May012011

Choice Hotel Rewards Cost How Much?

I am developing a new interest for Choice Privileges. Why my interest in Choice Hotels?

Yesterday I located a spreadsheet created by FlyerTalk member “SC Flier” in May 2010. The spreadsheet is one year old now and I am just happy to finally have seen it.  SC Flier is a name I come across frequently on FlyerTalk with good value information and now I learn he has some great computer skills too.

I added country and state columns to allow an easy sort by point levels and geography. Several observations from these sorts give me a much clearer picture of how Choice Hotels compares with other major hotel loyalty programs.

Choice Privileges covers 11 hotel brands with seven hotel brands earning 10 points per $1 in hotel spend, and four budget brands and extended stay brands earning 5 points/$1.

  • Ascend Collection
  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Quality Inn & Suites
  • Clarion
  • Cambria Suites
  • Sleep Inn
  • EconoLodge (earn 5 points/$1)
  • Rodeway Inn (earn 5 points/$1)
  • Suburban Extended Stay (earn 5 points/$1)
  • MainStay Suites Extended Stay (earn 5 points/$1)

Driving from Monterey to Las Vegas for Easter week also opened my eyes to to the fact that the 500 mile drive offers only one Starwood Hotel with Four Points Bakersfield and there are no Hyatt Hotels on this route. IHG, Marriott and Hilton options averaged around $100 or more per night while many of the towns along the way offered Choice Hotels options for under $60 per night.  

Reward Challenges with Choice Privileges

One difficulty with Choice Privileges is the lack of a master list for hotel reward tiers with a list of hotel properties in that tier.

Another anomaly with Choice Privileges is seasonal variation in reward cost.

For example, Choice Privileges Hotels currently show reward cost for April 16 to June 30, 2011 and July 1 to September 15, 2011. The cost of a free night can swing wildly in those two seasons.

Monterey, California EconoLodge is 8,000 points from April 16 to June 30, 2011 and then increases to 20,000 points for July 1-September 15, 2011. Clarion Collection Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand is 40,000 points from April 16 to June 30 and then drops to just 8,000 points from July 1 to September 15, 2011.

The third unique aspect of the Choice Privileges program is short booking windows for hotel rewards using points. Choice Privileges members with no elite status can only book reward nights for U.S. and Canada hotels within 30 days of stay. Hawaii and International hotels allow 60 days advance booking using points. Elite status is valuable for Choice Privileges members traveling U.S. and Canada and planning to use points for reward nights with extended booking windows for Gold elite to 50 days, Platinum elite to 75 days and Diamond elite to 100 days.

Unlikely this will become my primary program, but there is great utility in accumulating Choice Privileges points for locations where there are no Starwood or Hyatt hotels and the rates of Marriott, Hilton, and IHG are twice the cost of a Choice Hotels option.  

Some statistics based on the 2010 reward levels.

I have never seen a distribution of Choice Privileges reward tiers posted anywhere. Analyzing one year old 2010 reward levels in Choice Privileges is useful as a benchmark for what value in points the Choice Privileges hotels had in recent time and see how trends evolve in reward changes for 2011 and beyond.

The only general trend I noticed is many hotels in Canada appeared to increase in reward cost from 2010 to 2011. The Canadian dollar is worth about 6 cents more than the U.S. dollar right now (USD $1 = CAD 94 cents), so an increase in points is an expected adjustment.

Fortunately the rates have not increased across the board for international hotels.

SC Flier spreadsheet shows 5,236 hotels in Choice Portfolio from mid-2010. Here are some numbers derived from hotel sorts using mid-2010 data. I checked about 50 hotels for 2011 Q2 (April 16-June 30, 2011) reward rates and 2011-Q3 (July 1 – September 15, 2011) reward rates. I found mixed results, but most hotels were within 4,000 points of 2010 levels, and about evenly up and down. 

While the distribution of hotels across reward categories may be essentially similar between 2010 and 2011, individual hotel reward rates may be up, down or the same depending on local economic conditions. Check hotel properties individually for current Choice Privileges hotel reward rates. 

Choice Hotels in this analysis = 5,236 hotels worldwide.

  • USA = 4,263 hotels in Choice Privileges (81.7% of worldwide total).
  • International = 973 hotels in Choice Privileges (18.3% of worldwide total).  

Q2-2010 Choice Privileges reward levels: 

  • 30% of hotels were 6,000 or 8,000 points.
  • 36% of hotels were 10,000 to 12,000 points.
  • 28% of hotels were 16,000 to 20,000 points.
  • 6%  of hotels were 25,000 points, 30,000 points or 40,000 points.

Reward Tiers and Number of Properties based on 2010 Q2 (April 16 -June 30, 2010) and Q3 (July 1-September 15, 2010) point levels:  

Choice Privileges had over 1,500 hotels in the lowest tiers for 6,000 points or 8,000 points per night. This can be as little as $100 in spend to earn 8,000 points during Choice Privileges recurring promotion for 8,000 points after two stays. When Choice Privileges offers double points then these low tier rewards take just $300 to $400 in hotel stay spend to earn a free night at any of 1,500+ hotels. 

6,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 624 hotels (11.9%) and Q3-2010 = 471 hotels (9.0%).

  • 6,000 Q2 and 6,000 Q3 = 420 hotels
  • 6,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 176 hotels
  • 6,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 4 hotels
  • 6,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 3 hotels
  • 6,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 1 hotel 

8,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 977 hotels (18.7%) and Q3-2010 = 1,187 hotels (22.7%). 

  • 8,000 Q2 and 6,000 Q3 = 48 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 759 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 120 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 34 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 11 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 4 hotels
  • 8,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 1 hotel 

10,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 968 hotels (18.5%) and Q3-2010 = 972 hotels (18.6%).

Earning a free night takes $1,000 in hotel spend at 10 base points per dollar for most brands except extended stay brands of MainStay and Suburban and budget brands EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn that earn 5 points/$1 in hotel spend. 

  • 10,000 Q2 and 6,000 Q3 = 2 hotels
  • 10,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 213 hotels
  • 10,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 573 hotels
  • 10,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 134 hotels
  • 10,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 27 hotels
  • 10,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 19 hotels

12,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 889 hotels (17.0%) and Q3-2010 = 821 hotels (15.7%).

$1,200 in hotel spend for free night or far less spend when taking advantage of promotion bonus points.

  • 12,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 32 hotels
  • 12,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 224 hotels
  • 12,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 428 hotels
  • 12,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 146 hotels
  • 12,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 55 hotels
  • 12,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 4 hotels

 

16,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 942 hotels (18.0%) and Q3-2010 = 787 hotels (15.0%).

$1,600 in hotel spend for a free night. This tier has some of the higher quality Choice Hotels properties in the U.S.

  • 16,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 5 hotels
  • 16,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 25 hotels
  • 16,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 203 hotels
  • 16,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 525 hotels
  • 16,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 167 hotels
  • 16,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 17 hotels

 

20,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 534 hotels (10.2%) and Q3-2010 = 640 hotels (12.2%).

Top tier hotels in U.S. cities and resort locations fall in the 20,000 points to 25,000 points range. These hotels require $2,000 to $2,500 in hotel spend or as little as $300 for an elite during an 8,000 points per two stays promotion that is not limited to one or two bonuses. 

  • 20,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 3 hotels
  • 20,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 5 hotels
  • 20,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 15 hotels
  • 20,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 72 hotels
  • 20,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 377 hotels
  • 20,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 62 hotels

 

25,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 228 hotels (4.4%) and Q3-2010 = 290 hotels (5.5%).

  • 25,000 Q2 and 6,000 Q3 = 1 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 8,000 Q3 = 2 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 10,000 Q3 = 2 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 12,000 Q3 = 3 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 16,000 Q3 = 3 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 20,000 Q3 = 17 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 199 hotels
  • 25,000 Q2 and 30,000 Q3 = 1 hotels

Most hotels 25,000 points and above are located in New York City and international countries. The spreadsheet by SC Flier shows many hotels in Italy at 40,000 points and these hotels were all 6,000 or 8,000 points for Q2 and Q3 reward nights in 2011. Australia and New Zealand comprise most hotels 30,000 points and more. Peak rates are only for select seasons. Many of the 40,000 points hotels in Australia and New Zealand drop to 8,000 points in July and August 2011. 

30,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2010 = 49 hotels (0.9%) and Q3-2010 = 41 hotels (0.8%). 

  • 30,000 Q2 and 25,000 Q3 = 7 hotels
  • 30,000 Q2 and 30,000 Q3 = 40 hotels
  • 30,000 Q2 and 40,000 Q3 = 2 hotels 

40,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2011 = 24 hotels (0.5%) and Q3-2010 = 26 hotels (0.5%).

75,000 Points Reward Tier Q2-2011 = 1 hotel 

75,000 Q2-2011 and 8,000 Q3-2011 = 1 hotel (Clarion Collection Edgewater Palms, Paihia, New Zealand)

I spent a week in Paihia at Bay of Islands in New Zealand in August 2005 and I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I loved it. I didn’t stay at the Clarion Edgewater Palms, but at 8,000 points per night I’d give it a go.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand (outside Russell, near Paihia)

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. About 3 years ago, Choice raised their redemption rates without notice. Many properties raised their redemption rate from reasonable to unreasonable. I spend time upstate NY, where there are plenty of Choices (no pun intended). The program was good for me prior to serious rate inflation.

    I did take advantage of the credit card sign up bonus over the years for me and my wife.

    All of the 8000 point properties disappeared from the radar screen in upstate NY. Redemption went up to 12 and 16k per night. The majority of those properties are not worth it. Oh well.

  2. I took a road trip last summer, and the Choice points I had purchased on Discover America last year came in very handy. With that said, I can offer two general observations:

    1. Read Tripadvisor reviews before picking a hotel. The quality of Choice hotels varies widely. I don’t demand much from a hotel, but a basic level of cleanliness is required. Based on Tripadvisor reviews, I often opted not to stay at a Choice hotel.

    2. As with any hotel program, I felt that there were a large number of properties that were poor redemption values (even though I was not traveling in major cities, I still encountered far too many hotels at the 16K-20K level). But there were several instances where I was able to put my points to good use, and stay at a quality hotel for much less (based on how much I paid for my points) than any other decent option available.

  3. If you have their PC credit card, you get a 10% discount on rewards, which is what a cash and points stay technically is. So at 22,500 * .6, you’re staying in NYC for the equivalent of $135 all-in. Of course, you don’t get elite credit, but at PC that’s not worth much anyway.

  4. Oops, bust that. Got Choice and PC mixed up 🙂

    As for Choice, their NYC properties are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Fine by Euro standards I guess.

  5. Horrible repeated customer service experiences with Choice Hotels with no supervisor ever available to resolve my issues. Feels now like a scam and I would not recommend to anyone

Comments are closed.