Apr052016

Only 104,000 Choice Privileges points from Daily Getaways this year

Yesterday I managed to buy 104,000 Choice Privileges points for $442 in the first six minutes of the first day of five weeks of Daily Getaways sales for 2016.

I love to see travel bloggers diss this year’s U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways offers. Every dismissal helps reduce competition for my annual hotel points buying spree. These are the weeks I load up on discount price hotel loyalty points for the year.

I held back on writing more posts about the Daily Getaways Choice Privileges points sale. I hoped to pick up over 200,000 Choice Privileges yesterday in the  sale. By the time I landed the first two sets of points yesterday at the sale opening, I was lucky to get one other set of points to load during the sale.

Each year of Daily Getaways I am able to purchase fewer Choice Privileges points as the number of points for sale basically has remained unchanged, while the number of persons interested in buying has increased.

My cost average for 104,000 Choice Privileges points was $4.25/1,000 points in the Daily Getaways sales. My estimated redemption value for these points will be something around $16 to $20/1,000 points. I expect to redeem those 104,000 Choice Privileges points for around $1,600 to $2,000 in hotel rooms over the next six months when I travel through Scandinavia for a couple of weeks in July and September.

Value I find in Choice Privileges points

On a 13 night trip to Norway in 2014, I redeemed over 200,000 Choice Privileges points I purchased for around $850 during the Daily Getaways annual sale. Those points provided 13 room nights valued at around $5,000 in hotel rooms, based on the published rates for the rooms I booked in Norway. At that time, Oslo was considered the most expensive city in the world for a U.S. tourist to visit. I stayed six nights in Bergen, Norway for 92,000 Choice Privileges points, costing me around $390, when the published room rate for those same rooms was around $2,500.

The good news for U.S. tourists is the hotel room rate prices have dropped substantially in Norway as the currency devalued against the U.S. dollar nearly 50% in the past 18 months due to the rapid decline in oil prices. Oil revenue from Norwegian Sea offshore drilling is a major driver of the Norwegian economy. Low oil prices has weakened the value of the Norwegian Krone NOK.

Loyalty Traveler – Exchange rates makes 2016 great year to visit Norway and Sweden (March 22, 2016)

For an American tourist that means the $400 USD average hotel room rates of 2014 are now more like $250 USD per night. That is still way too expensive for my travel budget. And that is where I find value in Choice Privileges points.

2016 Choice Privileges Hotel Reward Night Redemptions

There are some hotel reward stay redemptions in Scandinavia I am looking at for 2016 with my newly purchased 104,000 Choice Privileges points.

Here are examples of the value I will likely find in Norway for my $442 in Choice Privileges points purchased yesterday through Daily Getaways.

Oslo, Norway – Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy

Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy

One example of hotel paid rates and Choice Privileges reward rates is Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy in Oslo, Norway. This property is 16,000 points per reward night. I paid $68 for 16,000 Choice Privileges points yesterday through the Daily Getaways sale.

Take note that the reward night options for Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy offer a double bed standard room or two single beds deluxe room, both for 16,000 Choice Privileges points.

And that is precisely where extra value is found in Choice Privileges points. There are frequently multiple room categories offered for the same points reward night price. I have stayed in several higher category rooms through points, including several suites, costing $100 to $200 more per night more than the standard rate. Most hotel loyalty programs only offer the basic room category for points reward nights.

A Choice Privileges member can book a Deluxe Room for 2 persons for 16,000 Choice Privileges points at Hotel Savoy Oslo instead of booking the standard room for the same number of points. The room rate for a Deluxe Room is $249 per night, $72 more per night than the $177 rate for a standard room.

Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy paid rates

One of the drawbacks of Choice Privileges is a booking window restriction for reward nights reservations. There is a time-frame window using Choice Privileges points limiting reservations to within 30 days of arrival in the member’s home region or 60 days prior to hotel arrival for international regions. Choice Privileges defines home region and international regions based on your country of residence.

Even as a Choice Privileges mid-tier Platinum elite member, my booking window for July reward night stays in Norway does not open until 75 days before arrival, 15 days more than other U.S. members of Choice Privileges, yet still a few weeks away. That is the reason I am showing reward night availability and room rate prices for Norway hotels in May rather than July when I will be there.

The value I expect to find with my 104,000 Choice Privileges points is the opportunity to book a hotel night on points for a place like Hotel Savoy Oslo, Norway for 16,000 points. I only paid $68 for 16,000 Choice Privileges points during yesterday’s Daily Getaways sale. That $68 can place me in a $249 room in Oslo, Norway.

Skt. Petri Copenhagen, Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Skt. Petri Copenhagen is a hotel named for Saint Peter’s Church, the adjacent 13th century Christian church in Denmark. Skt. Petri Church is the oldest building in the city. We stayed at Skt. Petri last July and I stayed there again in September 2015.

Copenhagen is an expensive city for tourists. The currency devaluation of the past 18 months on the Norwegian and Swedish krone currency had far less impact on the Danish krone. Denmark is a strong economy in a place where the minimum wage is around $20 per hour.

I am looking at possibly booking four nights at Skt. Petri Copenhagen in July for 80,000 points. Here are the room rates for May 2016.

Skt. Petri Ascend Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark

$301 per night or 20,000 Choice Privileges points on Sun May 15.

Choice Privileges points value Skt Petri

Skt Petri, Copenhagen is $301 or 20,000 Choice Privileges points per night.

I paid $81 for 20,000 Choice Privileges points yesterday during the Daily Getaways sale. I have sufficient Choice Privileges points for several nights at Skt. Petri, Copenhagen. The money saved on the hotel rooms in Copenhagen allows us to afford the expensive food prices of Denmark when our daily food budget needs to be about $40 to buy grocery store food for our normal diet of vegetables, fish, fruit and beer.

The Value of Hotel Points Depends on Where You Redeem Them

Like other bloggers, I recommend not buying hotel points in Daily Getaways unless you know you can get good value from your purchases. For me, the Choice Privileges sale is a no brainer great value since Scandinavia has become my go to destination for the past few years when seeking lowest airfare for travel between California and Europe. The cost of living is exorbitant in Scandinavia compared to U.S. prices, but with low airfare and low cost hotels, Scandinavia is far more affordable than I ever imagined it could be.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden are travel opportunities I am taking advantage of while there are discounts to be found. Hotels are quite affordable between the 187 Nordic Choice Hotels offering reward nights at an average rate of 16,000 Choice Privileges points.

There are also low paid room rates to be found with Club Carlson Gold elite 2-for-1 bookings. I already booked a 2-night reservation in Norway for $71 per night for a solo September trip. But there are far more Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway and Sweden than Club Carlson Radisson Blu and Park Inn hotels.

The price of airfare from the USA to Scandinavia is one of the best budget travel deals around these past two years with Norwegian and WOW.  Competitive legacy carrier low fares from Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance to Denmark, Norway and Sweden are regularly several hundred dollars less than flying to any other airports in Europe.

Copenhagen hanging out

Kelley wants to go back to Copenhagen summer 2016 since Danes speak English too

My wife Kelley is somewhat of a xenophobe. She is reluctant to go to places where most people do not speak English. She is fine to be out and about in Amsterdam, Auckland, London, and Ireland, but when we travel to places like Barcelona, Paris and Prague, she sort of freaks out when she encounters people who do not speak English.

I want to travel in Poland this summer and she is lobbying for us to spend more time in Copenhagen. Denmark was another one of those places she did not want to travel to until last summer we flew WOW Airlines to Copenhagen. She realized that nearly everyone speaks English in Copenhagen and there were no communication challenges. With five days in the city she fell in love with the freewheeling Copenhagen culture and laid back attitude to life. Many international surveys portray Danes as the happiest people on the planet. Some people like a semi-tropical beach to sit back and chill with a drink on vacation. Kelley liked sitting on city sea port docks drinking and eating with the locals in a lazy summer attitude to life.

 

Kelley loved Copenhagen, Denmark since there were no communication issues. Most Danes speak English fluently. I have had the same experience in Finland, Norway and Sweden encountering few people who do not speak fluent English.

The value I find in Choice Privileges points is the opportunity to visit Scandinavia, a place many American travelers are reluctant to visit due to the high cost of living.

Next up in great Daily Getaways value for me is the opportunity to buy 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points for $300. The value of those points is demonstrated in a hotel stay I had this week where I spent 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points to save $185 on the room rate for my stay at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam.

Extrapolate that out to 30,000 points and there is potential for $1,850 in room rate savings with $300 in Wyndham Rewards points purchases in next Monday’s Daily Getaways.

Wyndham Rewards points deal details through Daily Getaways will come in another Loyalty Traveler post.

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. I suggest that you take the boat from either Copenhagen (DK) or Ystad (SE) to the Danish island Bornholm (2-3h) It’s a beautiful island, essentially a miniature Denmark that you can even bicycle around. There’s a Gorgeous beach in the south where you can look for amber. An old fortress and several old churches are found through the island.

  2. Ric – this is a long post, so pardon me if I missed the answer – isn’t it Choice where your points were just hacked?

  3. I used 3 browsers and clicked into the 3 large packages at the start of the sale. After completing those purchases I managed to grab two more large packages (for another family member) as buyers didn’t complete their purchases. This was more than double my previous best result purchasing Choice points.

    Maybe Choice prefers my purchases to yours: I’m not going to be able to get nearly as much value out of my points!

    Why do you think the exceptional value in Scandinavia exists and has continued so many years? Do the Choice hotels there award more points to guests than people like you redeem for free stays?

  4. @ABC – I’d love to get to Bornholm. Looked at that option last year, but our sudden change of plans to burn Club Carlson points changed our Scandinavian itinerary to a London trip.

    @Colleen – Yes. Choice Privileges was the hacked account. I considered not buying points due to that, but the deal has great value to me since I am already ticketed to be in Sweden and Norway this summer.

    @Lynn – 15,000 Wyndham Rewards will buy one free night at any Wyndham property with a GoFree reward. $150 is still an expensive hotel night to me.

    I find better value with GoFast reward nights for 3,000 points + cash copay. The cash copay can be as high as $150 at some hotels or as low as $25. In Amsterdam I booked our stay at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam in a room category two levels higher than the standard room for 3,000 points + 54.60 EUR after tax. The room rate was 223 EUR.

    @nsx – The value in Scandinavia is due in part to the Nordic Choice Hotels operating as a separate hotel chain within Choice Hotels with its own Nordic Choice Club loyalty program. Paid stays at Nordic Choice Hotels only earn points in Nordic Choice Club and not Choice Privileges. Nordic Choice Club reward stays are 10,000 or 20,000 points at most hotels.

    In 2014 I stayed at a couple of hotels in Norway where the front desk staff had never seen a room stay booked with Choice Privileges points. There are few Choice Privileges members redeeming points at Nordic Choice Hotels so no great need to raise the reward levels.

    As long as The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets and One Mile at a Time don’t advertise the high value of a Choice Privileges hotel run through Scandinavia raving about their 3-bedroom suites for 16,000 points complete with YouTube videos, there will not be a run on Choice Privileges reward stays for Nordic Choice Hotels.

    I don’t expect the great value for Americans with Scandinavian travel to last many more years with the convergence of low cost airline fares, low cost hotel stay rewards and a weaker currency against the U.S. Dollar.

    This is a great time to visit Scandinavia.

  5. I was actually in a cafe in Italy on my smartphone when the deal went live… was able to get 2x 36k packages and 2x 32k packages. Expecting to use them later this year for a trip to Scandinavia just as you outlined in your post. Thanks for the Wyndham ideas (gofast vs gofree) — I hadn’t considered that angle but it could definitely provide a lot of value. I’ll need to look at travel plans and see if it will be worth purchasing them.

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