Reward rates at Choice hotels for dates up to January 31, 2022 are now available on the hotels’ websites. If you have any Choice points and are considering potential travel during that period, it’s worth surveying the possibilities. In this post I’ll highlight a few interesting options.
If you’re not already familiar with Choice Privileges, be aware that it has its quirks – both positive and negative. Here’s a quick rundown of the program:
- Members may only book with points up 100 days in advance
- Redemption rates vary seasonally and by weekday/weekend
- It’s often possible to redeem for a range of room types at no extra cost
- Its most common reoccurring promotion gives you 8000 points after every two stays
- Annoyingly, only US residents can access Points Plus Cash rates
Finding Sweet Spots
I like the Choice program because you can occasionally find a terrific deal on points. Hotel quality varies, but with a little research you can safely avoid any dodgy places. Indeed, the Choice hotels I’ve stayed in all ranged from “acceptable” to “quite nice” by my standards.
You’ll notice that the points price doesn’t always make sense when compared to the cash rate. Hotels often raise or lower their reward rates with no obvious rationale aside from perhaps an adjustment after joining the program. For instance, when The Draper, Ascend Hotel Collection, first showed up on the Choice website in New York City, reward rates were quite low but have since climbed significantly:
My goal with Choice is to focus on hotels in the 8000 to 12,000 point range. However, there are certainly those worth coughing up a few more points for depending on the cash rate. One example would be the Hotel Aquarius in Venice in periods when it’s priced at 16,000 points and suites are available.
After a brief bit of searching, here are a few options in Canada and Europe that could represent a good use of points in December – January. (Note that each of the hotels listed have a rating of higher than 4 out of 5 on Google Reviews.)
Comfort Hotel Bayers Lake 10,000 (Fri-Sat)
Quality Inn & Suites Downtown 12,000 (Sun-Thurs); 10,000 (Fri-Sat)
Quality Inn & Suites Amsterdam 8000 (Fri-Sat)
Quality Inn Centre-Ville 8000 (Fri-Sat)
Les Suites Victoria, Ascend Hotel Collection 12,000 (Fri-Sat)
The Parlour Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection 10,000 (Fri-Sat)
Comfort Hotel Bolivar 10,000
Clarion Collection Hotel Principessa Isabella 12,000
Comfort Hotel Strasbourg 10,000 (Sun-Thurs); 8000 (Fri-Sat)
Comfort Hotel Expo Colmar 8000
Quality Hotel Hampstead 12,000
If you have any plans to visit Scandinavia, Choice has a wide selection of hotels at reasonable reward rates, all of which are static, in stark contrast to the seasonal pricing elsewhere. (A good bet for Stockholm is the Clarion Hotel Sign at only 10,000 points with full breakfast.) Just be aware that due to an issue likely connected to Nordic Choice (a separate program), availability is sometimes frustratingly non-existent at certain properties.
Bonus Point Packages and Point Sales
I’ve written before about Choice bonus point package rates and discounts for buying points. If you have a specific high value redemption in mind, it might make sense to purchase points. There is currently (until August 31, 2021) a 25% discount, but there have been 30% off sales and 40% bonuses in the past. If the US Travel Association Daily Getaways sale ever returns, that’s the absolute cheapest way to pick up some points – if you are fast enough.
Unfortunately, Choice Hotels appears to be bleeding properties lately, especially in Europe. A few that I’ve mentioned on the blog previously have since left the chain. This trend is especially unnerving when you book with points because there’s always a question of whether a hotel will honour your booking if it has left the program by the time you arrive.
Despite the uncertainty around travel these days, I still like to keep an eye on Choice reward rates. It’s an underrated program in the world of loyalty points with potential for substantial savings if you understand how it works and have the flexibility to take advantage of the sweet spots.