A couple weeks ago I got an promotional email about earning a gift card from two hotel stays. I almost immediately round-filed it, as getting a retail gift card for hotel stays was most likely not going to be worth my time. But instead I opened it to take a quick peek at the offer.
Decent promotion in disguise
Once I actually did some reading regarding the Choice hotels promo, I realized that it wasn’t exactly a gift card promo, per se. It is actually a promo identical to the previous one we saw from Choice where you can earn 8,000 points for every two stays between June 12 and August 17. Except this time there is a twist where you can spend the points on a gift card at a discount.
Normally retail gift cards are available at 16,000 points, but they some are discounted by 50% for this promotion. This is what Choice is pushing.
I went a little further and made sure you don’t have to burn the points on a gift card (i.e. they are actual points and not promotional points with an expiration a la the Iberia Avios deal). Digging through the terms, I found the following:
And also the following:
So, what Choice is really offering is really just another points promo (you need to register here). And I’d rather just keep the points. Now let me tell you why.
Choice points need to be on your radar
Choice Hotels and the Choice Privileges program are not first on most people’s list when it comes to hotel loyalty programs. In the U.S., the hotel group is full of primarily budget properties. Status and the perks that come with loyalty also aren’t really worth a whole lot. So why would I say you should care about this promotion?
Choice points have high situational value. What may appear like a fairly useless currency for U.S. hotel stays can be gold outside the U.S. For example, I was looking for a hotel near Copenhagen Airport for one night before an early morning departure several months ago (trip was later rebooked, and we didn’t make it to Denmark). There is a Clarion Suites literally across the street from the airport. Cash prices were typically $350-400 for one night. It could also be had for 20,000 Choice points or 6,000 Choice points.
Truly insane value here in both return per point and convenience. The points and cash option gets you ~4.5 cents per Choice point.
There are other locations where Choice Points can come in super handy. It definitely won’t be everywhere, but there are enough good uses in Europe and Asia that I suggest you amass at least a small stash. I am a strong believer in focusing primarily on the major bank transferable currencies, but diversity of your points portfolio is also important.
Other ways to earn Choice Points
Choice does offer a co-branded credit card, and if you have a specific, high-value use in mind, the 32,000 point offer really isn’t that bad of a deal. The card also earns two points per dollar and doesn’t carry an annual fee.
You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Choice Points at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000 point increments. There are better uses of MR points, in my opinion, but this could make a lot of sense if you’re looking to book a high cost hotel with relatively few points.
So, with the SPG and Marriott promotions coming to a close next week and new ones yet to be announced, look to Choice as a potential option for banking a decent number of points off of short (and typically cheap) stays this summer.