Choice is probably the most under rated hotel program around. I used to think it was Club Carlson, but Choice actually has higher end hotels. I haven’t added it up, but via the Preferred Hotels partnership, I think they have more T&L Top 500 hotels than IHG.
Plus, I will show how to get a resort in the Caribbean for 2,000 Chase points. Believe me when I say, there are so many gems in this program. And if you read nothing else, read about the Amtrak transfers and the Preferred Hotels partnership.
Earning Choice Privilege Points
There are so many ways to earn Choice points, and while not all of them are great ways to earn, I’ll try to be as thorough as I can.
Paying for Hotels
While I wouldn’t actually recommend staying at hotels, I know there are many people who stay at hotels covered by work, and maybe the promotions will make sense for you. So here’s how to maximize points earning on a paid stay.
First off you earn 10 points per dollar at most hotels, and then 5 points per dollar at their cheapest Econo Lodge type hotels.
So now you’re earning 5 – 10 points per dollar, let’s try to stack up a little more earning.
- Refer a friend = 500 points. Here’s the refer a friend link info, you can drop yours in the comments for people who need an account. Or you can refer your spouse or something. Basically you’ll get 500 points on your first stay. Not much help, I know.
- Status match for 50% more points. Given that status is easy enough to get with most other programs (like IHG giving top tier Platinum status with the credit card), you can likely call and get Choice to match with the equivalent status. (888-770-6800)
- Promotions. Usually there’s a decent Choice promo to check out. This is where 90% of the benefit of a paid stay is. At the moment you can get 8,000 points per two choice stays, and there’s usually something similar.
More about promotions. Choice doesn’t do a good job of easily showing promos, so I’d recommend checking FrequentFlyerBonuses before your next hotel stay. Or LoyaltyTraveler’s hotel promotions page (and search for “Choice”). Ric probably writes about Choice Hotels more than… any other blogger.
I’ll mention another current promotion: it’s 15,000 points + 3 nights for $199 and a timeshare thing. Weird, but more details here.
The Choice Credit Card
The Choice Privileges credit card gives 8,000 points for signing up, and another 24,000 points after paying for a stay at a Choice hotel. In total it’s 32,000 points after one paid stay. 32,000 points could in theory be 5 nights, but it’s unlikely. So unless you really have a plan, I see seriously no reason to get this credit card and personally do not have/won’t ever. The only good news is that it’s a no annual fee card, and it’s with Barclays.
American Express transfers 1:1
If you have Amex MR points via one of the Gold cards or Platinum cards, you can transfer to Choice points 1:1.
Personally, I’d rather transfer to British Airways or something, but 6,000 points for the hotel on an island in Honduras or 10,000 points for a hotel in Downtown Venice is seriously tempting.
Diners Club Rewards
According to the Choice website, Diners Club Rewards points transfer to Choice 1,250 : 2,400… which I suppose is good, but I don’t know the first thing about Diners Club.
Amtrak 5,000 : 15,000
Now the amazing transfer of amazing transfers is Amtrak to Choice at 5,000 Amtrak points to 15,000 Choice points. Which means you can transfer from Chase points to Amtrak 1:1 and then Amtrak to Choice 5k:15k. Which is really a transfer from Chase to Choice at 5,000 to 15,000 via Amtrak.
However, I wish it were that simple. I did lay out all the details in the recent Best Use of Amtrak Points. But basically, you need the Amtrak credit card or Amtrak Status. If you have Amtrak status, then check out the Amtrak post. But let’s assume you don’t.
If you get the no annual fee Amtrak credit card you can transfer 25,000 points from Amtrak to Choice per calendar year. In case you didn’t already do that math, that’s 75,000 Choice points a year. A killer combo with the Chase Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire preferred (which can transfer to Amtrak).
Too bad the Amtrak 25k bonus isn’t back… I’d totally jump on that.
Redeeming Choice Points
Choice hotels generally cost 6,000 to 35,000 points per night “(excluding Australasia where points required are up to 75,000)”. The thing that’s really annoying with Choice, is that I can’t accurately make a map of Choice properties sorted by award type since their awards often vary greatly.
But do check out the other Hotel Complete Maps sortable by Points Category.
For example, you could hear about someone redeeming 10,000 Choice points for a hotel in Paris and most of the time when I go to check it out, the same hotel could be 24,000 points. I guess this is a glass half empty approach, but it seems more than half the time it’s at the much higher price. Also, it just means that I can’t give consistent advice for great redemptions. Really… just have to check online.
Searching or Booking award nights is actually really easy.
- Go to Choicehotels.com
- Put in City and date
- Select “Choice Privileges Rewards Night” rate in the drop down.
- Click “Find Hotels”.
Super simple. Then it shows you all the hotels and reward prices on the right.
Best Uses of Choice points
The thing is, there are hotels that cost 6,000 to 8,000 points all over. Even in super expensive areas of Europe.
There are many great awards but I’ll mention again a few favorites:
- Two hotels in Prague for 8,000 points
- 5 hotels in Italy for 8,000 points
- 3 hotels in Tokyo for 8,000 points
- Stockholm, Sweden for 6,000 points
- Estes Park, CO for 8,000 points
- Denver and Boulder for 8,000 points
The list could go on and on and on. And when you think of these as 2,000 – 3,000 Amtrak/Chase points, it’s totally worth it. However, there are two that particularly stood out to me:
- Comfort Hotel Diana – Venice, Italy = 10,000 points
- Clarion Suites Roatan at Pineapple Villas – Roatan, Honduras = 6,000 points
Luxury Hotel Redemptions
In case simplicity and modesty aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Choice points have some amazing redemptions for you too. Many people remain unaware of the partnership with Preferred Hotel Group because the hotels don’t show up in the Choice hotels award search.
To view Preferred Hotels available with Choice points go here.
They have so many amazing hotels. Hotels I’ve seen or even stayed at and had no idea they were Choice hotels. For example, the Fullerton in Singapore is a nice hotel we’ve walked through to view the Marina Bay Sands.
These are some of the most under rate redemptions… period. So I had to make a map, of course.
Some amazing hotels at first glance are:
- Keekorok Lodge, Masaai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
- Fullerton, Singapore
- and 30,000 points hotels in Japan
But also there are incredibly unique hotels in that there’s a hotel in Iraq, Madagascar, Seychelles, Burma, Cusco, and points hotels in Switzerland. Check out the map or the site!
Best Rate Guarantee
Choice’s Best Rate Guarantee is simple. Book a room on ChoiceHotels.com and then find a lower rate on a competitor website you get your first night free. Even if you only stay one night, the night is free.
My experience with Choice isn’t great, because there’s a learning curve to realizing that sometimes their standard rooms are completely sold to Expedia or something. Thus you’re not comparing equal rooms like you think you are.
I check on sites like Kayak, and search for Choice hotels and if I see a lower rate with the exact same room type and cancelation policies, I book on Choice.
Then fill out the claim form here. It will have all the details and terms and conditions. It’s tricky, but totally a source of completely free nights.
Between Amtrak transfer, 6,000 point hotels, free nights from BRGs, and Preferred Hotel Group redemptions… Choice is a hotel that I will be giving a lot more attention to, and making an effort to collect points with.