Skip to content

One of the Best Points Programs for Families Will Surprise You - It's Choice. Here's Why.

July 09, 2019
9 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Family travel is worth it, but there are many challenges that come along with it that you might not have thought about pre-kids. For starters, most hotel rooms just aren't built for more than four guests. Even then, it can be a stretch. If you have a larger family, or are one that likes to spread out, you are often forced to book two rooms or pay more for a larger room or suite. This can get quite expensive, even if you have points. (Here are two-bedroom suites families can book with points or learn how to book hotels for large families in Hawaii, California and Florida.)

Have points, will travel. (Photo by Summer Hull/TPG)

Some hotel brands are better matches for families than others, but there is one hotel loyalty program that makes family travel not only more affordable, but much more comfortable. Believe it or not, my recommendation isn't a Hyatt or St. Regis or whatnot. It's the Choice Hotels and the Choice Privileges program.

Why Choice Is a Great Program for Families

While Choice isn't known for having the most aspirational properties, it does have more than 7,000 properties and allows you to book larger rooms for reasonable numbers of points. In fact, in cities like Rome and Paris, Choice redemptions are often your best bet if you want to just spend a reasonable number of points on a room large enough for a family.

But beyond that, there's also a vacation club component to Choice called Bluegreen Vacations, part of its Ascend Collection (Choice's higher-end properties). It consists of 36 properties throughout the United States and one property in Aruba — all with rooms you can book using Choice Privileges points.

What is so wonderful about vacation clubs like those with Bluegreen Vacations is that typically the properties offer way more than just your usual studio hotel room. Bluegreen Vacation properties include hotels with up to three-bedroom suites, and many have a full kitchen and washer/dryer. I know my family would much prefer to spread out in a suite versus a standard hotel room any day of the week -- especially when we can use our points.

What's so unique about the Choice Privileges program is that the number of points required for a particular property is fixed regardless of room size. This means the same number of points will book you into a standard room or that three-bedroom suite, when available This can allow your family to book an extremely comfortable room for no upcharge when using points. Most Bluegreen Vacations resorts range between 16,000 to 30,000 points per night, depending on the season.

Bluegreen Vacations, The Fountains in Orlando. (Photo courtesy of Bluegreen Vacations)

Book a 3-Bedroom Suite for 30k Points

Let's say your family wants to head to the waterpark capital of America in Wisconsin Dells. You can stay at the Bluegreen Vacations Christmas Mountain Village in a three-bedroom suite for just 30,000 points a night. (Here's a roundup of the Midwest's best waterparks.)

Or, if you want visit Mickey Mouse or Harry Potter this summer, the Bluegreen Vacations Fountains in Orlando can actually fit 10 guests, which is ideal for a large family. Again, you'll pay the same 30,000 points a night as you would for any of its other available rooms. Why book a two-bedroom suite, if a three-bedroom suite is available for the exact same number of points?

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A visit to Cape Cod is also a family favorite over the summer and there are two Bluegreen Vacations properties available. Both The Soundings and The Breakers cost the same 30,000 points a night and are our top picks out of all the hotel point options in Cape Cod. Here you can book a two-bedroom suite with a queen bed in each room and a pull-out sofa.

How to Earn Choice Privileges Points

Earning Choice Privileges points is fairly easy. Aside from actually staying at its properties, there are a few more opportunities to increase your account balance:

Choice Privileges Credit Card

The Choice Privileges Visa Credit Card is currently offering 50,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in 90 days. This no annual fee card will earn you 15x Choice Privileges properties, 5x on purchases of Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotel gift cards and 2x on other purchases.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Family Travel

Transfer American Express Membership Rewards

Choice is a 1:1 transfer partner to American Express Membership Rewards and cards such as the American Express® Gold Card with instant transfers. This is an easy way to top up Choice Privileges points for an immediate redemption, but of course do the math to make sure it's a good use of your Membership Rewards points -- and that won't always be the case.

Purchasing Points Promotions

It is very common to see a promotion on purchasing Choice points. The typical offer is a 30% discount, which means you are purchasing points at 0.77 cents per point, although we've seen as high as a 50% discount in the past (0.73 cents per point). With the 120,000 purchasing point limit, these promotions allow you to stay at some of the Bluegreen Vacations hotels at a potentially reduced rate — 30,000 points will cost you $231 with a 30% discount offer.

If you are planning to stay at one of the properties during an off-peak time, the award cost will be significantly reduced. For example, the Bluegreen Vacations South Mountain Resort was just 16,000 points per night last winter. Funny enough, off-peak doesn't always correlate to a not-desirable time to stay at a property. The South Mountain Resort is just a half-mile from a large New Hampshire ski mountain but during peak winter season it was still considered "off-peak." To purchase these points would cost just $123 per night with a 30% discount offer. I don't know of too many higher-end resorts where you'd be able to book a two- or three-bedroom room for that low a price.

An even cheaper way to purchase Choice Privileges points is during the annual Daily Getaways sales, when these points sell for as low as 0.48 cents per point, which is an unbelievable rate. (Unfortunately, these packages are now sold out, but fingers crossed we will see them again next year.)

South Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire. (Photo courtesy of Bluegreen Vacations)

Transfer Amtrak Guest Rewards Points

The Amtrak Guest Rewards program has very few transfer partners, but Choice Privileges is one of them. With this partnership, every 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points transferred equals 15,000 Choice Privileges points. This is actually a great transfer ratio, but unfortunately you must have Amtrak status to transfer to partners.

Using Choice Points Isn't Perfect

While all of the above probably sounds beyond ideal, there are definitely some issues when using your Choice Privilege points at these properties. For starters, since these are vacation clubs, availability can be limited. Members who own at these resorts book close to a year out, which means peak dates might be hard to find -- although by no means impossible.

The other main issue is that, when redeeming Choice Privilege points, you can only book 100 days in advance. This is just not for Bluegreen Vacations resorts, but for all Choice properties. This is a huge deal-breaker for families who like to plan ahead of time, especially since there is no guarantee of the hotels' availability.

Lastly, Choice Hotels offers both peak and off-peak awards. If you are looking to stay over the winter, you will be in the dark about how many points you'll need per night at the moment since the award booking calendar doesn't go that far. (The number of points might also change from one year to the next as there is no award chart.)

Bottom Line

Bluegreen Vacations within the Choice family is the perfect fit for many families' needs. It offers quality family-friendly properties while allowing you to stay in comfort and not have to dig too deep into your point balances. Whether you have a large family, or are one that prefers more space, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with what's available.

Jennifer Yellin covers family travel deals for TPG and blogs at Deals We Like. Follow her family’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Bluegreen Vacations)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees