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When you think of famous hotel chains, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt likely come to mind. But, it’s Choice Hotels that traces its roots back to the first hotel chain in 1939. Today, Choice Hotels includes 7,000 hotels in 40 countries, making it one of the most expansive hotel chains around.
From its extensive list of budget hotels to its growing upscale brands, Choice Hotels properties span the spectrum. That means the Choice Privileges loyalty program is worth getting to know, whether you’re looking to save on a road trip or want to score a free stay at an all-inclusive resort.
Let’s dive into the Choice Privileges rewards program so you can see if it’s the right loyalty program for you.
Choice Privileges brands
Choice has 12 hotel brands, but only 11 participate in the loyalty program:
Ascend Hotel Collection.
Suburban Extended Stay Hotels.
Earning Choice Privileges points
As with many loyalty programs, travelers can earn Choice Privileges points in a variety of ways. The most common way is through hotel stays, but there are other avenues to accumulate program points worth considering.
You’ll earn 10 points per U.S. dollar spent on room rates at participating hotels, plus your points bonus based on your membership level. Note that you generally won’t earn points on taxes and additional charges, outside of select countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
To earn points, you’ll need to book a points-eligible rate through Choice’s website, phone number, app or directly with the hotel. Stays booked through online travel agencies — such as Hotels.com, Expedia or Orbitz — won’t earn points.
This rewards program is also well-known for offering generous hotel promotions. For example, some promotions offer up to 8,000 bonus points just for completing two stays. Maximizing promotions like these can be a great way to boost your account balance.
Credit card spending
Choice Hotels partners with Barclays to offer the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card. There’s no annual fee charged for this card, so it’s not surprising that the perks are minimal.
The best aspect of the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card is that it earns 15 Choice Privileges points per dollar spent at Choice Hotels. This aspect alone makes the card a smart pick for frequent guests of this hotel group.
Cardholders earn 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases, a modest return of 1.6%. You can boost your return by making $10,000 or more in purchases on the card in a cardholder year to earn an additional 8,000 bonus points.
Eligible new cardholders can enjoy a sign-up bonus: Earn 32,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Other ways to earn Choice Privileges points
There are plenty of ways to earn points for this rewards program without staying at Choice Hotels or using the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card, like:
Rental car partners: Earn up to 2,000 bonus points for booking with Avis or Budget.
Book a cruise: Earn 5 points per dollar when booking a cruise through Choice Privileges Cruises.
Golf by Choice: Golfers can earn points for amounts spent on golf equipment, apparel, tee time reservations and more through the Golf by Choice program.
Choice Privileges Mall: Make purchases at over 900 merchants through the dedicated shopping portal to earn bonus points.
Take surveys through e-Rewards: Enroll in e-Rewards and complete surveys to earn bonus points, including 500 points for your first survey.
Refer a friend to Choice: You can even earn 500 bonus points for referring a friend to the rewards program.
Other sources for Choice Privileges points
If you can’t get enough points through earning methods, there are other ways to get Choice Privileges points, from buying them to transferring points from other loyalty programs:
Buying Choice Privileges points: If you’re eyeing a high-value redemption, it might make sense to top off your account by buying rewards program points. The rate for buying Choice Privileges points is typically 0.99 cent per point if you buy at least 10,000 points. However, Choice Hotels will periodically offer bonuses or discounts on buying points.
Get points through Daily Getaways: One of the best ways to stock up on points is through the Daily Getaways promotion offered yearly by the U.S. Travel Association. The purchase rate has varied over the past few years, but members can typically purchase points for under 0.5 cent per point. Understandably, these promotions sell out quickly.
Transferring points to Choice: This program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Amtrak Guest Rewards and Diners Club. Transferring points between loyalty programs rarely is a good deal. But, it can work in a pinch when you need to top off your account for a redemption.
Do Choice Privileges points expire?
Yes. If you don’t have any account activity for 18 consecutive calendar months, Choice Privileges will consider your account inactive and all of your points will be forfeited.
Qualifying activity occurs “when points post or are removed from your account.” So, there are plenty of options to keep your account active by earning or redeeming points. There’s one exception to this: Gifting points counts as a qualifying activity for the member who receives the points, but it doesn’t count as a qualifying activity for the member who gifts the points.
Redeeming Choice Privileges points
The most obvious way to redeem Choice Privileges points is for hotel stays, and that’s also usually going to be your best option. However, you have other options if needed.
Redeem points for hotel stays
You can redeem your points for hotel stays at most of Choice Hotels' 7,000 properties. Award rates technically start at just 6,000 points per night, but those rates can be hard to come by. In the U.S., rewards night rates generally start at 8,000 points per night.
Award night rates generally top out at 35,000 points per night, but there are exceptions: Choice Hotels in the Asia-Pacific region can go as high as 75,000 points per night. And, while their terms haven't been updated yet to reflect this, the program charges as much as 100,000 points per night for all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Choice Privileges doesn’t have a traditional award chart. Rather than having standard hotel categories, Choice Hotels’ rewards prices vary throughout the year. Also, Choice may charge a different award rate depending on whether you’re booking a weekend or a weeknight stay.
A property may be 20,000 points per night on weekdays in the fall and jump to 30,000 points per night on weekends during the winter. That can make it tough to plan how many points you’ll need for a getaway until it’s time to book. And, it makes it impossible for us to share the best redemption options, as rates are constantly changing.
NOTE THE 100-day booking window
Choice Privileges members can’t book rewards night stays more than 100 days before their desired date. The company likely does this to gauge how popular a hotel will be before setting award rates.
Transfer points to other loyalty programs
You can redeem your Choice Privileges points by transferring them to a variety of other loyalty programs, including:
Amtrak: 32,000 Choice Privileges points = 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
Aeroplan: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,000 Aeroplan miles.
Alaska Airlines: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,000 Mileage Plan miles.
Aeromexico: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,600 Club Premier kilometers.
Czech Airlines: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,000 OK Plus miles.
Spirit Airlines: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,000 Free Spirit miles.
United Airlines: 5,000 Choice Privileges points = 1,000 MileagePlus miles.
Qantas: 20,000 Choice Privileges points = 3,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Choice Privileges points = 3,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer points.
Other ways to redeem your points
You’ll want to stick to redeeming your points for hotels if you’re looking to get the most value out of them. However, you can also redeem your Choice Privileges points for vacation rentals, cruises, magazine subscriptions and gift cards, or even donate your points to charity.
Choice Privileges elite status
Frequent Choice Hotels guests will earn bonus points and other elite perks after just 10 nights spent at its properties (or seven nights in 2020).
Unlike some more-rewarding hotel loyalty programs, Choice Privileges elite status certainly isn’t something to chase. The elite benefits are quite minimal and not especially valuable. That said, it can still be nice to earn bonus points and access perks if you’re going to be staying at Choice Hotels properties anyway.
All Choice Privileges elite members receive early check-in and late checkout, a welcome gift at check-in, access to elite reserved parking and access to an elite customer hotline. Elite members can also redeem points for gift cards and roll over excess elite nights to help requalify the next year.
The three tiers of Choice Privileges elite status are Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Save for the elite point bonus amount, the benefits of the three tiers are fairly similar. Here’s an overview of the elite status requirements, perks and benefits of each tier.
Choice Privileges Gold
Earn Gold elite status after 10 qualifying nights at Choice Hotels properties. Gold members get a 10% elite bonus on stays.
Choice Privileges Platinum
Platinum elite status requires 20 qualifying nights. In addition to the benefits all elite members get, Platinum members earn a 25% elite bonus.
Choice Privileges Diamond
Choice’s top tier of elite status, Diamond, requires 40 qualifying nights. The benefits of Diamond elite status are identical to Platinum elite status with one improvement: Diamond elites earn a 50% elite bonus on points stays.
Does Choice Privileges match elite status?
If you have elite status with another hotel brand, you may be able to shortcut your way to elite status with the program by requesting a status match.
When this status match is offered, all you need to do is email a request with your name, Choice Privileges number and proof of elite status with another program. Details of how to do so can be found on Choice’s status match website.
Currently, you can also jump to top-tier Diamond elite status by matching your elite status and then completing just one stay at a Cambria hotel.
The bottom line
The Choice Privileges program may not be the most luxurious hotel loyalty program around; however, there are plenty of reasons to not ignore it completely. You can easily rack up points through promotions and deals like Daily Getaways. And, there are diamonds in the rough to be found due to Choice Hotels’ constantly changing award rates.
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