Aug082017

Why I bought 50,000 Choice Points for $385 and where I might spend

Choice Privileges points are valuable currency for me. There is a sale through August 17 for 30% off Choice Privileges points purchases when buying 40,000 to 50,000 points. The rate drops from $11 to $7.70 per 1,000 points.

8,000 points reward night = $61.60 nights (Prague, Porto, Malmo)

10,000 points reward night = $77.00 nights (Stockholm, Prague)

12,000 points reward night = $92.40 nights (Bergen)

16,000 points reward night = $123.20 nights (most hotels in Norway)

20,000 points reward night = $154.00 nights (Oslo, Copenhagen)

In this post I share sample hotels in several cities: Porto, Portugal; Prague, Czechia; Bergen and Larvik, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden, where buying Choice Privileges points at $7.70 per 1,000 points offers significant rate savings with reward nights.

In the absence of Points Plus Cash rewards, missing in action since May 2017 despite a Choice Hotels manager writing me in May to say this was only a temporary software issue, means any Choice Privileges reward stays I book in the near term will need to be at full reward price.

I redeemed 30,000 Choice points in May using Points Plus Cash rewards for one night in Copenhagen and four nights in Prague. Points Plus Cash conserved 30,000 points.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Ascend Collection Skt. Petri Copenhagen cost 20,000 points, an expensive Choice splurge for my travel style. The hotel was ridiculously priced at $400 per night. I booked a Points Plus Cash reward in early May for $105 + 6,000 points.

Skt. Petri Copenhagen Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Skt. Petri Hotel Copenhagen, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection

Copenhagen is a high price hotel city. When transiting overnight through Copenhagen Airport, I tend to favor heading over the Oresund Strait by train to Malmo, Sweden. There is Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance for 8,000 points with breakfast and dinner included.

Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo, Sweden food alone worth 8,000 points

Kelley loves to be in Copenhagen city and Skt. Petri set the right tone for the beginning of our three week Europe trip.

Prague, Czechia

Clarion Prague City was another good value at 10,000 points per night. This hotel was 94 EUR ($111) per night at the time I booked in May on Point Plus Cash rewards for 6,000 points + $30, but ended up being sold out by the time of our 4-night July stay.

Hotel review Clarion Prague City reward stay

I redeemed 30,000 points + $225 for 5 hotel nights during our July trip to Europe. These same nights would now cost 60,000 points since Points Plus Cash reward nights are currently unavailable. These same nights would have cost $844 at published rates. I purchased 36,000 Choice Privileges points during Daily Getaways 2017 for $155.

Good Value Choice Hotels Reward Nights in Europe

Which is why I wanted to purchase 50,000 Choice Privileges points during the current discount offer. I still anticipate a potential need for another 60,000 to 100,000 points in 2017.

Porto, Portugal

Quality Inn Portus Cafe 10,000 points/night ($77/night).

Choice Porto Quality Inn Portus

or 116 EUR/night = $137 USD (nonrefundable rate) or 129 EUR ($152) for flexible cancellation rate with similar terms to reward booking.

Choice Quality Portus 116 rate

Buying points saves $60-$75/night at this hotel.

Stockholm, Sweden

Norwegian Airlines low one-way fares between Oakland and Stockholm, Sweden compels me to transit through this city on a regular basis. I flew Stockholm to Oakland twice last winter paying $115 and $149 for my two one-way Norwegian tickets. I flew to SFO to Copenhagen twice on WOW Air for $69 and $70.

Clarion Hotel Sign and Clarion Hotel Stockholm are two properties with 10,000 points per night rates.

Stockholm Clarion Hotel Sign great deal on points, convenient airport train access

Clarion Hotel Stockholm trip report (May 6, 2017).

Stockholm has been a ridiculously inexpensive destination from San Francisco for the past year. If you don’t care about earning frequent flyer miles, then Swiss Airlines will fly you there for about $375 round trip over the next few months. My main ticket purchases for Europe over the past year have been Stockholm to San Francisco round trip flights with SAS and British Airways.

Larvik, Norway

The past few weeks I have been excited to see Oslo pricing cheaper with SAS, a ticket I’d like to buy just so I get a change of scenery from Stockholm.

Ascend Collection Farris Bad, Larvik, Norway

Choice Farris Bad

Room with balcony is $211 or 16,000 points ($123.20).

Farris Bad is a spa resort on the coast south of Oslo. The hotel is convenient to Torp Airport TRF, where low cost carriers fly to places around Europe.

Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway

Hotel Review: Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade

Bergen, Norway

I enjoy hiking around Bergen and there are often cheap tickets between there and California.

Hotel No13 Ascend Collection rebranded from Clarion Collection. This was my favored hotel in Bergen at 12,000 points. Last time I stayed in 2015, dinner was served at Hotel Oleana around the corner, a 20,000 points reward night hotel. I guess only breakfast is included now.

Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 Bergen with dinner at Hotel Oleana

12,000 points ($92.40) is a significant discount on the $254 room rate.

Choice Ascend No13

Choice Privileges are a valuable currency for me. Scandinavia, Prague, Portugal are just a few of the places where there are real deals with Choice Privileges points, even when paying $7.70 per 1,000 points.

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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Comments

  1. If it works for you I’m glad for you. But I would never, ever, EVER spend money for 50K Choice Hotel points.

  2. I understand where Jake is coming from–I do stay in Choice hotels in the U.S., but only to sleep in. Staying in one several days for a convention would definitely get on my nerves. But the Scandinavian version of Choice is truly different. The free breakfast at these locations put the American version to shame. Additionally, some of the Clarion locations provide free dinner meal which is much higher quality than what you get at, say, at a Staybridge Inn. The facilities themselves bear no resemblance to the American/Canadian counterpart. I’m not so sure why the other major brands seen in North America are not prominent, but Choice and Radisson seem to dominate the market there.

  3. Thanks for this. Have 5 nights at Skt Petri booked in late April/early May for about $250 a night. Seems expensive, but then Marriots are already sold out on points, and the central location and breakfast will help, as will hopefully the iprefer upgrade.

  4. @Ed – I rarely stay in Carlson, Choice or Wyndham hotels in USA. Europe is an entirely different matter. Most hotels in Europe are still not part of chains. Chain hotels in Europe tend to have more modern facilities than many of the small independent hotels and many of the chain hotels in Europe would be considered boutique hotels in historic buildings with charm and character, unlike motel style USA properties.

  5. Ric, do you generally find that the Choice point value holds throughout Europe, or is it really just primarily places like Scandinavia?

  6. There are places around Europe where Choice Privileges have value. The variables are reward rates change seasonally, so the trick is finding hotels where there is a significant difference between reward rate points cost and published room rates. For some hotels in some seasons this will be a good deal.

    Scandinavia is nearly always a great deal using Choice Privileges points and there are 180 Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Choice Privileges reward nights will often be the lowest priced hotel room you can book when typical rates in Sweden and Norway for any hotel are $150 to $250 per night.

    Most of my Choice Privileges points are redeemed in Scandinavia due to my inability to find other comparable low priced lodging options.

    Prague was a great deal this summer for Clarion Prague City and Portugal looks like a good deal to me for October, but there are plenty of other lodging options in those places within the same general price range as $77 reward nights with Choice Privileges points.

  7. I go to Prague a lot and use the Clarion Prague City a majority of the time. I used to use the points+cash trick and miss it. I don’t think the cost of points that way was much less than this bonus though.

    The Clarion is in a wonderful neighborhood just a couple blocks south of the center and next to the I.P. Pavlova Metro and the Namesti Miru Metro. The Metro from the airport to Miru is about $1. ( Uber is also incredibly cheap in Prague though- $14 to the airport vs. $40 taxi; $2 rides around town).

    The Clarion often is an $80 hidden hotel on Hotwire though and last trip I got the nearby Galieo on Hotwire for $80 (a little better hotel). So I’ve realized that the rewards price on the Clarion is not earth-shaking; it’s just that hotels in Prague are very cheap.

    I’m undecided about purchasing points under this promo as Choice redemptions other places I go are usually horrible.

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