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Choice Privileges is an interesting hotel rewards program. It offers opportunities for valuable redemptions as well as some frustrating limitations.
If you’re aware of these limitations but ready to jump in, or have used Choice points to good effect in the past and are looking to earn more, you’ve come to the right place.
Here we explain all the (useful) ways to earn Choice Privileges points, including tips for how to maximize these methods, and which ones to avoid. Thankfully, Choice’s program is more straightforward than behemoths like Hilton and Marriott, so you won’t need an advanced degree in travel rewards to get started.
Since Choice Privileges is a hotel loyalty program, the most straightforward way to earn points in the program is by staying at its hotels. Choice currently features 12 brands in its portfolio:
Comfort Inn & Suites.
Suburban Extended Stay Hotel.
Most of these brands fall in the “budget” category, but a few (like Ascend and Cambria) offer plusher digs.
The earning structure is the same at all brands, however: You earn 10 Choice Privileges points for every dollar spent at Choice hotels (so long as your membership account is applied to the booking). Charges such as taxes, fees and room bills also earn points.
So if you spend $100 total on a hotel room, you’ll earn 1,000 Choice points. Easy peasy.
But hold the lemon squeezy — there are a few exceptions:
Room rates below $40 and those booked through a travel agent (including online travel agents like Expedia and Orbitz) do not earn points.
Rooms booked through the corporate travel portal Egencia are generally eligible for earning points, at a flight rate of 1,000 points per night.
Complimentary nights (like those booked using points) don’t earn any points.
Elite status bonus
But that’s not (quite) all. Choice elite status holders get an extra bonus on top of the 10 points per dollar:
Gold: 10% bonus (11 points per dollar spent).
Platinum: 25% bonus (12.5 points per dollar spent).
Diamond: 50% bonus (15 points per dollar spent).
So a Diamond elite member spending $100 at a Choice hotel would earn 1,000 base points and 500 bonus points, or 1,500 total.
Here’s another area where Choice’s program is nice and simple.
Choice offers only one co-branded credit card: the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card. The card claims to offer “15 points per $1 spent at eligible Choice Hotels,” but that’s misleading.
Really, the card offers 5 points per $1 spent on Choice hotels on top of the normal 10-point rate described above. It offers the same rate (5 points) when buying points directly from Choice (see below) and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
You can transfer points from three other reward programs to Choice Privileges at the following ratios:
American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 ratio (1,000 Membership Rewards = 1,000 Choice points).
Amtrak Guest Rewards (elite status members only): 1:3 ratio (1,000 Membership Rewards = 3,000 Choice points).
Diners Club Club Rewards: 1,250:2,400 ratio (1,250 Club Rewards = 2,400 Choice points, and don’t ask us why).
We don’t have specific valuations for these programs (including Choice), so it’s hard to say whether any of these transfer ratios are “worth it.” Yet the Membership Rewards transfer in particular likely makes sense only when you have a specific Choice redemption in mind and need to top off your account.
That’s right, you can book vacation homes through Choice. The program is small, but, unlike competitors like Airbnb, you can earn rewards points by using it.
You’ll earn 5 to 10 points per dollar spent on Choice vacation homes when applying your membership number. Specifically, you get 10 points for stays at “Franchisee” properties and 5 points at “affiliate” properties. Unfortunately, there’s no way (that we could find) to determine which category a specific home falls into.
This unique feature of the Privileges program might be the simplest way to earn points. Choice offers a referral program that lets you earn 500 points for each friend who signs up for a Privileges account and completes a points-earning stay. As a bonus, they’ll also receive 500 points after completing the stay.
Go here to learn more and to refer your fellow point-hunters.
Partners and promotions
Choice Privileges offers a host of partners, promotions and partner-promotions for earning more points. As of this writing, they include:
Avis/Budget rental cars (1,500 points per reservation).
Several cruise partners (5 points per dollar spent).
Golf partners (up to 1,500 points per game).
Mortgages with Quicken Loans (50,000 points per financing).
It’s not worth going out of your way just to earn a few extra points, but if you’re using these partners already you might as well attach your Choice Privileges membership and earn them.
Choice partners with Points.com to sell points directly. The cost varies, but when we checked (in February 2020) they were selling 10,000 points for $99, which comes out to 0.99 cent per point.
That’s actually pretty good for directly purchased points. We generally caution against such purchases, as they’re often a terrible deal, but at this rate it’s worth comparing the cost of paying with cash or with points-from-cash for any given reservation.
To sweeten the deal, Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card does earn 5 points per dollar spent on points, which is unusual for a co-branded card. So a $99 purchase would actually earn 10,495 points, lowering the cost to 0.94 cents per point.
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 2021, 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