Aug032015

What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe

I am traveling to Denmark, Norway and Sweden next month. There are nearly 200 Nordic Choice Hotels in these countries. Nordic Choice operates its own separate hotel loyalty program from Choice Privileges with Nordic Choice Club.

Three things Choice Privileges members need to know about Nordic Choice Hotels.

1. Choice Privileges members can redeem Choice Privileges points for hotel reward stays at Nordic Choice Hotels.

2. Paid stays at Nordic Choice Hotels do not earn points or elite credit* in Choice Privileges. You can join and earn credit for paid stays through Nordic Choice Club. (* I have not had a paid stay at a Nordic Choice Hotel to know for a fact if paid stays are excluded from elite credit when booked through Choice Privileges website. Please leave a comment if you have received elite credit in Choice Privileges for a paid stay at a Nordic Choice Hotel. I may test this out in September. My room rate checks for September 2015 stays indicate Nordic Choice Hotels website offers lower rates (I found lower rates 10% to 20% less) than hotel rates in Scandinavia on Choice Hotels USA website.

3. Reward stays at Nordic Choice Hotels booked with Choice Privileges points earn elite credit in Choice Privileges.

The last point is one of the main point of this article. Choice Privileges has three elite levels with Gold, after staying 10 nights in a calendar year, Platinum after 20 nights and Diamond after 40 nights. Besides bonus points, the primary benefit of elite status is an expanded booking window for reward stays.

Choice Privileges Elite Membership Qualification

  • Gold = 10 nights.
  • Platinum = 20 nights.
  • Diamond = 40 nights.

One of the major limitations of Choice Privileges is a program rule limiting reward stay reservations to 30 days before arrival for hotels in your country of program residency. This means a U.S. member without elite status can only book reward stays within 30 days of arrival. International properties can be booked within 60 days of arrival.

Choice Privileges elite members expanded booking window:

  • Gold = 50 days domestic, 60 days international.
  • Platinum = 75 days domestic and international.
  • Diamond = 100 days domestic and international.

Reward stays qualify for elite credit in Choice Privileges.

In September 2014, I stayed 13 reward nights in Norway at Nordic Choice Hotels using my Choice Privileges points. I have Choice Privileges Gold elite status for 2015.

This calendar year I will hit 20 nights with Choice Privileges for Platinum elite, nearly all reward nights.

What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe

Last week, I paid $385 for 50,000 Choice Privileges points during their 30% off sale. Points normally cost $11 per $1,000. I purchased the maximum number of points I can buy or receive in a calendar year at a 30% discount from the normal price of $550. The discount rate was $7.70 per 1,000 points.

In April, I purchased 172,000 Choice Privileges points for $720 during the annual Daily Getaways travel package sales. That was a rate of $4.19 per 1,000 points. I redeemed 138,000 of those points for trips in the past two months with hotel stays in Orlando, Anaheim, Boston and Copenhagen. Those 138,000 points were redeemed for $1,600 in hotel rooms.

Except for Copenhagen, the reward room stays were the best deals I could find for the dates I was in those cities. In Copenhagen, Skt. Petri was a great hotel stay experience and a splurge of 20,000 Choice Privileges points that cost me $84 for a published $328 room rate night.

 

Skt Petri at night   Rundetarn

Choice Ascend Collection – Skt. Petri Copenhagen – view of Rundetårn, the Round Tower, one of Europe’s oldest observatories, completed in 1642.

Loyalty Traveler – Skt. Petri Hotel Copenhagen, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection (July 6, 2015)

Skt. Petri Hotel Copenhagen would have been only 10,000 points per night, if we had Nordic Choice Club points to redeem. Nordic Choice Hotels offered a chain-wide summer promotion  for 10,000 points per reward night on any day of the week between June 19 and August 16, 2015.

Between 19th of June and 16th of August 2015 we have other bonus point rates. During the summer period mentioned a bonus night at Comfort Hotels, Quality Hotels, Clarion Collection, Clarion Hotels, Nordic Light Hotel,
Nordic C Hotel and SKT. PETRI will cost 10,000 bonus points all days.

Choice Privileges Points Cost and Redemption Value for September 2015 travel

42,000 x $4.19 + 50,000 x $7.70 = $561 spent on 92,000 Choice Privileges points in 2015.

I booked 7 nights in Choice Privileges hotels for Norway, Sweden and London for my trips in September 2015.

Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance – Malmo, Sweden

  • Reward Rate = 8,000 points x 2 nights.
  • Room rate for booked room type = 1,325 SEK per night = $153.54 USD.
  • Redemption value = $307 USD.

Clarion Collection NO13 – Bergen, Norway

    • Reward Rate = 12,000 points x 2 nights.
    • Room rate for booked room type = 2,040 NOK per night = $248.29 USD.
    • Redemption value = $496 USD.

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus – Harstad, Norway

  • Reward Rate = 16,000 points x 2 nights.
  • Room rate for booked room type = 1,490 NOK per night = $181.43 USD.
  • Redemption value = $362 USD.

Comfort Inn Westminster – London, UK

    • Reward Rate = 16,000 points x 1 night.
    • Room rate for booked room type = £118 per night = $184.35 USD.
    • Redemption value = $184 USD.

Redemption value for 88,000 Choice Privileges points = $1,349 in hotel rooms purchased with $561 in Choice Privileges points. That is a redemption value of $15.33 per 1,000 points.

With all the low airfare deals to Scandinavia and low cost reward nights in the USA, I can’t keep enough Choice Privileges points in stock to meet my needs. My purchase of $1,100 in Choice Privileges points in 2015 has provided over $3,000 in hotel room reward nights in 2015.

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 »

Comments

  1. Would Choice allow either your wife to buy points, then transfer them to you, or for her to make a reservation in your name? That might help with your points shortage.

  2. These are great hotels in Norway, partly because of the free dinners they often include. Will it be the same for Denmark, England, and Sweden—or is this just a Norway thing?

  3. @Christian – Yes, my wife or relatives could buy 50,000 points. I thought of that last week when points were on sale, but I did not need more points for this trip.

    Choice Privileges T&C

    “14. A member may redeem a reward night for an immediate family member (spouse, partner, children, parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters). Immediate family members (spouse, partner, children, parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters) can use the free night even if the member is not occupying the room.

    When booking a reward night for someone other than yourself, be sure to ask the reservation agent to include the name of the guest in the notes field of the reservation. When booking a reward night through your online profile, be sure to include the name of the guest who will be staying in the room in the “Special Request” field.”

    https://www.choicehotels.com/choice-privileges/rules-regulations#rewards

    @bluecat – London Comfort Inn is breakfast included.

    Clarion Collection Malmo TripAdvisor reviews indicate both breakfast and evening buffet like the brand offers in Norway. All my reward stays in Scandinavia have included free breakfast. Only Clarion Collection brand offers evening food as free benefit at hotels I stayed. I stayed at a Clarion in Oslo, without the ‘Collection’ part in the name, and there was no free dinner spread.

    In Canada, I had to pay an extra $8 or so per day for breakfast at Comfort Inn Vancouver Downtown last April.

  4. @Rick, thanks for the info about needing the word “Collection” to score a free dinner. I hope I remember that when it comes time to book again! (And I now seem to remember that these points –bought during the Daily Getaways sale– will “expire”…do you recall the rules: do I have to burn them before a certain date or ???)

    Thanks and have a great trip(s)! I just got back from Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger and can recommend a few things that I don’t think you hit yet. (E.g., parasailing on Mt Ulriken)

  5. Thanks for talking about this great under the radar hotel chain. I too have been able to get some great deals at their hotels in Europe and in NYC just by using points purchased from Daily Getaways.

  6. Okay, I just re-read your post. Hey, it was probably where I got the idea to do it in the first place! Anyway, if you’ve never done it, you should go for it! Very safe (I think) and we paid less than $200.

    I think you know this already,but the bar at Hotel no 13 is outrageous: we paid $15 for a small bottler of (delicious) (hard) pear cider.

  7. I wouldn”t pay for Choice points unless I have a particular need at certain locations. Choice Hotels are mostly over-priced compared to similar properties of other chains except in Nordic countries and Rome. Bahamas Atlantis was a good one but that got devalued as well.
    Also, as you mentioned you can’t book Choice hotels with points more than 60days out for international trips (they are allowing paying guests the first access to the rooms).

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