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While the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card doesn’t have the name recognition as, say, the Hilton or Hyatt credit cards, it does cover a wide swath of hotels. Choice Hotels International encompasses over 7,000 properties around the world; brands include Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and Econo Lodge.
The Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card, issued by Barclays, allows you to earn and redeem points at those hotels at a relatively fast clip. If you find yourself frequently staying at any of the Choice hotels, then it could help you earn free nights and upgrades.
Here are five things to know about the card:
1. You earn the highest rewards rate for purchases at eligible Choice hotels
The card comes with three tiers of reward earning categories:
Earn 15 points per $1 spent at eligible Choice hotels. These points are earned through a mix of the credit card and membership in the Choice Privileges Rewards Program: Through the reward program, you earn 10 points per $1 spent, which are awarded when the stay is complete. An additional 3 points per dollar spent are earned through the card account that is linked to the same membership account, and an additional 2 points on top of that are earned from the card itself.
Earn 5 points per $1 spent when you purchase Choice Privileges points.
Earn 2 points per $1 spent for all other purchases with the card.
If you already have a Choice Privileges Rewards Program membership when you apply for the card, then you need to enter the number when you apply; if you don’t have one then you are automatically enrolled and issued a membership number.
2. The card has a healthy sign-up bonus and anniversary rewards
After spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening the card, you'll earn 32,000 bonus points. That’s enough to earn up to 4 free nights at select Choice hotels, but depending on where and when you want to stay, you might be hard-pressed to find nights for as low as 8,000 points.
More common are nightly rates ranging from 12,000 to 20,000 points, which means the sign-up bonus might not stretch as far. A stay at an Ascend hotel, Choice’s most upscale brand, could cost 30,000 points or more per night. The exact point cost of your stay varies by time of year, location, and even which day of the week you plan to stay.
The card also comes with an annual bonus of 8,000 points on your card’s anniversary, as long as you spend $10,000 during the year on the card. But if you don’t stay at Choice hotels all that often, you may be better off spending $10,000 on a general travel card like the Discover it® Miles, which also has a $0 annual fee and earns an UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Even considering the varying points value, those are decent bonuses for a no-fee card.
Choice limits reward bookings to within 100 days from the time of booking. That means if you’re looking for availability on Jan. 1, you won’t see anything available past the 100th day, April 8 or 9. This limited window can be a hurdle when you’re searching for ways to redeem your points.
3. Points can also be redeemed for other rewards
While redeeming points for free nights is probably the best way to squeeze the most value out of your Choice Privileges points, you do have other options: You can transfer points to airline loyalty programs, book vacation rentals, purchase cruises, buy gift cards or donate your points.
But these options will probably offer significantly less value for your points. For example, if you transfer 5,000 Choice Privileges points to United Airlines, you'll only get 2,000 miles. That makes each point less than .5 cent. Points are typically worth more when you’re redeeming them toward free nights.
4. The card also comes with a balance transfer offer
The card offers a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account, which is a useful offer for cardholders looking for short-term financing of large purchases. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is larger.
5. Additional perks help you get more out of your Choice hotel stays
Being a cardholder means you automatically get Choice Privileges Elite Gold Status, which means you earn 10% bonus points on qualifying Choice hotel stays as well as a special reservation and customer service line.