Forget everything you knew about Priority Club's award chart, which prices the program's free nights according to hotel brand (InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and so on).
There's a change a comin', and it goes way beyond the annual rejiggering we have come to expect from most major hotel programs.
Beginning on January 18, the number of points required for free Priority Club nights will vary by individual hotel, not brand, and be classified by "price category." In other words, less expensive hotels will cost fewer points and more expensive hotels will cost more points.
There will be nine categories, ranging in price from 10,000 points to 50,000 points. That's the same price range now in effect with the brand-based pricing. So the minimum and maximum award prices will remain the same.
Pricing award nights more or less according to the price of a comparable paid room night is industry-standard practice. Priority Club isn't breaking any new ground here; they're going mainstream.
What remains to be seen—because Priority Club hasn't yet published the new prices—is how many hotels, and which specific properties, fall into each category. That will determine whether the new scheme amounts to an overall price increase, decrease, or is price-neutral.
If it turns out to be a price increase, that will amount to a devaluation of Priority Club points. It's too late to give program members much advance notice of the change, but at a minimum members should be given a grace period during which they can redeem at the current price levels, if they're lower than the new ones.
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.