The Choice Privileges card used to be offered by Bank of America, but it was discontinued in 2009. A lot of people complained about the rewards on this hotel credit card, so I was not the least bit surprised to see it axed. However a couple years ago the Choice Privilege Visa reemerged and is now issued by Barclaycard. Is it any better than the original? Let’s find out?
First, let’s take a look at which hotels are included in the reward program:
- Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep In, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, Roadway Inn, Ascend Collection
That’s quite a wide selection of discount/lower-end hotels. When I’m traveling and just want a cheap place to sleep, I often go for a lower-end hotel myself. So the brands being offered on the Choice Privileges credit card are good options if you’re budget conscious (you can compare other hotel credit cards here).
Next, let’s take a look at the rewards program on the Chase Privileges Visa:
- On purchases they give 2 points per dollar spent
- On spending at Choice Privileges hotels, I found the advertisement a bit misleading. One of their bullet points was “Earn 15 points per eligible $1 spent at over 4,200 Choice Privileges locations” which sounded great, but then I read the fine print… the Choice Privileges credit card only earns you 5 of those 15 points. The rest are given through the Choice Privileges membership program (a free membership program that is separate from the credit card). So in actuality, the credit card in itself is only earning you 5 points per dollar spent at their hotels.
(On a related note, I think it would be more clear if they added the words “up to” in-front of that “15 points per eligible $1” bullet point, because after reading the fine print, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Suburban Extended Stay, and MainStay suites only earn 5 points in the Choice Privileges membership program, so that’s 10 points total if the credit card is also used, not 15).
And how much are the points actually worth?
Earning points is only part of the rewards equation — to really assess a program’s value, you have to consider how much those points are worth when you cash them in for a reward night. A good rule of thumb is to try to get 1 cent per point. So how do Choice Privileges points stack up?
I consulted several sources – both through Choice Hotels directly as well as reviews on FlyerTalk, etc – to see how much they are worth when you redeem them… or in other words, how many points do you need to get a free night (and how that compares to paying normally). As it turns out, reportedly these points are only worth about 0.6 cents to 1.0 cents a piece.
So, you may earn a lot of points, but they’re worth much less.
The points aren’t worth much. Furthermore, it’s misleading to market 15 points per dollar spent at Choice properties, when in reality the majority of those points come from outside the credit card program.
There are some great cards on the market that not only give fantastic rewards, but also some pretty lucrative signup bonuses. Check out my ranking of the top hotel rewards credit cards.
Last updated May 2014