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Choice Hotels is currently running a promotion where you can buy points for a 30% discount. The promotion runs through August 17th. And you need to buy at least 40,000 points to maximize the discount.
It’s not all that unusual for hotel chains to run these promotions where they sell points at a modest discount. Hyatt seems to do this on a fairly regular basis as does IHG. But I’m not usually a buyer, as I tend to have plenty of Hyatt points, and am more often than not booking paid stays so I can keep my status. (Cash and points bookings count with Hyatt, but I tend to be unlucky at finding them when I need them.)
IHG practically hands out points like candy during their lucrative promotions, so I’m already flush with them.
But Choice points are much harder to come by. And in fact, the most consistent way to acquire Choice points on the cheap recently dried up completely.
Make your own pancakes at the Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion in Oslo
The current Choice points promotion
Until August 17, 2017, you can buy Choice points at a discount. The discount is automatically coded into the purchase price.
- 1,000 – 4,000 points = No offer
- 5,000 – 14,000 points = 10% discount
- 15,000 – 29,000 points = 15% discount
- 30,000 – 39,000 points = 25% discount
- 40,000 – 50,000 points = 30% discount
So you’ll want to buy between 40,000 and 50,000 points to maximize the discount. With that amount, you are effectively buying Choice points at a rate of 0.77 cents per point.
That’s a pretty good price, given the current landscape.
Choice cash and points is dead, or at least on hiatus
It used to be that Choice had a cash and points program where you could book rooms with a mix of points plus cash. Sort of like IHG, this program was a backdoor way to acquire Choice points on the cheap.
When you booked a cash and points reservation, the cash you paid was effectively buying points. So if you then cancelled the reservation — say your plans changed all a sudden — the cash portion was refunded to you in points.
The effective rate at which you could buy Choice points in this manner was 0.7 cents each.
My plans have a tendency to change a a moment’s notice, so I accrued quite a few points in this manner over the years. But unfortunately, it seems that Choice has discontinued their cash and points program. The website hasn’t displayed any cash and points availability since back in the spring.
The good and the bad of Choice points
Until recently, Choice points would expire 24 months after you acquired them, with no way to extend. The new policy is that points don’t expire at all so long as you have activity every 18-months. For most of us, that’s a much better policy, and makes me feel comfortable speculatively buying points. Sure, they could devalue the program, but I feel that Choice is relatively stable, at least as far as hotel chains go.
On the other hand, some find the Choice program annoying because you can’t make an award reservation more than 30 days prior to the stay in the US or Canada, or 60 days elsewhere. (The window is a little longer for those with status.)
This has never really impacted me, partially because my plans are so fluid anyway that I rarely book that far in advance, and also because I’m often traveling in the off-season where the hotel is mostly vacant anyway. But it’s something to consider before loading up on points.
Where do I use Choice points?
Before you turn up your nose at the thought of staying at a Comfort Inn, Rodeway Inn, or other god-forsaken Inn, let’s be clear. Choice has a number of phenomenal properties in Scandinavia, where Choice is arguably the points currency you want to have.
Kate Moss scultpter outside the Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret
Given that they offer breakfast, supper, and an afternoon snack, the value can’t be beat, especially in Norway where food costs can be astronomical. These properties all cost 16,000 points, meaning you can book a room for $123 per night using discounted points. Obviously that’s not free, but it can be solid.
Here is the cost of a paid night at the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret. 2,120 KR converts to $266 USD:
Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret paid rates
Here’s the same night on points:
Clarion Collection Havnekontoret on points
16,000 points would cost $123 at the discounted rate. Clearly there are some savings to be had.
I’ve also walked by the Hotel Sign in Stockholm, which is also a great option at just 10,000 points per night.
I’ve heard that there can also be some other good options in Europe. And of course Choice can be one of the only names in town if you are on a road trip across the US. Choice also recently enhanced their elite program, and are now offering a welcome amenity.
It’s rare for me to outright buy points. Most of the time I figure I have enough, or there are other ways to acquire them at a lower cost. But in the case of Choice, the 30% discount could be a pretty good deal, now that it seems like the cash and points option might be dead. We have been traveling to Scandinavia at least once a year recently, so it seems prudent to stock up on points when they are on sale.
Obviously, you need to do your own due diligence, but if you can identify a good use for the points, now might be the time to acquire them.
Are you considering buying Choice points under this promotion?