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Amex to Choice Hotels 50% Transfer Bonus

by on October 31, 2011 · 13 comments

in American Express, Choice Hotels, Southwest Airlines

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Choice Hotels, the loyalty program of budget hotels like Quality Inn and Comfort Suites, recently became a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. In general, I don’t see huge value in transferring Amex points to hotels and this goes for Choice as well. The main reason being that Choice’s hotels by nature can be had pretty cheaply so spending 6,000 – 75,000 Amex points for a free night doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Granted, they do have a partnership with Preferred and Barcelo hotels that can be a decent value, but those start at 20,000 points a night and since I value my Amex points at about 2 cents a piece, it would mean those hotels would have to be charging $400+ before I felt like I was getting a good value.

50% transfer bonus - it's hard coded so it should post automatically with the transfer

However, they just announced a 50% bonus on Amex to Choice transfers, so I thought I’d check out a couple different non-hotel redemption scenarios to see if any made sense vs. transferring to other hotel partners.

Choice Airline Transfer Charts

Choice points transfer to Southwest – could this be a good way to top-up in order to qualify for a Companion Pass?
1) Choice points transfer to Southwest at 30,000 Choice : 9,000 Southwest ratio. Transferred hotel points currently count as Companion Pass qualifying miles. The Companion Pass is an amazing benefit which I wrote about here.

This means you can get the new Southwest 50,000 point credit card (100,000 if you also get the business card) and then to get the remaining points needed, you could transfer in blocks of 20,000 Amex to Choice and to get 9,000 Southwest points. 9,000 Southwest points = $150 in Wanna Get Away fares, so while 20,000 Amex to me = ~$400, if you value the Companion Pass benefit, this could be a decent option - especially if you are swimming in Amex points.
Verdict: This is a much better option than trying to go through Hilton
, which has a transfer ratio of 10,000 -> 1,200 Southwest points, which would require 54,000 Amex points per 9,600 Southwest points.

2) Does it make sense to transfer to Choice at the bonus and then transfer to AA miles to help me top-up for million mile status?
Amex points don’t transfer directly into American Airlines miles. The way most people funnel them is by transferring to Starwood at 1,000 Amex per 333 Starwood points. Starwood points then transfer into American miles at 20,000 Starwood = 25,000 AA.
So to get 100,000 AA miles (transferred miles currently count towards lifetime elite status, but that will change on December 1, 2011) you’d need to transfer 242,000 Amex points to 80,000 Starwood, which then transfer to 100,000 AA miles with the bonus.

However, with this Choice bonus, you would need to transfer 333,000 Amex points to 500,000 Choice, which would then transfer to 100,000 AA.
Verdict: The Starwood transfer route is still a better option.

3) Choice has gift cards- could that make sense with this bonus?
Choice will let you redeem 32,000 points for a $100 gift card (Best Buy, Lowes, Target, etc).

Verdict: 32,000 choice= 22,000 Amex points, which are worth at least $220 with Amex’ own Pay With Points feature which also has many gift cards, so do not transfer for the sake of getting gift cards.

Overall, I’m not racing to transfer my hard-earned Amex points to Choice, but if I were chasing the Southwest Companion Pass, it would definitely be on the table as an option.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jay

    good read. Thanks TPG

  • adam

    This means you can get the new Southwest 50,000 point credit card (100,000 if you also get the business card) and then to get the remaining points needed, you could transfer in blocks of 20,000 Amex to Choice and to get 9,000 Southwest points. 9,000 Southwest points = $150 in Wanna Get Away fares, so while 20,000 Amex to me = ~$400, if you value the Companion Pass benefit, this could be a decent option- especially if you are swimming in Amex points.
    Verdict: This is a much better option than trying to go through Hilton, which has a transfer ratio of 10,000 -> 1,200 Southwest points, which would require 54,000 Amex points per 9,600 Southwest points.

    Can someone explain this more or show me a link to how many points the southwest companion pass is?

  • Daniel Helder

    “20,000 Amex to me = about $400″

    Please explain where you can get a $400 value for 20,000 points, or where you get the biggest value for your points. The points don’t seem as valuable to me, I must be missing something.

  • TheInternationalLine

    Remember that Amtrak is also a Choice transfer partner. Last month, you could still do 5000 Amex -> 5000 Continental -> 5000 Amtrak -> 15000 Choice, but that ended with the Amex/Continental split. Still, trading in 5000 Amtrak or Continental/United miles for 15000 Choice points (still possible today) seems like a much better deal than the current Amex promotion, and yields some pretty good redemptions. Disclaimer: you need to be an Amtrak cardholder with some spend (or elite on Amtrak) in order to transfer Amtrak points to hotel points.

  • adam

    It takes 110K points for Southwest Companion Pass. 50K for Credit Card. So you need 60K more.

    30,000 CHOICE = 9,000 Rapid Reward

    180,000 CHOICE = 54,000 RAPID Reward

    WIth 50% 180,000 CHOICE = 90K AMEX

    Is that correct that it would take 90K amex + 6K in spend to reach the companion pass? If I got the pass in Jan 2012 I would have it for all of 2012 and 2013?

    Is this right

  • toomanybooks

    No, with the 50% bonus 120K Amex > 180K Choice > 54K RR.

    Qualification for Companion Pass is good until Dec. 31 of FOLLOWING calendar year, so yes on your last question.

  • http://www.clarkecomputer.com Charles Clarke

    I like that you showed your thought process here and how you rejected options. Normally we only see the final result (for a successful deal) and not the process. It also displayed the array of ways to use points.

    BTW, I’ve stayed in some nice Choice hotels (and some bad ones!) on 6-8K points. Not up to the luxury places you stay at, but good for road trips because they are everywhere out west here. Still not worth transferring AMEX MR points at 50% bonus for though.

  • SCParent

    How long is the AmEx bonus good for?

    Also, one can also get the Barclay’s Choice Privileges card (no annual fee) which gives 24k Choice pts after first purchase and 16k after first Choice hotel stay. Transfer those to SWA to save your AmEx MR points or avoid having to do ANY spend on the 50kx2 SWA business/personal cards option that has been discussed. 40,000 Choice x 1800SWA / 6000 Choice = 12,000 SWA pts. Or, combine the Barclay’s card with both SWA cards and you can get all 110,000 pts for the companion pass.

  • Neelaksh

    Great analysis. One question though ….. 22,000 Amex points, which are worth at least $220″ can you please explain this as I see only option to redeem 1000 points for $50 GC(200 points= $1) and when u use amazon or everyday use, you get little better rate (148 point = $1 approx). Where do you have the option you mentioned. I am missing something here.

  • Kris

    Is there still a bonus of 50% available on AX MR points transfer to Choice hotels or is expected soon sometimes..Tnanks

  • thepointsguy

    The most value from Amex points is extracted when you transfer to airlines- especially at a bonus. For example British Airways 50% means you can get a roudntrip business class ticket on Cathay Pacific JFK-Hong Kong for only 93,000 Amex points. That ticket would normally be $6,000+

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