As travel is starting to bounce back after two years of lockdowns, I decided to take a closer look at the Choice Privileges Visa card, which we have had for several years without scrutiny.
About Choice Privileges
Choice Privileges is the Choice Hotels loyalty program that awards points for stays, which can be redeemed for free stays. As with most such programs, the more you stay with the hotel chain, the more rewards you can receive. And, using the Choice Privileges Visa card earns you additional points.
We had never analyzed the mechanics of how Choice Privileges points add up. We decide to visit our local Cambria Hotel in McAllen, Texas to get some data . . . and to cool off at the swimming pool. We would pay for all charges using the Choice Privileges Visa card. There is the charge for the hotel stay, charge for incidentals, and charge for hotel bar purchases.
Choice Privileges awards 10 points per dollar of spend on your hotel stay. On our stay, the room rate was $257, which yielded 2,570 points.
In addition, having the Choice Privileges Visa card gets you Gold status, which earns you an additional 10% in points, or 257 points. Platinum status would earn 25% more points. Diamond status would earn 50% more points. We have never never stayed at Choice Hotels enough to move up in status beyond Gold.
Different brands of hotels under the Choice Hotels umbrella also award bonus points for each stay. In this case, the Cambria awards 400 bonus points.
The Choice Privileges Visa awards 2 points per dollar of spend. However, the maths are a little different because these points also include the taxes charged to the card. On this stay, we earned 592 points from the card.
In total, we earned 3,819 points for our $295.98 stay using the Choice Privileges Visa card. The $257 mentioned previously was the room cost not including taxes and other fees. That is a yield of approximately 14.7 points per dollar.
A relatively inexpensive redemption using points would cost roughly 8000 points. Of course, the majority of Choice Hotels would cost more than that in points.
Cambria put a $50 hold on our credit card for incidentals. From what we can see, incidentals are not awarded hotel stay points. The only points you will get are from the credit card rewards.
Food and Beverage
Visiting the hotel bar for drinks or something to eat will also not earn you hotel points. This is in contrast to the Hilton Honors credit cards that award you 12 points per dollar when you buy food and drinks at some of their hotel bars and restaurants. Choice Privileges seems to be wired differently in this regard. The only points you will earn are from credit card rewards.
For future stays, we will likely use the Choice Privileges Visa card to pay for the hotel room(s) only. And, we will use a the American Express Green Card to pay for incidentals and for dining. The AMEX Green card earns 3 points per dollar for both travel expenses and dining, with higher value for their points over Choice Privileges points.
All images are from Shaine Mata - https://flickr.com/photos/shainemata/