According to this thread on FlyerTalk, the Priority Club hotel group will be changing their award chart to mirror other hotel loyalty programs. Read on to see why this change isn’t good news for frequent guests.

What does the new chart look like?

I have attached a screen shot of the new award chart below.

Priority Club has decided to split their hotels into nine categories. In comparison, Hyatt has six hotel categories. Starwood and Hilton have seven. Marriott was the previous high with eight tiers, but Priority Club now holds that ignominious crown.

When do these changes go into affect?

According to Priority Club’s website, the new award chart will go into effect starting January 18. They are offering a grace period, though. If the number of points it would take to book your award night increases, you can call Priority Club directly through March 18 and ask for the original point price. Note that that this can’t be done online. You will have to call their customer service line to receive the old price.

What did the old award chart look like?

Priority Club differed from other hotel programs in that each chain had a specific redemption price. For example, Candlewood Suites, no matter the city or room rate, could be booked for either 25,000 or 35,000 points. The “old” chart can be seen below:

Loyalty programs like Starwood Preferred Guest adjust their award charts based on demand and prevailing room rates. For example, a Sheraton award night would cost more points in a city like London that is notorious for high room rates. The Sheraton brand doesn’t have a fixed point price like Priority Club’s old chart.

How can I see which hotels will be increasing or decreasing in price?

You can’t, unfortunately. You will have to check property by property to see whether a hotel was negatively or positively affected starting on January 18.

What does Priority Club’s change mean for travelers?

An end to sweet spot hotel redemptions, to a certain extent. Under the old award chart, you could book a room at the Holiday Inn Express-Times Square or Staybridge Suites in New York for 25,000 points. Room rates in New York are sky-high, especially during the holidays, but those properties represented a great value in terms of points per dollar and location in the city.

I have a sinking feeling that properties such as this (and even the Hotel Indigo in Chelsea) will now require more points for an award night. After January 18, I will report back and see if my suspicions were confirmed.

When the news broke of this change, my first thought was actually to Miami. One of my favorite hotels is the Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach. The property has a loose association as a Crowne Plaza, but I love it for its location, spacious suite-like rooms, and atmosphere.

I had booked the hotel several times in the past for 35,000 points/night because it was labeled as a Crowne Plaza by Priority Club. Now I fear that it will become a 45,000-50,000/night hotel, especially because I routinely see room rates at the Z Ocean fluctuate between $400-$600 during peak travel times. Again, I will wait and see, but I’m certainly not expecting it to remain at the current redemption level.

With nine award categories to play with, Priority Club can now meticulously tweak each property to match with demand and prevailing room rates in the area.

Has Priority Club made any other negative changes to the program recently?

Actually, yes! This new award chart is actually one year removed from another award chart adjustment. Like I discussed above, Priority Club assigned a point value to each brand in its portfolio, though it was fixed.

Last January Priority Club announced point redemptions would vary within each brand. For example, Hotel Indigo properties were always 25,000 points. Under the 2012 change, they could be 25k-35k depending on the day or city.

For a complete discussion of Priority Club’s 2012 award chart devaluation, check out the FlyerTalk discussion here.

Are PointBreaks still intact?

Yes, but the lists of participating hotels appear to be shortening each year.

PointBreaks hotels can be booked for 5,000 points, which can represent a huge savings. Some Intercontinental properties normally cost 50,000 points per night, so 5,000 is a 90% discount.

Priority Club typically announces new lists after their old lists expire and gives a booking deadline. If you are flexible with your dates or a hotel on the list coincides with your travel plans, there are some great deals to be had.

Make sure to check out Scott’s great post on How to Book Any PointsBreak Hotel for $35/night.

Can Scott’s method be applied to normal award night bookings?

Yes. This little workaround has been discussed quite a bit throughout the points-collecting community, so I won’t rehash too much. If you use this trick for a standard award night with the new chart, you will pay the following amounts:

  • Category 1          $70
  • Category 2          $105
  • Category 3          $140
  • Category 4          $175
  • Category 5          $210
  • Category 6          $245
  • Category 7          $280
  • Category 8          $315
  • Category 9          $350
I had a weekend stay at the Intercontinental-Times Square in December. I used 50,000 points for one night and the other was my award night certificate for paying the $49 annual fee on my Chase Priority Club Visa. When I booked my stay, room rates in the city were all $500+. Paying $350 for a night certainly isn’t palatable, but in certain situations, it could make sense.

Recap

Priority Club has made a drastic change to their award chart. The chart is no longer sorted by brand. Each individual property will be sorted into one of nine categories.

This change brings Priority Club’s chart in line with the other major hotel chains, but it’s probably not good news for travelers. The old chart allowed for sweet spots in certain cities with traditionally high room rates.

Hotel point valuations are still in the works, but Priority Club points have an easy ceiling with Scott’s trick highlighted above. They can be freely bought at .7 cents and should be valued no higher than that rate.

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