Should You Apply for the New Barclays 64,000 Choice Privileges Points Offer? Part 1: Scandinavia

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Choice Privileges Points

Clarion Hotel Sign Stockholm: From 10,000 Points per Night

Folks have long believed that the Choice Privileges points and, by extension, Choice Privilege credit card are mostly good for Scandinavia. I have shared that belief for years until I’ve done my own more thorough research. After I did, I’ve found it not necessarily to be the case.

Having said that, it’s true that using your Choice Privileges points in Sweden can get you an amazing, unicorn-grade redemption value. You will rarely get a mind-blowing deal out of Choice points outside this country, although it’s possible, and I’ll show you how. This post will be dealing with Scandinavia, and the next one — with the rest of the world.

We all had a little scare back in 2016 when Choice briefly pulled all Nordic Choice hotels availability. Nordic Choice Hotels is a franchisee of Choice International in Scandinavia, mostly in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and for a short period of time it seemed that our ability to use Choice Privileges points in these notoriously expensive countries was eliminated overnight.

Massive Choice Privileges Devaluation (and a Silver Lining)

To our collective relief, it turned out to be a computer glitch during the system upgrade. Here is a map of all 197 Nordic Choice hotels.

Choice Privileges Points

New Barclays Choice Privileges card 64,000 offer

HT to DoC and Blind and Green on Flyertalk

Direct link to the Choice Privileges 64.000-point offer

Choice Privileges Points

You need to scroll down to T&C to see the offer

Here’s what you get.

  • 32,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days and 32,000 points after spending an additional $2,000 within the first 180 days

  • 8,000 points annually after spending $10,000

  • Gold status that includes 10% points bonus, otherwise it’s pretty weak

  • Earning points:
      • 5 combined extra points per $1.00 of Net Purchases on completed stays at eligible Choice Hotels locations on top of the 10 points earned through your Membership for 15 points total.
      • 5 points per $1.00 for the purchase of Choice Privileges points and Choice Hotels gift cards.
      • 2 points per $1.00 for all other purchases

Be aware of the 3% foreign exchange fee (avoid using overseas or with any foreign company).

The offer is valid until November 30, 2018 or whenever they decide to pull it.

Using Choice Privileges points in Sweden

I was in Stockholm 2 years ago for a conference and had a blast! The only Scandinavian country I’d been to before was Iceland, and while I absolutely loved Icelandic otherworldly landscapes, I can’t say the same about Reykjavik — which is a fine small city, but not much to write home about. Stockholm, on the other hand, is terrific, and I loved almost everything about it — the Medieval Gamla Stan, the boat trip on its waterways (not unlike Venice, Stockholm is, in fact, built on several islands), and, in general, the near-perfect balance and seamless harmony between history, water, and modern urban architecture. I say “mostly” because Stockholm prices can give you a slight pause. And this is where Choice Privileges points come into play.

Not all Choice hotels will have rewards availability for the dates you choose. Currently all Choice members can book up until 100 days ahead; however, the most desirable properties will either be blocked on all dates or perpetually “sold out.” Even so, you can stretch the Choice 64,000-points bonus into a one-week-long vacation tour of Sweden

Choice Privileges points in Stockholm

Remember to always sign in before searching for rewards space on the Choice Privileges page, or you’ll think all Choice hotels are always sold out.

Choice Privileges Points

Always log on to your account when you search for a rewards stay

There are over a dozen Choice hotels in Stockholm, but we’re interested in the ones with the lowest price tag like these two.

Choice Privileges Points

If you decide to book them for cash, here is what you will pay (for the same days).

Choice Privileges Points

Get 3X values staying at Clarion Sign in Stockholm

Choice Privileges Points

At the conversion rate of 0.121 you would pay (at the time of writing):

  • $180 for a night at Clarion Hotel Stockholm or

  • $302 at Clarion Hotel Sign

I would say getting 1.8x or 3x from any hotel program that’s not Hyatt or former Starwood is an amazing value!

Choice Privileges points in other cities in Sweden

Like I said, I’ve never been anywhere in Sweden outside Stockholm, so I have to rely on those who have. Gothenburg and Malmö usually come recommended in all the travel guides I’ve seen. Here are some cheap (on points) hotels in Gothenburg.

Choice Privileges Points

You can choose from at least 3 hotels in Gothenburg for 10,000 points each

This is what you’ll pay for Clarion Odin on the same dates if you’re willing to part with your hard earned cash.

Choice Privileges Points

A night at Clarion Odin would cost you $246 vs 10,000 points — almost a 2.5X value

If you decide to stick with 2 Quality hotels, you’ll save quite a bit, too.

Choice Privileges Points

$175-$178 at these Quality Hotels — around 1.8X point value

Here are 2 cheap hotels in Malmö

Choice Privileges Points

The cash price for the same Malmö hotels on the same dates.

Choice Privileges Points

The points price for the Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance is clearly a winner yielding a value of 1.8X

 

Of course, there are plenty of other interesting destinations in Sweden aside from these 3 cities, but there are 89 Nordic Choice hotels in Sweden. That must cover most adventures you might have in mind.

Using Choice Privileges points in Norway

I’ve never been to Norway. But people who have say it’s amazing! They say they’d be hard-pressed to choose a clear winner between Iceland and Norway, and I’ve been to Iceland, so I’m sold. It’s just that … well — Norway is pricey! When I uttered some remarks about the cost of — well, everything — in Iceland, I often heard “Well, at least, we’re not Norway,” so I knew that Norway must pack quite a punch in that department.

Can Choice Privileges points help? There are 91 Nordic Choice hotels in Norway. That’s not bad at all, right?

Choice Privileges points in Oslo

Unfortunately, no matter what days I’ve chosen I couldn’t find a hotel below 16,000 points per night. That sucks because I’ve found the cash booking prices on the same level as in Sweden — that brings the value of your points down. Considerably down, I must say.

Choice Privileges points in Bergen

In my research, most hotels in Bergen want the same 16,000 points per night, except one, which is also an Ascend Hotel Collection member.

Choice Privileges Points

It costs KR1,725, so you can still get a decent 1.75X value out of your points.

Choice Privileges Points

12,000 points is a good value for Bergen

Choice Privileges points in Tromsø

According to my research, all Tromsø hotels cost 16,000 points. Their cash price varies from $137 to $230 on the same dates, so it can still be a decent value. However, if you only have limited amount of Choice Privileges points, you might want to consider other options.

All in all, the absolute majority of hotels in Norway start at 16,000 points, which is not comparable to how far your Choice Privileges points can take you in Sweden. Sad!

Using Choice Privileges points in Denmark

There are 5 Nordic Choice hotels in Denmark, 2 of which are airport hotels. Unfortunately, I don’t have good news.

There are 2 Copenhagen hotels, and they cost 20,000 points per night regardless of what dates I choose. Same hotels cost $109 and $180 respectively on the same dates. Not a good value, at all.

Choice Privileges Points

Redeeming your Choice Privileges points in Copenhagen gets you less than a penny per point

Let’s Recap

Scandinavia has long been considered the best way to spend Choice Privileges points, but as you can see, the value has significantly diminished. It seems that Sweden is the only place where you can get an outsized value out of your points. Norway and Denmark have been severely devalued compared to redemption values I remember seeing about a year ago.

Of course, the Choice points values can change anytime, and it’s entirely possible that they will improve by spring or summer. It doesn’t help that Choice won’t let us book or even see what the award stays will cost beyond the 100-day window (although, let’s be fair, this window is a huge improvement compared to the former 30/60 days).

However, what I’m seeing right now doesn’t look too good for Scandinavia beyond Sweden.

In my next post we’ll check other Choice Privileges values in the Americas and around the world. Stay tuned!

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10 Responses to Should You Apply for the New Barclays 64,000 Choice Privileges Points Offer? Part 1: Scandinavia

  1. bluecat says:

    Andy, I found that the cash+points price was pretty good on my last trip to Stockholm (August). I think it was $30 + 3K pts.

    Funny thing about that visit. On day 1, the breakfast buffet (free) was aaaamazing! So much variety and quality. By day 5, we could hardly look at it!

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks for your comments. That’s interesting. I don’t have Choice points, so I can’t look into cash and points. But this sounds like a great value if it wasn’t a one-off.

      Other DPs:

      1. Appreciate the thought, but I don’t have affiliate links. Thanks, though.
      2. I’m thinking about breaking my 2 lists into 3: flights, hotels and cash. Maybe it will be easier to browse.

  2. bluecat says:

    P.S. Andy, not sure if you get referrals on your credit cards or not. Tried to throw you a bone for this exact card this week but did not see it listed. But, with all respect, that page has too much info…maybe you can cut it down by 50% and/or maybe just highlight your current “best 5”.

  3. walterj says:

    I don’t think point prices have changed much in Norway. I traveled in Norway in 2015 staying in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim at Choice Hotels and the point prices were the same as what you found, most commonly 16000. Tromso prices were also 16K. I thought I got a great deal, my cost for 16K points was roughly 64 USD a night and some hotels include free dinner.

    I am not as demanding as you are, I think anything better than .01 a point is good value. Norway was really expensive in 2015, cheaper today.

    If you bought points at the last 50% sale last November, the cost was 6.875 USD per 1K points, making 16K cost $110, not as good as what I got in 2015, but still a good discount to the cash price.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Walter, thanks for your comment. That’s interesting because when I researched my trip to Norway last year (which never happened), I thought I saw some 10,000 and 12,000 nights. Now with your comment I’m starting having my doubts, but since Choice awards are priced “dynamically” it’s possible that you and I are both right. In any case, the fact is that while hotels in Sweden and Norway have comparable cash rates, the Choice points seem to go twice as far in Sweden, roughly. That doesn’t mean one must go to Sweden rather than Norway, it’s just an observation.

      You’re also right that even at 1:100 it’s still a good value. If we take an average $150 a night hotel cost, this card can get you a $600 value. Not too shabby!

  4. S&N says:

    Hi Andy,
    Please don’t delay on the 2nd part. Since I’m going to Scandinavia or abroad next year, I wonder if it’s worth considering this CC despite a nice amount of bonus (point wise, but does it translate into a good value money wise).

    A few questions:
    – Is the 64k bonus in the 1st year or if I spend $10k within the year, would I get 8K bonus before the AF hits?
    – Is there an AF in the 1st year? If so, how much? I didn’t want to click on the offer to avoid a cookie spy.
    – What’s the chance of being approved by Barclay as it denies Arrival and Aviator CC’s? We’ve never had Choice CC, but the denial letters for Arrival and/or AA Aviator recently have stated “too many CC”, or “too much credit”, or “you’ve had a max number of this product”?
    – Off topic question: What’s your interpretation on “the max number of this product”: Would it imply I should never even try applying for the Arrival+ CC anymore as I’ll be denied?

    Thank you, SN

    • Andy Shuman says:

      SN, thanks for your comment. Here are some answers to your questions.

      1. There is no AF
      2. You get 32K after spending $1k in 30 days, another 32K after spending another $1K in 6 mths.
      3. IMHO, the chance is slim, sorry.
      4. Not ever, but I believe they count 24 months.

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