The Jury Is Out on New Priority Club Award Prices

When Priority Club announced that it would be putting in place a new award-pricing scheme based on categories rather than hotel brands, the natural question was whether the new award chart would amount to a price increase.

The new award prices were published on the Priority Club website on January 18. So, are they higher, lower, or the same?

The answer: It depends. And it's not easy to tell.

According to Priority Club, award prices were raised for 30 percent of the hotels and lowered for another 30 percent.

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Does that mean the pluses offset the minuses, resulting in no net change?

Not at all. A two-category increase here is not mitigated by a one-category decrease there. And vice versa.

And a price increase at a more popular property carries more weight than a comparable decrease at a less popular property.

Perhaps it was too much to expect that Priority Club would provide a hotel-by-hotel list comparing the old and new award prices. With more than 4,500 hotels in the network, it would be a long list indeed. But without such a side-by-side comparison, it's impossible to get a global view of the changes.

And even if there were such a list, it wouldn't account for a member's individual hotel preferences.

Locking In Lower Prices

Whenever a hotel program changes its award prices, there's typically a grace period during which members may continue booking at the old prices, if they're lower than the new ones.

Priority Club alludes to such an option in this case:

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 the Priority Club Service Center to reserve your Reward Night and ask for the original point price. This offer is valid through March 18, 2013.

But since the original prices no longer appear on Priority Club's website, there's no easy way to know whether the new price is higher or lower than the old one. So suggesting that program members "simply" call is disingenuous. They shouldn't have to. And most won't.

Reader Reality Check

Have you checked award prices at Priority Club hotels that are important to you? Are they higher or lower than they used to be?

How do you think Priority Club handled the change to the new award chart?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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