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?