How Bad Will New Priority Club Award Chart Be?

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About a week ago Priority Club massively overhauled their award chart, and as of January 18th they will be switching to this all new pricing model for award nights.  For those new to miles and points, massive overhauls to award charts are rarely good things.  In fact, Priority Club just did a different major change to their chart only a year ago.  Major changes two years running denotes a very unstable award program in my view.  For me, Priority Club was a great value for their quarterly PointBreaks where hotels cost just 5,000 points per night (though it has now been a couple years since I was able to book one for myself), and it can be a handy program since you could basically purchase points for .7 cents a piece whenever you want (google is your friend for details on that one).  However, frequent and major changes make me happy this is not my primary program.   So this big questions is how bad will the award chart change actually be?

Current Award Chart:

The current chart prices award nights based on the brand of hotel within the Priority Club/Intercontinental Hotel Group family.  Aside from PointBreaks, hotel award nights cost somewhere between 10,000 – 50,000 points per night, depending on the brand and the category within the brand.  As you can see below, a Candlewood Suite will only cost either 15,000 or 20,000 points.  This means that there are some good values to be had with a Candlewood Suite that is located in an expensive city since it is a brand that is priced very low.  Thanks to View From the Wing for a copy of the old award chart!

A perfect example of this is the one in Candlewood Suites Times Square.  At .7 cents a point, you can get that hotel for $140 (20,000 points).  Great deal.  The Holiday Inn Express Times Square and Staybridge Suites Times Square ring in currently at 25,000 points per night, also solid options.  Another example is the Crowne Plaza brand which will cost you either 25,000 or 35,000 points.  I have stayed at the Crowne Plaza Times Square on points and it was also a decent deal (though it was a better deal when I booked it a year ago at 25,000 points as opposed to the current 35,000 points).  Essentially most of the great “values” in the award chart came from brands that were maxed out at a nightly cost much below the maximum 50,000 points per night for Intercontinental Hotels.

Some other good options to consider before they likely change rates are:

tHoliday Inn May Fair in London for 25,000 points (this hotel also permits two adults and two children to stay in the same room which is unusual for London)

Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki (25,000 points)

Holiday Inn Daring Harbour in Sydney (25,000 points)

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives (25,000 points)

Holiday Inn Paris Opera (25,000 points – new hotel)

New Award Chart:

Well, that is now all changing as they are going to a model that offers 9 different categories.  The points per night range will still be from 10,000 – 50,000 points per night (at least they didn’t raise the ceiling), but now the individual brands don’t have separate caps.  You could theoretically now have Crowne Plazas, Hotel Indigos, or even Holiday Inns coming in at or near 50,000 points per night when that rate was previously reserved for Intercontinentals.  I have no doubt that properties like Candlewood Suites in Manhattan will no longer be just 20,000 points per night, but will instead likely increase several categories from there.  The bad news is that I would bet any properties like than in major cities around the world that were held to lower point totals simply because of their brand, will almost certainly increase in their “points cost” per night.

The Good News:

There is some good news.  Mainly that even though the new chart will go live on January 18th without us knowing exactly what the changes will look for individual properties ike before then, there will be a grace period through March 18th where you can call Priority Club and book at the old points rate.  Of course, you have to know to do that by following forums like Flyertalk or Milepoint or reading blogs like this one, but since anyone reading this falls into one of those categories, then you are covered for at least a couple more months.  Since you can usually cancel without penalty until a few days before your reservation, you can go ahead and lock in any speculative bookings at hotels that are increasing in category that will cover your travels for the next year or so.  Loyalty Lobby is working on a complete list of all hotels and their current point categories, so that will be very helpful in identifying which properties went up and down.

The other good news is that some hotels will go down in category.  According to Priority Club while less 1/3 of the hotels will increase in category, more than 1/3 will decrease in category and there will now be 500 hotels at the 10,000 points per night category.  Of course we all know that most of the desirable properties in popular locations will be the ones that increase while the hotels that are not on as many peoples “must visit” list will be the ones decreasing in category.  Still, undoubtedly some people will benefit from some properties that are decreasing in their points cost.

Are you making any speculative bookings now….just in case?

 

Comments

  1. I’ve already booked by Holiday Inn hotel for Oktoberfest at 25k/night and its going for $300+ USD. I booked it because I have a feeling that this one will definitely go up because of the price.

  2. I would like to book some ahead of the change date but my travel plans arent firm yet. However I will be watching to see if any of my current reservations on points go down I will be rebooking those for sure. I’m sad about the changes. Priority club is one of my favorite programs for hotels and I fear it is turning into Hhonors or Marriott. I’m also not a fan of 9 (NINE !) levels of rooms. Why not 25 levels or 100. Better yet how about 4…

  3. You hit it on the nose with the NYC properties. If you want to stay there this year, then you have until the Jan 18th to book through a Cashback site to get a rebate.

  4. I’m planning a Vegas trip for later this year so I’m actually hoping that the Venetian and Palazzo go down a notch or two. Depending how things look after the 18th, I may be making speculative bookings for every Ohio State Home game at the HIE near campus. I’ll only attend 1 or 2 but won’t know which ones I’ll have tickets for until late summer.

  5. I booked one night at the brand new Hotel Indigo Earls Court (25K) for an upcoming trip and four nights (25K per)at my favorite redemption value: Holiday Inn-Notre Dame, which has a very high trip advisor score and has really nice comfortable rooms in the heart of Notre-Dame/St. Michel.

    I assume both of these properties will go up.

    Also, I love the Hotel Indigo NYC in the flower district as an other excellent redemption. I find the Indigo hotels to be wannabe W’s at a fraction of the price and overall seek them out when the Hyatt’s are too pricey (like in Paris)

  6. On average, things will probably be about the same. Many or most “Deals” will go away and some overpriced Intercons etc will get cheaper. There will be less opportunity to take advantage of favorable rates.

  7. I’ve stayed at the Candlewood in Times Square several times using Priority Club points. Last year it was only 15,000 points then raised to 20,000. Next door to the Candlewood (part of the same building) is a Holiday Inn express which went for 25,000 Priority Club points and behind it a Staybridge Suites (again part of the same building) increased from 20,000 to 25,000 points. I expect all three properties to increase. All good things come to an end. Next to the Candlewood is a Hampton Inn (same building) which will stay at 40,000 HH points. All 5 properties are essentially the same.

  8. Nice analysis. This change might make Anyhotel and Meeting Credit cards a slightly more attractive redemption option, particularly if you have the PC visa and can shave 10% more off the points cost. I look at some valuations on my most recent blog post. I occasionally use these cards to do an (expensive) end run around IC/PC’s lack of status recognition on award stays.

  9. Just recently booked 4 nights at the Staybridge in Times Square for Fleet Week. One of the better redemption options through Priority Club. I actually used this same example on my blog recently. Glad I booked it sooner, rather than later if they are re-vamping the award chart!

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