The battle for travel reward points is hotting up, with Intercontinental aiming its sights at disgruntled Hilton HHonors members.

Hilton upped the cost of its loyalty programme in mid January, advising members that the number of points required for a free night in a Hilton hotel would rise by 20 percent. Competitor Intercontinental has offered two million points in its own program, Priority Club, to the person with the highest number of Hilton HHonors points. This equates to roughly 80 free nights in one of Intercontinental's hotels, which includes the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands.

As a runner up prize, the top 20,000 "Lucky Losers" will win up to 20 percent of their current HHonors balance in Priority Club points (up to 20,000 points). Entrants must already be Priority Club members and mus enter online at

Loyalty club points are big business for hotel chains, particularly among business travelers who often use them for leisure holidays. Intercontinental, for instance, has 43 million members world wide, whilst Marriott has 30 million and Hilton and Starwood 25 million (according to Inside Flyer magazine). During the recession, points have become even more important to consumers, with Intercontinental estimating that 10 percent more points were redeemed in 2009 than 2008.

"We know from research that the value of loyalty points currency is paramount to members," said Don Berg, vice president, Loyalty Programmes, IHG. "Travelers depend on their rewards to help them cover the costs of their summer vacations and weekend-getaways".

British airline British Airways also launching a points competition February 3, with one winner set to scoop one million BA Miles to spend travelling around the world.