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Choice Privileges, the loyalty program from Choice Hotels International Inc., has two credit cards in a partnership with Wells Fargo and Mastercard: The Choice Privileges® Mastercard® and Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard®.
These credit card offers the chance to earn Choice Privileges points that you can redeem at the growing number of Choice family hotels worldwide. This includes more than 7,500 hotels and more than 20 hotel brands such as:
Country Inn & Suites.
The Ascend Hotel Collection.
The Choice Privileges® Mastercard® has a $0 annual fee, but the Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard® has a $0 for the first year, then $95 thereafter. So is it worth it to pay the annual fee on the higher tier card?
Earning rates on the Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard®
With this card in your wallet, the biggest earnings will come from spending at Choice Privileges properties, which means if you rarely stay at them, you are not going to maximize the value here.
There are other bonus categories that can come in handy, especially if your travel plans are taking you somewhere Choice has a hotel. In short, this card makes the most sense for frequent Choice guests.
Here’s what you can expect with the card:
10x points when staying at participating Choice hotels.
5x points at gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores and on phone plans.
1x points on all other spending.
Automatic Platinum elite status in Choice Privileges. This comes in the form of 20 elite night credits added to your account each year. You can grow to higher status levels more easily with additional stays.
No foreign currency conversion fees.
Access to World Elite Mastercard benefits.
When staying at eligible Choice properties, cardmembers will earn 10 points per dollar spent plus the 25% status bonus for Platinum elites. Rates vary at extended stay properties, and WoodSpring Suites does not participate in Choice Privileges.
At participating hotels, a member can earn points on as many as four rooms per night under the same name.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
What are the benefits of Gold Elite status?
Since one of the perks is instant Gold Elite status, cardholders can expect:
25% bonus on points earned at participating Choice hotels.
Early check-in and late checkout.
Reserved parking at properties in the U.S. and Canada.
Welcome gift at participating properties.
Elite customer service phone line.
To achieve more benefits, including a higher bonus points earning, cardholders would need to stay an additional 20 eligible nights to reach the Diamond elite level, which requires 40 nights per year.
Up to 19 nights over a tier level roll over to the next year, making it easier to achieve status the next year if you were close the year prior.
What is the annual fee?
There is a $0 for the first year, then $95 thereafter for the Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard®.
Where can you redeem Choice Privileges points?
Points are eligible for redemption at:
PENN Entertainment casino resorts and hotels.
Circus Circus Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
A hotel redemption night starts as low as 8,000 points, and a vacation club redemption night starts as low as 16,000 points. In addition to Choice family hotels, members can redeem points through a special partnership with Preferred Hotels & Resorts for as few as 25,000 points for a redemption night.
The range of points for most Choice properties needed for a redemption night is between 6,000 and 35,000 points. Some overseas properties and those in the all-inclusive collection can reach as high as 100,000 points, though.
To determine the number of points needed, run a search for your destination and dates on the choice website.
Other redemption opportunities include:
The chance to combine points and cash for a hotel stay.
Using points for gift cards.
Transferring points to airlines.
Redeeming points for magazine subscriptions.
Donating points to charity.
» Learn more: Your guide to Choice Privileges hotel brands
How else can you earn Choice Privileges points?
You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, or Citi ThankYou Rewards at an even better 1:2 ratio.
Choice Privileges is a transfer partner with many airlines, although this is not the most solid value for your miles.
It is also a transfer partner with Amtrak Guest Rewards. If you are short a few thousand points, this option can make sense, but you’re better off using miles and points for airline or train travel since the transfer ratio diminishes the value.
Is the Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard® worth it?
If you stay often at participating Choice properties and like earning free travel, we say yes.
It is worth evaluating your normal travel patterns to see if another travel credit card may prove more fruitful, but the earning ratio and entry-level hotel elite status that come with this card are decent enough for fans of Choice Privileges.
(Top photo courtesy of Choice Hotels International)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card