Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
With over 7,000 properties worldwide, the Choice Privileges program is one of the largest (and least well-known) hotel loyalty programs out there. And although the program mostly serves budget travelers with brands like Comfort and Quality Inn, it does offer an elite status program for frequent guests.
Now, “elite” is a relative term, and Choice Privileges doesn’t offer the same high-end perks as other programs like World of Hyatt or Marriott Bonvoy. Elites don’t get free breakfast or lounge access at even the highest (Diamond) tier. But frequent budget travelers will receive some extra benefits and comforts.
How to earn elite status
Like most loyalty programs, Choice Privileges elite status is earned by staying frequently at Choice hotels. Specifically, by earning enough qualifying nights within a calendar year to achieve each tier.
A “qualifying night” is one booked directly through Choice or a corporate travel portal such as Egencia. Nights booked from travel sites like Expedia or Orbitz do not count toward elite status and do not earn points. Also, award nights (booked with points) and regular nights that cost less than $40 per night do not qualify for elite status.
Choice Privileges offers three elite status tiers:
Gold, earned after 10 qualifying nights per calendar year.
Platinum, earned after 20 qualifying nights per calendar year.
Diamond, earned after 40 qualifying nights per calendar year.
Choice Benefits automatically rolls over any extra nights to apply to the following year, which helps alleviate the frustration of almost achieving the next tier. For example, if you end 2020 with 30 qualifying nights, you’ll earn Platinum status (from the first 20 nights) and carry those 10 extra nights into your elite qualification for 2021.
Already have status from another hotel program and are considering the switch to Choice? They’ll match your status, (almost) no questions asked. Visit their status match page for details, then send in your proof of status from another program. Choice doesn’t provide details about which other programs’ tiers map onto their own, or how long you’ll keep the matched status, but it’s generally a good idea to match status early in a calendar year.
Choice also offers a special “Diamond Elite Status Jump” for guests at their luxury Cambria properties. It works similar to the status matching above, but requires proof of a stay at a Cambria property, and guarantees Choice Diamond status. Go here to learn more.
Elite status benefits
Choice Privileges has one of the simplest elite status benefits structures of any hotel brand. All elite status tiers receive:
Early check-in/out when available.
Dedicated customer service hotline.
Past that, the benefits of higher tiers largely come in the form of higher point earning bonuses, as well as room upgrades for Diamond elites.
Avid Preferred membership
Complimentary room upgrades
Point bonus benefits are in addition to the regular points earning rate, which is 10 points per dollar spent. So a Diamond elite who spends $100 on a room will earn 1,000 base points plus a 500-point bonus, for 1,500 points total.
The paradox of Choice
We called the Choice Privileges elite status program “simple,” but some might call it “underwhelming.” Sure, extra points are nice, but Choice doesn’t offer many to its lower tier elites. And complimentary room upgrades are a feature of the lowest elite tiers in many other programs, while Choice reserves them for the highest (Diamond) members.
That said, Choice is mostly a budget brand so it makes sense that the elite status benefits reflect their no-frills approach. If you’re a business traveler who often stays in Choice digs, or a Harley-riding road warrior looking for clean rooms and a shower, developing loyalty with the Choice Privileges program could make sense.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card