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Choice Hotels is out with its fall promotion for 2020, and it's very similar to what we've seen in the past. Once again, members can earn at least 8,000 points from every two stays. That's enough for a free stay at more than 1,000 of Choice properties.
However, this promotion is presented a bit differently than before. Although the promotion guarantees a minimum of 8,000 points, Choice is advertising that members can earn a $50 gift card for staying twice. Depending on your travel style, that may or may not be the best use of your Choice points.
Choice Promotion Key Terms
- Choice Privilege members must register with Choice for this promotion before you complete your first stay.
- This promotion is good for qualifying stays between September 21, 2020 and November 15, 2020.
- You must be based in the U.S. or Canada to be eligible for this promotion.
- Paid stays with a nightly rate lower than $40 will not qualify.
- Qualifying stays will have an arrival (check-in) date between September 20 and November 15, 2020.
- Note that consecutive nights at the same hotel only count as one stay, regardless of check-ins or check-outs.
How you earn points:
- Registered members will be awarded a minimum of 5,000 to a maximum of 8,000 bonus points after the second qualifying stay. The number of bonus points awarded depends on the number of base points earned from the two separate qualifying stays.
- The total of base points plus bonus points awarded will be at least 8,000 points.
- Bonus points should post within 72 hours after an eligible second stay.
- Book your stay through ChoiceHotels.com, the Choice Hotels mobile app, or 800.4.CHOICE.
- Some properties aren't eligible for this promotion. These include WoodSpring Suites hotels and Ascend all-inclusive resorts, as well as all properties located in Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Guyana, and Ecuador.
- Members must select Choice Privilege Points as their earning preference in their online account to receive the bonus. That means if you are currently earning airline or Amtrak points from your Choice stays, you must switch your earn preferences to Choice Privileges.
- Excludes reward night stays, complimentary rooms, rooms paid for as part of a convention or meeting, rooms booked through a third party online retailer including online travel agencies, wholesale packages, group tours, and stays booked using the employee discount or the friends and family discount
Forget the Gift Cards
If you've paid attention to the promotional wording for this deal, you'll notice that it's advertising a free gift card—not a free night. Our advice: forget the gift card.
For this promotion, Choice has opted to change the focus from a free night to a free gift card. That's because between September 21 and December 15, 2020, Choice intends to halve the redemption rates for $50 gift cards at partnered merchants from the standard 16,000 Privilege Points to 8,000. That's a redemption rate of 0.625 cents per point.
But don't be tricked into thinking this is your only option for your bonus points. In actuality, this promotion functions the same as its previous iterations; members can use their bonus points however they want. We recommend that members continue to use points for free night awards, as these present a far superior value compared gift card redemptions—even with the promotional rate.
Doing the Math on This Choice Promotion
In a nutshell, Choice is guaranteeing that you will earn at least 8,000 points for two stays. But it's first factoring in the base earning rate of 10 points earned per dollar. If you spend $40 each on two (separate) one-night stays, your normal earning would be 800 points (10 points x $80). With this promo, Choice will give you another 7,200 to get you to 8,000 points total.
If you spend $280 total on the two stays, you'll get 2,800 points as part of the normal earning scheme, and Choice will only give you another 5,200 to get you to a total of 8,000.
Choice states that the minimum number of points you can earn is 5,000. Thus, if you spend more than $300 total on your stays, you'll always get 5,000 bonus points. For example, if you spend $800 or more between the two stays, you'll earn 13,000 bonus points (8,000 from the $800 in spending, plus 5,000 bonus points). In other words, once you hit the $300 threshold, you'll earn more than 8,000 total points from the two stays.
We're scratching our heads a bit with the incentives Choice has created for this promo. By offering to make up the difference in points to make sure you reach 8,000 in total, the best way to maximize your value is to book the cheapest possible nights that qualify ($40 or more). In other words, the promo planners seem to be focused on getting you back to a Choice hotel rather than creating marginal revenue—and that's just fine by us!
Tips for Booking
After you register for the promotion, you can start searching for those low-cost nights here. Make sure to pay for the stay with one of the best rewards cards for travel purchases. Right now, several credit cards offer 3X points on hotel purchases:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® — 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases
- Citi Prestige® Card — 3X ThankYou points on hotels and on cruise line purchases
- Citi Premier℠ Card — 3X ThankYou points on travel
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — 3X points on eligible travel purchases
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card — 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
As we noted, this promotion is quite similar to previous promotion. There's comfort in the predictability of Choice's promotional offerings. Earning up to 8,000 bonus points for every two stays is certainly valuable. However, in my opinion, Choice would do well to shake things up a bit.
On the one hand, I recognize the intention behind promoting gift cards as a bonus for hotel stays, given the current travel climate. For some, a Best Buy gift card could be more valuable now than a free night at a Comfort Inn. On the other hand, providing a slightly better (yet still poor) redemption value on a Panera Bread gift card isn't nearly exciting enough to change anybody's travel plans.
That said, I'm a fan of Choice Privilege points. They're great for free night awards in upscale overseas properties and last minute overnight airport stays. So if you have any intentions of staying at a Choice hotel in the next few months, take the minute or two to register now. Choice Hotels has a lot of properties in smaller towns. Check out AwardMapper to see if a hotel is where you're traveling.
How do you feel about Choice's fall promotion? Is it convincing you to book a stay at a Choice hotel?
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