Priority Club Increases Cost of Cash & Points Awards

Starwood cash and points discounts the point cost of a room, and has you make a cash payment directly to the hotel. The awards are capacity-controlled — a hotel will make cash and points awards available only when it doesn’t expect to be sold out. That’s because in sold out situations (actually > 90% occupancy), Starwood will reimburse the hotel its average daily room rate. But not on a cash and points booking. So they don’t want cash and points to displace a paying guest.

Priority Club, though, introduced its cash and points feature as essentially discounted points purchase. Instead of using, say, 25000 points for a room when the benefit was introduced you could use 20,000 points + $30 or 15,000 points and $60. The nice thing about that is it’s not capacity controlled (any award night that can be purchased on points can generally be booked as cash and points).

That meant whether you were using cash instead of 5000 points or instead of 10,000 points you were making up the difference at $0.006 per point.

Priority Club upped the cost of the 5000 point option to $40, but left the 10,000 point option at $60 meaning it was a much better deal to buy 10,000 points with the reservation. (Since that meant buying points at $0.006 instead of $0.008).

Now, as flagged by Lucky, Priority Club has increased the cost of the 10,000 point option to $70, or $0.007 per point. Not the end of the world, but frustrating that it was done with no notice whatsoever (as past changes have often been made with this program, unfortunately).

It’s been written several times in the past, so not divulging secrets (and I even wrote about it three years ago, that when you make a cash and points reservation and then cancel it, you don’t get the cash back. Instead, since you’ve effectively bought the points at a discount to the usual ~ penny a point they’re sold at, you get the full points back into your account. Which makes booking and cancelling cash and points reservations a back door way to buy points from Priority Club at a discount, provided you have enough points in your account to start with (5000) to make the minimum-required cash and points reservation. The price of this ‘backdoor points purchase’ has thus gone up from $0.006 to $0.007 per point.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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