Choice Privileges Credit Card Review

Choice Privileges Econolodge motelThe 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.

Verdict?

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.

Better options

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

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Just had 50,000 points stolen from my Choice Rewards online account. They have the email of the women; she even stayed at the hotel and showed ID, pretending to be my niece. But they aren’t doing a damn thing about it. They treated me like a lying criminal over the phone; I was hung up on/disconnected repeatedly during the 3 hours I spent on the phone today trying to get the points back; and not one of the reps who said they would call right back did…it is now 10 pm, and the offices are closed, so I can safely assume no one is calling back. “Carlos” told me point black that it is impossible for someone to hack into an account and book a hotel through rewards points (obviously not, since it happened, and one rep told me I was the second caller just today reporting stolen points) and told me to call the hotel and deal with it myself. So, I called the hotel; they too insisted my “niece” used the stay (despite the fact that I do now know this woman and my true niece is 4!), and told me to call Choice. No. One. Gives. A. Damn! If this is how reward members are treated, I want no part of it. Horrendous customer service, and I am out 50,000 points that I was going to use to take my special needs daughter on vacation next week. Thanks, Choice!

I’ve had this card for along time. I used it in a couple months ago at a choice hotel. That is what I have used it for quite a bit. Well I stayed and used the card. 4 months later I get a letter in the mail saying that my card has been cancelled and I need to call them. Turns out they switched me over to paperless (email) statements before the time I used it a couple months ago. So I work 10 hour days, have a stressful job etc. I guess I didn’t mark down on my calendar that I made the purchase. So it was missed. and 4 months later I get this letter in the mail. So I called right away and talked to some account manager who sounded like he was a timeshare salesman. He was going to help me out. I was calling from work, I run the place so it is acceptable. And finally just said sure, make the payment and be done. I never carry a balance on any card. But then I think about it and I didn’t authorize them to switch me to paperless statements. Unless there was some deceptive ” click this or don’t click this” etc on their website. My family works for the Post Office so why would I want to take away revenue by not having a statement mailed. So they knocked off part of the late fee but not all. And its only $ 15 but this is a bunch of crap. I guess I will throw this out on and social media I can. Beware of this card and company. I have never had a late payment in 49 years.

I just cut up my card. I am employee with Choice Hotels. I have had this CC for years. I never missed a payment and recently paid off my balance. I just received a letter they are dropping my limit to $500.00 after years of being a worthy customer. Why? Medical debt, not credit debt (credit cards, my mortgage, car payment, etc). Due to an ugly divorce and my husband canceling, in violation, of a court order, my medical insurance. If this is how they treat a long term loyal customer, I DON’T NEED THEM and in fact will advise guests against applying for this card. Hope you are happy Choice.

Robert Thompson

When I joined (about 15 years ago) the deal was stay 2 nights and get one free.
Now you have to register and the deal is stay 2 separete trip nights and get one night free. If we are on the road for a week I use other hotels chain. It is very hard to get a free night and impossible with only 2 stays.

I find Choice Privileges has become a joke…I remember a room use to cost you 8000 points or less at Comfort Inns and now it costs you between 18,000 and 20,000 points for a night at places I have inquired to stay at….I will be looking to move to a different credit card very soon…

I found the Choice Privilege points to be most valuable for travel in Europe. To illustrate: a 4 star hotel in Paris, Clarion, Papillon in the Opera area, only required 8000 points – regular retail for the room was 150 to 180 euros, EUROS, not US dollar. For Rome, I used 8000 points for one night to have stayed at Princepessa Hotel (4 star) and Hotel Bolivar (also 4 star). Again these hotels were charging 180 euros a night. Thus thanks for the Choice Privilege Visa, for a 4 night stay in Rome, I used 32000 points – from applying and being approved. That amount to $800 to $900 savings. For Paris, I used 16000 points, and that saved me close to $500.

I guess the Choice points would not have been that great if they were to be used in USA hotels — e.g. a Fort Lauderdale Quality Inn wants 20000 points! quite ludicrous. But if you can use them in hotels in Europe which charge a great deal for cash, but require moderate points (such as 8000), then they become quite cost effective.

Good points made by all. You also have to contend with points expiring.

I am a current Privileges member and have the Visa as well. I am going to be discontinuing both due to lack of customer service responsiveness and their misleading promotional programs. The number of points necessary for even the most basic of fleabag hotel rooms is steep as well. I’m not knocking the hotel owners themselves…. most have been just great. But the corporate structure needs some serious improvement.

I can see what you mean but if I spent a lot at their hotels, the Choice Privileges Visa card could maybe make sense.

I like Comfort Inn as a good moderate hotel/motel so I checked this out. Basically their non card membership you get 10 points per 1.00 spent at a comfort inn so average is 750 points (75.00) at 16,000 points you can get a gift card for 50.00. Free rooms vary by cost but seem to match the dollar value of the gift cards. So that would be 21 stays get 50 back.

With the card you would also get 2 points for buying things and 15 if spent on a Comfort inn. About 1125 points per room so 50 dollars back for every 14 stays(4.7% return). The 2 points per 1.00 would be 50.00 per 8,000.00 spent or .006 cents per dollar (0.6% return) which is less then other cards and since it requires certain levels it is unlikely to be ever cashed in. It would be better to get a cash back card and pay outright for the rooms.