This article is an introduction to some of the basics in using Choice Privileges points for reward nights. Choice Privileges represents over 6,000 hotels worldwide. I will follow up this article focused on good value hotels using Choice Privileges points for deals in the USA, Australia and Europe.
Choice Privileges is my most used hotel loyalty program in 2018 with nearly 25 hotel nights booked with points this year, mostly in Europe. We had a good 9-nights stretch of hotel stays in July 2018 for 98,000 points upon flying into Vienna for 3 nights spending 28,000 points for Star Inn Wien Schoenbrunn, then traveling to Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic and 4 nights in a suite for 38,000 points, then 2 nights in Prague at Clarion Prague City for 32,000 points before a flight to Krakow, Poland where Hilton brand hotels bedded us for 8 nights.
Choice Privileges is one of the sponsors of U.S. Travel Association Daily Getaways annual five weeks of daily weekday offers in the spring. Choice Privileges points sold 98,000 points for about $500 in April 2018. I purchased around 225,000 points during the sale. My 9 reward nights in Austria and Czechia had posted rates at $1,372 for the dates I stayed in the room types I booked using points.
With about 50,000 points left in my Choice Privileges account, I have been finding hotel deals in Europe, Australia and the USA. Hopefully I will be able to reload my Choice Privileges account with another batch of cheap points with the 2019 Daily Getaways offers this spring.
Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways Choice Privileges points are their cheapest in 2018 (April 10, 2018).
Loyalty Traveler – [Expired] Choice Privileges 55K back at Daily Getaways (April 20, 2018).
Fingers crossed they don’t drop Daily Getaways five weeks of travel deals.
Key points to know with Choice Privileges
1. You need to login and have sufficient points to see room types available using points.
While you can see the reward night cost for a specific hotel in a general search for reward nights, you can only see actual reward night availability and room type if you have the total number of points to make the reward stay booking.
Any person can check reward rates for a hotel stay within 100 days online at ChoiceHotels.com.
But you won’t see availability of room types unless you are logged in with sufficient points for a reward stay.
2. Choice Hotels have seasonal reward rates. Hotels also may have different rates for weekdays and weekends.
The range of reward rates is a low 6,000 points to 35,000 points.
Comfort Inn & Suites Anaheim is within walking distance of Disneyland and weekends are the park’s busiest days, so naturally reward rates are generally higher on Friday and Saturday weekend nights.
Nov 25-Dec 1, 2018 Sun-Thu 16,000 points; Fri-Sat 16,000 points.
Dec 2, 2018-Jan 31, 2019 Sun-Thu 12,000 points; Fri-Sat 16,000 points.
Feb 1, 2019-Apr 15, 2019 Sun-Thu 12,000 points; Fri-Sat 20,000 points.
Most hotels worldwide are priced 16,000 to 25,000 points, however, there are hotels offering high redemption value, even at the 8,000 points level (see point #3).
Some highly rated hotels may have 8,000 point reward nights in off-season and rise to 25,000 and 30,000 points in peak season.
Sometimes the pricing makes no sense, like when two Choice Hotels in Carmel-by-the-sea, California were priced lower on weekends during peak season this September and October at 10,000 to 12,000 points when room rates were over $300 per night.
3. Some hotels in Choice Privileges offer higher category rooms at standard reward points amounts. Hotels that have different room types for reward nights may have anything from preferred view to larger room to even a full one-bedroom suite. The key to getting higher value from Choice Privileges points is finding hotels offering room upgrades.
Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic, Sandfjord, Norway
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection
Yet any of these rooms, including the suite, is available as a reward night for 16,000 points.
4. Reward stay bookings can only be made within 100 days of stay date.
This is actually an improvement in 2018 to the program.
Once I have a trip idea for a low points hotel stay on Choice Privileges points at a hotel with high category rooms, then I try to make my reward stay booking on the first day or two of the 100-day reward booking window opening for my travel dates. Many times I have booked reward stays at Choice Hotels in Europe to see no availability for rewards or paid rooms in the two weeks before my stay.
Important Point – a reward stay booking must only start within 100 days of reward stay reservation. I can’t book a reward stay today for arrival March 9, 2019, but I can book March 8-March 11 as a reward stay today.
5. Points Plus Cash reward stay is an option anytime there are standard reward nights using points available
Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash is the option for a member to redeem only 6,000 points per reward night for any hotel priced from 8,000 to 35,000 points. The necessary points above 6,000 points per night to complete the reservation can be purchased online at time of booking for $7.50 per 1,000 points.
This means a 16,000 points standard reward night can be purchased for 6,000 points + $75.00 to buy the remaining 10,000 points needed for the reward night reservation.
Points Plus Cash reward bookings are an alternative way to buy points at $7.50 per 1,000 instead of paying $9.90 per 1,000 points through the regular Buy Points option. The best time to buy points through Choice Privileges through regular purchases is when there is a bonus points promotion. Members can only buy 50,000 points in a calendar year. There is a much higher annual limit of 250,000 points allowed for maximum purchased points through Points Plus Cash ($1,875.00).
Points purchased for a Points Plus Cash reservation are nonrefundable, while the Points Plus Cash reservation has the hotel’s standard flexible cancellation policy, generally day before arrival. If you cancel, then all Choice Privileges points go back into your account.
Disneyland on Choice Privileges points
Last week I spent three days at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Initially, my hotel plan was a 4-night reward stay at Quality Inn Placentia, 6.5 miles northeast of the park. We ended up staying at Best Western Plus Anaheim Park Place Inn, directly across the street from the eastern entrance to Disneyland/California Adventure Park.
Being close to the park is a desirable and the location of Comfort Inn & Suites Anaheim is closer than Quality Inn Placentia at 1.2 miles and only a 25-minute walk. Plus, Anaheim GardenWalk restaurants and pubs like PF Chang’s, McCormick & Schmicks, House of Blues and Roy’s are located midway between the hotel and Disneyland park. There is also Anaheim shuttle service if you don’t want to walk.
Comfort Inn & Suites Anaheim ranks #42 of 118 Anaheim hotels on TripAdvisor.com. There are places where a Choice Hotel is among the best hotels in the city. There are even some luxury Choice Hotels like The Thief in Oslo, Norway.
In general, Choice Hotels are a mid-market property or even a low market property, especially in the USA. Be sure to check ratings and read some reviews before redeeming points at a hotel you don’t know.
Buying 36,000 points at $7.50 per 1,000 points reduces the price to $270, a savings of $345 on a 3-night stay.
Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash
18,000 points + $135 is the better option when you need points or want to conserve points.
Even if you do not have any Choice Privileges points, you can buy 18,000 points for $9.90 per 1,000 points or $178.20 to jump start your account.
Comfort Inn & Suites Anaheim will cost only $313.20 buying 18,000 points for $178.20, then booking a 3-night Points Plus Cash reward stay for 18,000 points + $135.00 to buy the other 18,000 points.
There are a variety of ways you can buy points, book Points Plus Cash stays buying more points and get to the level of points you need for a 3-night reward stay costing between $270 to $313.20.
There are few hotels in Anaheim where you can get a 3-star room for under $100 per night. Choice Privileges points are one way to meet that objective.