashback (Not as good as in 2012)

You can normally get anywhere from 9% to 20% 4% to 6% back of your booked hotel value as cashback by using number of online cashback sites. The cashback is deposited to your cashback account and typically paid out by PayPal or check couple of months after completed stay.

IHG was gone from most of the cashback sites for the most part of 2013, but returned to some at the end of 2013.

Number of Discount Programs

IHG Rewards Club has number discount plans for Europe and other regions. The most popular one is the of 2-4-1 for Europe (read more here).

Friends & Family

InterContinental Hotels Group has a public Friends & Family program that is open to anyone (read more here). Note that these rates do not qualify for points or stay credit. Status related benefits may be extended depending of the hotel in question.

Consistent Lower Brands

IHG’s most consistent brands are limited service Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites brands.

Stay/ Point Postings

IHG Rewards Club stays seems to post without having to follow up most of the time.

Best Price Guarantee

Although the terms and conditions of this guarantee have changed several times during the past year, they are still offering a completely free night IF you can find a lower comparable rate in the same currency. The first night is completely free and there is no requirement to book more than one night.

Points never expire

Points never expire. At least they do not for now.

ihg-brands-loyalty

Negatives of Priority Club

Social Media Representation

IHG Rewards Club lacks in social media participation. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood all have representatives replying to concerns about program and properties. They typically help program members to fix problems they are having.

Customer Service – Philippines

The IHG Rewards  Service Center is located in Philippines and the associates replying to emails, if you ever get a reply, or manning the lines, have probably never have stayed at IHG property.

The first reply is normally a blurb of text that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the question. On a rare case that I have needed to solve a problem, it has usually been fixed after couple of rounds of emails or by phoning the service center.

IHG Rewards Club VS Ambassador

This is the part that is quite difficult for many to understand because it is unique for IHG.

InterContinental Hotels have a different program for status recognition than other IHG hotels. You need to buy an Ambassador membership that costs $200 or get it through a promo. Ambassador status gets you instant Gold with IHG Rewards Club.

You earn IHG Rewards Club points at InterContinental hotels but the status benefits are per Ambassador T&C’s

Elite Treatment at Properties (Getting better)

There are very few hard benefits beyond some extra points based on the IHG Rewards Club Gold or Platinum status. Internet access, breakfast, club lounge access or early/late check in/out are not IHG Rewards Club Gold or Platinum benefits. Priority Club announced a set of Gold/Platinum benefits that are confirmed but they are only applicable for Priority Club properties in Greater China.

IHG Rewards Club Gold & Platinum members have been eligible for complimentary internet since mid 2013. All IHG Rewards Club members will have complimentary internet access from January 1, 2014.

Some properties will go beyond what is required by the program T&C’s, when it comes to treating elite members.

Promotions (can register but doesn’t work)

IHG Rewards Club allows you to register for many promotions that you are not eligible for. Quite a few will post but not all. You really don’t know before you have done the stays what works for your account and what doesn’t.

If you weren’t originally targeted for the promotion but registered successfully, there is no recourse for getting the points to post.

Elite Benefits on Award Stays

Officially, most of the elite benefits do NOT apply on award stays. Most of the properties do extend them but they don’t have to.

Points Earnings are not uniform

You earn 2000 base points regardless of the spend at all InterContinental Hotel properties outside of the Americas. In the Americas, you will earn 10 points per dollar spend at InterContinental Hotels, but only 2000 at the InterContinental Alliance properties.

Big Win (New)

Big Win made its debut (really the old Crack The Case) in the fall of 2013 and returns for the spring of 2014. Number of stays, brand or other promotion requirements made it onerous for some members to complete it that stay a lot with IHG. Non-frequent members received generally better offers.

Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza Hotels in North America

Although IHG has spent considerable amount of money trying to bring these two brands to brand standards, there are still great number of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels that have seen their better stays and should be either fixed up or reflagged.

No hip brand

IHG doesn’t have a hip brand like W or Hyatt’s Andaz. The only IHG brand that I like is the InterContinental. IHG tries to market Indigo as a boutique’ish hip brand, but I am not entirely sold on it.

Best Price Guarantee (Getting worse)

This is both the positive and the negative at the same time. The premise of getting a complimentary night if you find a lower price elsewhere is a good one. The hoops that you need to go through to take IHG on their promise, is not.

IHG Rewards Club tweaked the Best Price Guarantee several times in 2013 and made online submissions the only way to file for a one. The Best Price Guarantee department is not properly manned (on purpose) and getting a reply from them can take days.

No list of properties moving up/down

All other programs provide a list of properties moving up and down on the award chart. Earlier this year, IHG didn’t release a list for competitive reasons. This was absolutely ridiculous. For the minimum, they should have provided this as all the other chains do.

No stay/night credit for award stays

IHG Rewards Club started offering stay/night credits for award nights as well that count towards the status qualification..

Priority Club doesn’t give you stay/night credit for award stays like SPG and Hilton do.

Conclusion

If you can live with not very well defined elite benefits and ambiguity, IJG Rewards Club can be very rewarding program. I take advantage of all the promotions and point earning opportunities that IHG Rewards Club has. You can easily earn around 7K points per one night stay if you prorate the promotions per stay.

Although there are some nice Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels (mainly outside of North America), I try to only stay and redeem at IHG’s InterContinental brand.

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