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Choice Hotels and its loyalty program, Choice Privilege Rewards, isn’t usually the first that pops into mind when thinking of great options for luxury hotels and points redemption in the hospitality industry. That title is usually reserved for programs like Hyatt or even Hilton and Marriott. But thanks to Choice’s large footprint, valuable redemption options and upscale partners, if you are looking to use points for hotel stays, Choice should be on your radar.
Choice Hotels has been around since 1939 when the company, first known as Quality Courts United, Inc., started out as a non profit consisting of just seven properties located in Florida.
In 1972, the company changed its name to Quality Inns International. In 1981, it established its Comfort hotel brand, which would later become the company’s flagship brand. In 1990, the chain finally became known as Choice Hotels International, the same name it continues to go by today and it continues to expand its footprint into the luxury hotel market.
Today, Choice Hotels operates over 7,000 in 41 countries.
Choice Hotel Brands
Choice’s lineup of hotels includes 11 brands ranging from economy options, to extended stays, to even some higher end properties:
- Economy: Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn
- Mid Tier: Comfort, Quality Inn, Clarion, Sleep Inn
- Extended Stays: Suburban Extended Stay, Mainstay Suites, Woodspring Suites
- Upscale: Cambria, Ascend
Additionally, there is Nordic Choice Hotels, which is a franchise of Choice. Nordic Choice Hotels is the largest hospitality brand in Scandinavia and includes over 200 properties in the region. They operate 3 Choice brands, which can be booked through Choice.com. These include:
- Comfort Hotels
- Quality Hotels
- Clarion Hotels
Preferred Hotels, an affiliate of the Choice Privilege Rewards program, is another option to use your Choice points. It’s also one of the best ways to get value out of your Choice Privilege points. Preferred Hotels offers a number of upscale luxury and boutique hotels both within the United States and internationally.
How to Earn Points With Choice
Choice Hotels’ loyalty program is known as Choice Privilege Rewards and members of the program earn Choice points. You can begin earning Choice points as soon as you sign up for a free account.
Choice offers several ways to earn Choice points including hotel stays, spending on the co-branded Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card*, through transfer partners, shopping portals and more.
Through Hotel Stays
The first and most obvious way to earn Choice points is by staying at participating Choice properties.
Eligible hotels include all hotels in the Choice portfolio with the exception of Woodspring Suites, as they do not participate in the program. Hotels located in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, which are run by Nordic Choice Hotels, also do not earn Choice points for stays. However, Nordic Choice does have its own loyalty program, Nordic Choice Club, so visitors to Nordic Choice Hotels have an option to earn points for their stays.
The Choice program has several other exclusions to be aware of when earning points for hotel stays. Rooms booked at rates below $40 USD per night are ineligible to earn Choice points. Also, Choice only awards points on up to four rooms per night for a single member. This means that if you have more than four rooms, you’ll want to make sure another Choice Privilege Rewards member uses their loyalty account to make sure someone is earning points for all rooms you book.
Exclusions aside, Choice members earn 10 Choice points for every dollar spent at eligible Choice hotels. Members earn up to 15 Choice points per dollar if they pay with a Choice Privilege Visa Signature card. Additionally, elite members can earn an additional bonus on their Choice points.
All levels of membership, regardless of status, earn a base rate of 10 Choice points per dollar spent on eligible room rates. But if you have elite status you also earn an elite point bonus. These are the bonuses each elite status tier earns.
- Gold: 10% bonus
- Platinum: 25% bonus
- Diamond: 50% bonus
If a Choice Rewards member pays for a night at a Choice property that costs $100 a night, they will earn 1,000 Choice points. With the Platinum elite status bonus of 25%, they would earn an additional 250 Choice points, for a total of 1,250 Choice points for the stay.
Through Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card*
The Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card* issued by Barclays bank is the only co-branded card available for Choice hotels. The card carries no annual fee and this can be an easy way to quickly load up on Choice points. Here is what the card offers:
- Welcome Bonus: 32,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
- Anniversary Bonus: Earn 8,000 Choice points each anniversary year when you spend $10,000 or more.
- Elite Gold Status: Automatically earn Choice’s elite Gold status after opening a new account.
Additionally, the card earns 5 points per dollar spent at eligible Choice Hotels, including the purchase of Choice Privileges® points and Choice Hotels gift card purchases. Earn 2 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
Through Transfer Partners
Choice Hotels offers a few options to transfer points from credit card transferable programs. like other programs, but fortunately, there are a few.
- American Express Membership Rewards: Membership Rewards transfer to Choice at a rate of 1:1.
- Capital One Miles: Capital One Venture points will transfer to Choice hotels at a rate of 1:1.
- Diners Club: Diners Club transfer at a rate of 1,250 Club Rewards points to 2,400 Choice Privileges points
The Choice Privileges Online Mall is another way to earn extra Choice points on purchases you are already making. To start earning, you’ll need to sign in with your Choice Privilege account information. No additional enrollment is required for the Choice Privileges Mall.
Choice points will show up in your account as pending within five days from making your purchase. Once purchases are approved, your Choice points will be posted to your account within 24 hours.
Buying Choice Points
Buying points, especially speculatively, often results in terrible value and it’s not recommended in most cases. Occasionally, you may find yourself needing to top off an account for a stay, and in this case, buying points could make sense. Always check the cost of the hotel against buying Choice points to see which option will result in better value.
Here are the things you should know about purchasing Choice points:
- Transactions are processed through Points.com, so you won’t receive any credit card category bonuses.
- Buying points does not help if you are chasing elite status.
- Choice points go on sale frequently with bonus rates on point sales vary and range from a 30% bonus all the way to 50%.
- Members can purchase up to 250,000 Choice points per year.
- You may gift someone up to 180,000 Choice points each calendar year.
You can buy Choice points on Points.com. Remember that you won’t receive any credit card bonuses for travel when shopping through Points.com. Make sure to have your account information ready as you’ll be required to enter it in order to purchase Choice points.
The cost of Choice points depends on how many you purchase––the fewer Choice points purchased, the higher the price. The highest rate you will see is 1.31 cents per point.
Choice frequently runs lucrative promotions for purchasing points, so make sure to keep an eye out for those.
Earning Elite Status
Elite status in any hotel program can be the key to unlocking valuable perks, and Choice is no different. Members earn access to several benefits including early check-in, late check-out, free parking, and points bonuses when they achieve elite status with Choice.
There are several ways to earn status including staying at an eligible Choice property, status matching from another loyalty program, fast tracking and credit card spending.
Earning status through staying at Choice properties is the first option. Choice offers a basic membership tier and 3 levels of elite status. Each is earned by staying a given number of nights at Choice hotels.
Through December 31, 2021, Choice has reduced the stay requirements to earn status. These are the levels along with the current required number of nights for 2021 needed to reach each status tier.
- Member: 0 nights. This level is automatically assigned with enrollment in the Choice Privilege Rewards loyalty program.
- Gold: 7 nights
- Platinum: 15 nights
- Diamond: 25 nights
Like many other programs, Choice also offers elite status through a status match. Members can match up to Choice’s mid-tier status, Platinum and status matching is limited to once per lifetime.
Matched status is valid for the current year but only when the status match is grated between January to June. When matched anytime between July to December, elite status is valid for the rest of the current year and following year.
To being the process of status matching, you’ll need to send an email to Status_Match@choicehotels.com and include the following information:
- Your full name
- Choice Privileges membership number
- Proof of Elite status in another hotel program: A screenshot or copy of your other program’s loyalty card or current statement or account status and include the expiration date.
In addition to outright status matches for lower-tier elite levels, Choice offers a hybrid status match/fast track option to Diamond status. Known as the Cambria Diamond Elite Status Jump, an eligible stay at a Cambria hotel combined with elite status in another hotel rewards program can qualify you for the Diamond Elite Status Jump.
Finally, elite status can be earned through the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card*. New cardholders are automatically issued Choice’s Gold elite status.
Now that we know how to earn elite status, let’s see what Choice offers their most loyal customers.
As you can see, basic members receive few benefits whereas top tier Diamonds not only receive more perks, but have a drastically better earning rate.
Redeeming Choice Points
Choice no longer publishes an award chart and prices vary seasonally. Generally, Choice hotels will not cost more than 35,000 Choice points or less than 8,000 Choice points. When using “Points Plus Cash,” redemptions start at 6,000 Choice points, with a cash co-pay.
Preferred Hotels redemptions is an exception to Choice’s pricing, as they can cost up to 55,000 Choice points per night. The other exception are hotels in the Asia-Pacific region where properties cost up to 70,000 Choice points per night.
Choice recently introduced another option called FlexRewards. Hotels participating in the FlexRewards program offer discounted award nights on certain days depending on the property. To find a FlexRewards night, you don’t need to do anything special. Simply run a normal award night search and if there is a FlexReward available on that night, Choice will display the FlexReward price accordingly.
The Comfort Hotel Bolivar in Rome, Italy is a great example of using Choice Points for free nights. The property participates in Choice’s FlexRewards program, so during specific weeknights, a free night costs just 8,000 Choice points.
View from the Comfort Hotel Bolivar in Rome, Italy, a Choice Hotels property.
Points Plus Cash
If you find yourself short on Choice points, you can utilize Choice’s “Points Plus Cash” option. To use “Points Plus Cash,” you need at least 6,000 Choice points in your account. You can then buy the remaining Choice points needed to book at a cost of $7.50 per 1,000 Choice points.
Choice offers members the ability to use their Choice points for more than just free nights. Choice Privileges members can redeem Choice points for a variety of third-party and Visa gift cards.
Using your Choice points for gift cards may seem like an exciting option, especially if you have no plans for travel. Unfortunately, like many other points programs, Choice Privileges offers poor value for gift card redemptions.
Gift cards start out at 8,000 Choice points for $25. To put that in perspective, 8,000 Choice points can get you a free night at a property like the Hotel Bolivar in Rome, Italy, which costs around $100.00 per night.
If you do decide to redeem your Choice points for a gift card, the process is simple. Head over to the Choice website and log in to your Choice Privileges account. Gift cards are organized by category and include travel, shopping, restaurants and more. Select the gift card you want. You’ll be redirected to a new page where you can verify the amount and quantity.
You can get one digital gift card per transaction or four physical gift cards per transaction. Purchases are limited to one transaction every 48 hours. Once you complete the purchase, the transaction cannot be canceled or refunded.
Choice Hotels does not charge any fees on stays, bookings or other Choice point redemptions.
Locally, standard taxes and fees where applicable could apply. Some hotels may also charge resort fees, over and above the cost of booking. Check with the property if you are unsure whether or not there will be any fees.
Choice Hotels’ sweet spots are hard to find because their award prices are tied to cash prices, but one of the best places to look for great value is with Choice’s partner, Preferred Hotels.
To search for Preferred Hotels, head over to their website. Once there, you will need to find and verify that the property you are interested in has availability. Once confirmed, you can call into reservations at 888-770-6800 to book. Online booking is currently unavailable.
The SOPHY Hyde Park is a beautiful boutique hotel located in Chicago. The property can run north of $350 a night on weekends. At publication, this hotel was available for 35,000 Choice points a night.
Choice points expire after 18 months of inactivity. In order to keep them from being forfeited, you need to complete at least one qualifying activity every 18 months. Qualifying activities include staying a night at a Choice property, using the Choice Privileges Visa Signature card, shopping through the Choice Privileges Online Mall, purchasing points and referring a friend.
Due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, Choice extended the expiration of Choice points for elite status members through December 31, 2021.
Choice does not offer options for family pooling.
The Choice Privilege Rewards program is full of value, it just takes a little more work to find it. From booking with partners in more luxurious hotels or finding cheap options in popular locations, using Choice points can offer excellent value and save you a lot of money.