Last year, my wife got the Chase Priority Club card with an 80,000 point sign up bonus. As such, my ears perked up when I heard about changes to the Priority Club Reward program.
Here’s what’s changing:
Priority Club will be changing to a nine tier hotel category system. This is much like other hotel programs where category one hotels require a different redemption rate than category 5 hotels.
Here are the new redemption rates:
- Category 1 – 10,000
- Category 2 – 15,000
- Category 3 – 20,000
- Category 4 – 25,000
- Category 5 – 30,000
- Category 6 – 35,000
- Category 7 – 40,000
- Category 8 – 45,000
- Category 9 – 50,000
Previously, Priority Club had a flat redemption rate according to hotel brand. That meant that a Holiday Inn had similar points redemption rates across the board.
Here’s the previous max that you could pay according to each hotel brand:
- Holiday Inn – 25,000
- Holiday Inn Express – 25,000
- Candlewood – 20,000
- Staybride – 25,000
- Crown Plaza – 35,000
- Hotel Indigo – 35,000
- InterContinental – 50,000
Is this good news or bad? Probably bad.
Under the old system, you could stay at any Holiday Inn anywhere in the world, during any busy season, and you knew that you wouldn’t pay more than 25,000 points. However, under the new system, I suspect more expensive locations at peak times will cost more points now. This means that some of the best value hotels will probably disappear and be upgraded to a more expensive category.
As an example, one of my favorite hotel redemptions with Priority Club is the Holiday Inn Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. In fact, I’ll be staying there one night this month and one night next month. Rooms cost $335 because Port Moresby is crazy expensive. However, right now I can get a room there for 20,000 points (or 15,000 +$40, 10,000 +$70). I usually opt for the 10,000 +$70 option and pay the equivalency of about $100 worth of cash and points. When I made my original booking, it was only 5,000 points plus $60 in cash.
Other locations in expensive cities (i.e. New York) will probably be affected by the change.
Priority Club has yet to reveal which category specific hotels will belong to. You’ll need to wait until January 18th, 2013 to get that information. The most likely conclusion is that the more expensive the hotel is, the more points it will cost for a redemption.
Here’s the exact statement from the Priority Club Rewards page:
The Reward Night chart above is effective January 18, 2013. If the hotel that you originally planned to book now requires more points, simply call to reserve your Reward Night and ask for the original point price. This offer is valid through March 18, 2013.
The good news here is that until March 18, 2013 you’ll be able to book using the old rates. These rates go into effect January 18th, 2013. If you make a booking between January 18th, 2013 and March 18th, 2013 and the rate is higher under the new system, you’ll need to call Priority Club customer service to have them adjust the rate.
I just marked my calendar to remind me on the 12th of March to check any upcoming Priority Club stays to be sure that I have the lowest rate possible. I’ll still be watching for my favorite way to redeem Priority Club points – PointBreaks.