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[ANALYSIS] Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels has over 6,000 hotels in Australasia, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East, and the U.S. Choice Hotel brands include:

  • Ascend Collection
  • Cambria Suites
  • Clarion Hotels
  • Clarion Suites
  • Comfort Inn/Comfort Inn & Suites
  • Comfort Suites
  • Econo Lodge
  • Mainstay Suites
  • Quality Inn/Hotel/Quality Inn & Suites
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Sleep Inn/Sleep Inn & Suites
  • Suburban Extended Stay Hotel

All of the above hotels are very affordable options. When you stay at Choice Hotels, you can earn points with the Choice Privilege program (Canadian link). You can jumpstart your Choice Privileges account with the MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard. The highlights of the credit card are as follows:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 8,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn 4,500 bonus points when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 2,000 bonus points every year on your account anniversary
  • Earn up to 15 points for every $1 spent at Choice Privileges locations in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Australasia
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

I have seen the sign up bonus go up to 24,000. So if you are not in a hurry to get this credit card, look for that promotion. I really like the 2,000 and 4,500 bonuses. Both features really give incentives to keep and continue to use the credit card.

In terms of the “up to 15 points”. It is a fairly complex explanation on the site:

  • Earn 10 points per each dollar in eligible purchase with eligible MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn property stays based on 5 points for every dollar in United States funds (U.S. $1.00) in eligible purchases with the Choice Privileges membership and 5 points for every one dollar in Canadian funds (CDN $1.00) in eligible purchases charged to the Choice Privileges MasterCard credit card account linked to the same Choice Privileges membership. Eligible stays at all other Choice Privileges locations will earn you 15 points per eligible retail dollar purchase based on 10 points for every one dollar in United States funds (U.S. $1.00) in eligible purchases earned through the Choice Privileges membership and 5 points for every one dollar in Canadian funds (CDN $1.00) in eligible purchases charged to the Choice Privileges MasterCard credit card account linked to the same Choice Privileges membership. Europe excludes: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. Australasia includes: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

What I recommend from all this wording is that if you stay at Choice hotels in Canada, use this credit card. However, when you stay at Choice hotels internationally, it could make sense to use one of the Chase credit cards that waives its foreign transaction fee. Otherwise, continue to use this credit card at all Choice hotels.

My biggest issue with the Choice Privileges program is the 2 year expiry policy. Basically your points will expire on December 31, two years after your earned points were deposited into your account. This is a hard cap expiry where keeping the account active will not help. So you will need to continually use your points before they expire. This program only really makes sense for people who frequently stay at these hotels and can take advantage of the reward nights.

Recommendations to Choice Privileges: So simple, do away with the expiry policy. To compromise, you can have a rule where you need to keep your account active once every 12 months, but points will never expire. Until this expiry policy changes, I will continue to stay at other hotels.

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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