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Best Use of Choice Points

There are resorts out there for 6,000 points (or 2,000 Chase points via Amtrak). And on the top end, you can use choice points for Preferred Hotel Group hotels, which make up 42 of the top 500 hotels in the world. The cheapest and the best redemptions, that’s what choice has to offer.

What we’ll talk about:

  • Earning Choice Points
  • Super cheap hotel redemptions (6k choice or 2k Chase)
  • Booking some of the nicest hotels in the world (for cheap) with Choice points
  • Transferring points to Southwest for the companion pass

Earning points

Briefly I’ll mention why you should care about Choice in terms of earning.

Chase -> Amtrak -> Choice 1:3

In my previous post on Choice Points, and in my Best Use of Amtrak Points, I point out that you can transfer 25,000 Amtrak points a year to Choice at a rate of 1:3. That’s 75,000 Choice points per calendar year. And seeing as you can transfer from Chase to Amtrak, that’s basically 1:3 from Chase to Choice.

While it’s normally hard for me to let go of Chase points, the price at 1:3 is incredible. Some of the top hotels in the world for 10,000 Chase points, a hotel in downtown Venice for 3,333 Chase points, and a resort in Honduras for 2,000 Chase points. A deal if there ever was one.

The problem is that Chase is rumored to be discontinuing the card (according to an agent that FM talked to (and as predicted by me here)), but there are still some links floating around here until they get killed.

*Update* All links are dead

 

Choice credit card is lame

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.17.39 PMI’m mentioning it because people will look. There is a card and it’s lame.

It’s 8,000 points for getting it then another 24,000 points when you pay for a stay with the card. So it’s an app and a paid stay. I suppose it’s not the worst requirement in the world if there’s a good stay promotion. But consider that the bonus is really low. A great deal on a hotel like the 10k one in Venice. But it’s only 3 nights. Where I could get a ton of nights with the Club Carlson card.

 

Paid promotions

Check dem Choice promotions out here.

Moving on…

 

Best Uses: Low Category Choice Hotels

This is the section that wakes me up in the morning. Some people will wake up over the 60k a night (20k Chase points) for one of the world’s finest hotels.  But I love the idea that 60k points could get me potentially 10 nights at a good resort.

I won’t continue to list the equivalent in Amtrak/Chase points, but divide by 3 and you know what you really get.

 

Italy In General

Comfort Hotel Diana, Venice, Italy – 10,000 points

Wow. First of all, Venice is awesome. Second, there are few points options and they are overpriced and some aren’t even in the main area of Venice. This hotel is a superb location, and at a phenomenal price. The best option in Venice, and a deal. Cash prices tend to run from $150 – $250 a night.

Comfort Hotel Gardenia Sorrento Coast, Italy – 8,000 points

This hotel is in beautiful Sorrento and has great TA reviews as well.

Comfort Hotel Bolivar, Rome, Italy – 10,000 points

Great location near the old Roman walls and colosseum, plus Rome is just cool. Italy is cool.

 

Clarion Suites Roatan at Pineapple Villas, Roatan, Honduras – 6,000 points

6,000 points a night. Yes and yes. Phenomenal ratings on TripAdvisor and I have friends that say that this area of Honduras is beautiful. It looks beautiful. And while the hotel isn’t on the bus, it has a frequent shuttle taking you to a very nice private beach. You can’t beat it.

 

The fact of the matter is that there are so many more cheap hotels in downtown locations like Tokyo. Too many to list. I don’t have a complete map of Choice Hotels yet, but you can go to AwardMapper.com and unselect all the other hotels and get an idea.

Other suggestions

  • Quality Hotel Prince Philip, Stockholm, Sweden – 6,000 points
  • Clarion Collection Hotel Drott, Karlstad Sweden – 8,000 points
  • Sweden in general
  • Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda, Tokyo, Japan – 8,000 points
  • Quality Suites Bela Cintra, Sao Paulo, Brazil – 8,000 points
  • Quality Inn Porto, Portugal – 10,000 – 12,000 points
  • Anything out west and in the national parks, like Utah (Zion national park), Yosemite, Banff
  • Lecce Italy, Prague, Nice, etc…

If you have any other low category suggestions, let me know.

 

Best Uses: Choice points for the top hotels in the world

In my post on booking the top 500 hotels with points, I mentioned that a number of the hotels were in the “Preferred Hotel Group”, which is a group of hotels bookable with Choice points. They aren’t choice hotels, but they are partners, and share a rewards program, sorta.

Rates are from 30,000 points to 60,000 points. Which, depending on the hotel isn’t bad. I realized on my Kenya trip, that I could book much cheaper on Kayak than the advertised rate on the Preferred Hotel Group website. But still, 42 of the top 500 hotels is better than Ritz Carlton did.

There are no maps on the internet that include these hotels, so I decided to make one.

Preferred Hotel Group (hotels with Choice Points) Complete Map:

(If you don’t like the map you can view participation hotels here.)

 

Outstanding hotels

I can’t stress enough that there are more hotels that are awesome deals than I can list. There are multiple hotels in Paris that go for $600+ a night. Similar with London, New York (like the The Sherry-Netherland – the #3 hotel in NYC on TA) and many famous hotels like The Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore.

The list goes on and on, but I wouldn’t consider giving up 60,000 points easily. The hotels for 30,000 points are easier to justify. But 20,000 Chase points (which is what it would take to transfer in 60,000 Choice points) is worth $200 cashback. Given that I really value Chase points, it would take a lot more than a 1 cent per point value to get me to transfer.

I’ll be honest though and say none of these are my ideal booking, and I’d rather book the hotel for 6,000 points. But if chasing luxury is your thing… I’ve got a list for you.

 

Peter Island Resort & Spa, BVI – 60,000 points

This hotel often goes for at least $600 a night and can go for over $1,000! I’ve been to many of the British Virgin Islands and this is a beautiful area with great snorkeling. But really, this is a very exclusive resort, and it’s a steal for 60k. Plus, this is the only points hotel on the island.

 

Montage Beverly Hills – 60,000 points

Now I’m not a Beverly Hills or celebrity citing kind of guy… but if I was, this is where I’d go. Prices start around $1,000 a night.

Montage Laguna Beach – 60,000 points

I guess I’m more of a beach guy than a Beverly Hills guy. But this place goes for $800 a night (on the dates I checked) and also is on the Top 500 Hotels list.

 

Covo Dei Saraceni, Positano, Italy – 60,000 points

There are actually multiple hotels in this part of Italy, the Amalfi Coast (see the map). But I had to pick one, as the area is beautiful and often expensive.

 

The Jefferson, DC – 60,000 points

This hotel also regularly goes for $600, and often a lot more. It’s one of the top hotels in DC and on the Top 500 Hotels list as well.

 

Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf, Boston – 60,000 points

Same same. A $600+ hotel on the Top 500 list.

 

Stanley & Livingstone Game Reserve, Zimbabwe – 50,000 points

A great way to see the famous Victoria Falls and safari and stay at a nice hotel.

 

Costs for the top 500 hotels

Someone did point out that not all the 42 hotels on the top 500 list were bookable with Choice Points. Turns out that’s true. So I’m going to go ahead and go through them and list the ones that are and how many points it would cost. Most are in the US, and of those, they are listed by state (alphabetically).

I could verify these 32 (of the top 500 hotels) were bookable:

  • Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa, Sedona – 60,000 points
  • Montage Beverly Hills – 60,000 points
  • Ojai Valley Inn & Spa – 60,000 points
  • Montage Laguna Beach – 60,000 points
  • Grand Del Mar, San Diego – 60,000 points
  • Cavallo Point—The Lodge at the Golden Gate – 60,000 points
  • The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs – 50,000 points
  • The Sebastian Vail – 60,000 points
  • Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater – 60,000 points
  • Seagate Hotel & Spa, Delray Beach – 50,000 points
  • Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast – 40,000 points
  • Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai – 60,000 points
  • The Brown Hotel, Louisville – 30,000 points
  • Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans – 50,000 points
  • Inn by the Sea, Portland – 60,000 points
  • Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf, Boston – 60,000 points
  • Townsend Hotel, Birgmingham – 50,000 points
  • The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing – 60,000 points
  • Hermitage Hotel, Nashville – 50,000 points
  • Sundance Mountain Resort – 50,000 points
  • Woodstock Inn & Resort – 50,000 points
  • Keswick Hall, Charlottesville – 60,000 points
  • Tides Inn, Irvington – 40,000 points
  • Willows Lodge, Woodinville – 40,000 points
  • The Jefferson, Washington, D.C – 60,000 points
  • Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee – 30,000 points
  • Hotel Terra, Jackson Hole – 50,000 points
  • Hotel Grand Pacific, Canada – 30,000 points
  • The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin, Ireland – 50,000 points
  • Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern, Switzerland – 60,000 points
  • Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, Bermuda – 60,000 points
  • Peter Island Resort & Spa, BVI – 60,000 points

 

 

Choice Points Transferred to Airline Miles

transfer choice points to airline miles

I find these transfer rates to be bad enough that I wouldn’t really consider any of them. Although, there may be one odd exception.

 

Choice to Southwest’s Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is no doubt one of the coolest things in the miles game. It’s generally “earned” when the Southwest personal and business cards are giving a 50,000 point bonus. See, you need to earn 110,000 points in a year to get the Companion and that gets you 104,000 after the spend requirement. If you wanted to earn the pass you’d have to spend an extra 6,000 on the card to get the companion.

However, I realize that if you transferred 24,000 Choice points to Southwest you’d get 7,200 Southwest points. It would take 8,000 Chase points via Amtrak to get 24,000 points. Then transfer 24,000 points to 7,200 Southwest points. One more time.

8,000 Chase points – > 8,000 Amtrak points -> 24,000 Choice points -> 7,200 Southwest points.

But unlike the direct transfer from Chase, these points would be Companion Pass qualifying points. Bam.

 

Conclusion

If the reasons above aren’t reason enough to love Choice I don’t know what is. 25,000 Chase points is half of a signup bonus, yet it’s enough for 7.5 nights in a downtown hotel in beautiful Venice. Or enough for 12.5 nights at a resort on an island in Honduras. Or it’s enough for 2 nights at some of the nicest hotels in the world.

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29 Comments

  1. Shalom drew
    dont know how you missed to mention the diners club.
    With that card you can get up to 6 choice points per dollar on pharmacy.
    I have done close to 200k of spend on that card and still going strong. If I convert those I reckon i will get close to 1.2M choice points, not sure why you mention the amtrak card, its just garbage compared to the DC.

    Reply
    • I see. You get 3x on the elite card and a roughly 1:2 to Choice, so it’s 3x choice.

      Few reasons I’d stay the course.
      1) Chase sign up bonuses can get 1:3 Choice via amtrak. So that’s a lot of easy points.
      For me this is big. That’s half of a signup bonus turned into 75,000 Choice points with zero effort or cost.

      Also, without the bonus, it’s hard for me to signup for a 3x card when there are 5x cards out there.

      2) Even the MSing is still better here with Ink 5x (or limited freedom). That’s 15 choice points per dollar, which is better than 3x or 6x…
      The problem is the limit though.

      3) Also, it’s hard to transfer to Choice 1:2 when you could do Alaska 1:1. It’s slightly easier for me to give up 25k a year for a 1:3 when it would have gone to United.

      But this does bring up a great option. If I fall in love with Choice I may consider it. 😀

      Reply
  2. Looks like the links are now dead. Bummer.

    Reply
    • Huge bummer.

      Reply
  3. Sadly, looks like those Amtrak links are dead.

    Reply
    • :'(

      Reply
  4. I’ve look at transferring chase->amtrak->choice before. Don’t you need Amtrak status in order to transfer to choice?

    Reply
    • This explains the details –
      travelisfree.com/2014/09/23/best-use-of-amtrak-guest-rewards-points/#HotelTransfers

      Short answer is that you need status or the amtrak card.

      Reply
  5. I am back and forth on getting the Amtrak card, but if I get 2 of these (which could get me 150K choice points a year), I am looking at having to spend $400 on Amtrak, which seems like a lot.

    How do you work this math into your equation?

    Reply
    • Cancelable rates.

      Reply
  6. Can you clarify… Do we need an Amtrak card to make this work, or can we just sign up for both Amtrak and Choice, even with all the links being dead?

    Reply
    • This post has the details –
      travelisfree.com/2014/09/23/best-use-of-amtrak-guest-rewards-points/#HotelTransfers

      Unfortunately, at this time, you need amtrak status or the amtrak card.

      Reply
  7. Drew, maybe your greatest post ever.

    Reply
    • Ha, no I have, but this is just the most unique thing I’ve read on all the blogs in a long time. Hopefully, the Amtrak card comes back. Safaris and the like can be hard to access on points, even with Arrival, but Choice seems to be the perfect hack.

      Reply
  8. How do you spend $200 on Amtrak? If you live in Las Vegas for example. Amtrak gift cards?

    Reply
    • Maybe you and you’re family could book a number of cancelable rates from Dallas to Austin before making the transfer.

      Reply
  9. @Nasakoto – DC got so many applicants, they stopped taking new accounts. I’m not sure if they restarted the application process yet. I was one of the lucky ones and love the card. Is your card recent, or a holdover from the old days? 200k is a lot, and I’ve been treading carefully at under 5k per month.

    Reply
    • Wow, I had no idea they weren’t taking apps anymore. Bummer.

      Reply
  10. You need to point out that Choice has a hard expiration date – 2 years after they go into your account on 12/31. (i.e and points earned in 2015 will expire 12/31/17). In practice, you want to use them by 12/30 as their systems update early. Using points and then cancelling reservations will not extend the expiration date.

    When we went to Ireland a few years sgo, Choice was one of the best redemptions. At that time, it was 8,000 points, which cost me $30 at the Daily Getaways. We ended up with suites in Sligo and Executive Rooms with balconies overlooking the river in Dublin (no longer in the chain). I really consider it my best redemption to date.

    Clarion Collections in Norway are also really good deals – 16,000 points, but comes with breakfast and dinner as well as sometimes snacks during the day.

    Reply
  11. The Hate Thousand Miles promotion from Spirit nets 40k Choice points if you transfer them…are you saying that you value Spirit points more than this?

    Reply
    • You can transfer Spirit miles to Choice at a 5:1?

      Reply
    • I think you have this backwards. I think you can transfer 40K choice points for 8K spirit miles, not the other way around.

      Reply
    • Drew, do you have any information about this? How can we find out?

      Thanks,

      Leticia

      Reply
  12. Two things:
    1) The UR->Amtrak->Choice path is a little limiting if you’re going higher end because of the caps from Amtrak to Choice.
    2) The booking window is way too short for some of us. Not an issue if you’re a last minute planner, but it’s not really feasible for some people.

    Reply
  13. While you mention Choice hotels in Sweden in general as a bargain (which is true), hidden value can be the 16,000 point Choice hotels in Norway. Why? If you look closely, many of these hotels (and also some in Sweden) offer complimentary dinner as well as breakfast. You will find that these are not just some innkeeper’s lame attempt to add to the list of amenities–in most cases, these are delicious full meals (something unheard of at the Choice hotels in the U.S.) Truly, the breakfast and the dinner are wonderful spreads. This is an extremely important value when you consider the cost of restaurant food in Norway ($20 for a McDonalds combo meal).

    Reply
  14. I have stayed at the Pineapple suites hotel in Roatan, my best use of points in the past 5 years, it was super cheap. I transferred american express points to choice but UR would have made it much better.

    Reply
  15. Venice hotel seems closed indefinitely (at least according to the booking agent)

    Reply
  16. Hi, Quick Question for you – I have really wanted to stay in Covo Dei Saraceni in Positano. Based on your article, it looks as if I can convert Chase points into Choice points and stay at this hotel in Positano, Italy for 60,000 points per night? Thanks!

    Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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