In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for purchases made through some of the below links. These are products and services we use ourselves, and are the best offers we know of. Check out our Advertising Policy for further details. Thanks for your support!
Choice Hotels is currently running a promotion where you can buy points with a 40% bonus if you buy at least 5,000 points. The promotion runs through September 5th, so you’ll have to act fast if you want to take advantage of this deal.
This promotion is running on the heels of the buy Choice points promotion from August where they offered points at a 30% discount. I took advantage of that deal, as I frequently have a use for Choice points, particularly in Norway. And of course, the most consistent way to acquire Choice points on the cheap recently dried up completely.
So when I read about this current promotion, I was a little miffed. After all, I had bought points at a 30% discount, and here they are offering a 40% bonus. Getting 40% more seems better than paying 30% less, right?
Well, actually no. If you do the math, you’ll see that you’re buying points at 0.786 cents each under this promotion whereas they were selling them for 0.77 cents each last month. For all practical purposes, there’s not much difference here. But if you — like me — loaded up in August, don’t feel bad. You got a (slightly) better cost per point.
If you didn’t take part in that deal, however, you might want to consider this one since it’s almost the same at least in terms of cost.
Make your own pancakes at the Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion in Oslo
The current Choice buy points promotion
Until September 5, 2017, you can receive a 40% bonus if you buy at least 5,000 points. The bonus is automatically coded into the purchase price.
As long as you buy more than 5,000 points, you’ll be paying the same price per point, so it’s really about how many points you think you’ll need. You’ll effectively be buying Choice points at a rate of 0.786 cents per point.
It’s also worth noting that you are usually limited to buying 50,000 Choice points per year. With this promotion, however, you have the chance to effectively buy 70,000, so even though they cost slightly more per point than during last month’s promotion, you can acquire more points. So there’s that benefit.
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 of 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 about $125 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 $125 at the discounted rate. Clearly there are some savings to be had.
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 last month I pulled the trigger and bought a bunch of Choice points at 0.77 cents each. I’ve now bought the maximum number of Choice points I can for the year, so I’ll be sitting this one out. (I think I have enough anyway.) But if you missed that sale, this one is almost the same. It also has the benefit of giving you a backdoor way of buying 70,000 points in a year, compared to the usual limit of 50,000.
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?