Is the New Choice Privileges Card Worth Its Annual Fee?

The answer is: There is no fee with the new card, which comes with solid earning rates and elite status — a clear value for Choice loyalists.
Ramsey Qubein
By Ramsey Qubein 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Choice Privileges, the loyalty program from Choice Hotels International Inc., is adding another earning opportunity for points in the form of a new credit card. In a partnership with Wells Fargo and Mastercard, the new co-branded credit card will launch this spring.

It will replace the existing card that is being used, and those currently holding the card will automatically be mailed a new card. In doing so, their old card will stop working.

The new 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 like:

  • Cambria Hotels.

  • Comfort.

  • Country Inn & Suites.

  • Everhome.

  • Radisson Hotels.

  • The Ascend Hotel Collection.

What are the earning rates on the new Choice Privileges Credit Card?

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.

But, there are other bonus categories that can come in handy, especially if your travel plans are taking you somewhere that Choice has a hotel that interests you. In short, this card makes the most sense for frequent Choice guests.

Here’s what you can expect with the card:

  • 5x points when staying at participating Choice hotels.

  • 3x points at gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores and on phone plans.

  • 1x points on all other spending.

  • Instant Gold Elite status in Choice Privileges. This comes in the form of 10 elite night credits added to your account each year. You can grow to higher status levels more easily with additional stays.

When staying at eligible Choice properties, members earn 10 points per dollar spent plus any eligible elite status bonus. 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.

What are the benefits of Gold Elite status?

Since one of the perks is instant Gold Elite status, cardholders can expect:

  • 10% bonus on points earned at participating Choice hotels.

  • Early check-in and late checkout.

  • Reserved parking at international properties.

  • Welcome gift at international properties.

  • Elite customer service phone line.

To achieve more benefits, including a higher bonus points earning, cardholders would need to stay an additional 10 eligible nights to reach the Platinum Elite level, which requires 20 nights per year.

Any 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 no fee for this card.

Where can you redeem Choice Privileges points?

Points are eligible for redemption at:

  • Choice-branded hotels.

  • 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.

How else can you earn Choice Privileges points?

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.

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.

Other ways to earn points are renting a car, the Golf by Choice program or its cruise reservation platform.

Is the new Choice Privileges Card 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.

The information related to the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

(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:

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