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As a new Intercontinental Royal Ambassador, I’ve been trying to figure out the ins and outs of the Priority Club and Ambassador programs so I can pay as little as possible for my stays and earn the maximum amount of points possible. While every hotel chain has its quirks, I’m finding that maximizing Priority Club to require a little more time and energy than I originally thought.

The thing I find most annoying is that you have to click through special links to get special rates. For example, with Hyatt or Starwood, you can enter in a number of different rate codes and keep refreshing the screen so you can compare them with the Best Available or Corporate rate. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I have a ton of windows open when checking out different rates and it can definitely get confusing.

However, I did save a ton of money by using the discount links that I found on PriorityClubInsider.com (a blog focused on maximizing Priority Club points). Since I’m in Europe right now and planning several stays, here are a couple quick links priorityclubinsider.com provided for getting good rates on Europe/Middle East/Africa stays, so test out before committing to a rate:

“1. Staying 2 nights? Try the 2-4-1 deal running at many hotels. If you’re staying for more than 2 nights you will need to make a separate reservation for each period of two nights

2. Try 25% off during the week or 35% off a weekends on this rate

3. Staying 3 nights? Try the 3-4-2 deal running at a number of hotels.

4. The “Friends and Family” discount gives around 30% off – but you need to book 7 days out

If you use the Friends & Family rate you probably won’t earn points, so keep that in mind. Also, you technically need to know an employee at Priority Club, but as Million Mile Secrets pointed out, a VP for IHG Hotels is offering to be anyone’s “friend” if they want to use the rate.

They also have a ridiculous amount of promotions – whether individual hotel, Priority Club or  Intercontinental Ambassador – there is a lot going on. The good thing is that you can really rack up points by signing up for them – the bad news is you have to keep track of them. Something else that bothers me is that they often make you guess how many stays you’ll have in the upcoming couple months and then register for a promotion accordingly. For example, their quarterly promotion from July 1- September 30 is a choice of either:

Stay 3 nights, Get 5,000 points – Code 3567
Stay 4 nights, Get 5,000 points – Code 1555
Stay 7 nights, Get 10,000 points – Code 8564
Stay 8 nights, Get 10,000 points – Code 6565
Stay 10 nights, Get 10,000 points – Code 3568
Stay 12 nights, Get 10,000 points – Code 1563
Stay 15 nights, Get 15,000 points – Code 8565
Stay 18 nights, Get 15,000 points– Code 9549

The problem is that once you register for one of these, you cannot change it. So if you only have three nights planned and you register for that promo, you are capped at that bonus even if you end up staying 18 nights. I don’t know why they wouldn’t structure their promotion to encourage you to stay more than you originally planned. That’s how Hyatt and Starwood promotions work and I appreciate that flexibility.

Other promos:
Double Points May 16- Aug 15, 2011
Ambassador Accelerator 20,000 points after 15 Intercontinental nights

To register for a promotion, go to http://www.priorityclub.com/register and then enter your Priority Club number and promo code. While I generally recommend signing up for as many promotions as possible (and there are a ton as outlined in this Flyertalk thread), just be careful of the promotions that only allow you to register once. Even though many of these promotions are targeted, many people report getting the points even if they weren’t technically eligible. It can’t hurt to try!

Another key concern that I have is that I’m jumping through all of these hoops to get Priority Club points, but when I end up using them at high-end hotels, my Royal Ambassador status will most likely be ignored because those benefits only work on paid stays. However, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Overall, there’s quite a learning curve required with Priority Club, but I’m confident I’ll get the hang of it all soon thanks to the expert advice of TPG readers, fellow bloggers and Flyertalk. As always, if you have any tips, please feel free to share them below!

Key resources:
Ric over at Loyalty Traveler gives a good run through of Priority Club bonuses
PriorityClubInsider.com is the go-to source for PC scoop
Flyertalk Intercontinental/ Priority Club Forum especially the Promotion Discussion Sticky

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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