While most people are familiar with popular hotel loyalty programs like World of Hyatt or Marriott Bonvoy, many often overlook Choice Privileges. However, Choice Hotels was actually the first hotel chain in the United States, tracing its roots all the way back to 1939.

Since then, Choice Hotels has expanded its portfolio significantly to become a major force in the hotel industry. Their locations span the entire spectrum of hotel amenities from luxury resorts to budget hotels.

The often-overlooked Choice Privileges program also has some sweet spots that offer incredible value. Some of their award night redemptions in major cities can be found for low prices and they routinely offer promotions that make it easy to rack up Choice Privileges points quickly.

Let’s take a look at why the Choice Privileges program should be on every traveler’s radar.

What Brands Are Part of Choice Hotels?

Before 2022, Choice Hotels owned more than 7,000 hotels in 40 countries and territories, and that network just grew even larger. Brands that were owned by Choice Hotels previous to 2022 included:

Ascend Hotel CollectionMainStay Suites
Cambria HotelsQuality Inn
ClarionRodeway Inn
Clarion PointeSleep Inn
Comfort HotelsSuburban Extended Stay Hotel
Econo LodgeWoodSpring Suites

However, in August 2022, Choice Hotels completed the acquisition of Radisson Hotel Group, meaning it will be absorbing 624 more hotels with more than 68,000 rooms, most of which are located in the West Coast and Midwest of the United States.

The brands acquired as part of the Radisson Hotel Group deal include:

Country Inn & Suites by RadissonRadisson
Park Inn by RadissonRadisson Blu
Park PlazaRadisson Individuals
prizeotelRadisson RED

On top of that, Choice Hotels has a large diversity of options from upscale brands like Cambria Hotels and Ascend Hotel Collection to budget properties like Rodeway Inn and Econo Lodge. And, with so many different brands under one umbrella, it’s easy to find good-value award night redemptions using the Choice Privileges loyalty program whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay at a resort or just trying to save some money on a business trip.

Let’s take a look at how to earn and redeem Choice points and where the Choice Privileges rewards program really shines.

Comfort Hotel Atlantic Muenchen Sued

Photo Credit from Comfort Hotel Atlantic Muenchen Sued

Choice Privileges Elite Status

The Choice Privileges program has four elite status tiers that each come with different benefits. Just for signing up for the program, you’ll automatically achieve Member status. After that, you can achieve three more tiers by booking qualifying stays at Choice Hotels properties or by signing up for Choice Hotels-branded credit cards.

Choice Privileges Member Status

As soon as you sign up for the Choice Privileges program, you’ll achieve Member status. This status tier includes these perks:

  • Access to lower Member-only rates
  • Earn Your Extras on qualifying stays on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. This perk allows you to choose to earn either extra Choice Privileges points, airline miles with one of the participating frequent-flyer programs, fuel savings or a gift card from one of the participating vendors.
  • Double Your Extras when staying at Cambria Hotels properties
  • A $10 redeemable credit for the Cambria marketplace, restaurant or bar when staying at Cambria Hotels

Member status also earns you 10X points per dollar spent at qualifying properties. This does not include taxes, restaurants or other incidental charges.

Unfortunately, you also won’t earn points at WoodSpring Suite properties or at any properties in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway or Sweden.

Comfort Hotel Atlantic Muenchen Sued room

Photo Credit from Comfort Hotel Atlantic Muenchen Sued

Choice Privileges Gold Status

You can achieve Gold status by completing 10 qualifying nights in a calendar year. Qualifying nights include award nights and nights that earn Choice points. Another way to achieve Gold status is by signing up for the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card, which has no annual fee.

In addition to all of the perks offered at the Member status tier, Gold status comes with the following perks:

  • 10% points bonus
  • Early check-in and late checkout (when available)
  • Elite reserved parking (when available)*
  • Discounts at certain theme parks*
  • Up to nine elite rollover nights per year. This basically means that if you stay nine more qualifying nights past the 10 required to reach Gold status, these nine nights will be applied to your account next year, making it easier to maintain Gold status and moving you closer to the next status tier.
  • Elite customer hotline
  • Elite welcome gift*

*Available only in the United States and Canada.

With the 10% bonus, you will receive 11X points per qualifying dollar spent with Choice Hotels.

Choice Privileges Platinum Status

You can achieve Platinum status by completing 20 qualifying nights in a calendar year.

In addition to all of the perks offered at the Gold status tier, Platinum status comes with the following perks:

  • 25% points bonus
  • Up to 19 elite rollover nights per year
  • Ability to enroll in Avis Preferred Plus, which includes perks like complimentary upgrades and a dedicated customer service line

With the 25% bonus, you will receive 12.5 points per qualifying dollar spent with Choice Hotels.

Cambria Hotel New York - Chelsea

Photo Credit from Cambria Hotel New York - Chelsea

Choice Privileges Diamond Status

You can achieve Platinum status by completing 40 qualifying nights in a calendar year.

In addition to all of the perks offered at the Platinum status tier, Diamond status comes with the following perks:

  • 50% points bonus
  • Up to 39 elite rollover nights per year

With the 50% bonus, you will receive 15 points per qualifying dollar spent with Choice Hotels.

Status Matching

If you’re already a member of another hotel loyalty program, it’s worth looking into Choice’s status match program. For instance, if you already hold Hilton Honors Gold status or Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, you should get catapulted straight to Choice Privileges Platinum status (since it requires only 20 qualifying nights).

If your status is matched between January and June, you will remain at that status for the rest of the year. If your status is matched between July and December, you will remain at that status for the rest of the year and the entire following year. To maximize the amount of time you’ll have to reap the benefits of the status match, we recommend applying in early July.

Unfortunately, you can apply for a status match only once in a lifetime. So, you should apply for a status match only if you believe you’ll be booking several stays at Choice properties in the upcoming year.

How to Earn Choice Privileges Points

While the most straightforward way to earn Choice points is by booking stays at Choice Hotels properties, there are several other ways to quickly rack up points as well. For example, you can earn Choice points by renting with two of the world’s largest rental car companies, both of which are Choice partners. You can also earn points quickly with Choice’s co-branded credit card.

Here are some of the most effective ways to earn Choice points.

Hotel Stays

Of course, you’ll earn Choice points every time you complete a qualifying stay at a Choice Hotels property. You’ll earn 10X points per dollar if you’re a general member, 11X points with Gold status, 12.5X points with Platinum status and 15X points with Diamond status.

However, in most parts of the world, you will earn points only on the cost of the room and not on restaurants, taxes or other incidental charges. In the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan), you will earn points on the cost of the room as well as incidental charges, such as taxes, restaurants, bars, laundry and phone calls.

As mentioned before, you won’t earn any points at WoodSpring Suite properties or at any properties in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway or Sweden.

Choice Privileges occasionally offers promotions in which you can earn even more points than normal for hotel stays, so keep an eye out for those.

Cambria Hotel New York - Chelsea

Photo Credit from Cambria Hotel New York - Chelsea

Credit Cards

If you stay at Choice Hotels properties (or Radisson properties, which will soon be under the Choice Hotels umbrella) often, then you may want to consider opening the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card.

This card earns 15X Choice points per dollar spent at qualifying Choice Hotels properties. That’s a better return than you’ll find on pretty much any other hotel credit card. It even beats out the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns 3X Ultimate Rewards point.

The Choice card also earns 5X points when you purchase Choice Privileges points or a Choice Hotels gift card. You’ll also earn 2X points on all other purchases, a return of 1.2%.

On top of all that, the card has no annual fee, and you’ll automatically be upgraded to Choice Privileges Gold status.

You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Choice Hotels. Don’t overlook this transfer partner if you’d rather earn flexible points rather than points exclusively with Choice hotels.

Additionally, you can transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Choice Hotels. Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige Card holders can earn 2,000 choice points for every 1,000 ThankYou Points they transfer, which is a great ratio.

Earn Points with Partners

Choice Hotels has several partnerships with companies that allow you to earn Choice points by spending money with them.

First of all, Choice Privileges program members can get up to 25% off and earn up to 1,000 Choice points when renting a car at participating Avis or Budget locations. If you want to take advantage of this deal, you need to provide your Choice Privileges number and use these specific offer codes when you book:

  • Avis: O418908
  • Budget: T134904

You can also earn 1,000 Choice points when you sign up for your first delivery with Vinesse Wines, a wine delivery subscription service that caters to your specific taste in wine. You will also earn 7X points on all subsequent deliveries.

Another great way to earn Choice points is through the Golf by Choice program, which offers discounts and Choice points when you book tee times or purchase golf equipment or apparel. Gold status members earn 10% more points; Platinum status members earn 15% more; and Diamond status members earn 20% more.

You can also earn 5X points per dollar spent with Cruise411, an agency that works with more than 30 cruise lines.

Transfer Points from Other Programs

Certain rewards programs allow you to transfer points into the Choice Privileges program. This can be helpful if you want to boost your Choice points balance or top off your balance to purchase a specific redemption.

For example, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Choice Privileges at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 points. The transfer occurs instantly.

Another program that allows you to transfer into Choice Privileges is Amtrak Guest Rewards. You’ll receive 15,000 Choice points for every 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points you transfer.

The L Hotel in Brooklyn, New York

Photo Credit from The L Hotel in Brooklyn, New York

Earn Points with Choice Privileges Mall

Similar to many other rewards programs, Choice Privileges has its own online shopping portal, known as the Choice Privileges Mall. If you’re looking to build up your Choice points balance, it’s worth checking the Choice Privileges Mall before making any online purchases.

You’ll earn Choice points whenever you make a purchase with a participating merchant. The rate depends on the specific merchant.

Refer a Friend

When you refer a friend to the Choice Privileges program and they complete their first eligible stay, both you and the friend will earn 500 bonus points each. There’s also no limit on the number of referrals.

To refer a friend, sign in to your Choice Privileges account and follow the instructions on the referral page.

Buy Points

Buying Choice points can be beneficial if you want to top up your account to purchase a specific redemption or if there is a promotional offer that heavily discounts the points. The cost per point is going to vary depending on how many points you’re purchasing and whether there’s a discount.

Generally, you can purchase up to 50,000 points per transaction and 120,000 points per calendar year. However, there are sometimes promotions that allow you to purchase larger quantities than that.

The L Hotel in Brooklyn, New York2

Photo Credit from The L Hotel in Brooklyn, New York2

Planner Rewards

If you’re planning to host an event at a Choice Hotels property, you can earn 4X points per dollar on eligible charges, including hotel rooms, meeting rooms, food, beverages and equipment provided by the property. However, you won’t earn any points on taxes and other incidental fees.

To qualify for the Planner Rewards program, you must book at least 10 hotel rooms for a single night as well as a meeting room. If you want to make absolutely sure that you get the points, you should get a written contract from the property specifying that you’ll earn points through the Planner Rewards program.

How to Redeem Choice Privileges Points

Now that you know all the best ways to earn Choice Privileges points, let’s talk about the different ways that you can redeem them.

Free Nights

There are no separate categories for different tiers of Choice Hotels properties, and there’s no set award chart for free night redemptions. In fact, the cost of award nights can change from day to day for the same property.

Most award nights, though, cost somewhere between 6,000 points and 35,000 points. As you can probably tell, there are some sweet spots that offer excellent value. If you’re looking for a luxury stay, you can certainly find one for 35,000 points that’s worth far more than the points value. If you’re looking for a budget hotel, you should be able to find a stay for 6,000 points worth far more than the value of the points.

There are also some not-so-great spots in this redemption structure. For instance, stays at AMResorts all-inclusive resorts usually cost between 30,000 and 95,000 points. It’s difficult to find good value at these high price points.

At certain properties, you can book premium rooms for the same amount of points as a standard room. However, you have to get them soon after the booking window opens before they fill up.

Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo

Photo Credit from Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo

Booking Nights with Points Plus Cash

If you don’t have enough points to book a stay entirely with points (or you just want to conserve your points for a future redemption), you can also book nights with Points Plus Cash. However, you should be aware that you won’t earn any points on these bookings and these bookings are also not eligible to earn bonus points from promotions.

If you want to book using Points Plus Cash, simply search for a reward booking and then see if there is a Points Plus Cash option next to the reward night option. However, purchasing a reward night entirely with points is typically a better value than purchasing the same reward night with Points Plus Cash.

Exchange Points for Miles

Choice Privileges also allows you to exchange your Choice points for miles with 11 frequent-flyer programs and Amtrak. However, this typically results in a lower value than if you were to spend your points within the Choice Privileges program.

Here is the breakdown of the types of miles that you can exchange your Choice points for.

Transfer PartnerExchangeTransfer RatioValue of Points TransferredValue of Miles Received
Aeroméxico Club Premier5,000 points for 1,000 Club Premier miles5:1$30n/a
Air Canada Aeroplan
5,000 points for 1,000 Aeroplan points 5:1$30$15
Air New Zealand Airpoints20,000 points for 140 Airpoints miles10,000:7*$120n/a
Alaska Airlines MileagePlan5,000 points for 1,000 MileagePlan miles5:1$30$18
American Airlines AAdvantage5,000 points for 1,000 AAdvantage miles5:1$30$14
Amtrak Guest Rewards32,000 points for 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points32:5$192$125
Czech Airlines OK Plus5,000 points for 1,000 OK Plus miles 5:1$30n/a
Qantas Frequent Flyer20,000 points for 8,000 Frequent Flyer miles5:2$120n/a
Southwest Rapid Rewards6,000 points for 1,800 Rapid Rewards miles10:3$36$27
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit5,000 points for 1,000 Free Spirit miles5:1$30$4
United MileagePlus5,000 points for 2,000 MileagePlus miles5:2$30$26
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer20,000 points for 8,000 Frequent Flyer miles5:2$120n/a
Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo3

Photo Credit from Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo3

*The reason for the massive transfer ratio from Choice points to Air New Zealand Airpoints is that Airpoints are worth $1 New Zealand dollar each.

Some of the exchanges above can be done online while others can be completed only by calling Choice Privileges Customer Service at 1-888-770-6800.

As you can see, the exchange rates from Choice points to these other currencies are not favorable. So, you’re probably better off redeeming your Choice points within the Choice Privileges program unless you have a specific redemption in one of these other programs in mind.

Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo

Photo Credit from Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo

Gift Cards

Choice Privileges also gives you the option to redeem your points for digital gift cards from more than 80 different retailers and restaurants. To do this, you will need to get the Choice Privileges app and choose the gift card you want to redeem for. Once you do that, the gift card will arrive in your email inbox instantly and will be ready to use. Note that you can redeem for only one gift card every 48 hours.

In general, redeeming for gift cards is not the best way to get the most value out of your Choice points. The gift cards available are usually either for $50 and cost 16,000 points or for $100 and cost 32,000 points. In both cases, you’d be getting a value of 0.31 cent per point, which is low.

You can get slightly more value by redeeming for Choice Hotels gift cards. You can get a $50 Choice Hotels gift card, implying a value of 0.36 cent per point. However, you’d be much better off just redeeming your points directly for a free night.

Magazine Subscriptions

Choice Privileges also gives you the option to redeem your points for subscriptions to 30 magazines. The cost in points is different depending on which magazine you choose.

Here are some of the popular options:

  • 52 issues of TIME for 4,000 points
  • 26 issues of People for 6,000 points
  • 12 issues of Money for 2,500 points
  • 12 issues of GQ for 2,000 points
  • 12 issues of Golf Digest for 2,500 points
  • 20 issues of Fortune for 5,000 points
  • 24 issues of Better Homes and Gardens for 1,500 points

These subscriptions actually can offer solid value depending on which of them you choose. For instance, a one-year subscription to TIME currently costs $29 for 52 weekly issues. In this case, purchasing the subscription with Choice points would yield a value of about 0.73 cent per point, which is a better value than most other redemptions.

Golf by Choice

In addition to earning points through the Golf by Choice program, you can also spend points through the program as well by purchasing golf gear and apparel. However, redeeming this way typically yields a low value per point.

For instance, you can buy Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Fairway Wood on Golf by Choice for 76,663 points. This same product sells on Amazon for about $160. That means that redeeming your Choice points this way would yield a value of 0.2 cent per point, which is low compared to other redemption options.

golf by choice
golf by choice 2

Cruise Credits

You can also use your Choice Privileges points to redeem for cruise credits. You can purchase a $250 cruise credit for 85,000 points (a value of 0.29 cent per point) or a $500 cruise credit for 160,000 (a value of 0.31 cent per point). This is also not a good way to achieve value.

Donate Your Points

Finally, if you think your points would be better used to help someone less fortunate, there are currently six charities that you can donate your points to:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Fisher House Foundation
  • Operation Homefront
  • The American Red Cross
  • The Polaris Project
  • The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Choosing to donate your points usually yields a pretty solid value per point. For example, you can get as much as 1 cent per point for donating to the Polaris Project, which is among the highest values per point that you can get with any redemption option. Plus, you’ll be doing something good for the world.

As with gift cards, you can redeem points for only one donation every 48 hours.

Booking Award Nights

If you choose to redeem your Choice points for award nights (which is one of the best ways to get the most value per point), you can do so by logging into your Choice Privileges account and searching your destination, dates, number of rooms and number of guests.

Then, before clicking the “Find a Hotel” button, click on the “Special Rate” drop-down menu and select the “Reward Points” option.

booking award nights

Once you click the “Find a Hotel” button, you’ll be presented with a list of options that match your search preferences. You can then filter these options by amenities, distance from your destination, brands, price and guest ratings. You can also choose to view your options on a split-screen that shows you the hotel information next to the hotel’s location on a map.

Once you find an option that you’re interested in, you can click the “Show Availabilities” button to view the available room types. You can then compare the costs of each room type. In some cases, you may be able to get a premium room for the same price as a standard room, so it’s worth scrolling down to see the prices of premium rooms.

booking award nights

Once you decide which room you want to go with, you can click the “Book a Room” button to be brought to the final booking page. Here you’ll be asked to enter your email address, country, state, postal code and phone number. You can also view important information like the cancellation policy and any additional fees you’ll have to pay once you arrive.

booking award nights

Finally, to confirm your reservation once you’ve entered your information, you can click the “Make Reservation” button.

The Best Ways to Use the Choice Privileges Program

While there are many ways to earn and redeem Choice points, some ways of earning points are more effective than others and certain ways of redeeming your points yields a greater value per point.

Here are some of the best ways to maximize your use of the Choice Privileges program.

Take Advantage of Promotions

The Choice Privileges program frequently offers promotions that are a great way to rack up points quickly. From time to time, Choice will offer 8,000 bonus points if you book two stays within a certain time period. Since Choice points are valued at 0.6 cent per point, this promotion would yield $48.

Award Nights in Japan and Europe

Within the Choice Privileges program, there are plenty of opportunities to get strong value for your points on award bookings, especially in Europe and Japan, where it’s common to find rooms at well-located properties for 12,000 points or fewer.

For instance, you can book a room at the Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda in Tokyo for just 8,000 points. That’s the equivalent of paying about $48 for a room in the heart of Japan’s largest city.

award nights in japan and Europe

Alternatively, you can also book a room at the Comfort Hotel Meunchen Sued, near Munich for just 10,000 points, which is worth about $60 for a room near one of the largest cities in Europe.

award nights in japan and Europe2

While Europe and Japan are the two regions where it’s easiest to find high-value redemptions, you can also find some great deals in the United States and in other parts of the world. For instance, you can book The L Hotel in Brooklyn, New York, for as few as 10,000 points. That’s equal to $60 and probably one of the cheapest options for accommodation you’ll find in New York City.

award nights in japan and Europe

Lowest Price Guarantee

If you’re booking a stay at a property owned by Choice Hotels, it’s worth searching around to see if you can find a lower rate on another website for the same room. If you book directly with Choice and then find a lower rate somewhere else, Choice offers a lowest price guarantee if you can submit a claim within 24 hours of making your booking.

If your claim is approved, Choice will honor the lower rate for the entire duration of your stay. Plus, if you’re a resident of the U.S. or Canada, they’ll give you a $50 gift card. If you’re an international resident, they’ll give you the first night free.

However, you’re going to want to read the terms and conditions before submitting a claim as there are a number of restrictions and exclusions that apply. For instance, reservations made at WoodSpring Suites, Vacation Rentals by Choice, hotels in Las Vegas that include casinos and all-inclusive Ascend Hotel Collection properties are not covered by the lowest price guarantee.

Choice Diamond Status Match With Cambria Hotels

If you’ve already achieved elite status with another hotel loyalty program, you may be catapulted straight to top-tier Choice Diamond status after one qualifying stay at a Cambria Hotel property.

To do this, you’ll need to send an email to [email protected] with the following information:

  • Your Choice Privileges membership number
  • Proof of your elite status with another major hotel loyalty program
  • The receipt from your stay at a qualifying Cambria Hotel property

You can expect a response between seven and nine business days. If your request is approved and you send in your request between January and June, you’ll receive Diamond status for the rest of the calendar year. If you submit your request between July and December, you’ll receive Diamond status for the rest of the calendar year and the entire next year. For this reason, we recommend submitting your request during the second half of the year.

There are some restrictions for which stays at the Cambria are eligible for Diamond status match. For instance, bookings through a travel agent, through a third-party online service and reservations that cost less than $40 don’t qualify.

The Bottom Line

While often overlooked for more popular hotel loyalty programs, the Choice Privileges rewards program offers some solid value. This is especially true if you take advantage of their frequent promotions and make award night redemptions in Europe and Japan.

However, if you’re looking for elite status benefits, the Choice Privileges elite status tiers don’t offer nearly as many perks as elite status tiers in other hotel loyalty programs. Still, if you can achieve top-tier Diamond status with just a single stay at a Cambria Hotel property, you might as well.

All in all, signing up for the Choice Privileges rewards program doesn’t cost you anything and it could lead to getting some great redemptions. This is definitely a program worth looking into, particularly if you already stay at Choice properties frequently.