May182015

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash value and elite reward nights advance booking window

Choice Privileges counts reward nights for elite status. Gold elite membership in Choice Privileges is earned after 10 nights in a calendar year. There are some benefits for Gold elite members like 10% bonus points, but that is kind of negligible, sort of like IHG Rewards Club Gold.

50-Day Advance Booking with Points is extension of regular 30-day window

The real benefit I am finding to Choice Privileges Gold Elite is the 50-day advance booking window adds another 3 weeks to plan hotel reservations using points. Non-elite Choice Privileges members can’t book reward nights within their region until 30 days before the night of your arrival and 60 days international. This means Europeans can book Choice Hotels for reward stays at USA hotels beginning 60 days before arrival compared to Americans who can only book reward stays within 30 days of hotel arrival, unless you have Choice Privileges elite status. Americans can book hotels in Europe 30 days before European non-elite members can book reward stays using Choice Privileges points.

Choice Privileges runs one version of the program for US and Canada residents and an international version of Choice Privileges for residents of Europe, Middle East, Australasia, Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America. Then, to really confuse you, there are Nordic Choice Hotels and Nordic Choice Club for around 180 hotels in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. You can redeem Choice Privileges points for reward nights at Nordic Choice Hotels, but you need to join Nordic Choice Club to earn points for paid stays at Nordic Choice Hotels.

Gold Elite Upgrades

I received room upgrades at Comfort Inn Vancouver Downtown and Quality Inn Victoria Downtown Inner Harbour in British Columbia last month. Those were my first two paid stays with Choice Hotels in 2015. I also had one night free on an approved best rate guarantee claim. There was a heavy metal concert happening downtown and several people on the ferry from Victoria were on their way to Vancouver for the concert. I heard them discussing their $150 CAD rates at the Best Western one block from the Comfort Inn. I purchased breakfast at the hotel to give some revenue, sort of a thank you my free room night.

Last September I stayed 13 reward nights in Norway spending over 200,000 Choice Privileges points with several nights in hotels posting published rates around $500 per night. Those reward nights qualified me for Choice Privileges Gold elite in 2015.

Last month I purchased 172,000 Choice Privileges points during the annual five weeks Daily Getaways sales from U.S. Travel Association for $720. I have already redeemed 80,000 points for seven reward nights to cover about $1,000 in posted room rates.

I have had three nights in Choice Hotels so far this year and the reward nights this summer will allow me to requalify for Choice Privileges Gold elite again this year with ten nights by July, including 8 reward nights on points.

Choice Privileges Gold Elite extended booking window for reward stays

The primary benefit of Choice Privileges Gold elite is the extended booking window for reward reservations from 30 days for North America reservations to 50 days. One of the main limitations of Choice Privileges is the short booking window for domestic reward reservations that opens only 30 days before arrival date. And they mean 30 days. When I tried to book a hotel on May 5 for a stay on June 5, I was unable to book the hotel. May has 31 days. I booked on May 6.

Choice Privielges elite benefits

Choice Privileges Elite Extended booking window for reward nights

  • Base member = 30 days for domestic, 60 days international
  • Gold elite = 50 days for domestic, 60 days international
  • Platinum elite = 75 days domestic and international
  • Diamond elite = 100 days domestic and international

Conserving Points with Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash

Daily Getaways allowed me to buy 172,000 points at a rate of $4.19 per 1,000 points. I originally planned to use those points for a trip to Scandinavia. I have ended up redeeming 60,000 points for US hotels with potentially another 50,000 for US hotels. Bottom line is most of these points are getting used up at US hotels over the next two months. I want to conserve some of the Choice Privileges points I have for another trip to Scandinavia this year or next.

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash buy points at $7.50 per 1,000 points

Choice Privileges introduced Points Plus Cash awards this year. The process is similar to IHG Rewards Club with discount points purchased at time of reward stay booking.

Orlando, Florida

Choice $578

This hotel has a 5 night rate of $493 for King Bed room or $578 for a suite with King Bed or two Queens. The value of Choice Privileges points for hotel room reward nights is you can frequently upgrade to a higher category room on a reward stay booking.

All three of these room types are available with points, even suites.

Choice Privileges reward night is 12,000 points for standard King Bed room or 12,000 points for a King Bed or Two Queen Beds suite.

Pay 12,000 points per reward night

Choice $578 or 60000 points

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash

Pay 8,000 points + $30 per night.

Choice $578 or PointsPlusCash 40K

This hotel is 40,000 points + $150 for 5 nights. This booking is a fixed rate points purchase with no additional hotel tax or sales tax added to the $150.

The question for me is whether conserving 20,000 points is worth $150 to me. Hotel SKT. PETRI, Ascend Collection hotel in Copenhagen I booked for July at 20,000 Choice Privileges points per reward night has an entry rate of $336 USD per night.

Boston Logan Airport

In the USA I found Comfort Inn & Suites Boston Logan Airport is rated #1 of 5 hotels in Revere. This hotel is 25,000 points per night. The hotel has a published rate of $260 after tax for July dates when I need a hotel room at Boston Logan for an early morning flight upon our return from Copenhagen.

$260 is more than I will pay for a hotel room.

Free Night Reward = 25,000 points = $105 based on the 172,000 points I purchased in April.

Points Plus Cash Reward = 8,000 points + $127.50.

In this example I can buy 17,000 Choice Privileges points for $7.50 per 1,000 points with the Points Plus Cash stay at Comfort Inn Boston Logan and conserve 17,000 points in my account. For me this is a good deal since I will not earn many Choice Privileges points from paid stays over the next year. Scandinavia is a very likely trip in the next 10 months for me where reward nights using Choice Privileges points will save $2,000 or more on hotel rates.

With 160,000 points I can book 20 hotel reward nights using Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash. Assume I book 20 nights in a 16,000 points per night hotel. Booking 20 nights at Points Plus Cash rate allows me to buy 160,000 points for $1,200 and spend 160,000 points I bought in Daily Getaways for about $672. $1,872 is $93.60 per night for 20 hotel nights.

Savings on reward nights is variable. 20,000 points I bought for $80 booked a $335 room night in Copenhagen. The savings is small in Orlando, as little as $20 per night. Boston Logan Airport is a $100 per night savings.

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash is truly an enhancement to the program, allowing members to conserve points for more reward stays.

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.

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