Friday, January 11, 2013

Priority Club Award Chart Revision- Alternative uses of PC points

As you've probably heard Priority Club is "enhancing" it's award chart.  Gary's post on this, along with another of my favorite bloggers Mommypoints, prompted me to do some thinking about the Priority Club Program and some alternate uses for PC points, including some potentially useful gift card redemptions.

As many bloggers have lamented, PC is a great program for earning points, but can be frustrating on the redemption side if you have status in the program.  Mrs. Pointsninja and I have been fortunate enough to have Royal Ambassador status for several years, but officially, RA status is almost worthless for award stays.  Many Intercontinentals go above and beyond the official requirements, of course, but you can't count on it.

In the past that has left me with a bit of a dilemma when booking IC award stays, my most common use of PC points.  Should I book on points or should I pay cash?  One common tactic is to pay cash for the first night and book subsequent nights on points.  This will usually result in your status being honored for the entire stay. 

But what if you are as averse to shelling out cash as I am?  Well that's where the alternative uses of PC points come in.  It's not well publicized, but PC has one reward option that is, to my knowledge, unique.  The Anyhotel Gift Card.  These are Amex branded gift cards that can be used at any hotel that accepts Amex.  The problem is that the cards are generally a poor value.  Full breakdown after the jump:

I value PC points at around .6 cents per point.  When redeemed for Anyhotel cards, their value drops to .29cpp ($250 card costs 85,000 pts.).  Of course, you can get a 10% points rebate if you have the PC Visa Signature card, but that's still a pretty low value.  Recently I discovered another option, though.  Priority Club Meeting Credits.  This is also an Amex branded (Ed:  the card is now branded as Mastercard, an improvement in my estimation) gift card, and is usable "for personal travel" and are "valid for payment at any hotels in the IHG Family of Brands hotel worldwide."  The good news is that in this version, the $250 card "only" costs 65,000 points.  That's still a .38 cpp redemption value, but it beats the heck out of the Anyhotel card.  One final note about these cards is that they can be used for paid bookings that will earn points (and have PC status honored).  That cuts a little more out of the true cost.

A third option, is to redeem your points directly for stays at other hotels through the Hotels Anywhere program.  This is an especially poor value in my experience.  As a test, I found a BAR or $124.00 at a local Hampton.  The redemption rate through Hotels Anywhere was 46,000 PC points.  Ouch!  That's a measly .269cpp return, and the circumstances would have to be pretty extreme before I'd recommend it.

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