Choice Privileges must be the most underrated major hotel loyalty program in the world. In my recent post I explained why the new Citi transfer partnership with Choice Hotels (at a 1:2 ratio) is a game changer.
Choice Privileges card’s highlights
- No annual fee
- 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in 90 days
- Additional 25,000 points after spending $2,000 in 180 days
- 15 Points per $1 spent at eligible Choice Hotels
- 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Additional 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases until Dec 31, 2021
- 8,000 anniversary points after spending $10,000 or more in the previous year
- Gold status for holding the card
Please note: there is a 3% foreign transaction fee, so don’t use it abroad!
So why you might want to get this card ASAP
1. Record high 75,000-point bonus
The regular Choice credit card bonus is 32,000 points. It’s been this way for years and still is, so if you stay or want to stay at Choice hotels with any kind of frequency, consider getting this card now. The previous highest bonus was 64,000 points, and these elevated bonuses are fairly rare.
2. No annual fee
How many no-annual-fee-high-bonus personal cards have you ever seen? Case closed. 🙂
3. Very easy spending requirement
You get 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in three months and another 25,000 points after spending $2,000 total in six months.
4. Extra 2 points on everything
Up until December 31, you will get 4 points per $1 on all purchases. If you meet your spending requirement by December 31, that could earn you 83,000 (75,000 bonus plus 8,000 on spend). This is actually a solid reason to spend even more in the few weeks that are left.
5. Your bonus can easily pay for your $750-$2,000 hotel stays
While World of Hyatt is arguably the most valuable hotel currency, Choice Privileges can often get you an an equally outsized value or even better from your redemptions.
Of course, it depends on where you spend your points, but no hotel programs provide the highest value everywhere and all the time. As an example, it’s not unusual to see Hyatts redemptions priced at just $0.005 per point.
However. for international travel, getting outsized value from Choice points is easy. In my previous post I’ve checked the values of using points versus cash in some European markets. This is what I’ve found.
- Norway and Sweden: Up to 1.6 cents per point, although occasionally it can be more (and sometimes, much more!).
- The UK: Up to 2.7 cents per point.
- France: Up to 1.2 cents per point.
- Italy: Up to 1.5 cents per point.
- Japan: Up to 1 cent per point.
- U.S. and Canada: Up to 1 cent per point, although it’s usually less.
Also keep in mind three things.
- The values below are before taxes and fees. Since you don’t pay taxes on award stays, your real redemption values are usually higher unless the taxes are included in cash price.
- If you stay multiple days, your cash price can increase during your stay, while your redemption rate usually remains the same.
- At some hotels, redemption rates can cover better rooms and suites, which makes redeeming points even more valuable.
6. Choice does have upscale and luxury options
Choice hotels don’t normally come to mind when we’re thinking “aspirational,” but there are a few exceptions. These 83,000 points you can earn after meeting the spend requirement, can buy you at least two-three nights at these properties.
Upscale, luxury and all-inclusive properties:
- Ascend Hotel Collection
- Cambria Hotels
- Clarion Hotels in Australia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland
- Preferred Hotel partners
- A few all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic
And here are three reasons why you might not want to have anything to do with the Choice credit card
1. The booking window is only 100 days
Seriously, the fact that it used to be even worse only means that it’s become slightly less worse. How can you plan anything beyond that window? How can you, for example, book plane tickets while you have no idea about the two key elements of your projected stay:
- Your room cost
Basically, if you have to plan your travel beyond the 100-days window, you’ll have to book another fully cancellable reservation just in case your Choice stay doesn’t work out. Better yet, keep your Choice points strictly for the occasions when you don’t have to plan far ahead.
2. The Choice credit card isn’t actually the best card to collect Choice points
That’s right! Even this 75,000-point bonus — the highest ever — pales in comparison to what you can haul from the Citi Premier card. Since you can transfer Citi points to Choice at a 1:2 ratio, the 80,000 Citi bonus translates into a whopping 160,000 points (plus at least 8,000 points more for meeting the $4,000 spend requirement).
In addition, Citi Premier pays 3 points per dollar spent on gas, transit, dining and groceries, and all that with a no-foreign-transaction fee, making it a far superior credit card for earning Choice points. Remember this 3X actually means 6X when transferred to the Choice Privileges program.
3. The latest “devaluation” of Choice all-inclusive resorts
Ironically, while you still can use points for stays at all-inclusive resorts, these redemptions have become much less valuable.
Just last summer Choice onboarded some 50+ AMR Collection resorts to their network, including some of the best AI properties in the world: Dreams, Secrets and Zoetry among others. However, after Hyatt completed its acquisition of the Apple Leisure Group (the parent company of AMR Collection) earlier this month, the AMR brands have disappeared from the Choice booking engine. There are still some all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic bookable with Choice points, such as Emotion and Ventus, but I don’t know anything about them (although that doesn’t say much 🙂 ).
There is a Choice Hotels credit card link that offers a record-high 75,000-point bonus. There is no annual fee and very easy spend requirement. Plus, until December 31, 2021 Choice is offering an extra two points on all purchases.
The Choice Privileges program has some amazing sweet spots, mostly in Scandinavia and some parts of Europe. However, the Choice Privileges program is not for everyone. You only have a 100-day window to redeem your points, which makes planning much harder. Plus Choice’s footprint outside North America and Scandinavia is fairly limited.
In addition, if you intend to spend your Choice points on booking a room at an all-inclusive resort, you might be disappointed since best resort brands, such as Dreams, Secrets and others have left Choice for Hyatt.
But even if you’re a Choice loyalist, the Choice Hotels credit card might not be the best card to collect points. For one thing, this is a Barclaycard product, and their cards are often subject to the unofficial Chase-like 6/24 rule. Plus there is an alternative: Citi Premier has a slightly better bonus, a much better earning scheme, and, most importantly, you can transfer Citi points to Choice at a 1:2 ratio. That’s a game changer!
Having said that, Citi points are versatile. You might want to spend them on other things like transfers to Turkish for cheap flights to Hawaii, Virgin Atlantic for cheap First Class tickets to Japan, LifeMiles for an incredibly great deal in Business to Lisbon, or Wyndham to book a fantastic Vacasa rental. In the meantime, the Choice card can be a great tool exclusively dedicated to collecting more points, especially considering a huge sign-up bonus and no annual fee.
If my Choice card summary sounds a bit convoluted, that’s because there are a lot of things to consider. We’re not in the 2000s when anyone with a decent FICO score and a pulse could get any card they wanted over and over again. Think strategically and decide whether this card would be right for you.
What do you think? Tempted at least? 🙂