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How to Earn Choice Hotel Points

econolodgeEarning points with a particular hotel chain is infinitely easier when that hotel chain has a huge number of brands under its huge umbrella. Such is the case with Choice Hotels International – at least one branch of their family of hotels is found pretty much everywhere, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding one. The one downside of the Choice family is that they don’t have partnerships with a bunch of other hotel chains (like many hotel chains do). But again, the number of hotel brands under the Choice label is big enough that the lack of partnerships isn’t really a huge issue most of the time.

The Choice Hotels rewards program is called Choice Privileges, and like all hotel rewards programs there are lots of ways to earn points. This article will give you a general overview of how to earn Choice hotel points, but there are more details on the Choice Privileges official website (linked below). So before you book a trip or buy anything from one of the partners listed below you’ll want to make sure to read all the details of the deal itself.

How to Earn Choice Hotel Points

Hotel Stays
As mentioned above, Choice Hotels International doesn’t have a long list of partnerships with other hotel chains – but it does have several names under its own brand that will help you earn points toward free stays, airline tickets, and other rewards. The number of points you’ll earn depends on the hotel you’re booking, so check before you make the reservation to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

The hotel names in the Choice family are:

  • Comfort Inn – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • Comfort Suites – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • Quality – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • Sleep Inn – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • Clarion – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • Cambria Suites – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent
  • MainStay Suites – Earn 5 points for every $1 US spent
  • Suburban – Earn 5 points for every $1 US spent
  • EconoLodge – Earn 5 points for every $1 US spent
  • Rodeway Inn – Earn 5 points for every $1 US spent
  • Ascend Collection – Earn 10 points for every $1 US spent

And in addition to the regular points-earning structure for hotel stays, you can earn more points if you’re in one of the elite level groups of the Choice Privileges program. Gold members earn 10% bonus points, Platinum members earn 25% bonus points, and Diamond members earn 40% bonus points. You can learn more about what it takes to get into one of these elite programs here.

Air Travel
While Choice Hotels does have a list of airlines it’s partnered with, it operates a little differently from some of the other hotel rewards programs. Instead of earning Choice hotel points which you later redeem for airline tickets, you give the hotel you’re checking into the frequent flyer number for the airline with which you’re earning miles – and your stay at one of the Choice hotels automatically earns you miles right onto that frequent flyer program. No transferring necessary.

You’ll earn miles – they’re called “Airline Rewards” in the Choice Privileges lingo – with every qualifying stay at a Choice hotels property in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, (most of) Europe, the Caribbean, and that confusing more-than-a-continent they’re calling “Australasia.”

Some of the airlines which have partnerships with Choice hotels are:

  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Mexicana Go
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Air
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways

The number of miles you’ll get for each stay varies depending on the airline, so be sure to check with the official website for all the details.

Credit Cards
If there’s a hotel or airline rewards program out there that doesn’t have its own credit card, I haven’t met it yet. Unlike many other rewards programs, Choice has only one card to keep track of however. It’s the Choice Privileges Visa, which is a Bank of America credit card.

With the Choice Privileges Visa you earn 8,000 bonus points after your first use of the card, which is actually enough points right away to get one free night’s stay at many of the hotel family’s properties. Upon staying at a Choice Privileges property and paying for it with your Choice Privileges Visa, you’ll earn another 8,000 bonus points.

Other than that, you’ll earn:

  • 15 points for every $1 charged at most Choice Privileges locations
  • 5 points for every $1 charged when buying Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotels gift cards
  • 2 points for every $1 charged on everything else

The Choice Privileges Visa has no annual fee.

Car Rentals
There are three car rental companies that have partnerships with Choice Hotels, and not only do you earn points toward Choice rewards when you rent from these companies – you also get special discounts just for being a member of the Choice Privileges program. There are special discount codes on the Choice Privileges website, in addition to seasonal offers which will get you even deeper discounts.

The exact number of points you can earn with a car rental at each of these companies varies by the company, so be sure to check with the official Choice Privileges website for all the details. The companies to look at for Choice points are:

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Enterprise

Choice Hotels International has partnerships with all kinds of retailers to help you earn points faster by applying your Choice membership number to things you’re already buying. Perhaps the easiest way to earn Choice points by shopping is by shopping through the Choice online mall. You’ll find more than 60 different merchants there – names you’re already familiar with like Best Buy, Old Navy, and Target – and so long as you’re buying through the Choice Privileges Online Mall and you’ve logged in with your member number, you’re earning points the whole time.

Other shopping opportunities that will earn you Choice rewards points are:

  • 1-800-Flowers
  • Netflix
  • LifeLock ID Theft Protection
  • Vinesse Wine Club
  • Major Wireless Providers (AT&T, DirecTV, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon)

Don’t worry, Choice Hotels doesn’t have its own cruise line. Instead, they’ve got a partnership with the top cruise lines to help you earn Choice Privileges points just by booking your cruise through the Choice Privileges website. Regardless of the cruise line you choose, you’ll earn 5 Choice Privileges points for every $1 you spend.

Choice has trips available with 18 different cruise lines, including:

  • Carnival
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

Train Travel
For those of you who travel frequently enough via Amtrak to be a part of their Guest Rewards program, you should be aware that you can exchange Amtrak Guest Rewards points for Choice Privileges points – and it’s way more than a 1-to-1 ratio.

For 5,000 Amtrak Guest points, you’ll get 15,000 Choice Privileges points. With such a huge difference in points, you can imagine there’s some fine print involved. In this case, Amtrak will only let you exchange a certain number of points in a given calendar year, and it depends on your level of Guest Rewards status how many points that is. Be sure to check with Amtrak or the Choice Privileges website for all the details.

I haven’t seen this on other hotel rewards programs, so I think it’s kind of clever – assuming it works (although it must, or why would they continue it?). It’s a reward-for-referral system, where if you get someone else to sign up as a member of Choice Privileges, you and your friend both earn bonus points.

For every friend who you refer to the program (and who actually – and this is according to the Choice website – “completes their first point-eligible stay”) you earn 500 points. On top of that, your friend also receives 500 bonus points. Not too shabby, eh?

To learn more about Choice Privileges, visit the official Choice Privileges website.

photo by michaelkpate