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6 ways Choice Privileges should improve its loyalty program

Aug. 25, 2020
10 min read
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I'm a massive fan of the Choice Privileges program. After all, it's easy to earn Choice points and I often get great value when redeeming Choice points. But since multiple other hotel loyalty programs provide a better overall offering, I'm far from loyal to Choice. While there is a lot to love about Choice Privileges, I think the program has room for improvement.

In this guide, I'll discuss six improvements I'd like to see made to the Choice Privileges program.

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What I love about Choice Privileges

My favorite use of Choice points so far was spending a month at Emotions Playa Dorado. This property is bookable as an Ascend Hotels Collection hotel. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Overall, I love the Choice Privileges program. But, this love is primarily due to the value I can get from earning and burning Choice points. In fact, since hitting the road full-time as a digital nomad in 2017, my husband and I have redeemed 588,000 Choice points for 67 award nights. Based on TPG's valuations, that's $3,528 worth of points.

First off, you might be wondering how we earned enough Choice points for all these award nights. Well, we buy Choice points each year through Daily Getaways at less than TPG's valuation. And, we've been able to earn lots of Choice points through promotions. For example, you can currently earn up to 20,000 Choice points after every two stays. You can also earn over 50,000 Choice points on an all-inclusive stay of $500 or more.

Choice points have also provided us great value in cities across the world. For example, it's easy to find great redemptions with Choice points in Europe and Japan. And, we spent almost a month at an all-inclusive resort last summer using Choice points. You can redeem as little as 25,000 Choice points for a night at an AMResorts all-inclusive resort and it's possible to book premium rooms using points at some hotels.

However, I rarely stay with Choice if I'm not earning extra points through a promotion or redeeming points. So now, let's consider what Choice Privileges could do to capture more of my nights.

Related: Register for and maximize Your Extras at Choice hotels

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Competitive elite perks

The Ridgeline Hotel in Estes Park is bookable through Choice (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Choice Privileges doesn't provide the same quality of elite benefits as other top hotel loyalty programs. For example, Choice doesn't guarantee top-tier elites late-check out. And, don't expect an upgrade to a premium room or suite. Instead, Choice hotels may upgrade elites to:

  • Recently renovated rooms
  • Rooms on a higher/lower floor
  • Rooms with favored views

However, not all hotels provide upgrades. And, Choice says hotels don't have to upgrade elites to any specific room type. So, I don't expect any upgrade when booking with Choice.

But, I'd stay with Choice more if I got better elite perks. For example, I'd like to see the following perks:

Related: Best top-tier hotel elite status for your family

Extra perks for higher-tier elites

Cambria Fort Lauderdale (Photo by Richard Kerr/The Points Guy)

The Choice Privileges program has four elite tiers:

  • Member
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Diamond

But, top-tier Diamond status doesn't get many more perks over Platinum or Gold status. Indeed, only three perks are different:

As such, there's little incentive to earn Platinum or Diamond status and Choice could strengthen its program by adding perks at these tiers. For example, Choice could offer higher-tier elites premium upgrades on a space-available basis. Adding a breakfast benefit at hotels would be another useful perk.

Related: Choice Privileges extends elite status for all, offers elite upgrades and bonus points

More hotel participation

You can book a vacation rental unit at Bluegreen Vacations Fountains in Orlando, FL through Choice. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Some Choice hotels don't fully take part in the Choice Privileges program. But, there's not a list of hotels that don't fully engage. Instead, Choice says guests should check with each hotel, which is an unnecessary burden for guests.

Ideally, I'd like to see all Choice hotels fully take part in the Choice Privileges program. But, as long as some hotels don't fully participate, Choice should provide a list of these hotels online.

Related: How to pick the right hotel chain for you

Quality control at budget brands

Choice Hotels Quality Hotel Bayswater in Perth
The rooms were small but clean at the Quality Hotel Bayswater in Perth, Australia (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Choice Privileges has its share of budget brands. And, I've had some not-so-nice stays at these brands. For example, there was a sizeable hole in my room wall at one Quality Inn. And I've stayed at some Rodeway Inn and Quality Inn hotels with poor in-room Wi-Fi, low-quality furniture and old bedding.

As such, I'd like to see Choice Privileges enforce brand standards at its budget brands. After all, Choice has worked to refresh its Comfort Hotels brand by:

  • Removing over 600 hotels that weren't up to brand standards
  • Implementing a new logo
  • Performing upgrades

You can tell which Comfort Hotels are refreshed based on their logo. So, if you see a new Choice Hotels logo, you know that the hotel meets brand standards.

A similar initiative for Choice's budget brands could improve the Choice Privileges program. After all, Choice could weed out the worst hotels and provide consistency to existing hotels. And, this would encourage me to stay with these brands more.

Related: Can you be sued for your online travel reviews? Here's how to protect yourself

More high-quality hotels and brands

Emotions Playa Dorado is bookable as an Ascend Hotels Collection property. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

The best brands in the Choice portfolio are Cambria Hotels and Ascend Hotel Collection. Cambria Hotels cater to business and leisure travelers with simple yet modern rooms. Meanwhile, Ascend Hotel Collection hotels are often independent hotels that have joined the Choice portfolio but kept their unique feel. Plus, the Ascend Collection includes AMResorts resorts and Bluegreen Vacations resorts.

I've stayed at many Ascend Hotel Collection hotels. And, many of these hotels offer substantial value on award nights. So, as Choice adds more Ascend Hotel Collection hotels, I'll likely stay with them more often.

Related: 9 unique hotel amenities that will make your next business trip so much better

Better credit card options

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Finally, Choice Privileges could offer a better credit card. Sure, the current Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card isn't bad for a no annual fee card. After all, you can earn 15x points at eligible Choice Hotels for a 9% return, based on TPG's valuations. And, you'll get automatic Gold elite status as a cardholder.

But, you'll only earn 2x points for a 1.2% return on all other purchases. And, unlike some of the top hotel credit cards, you can't earn higher elite status or free night certificates through spending. But, you can earn 8,000 bonus points each year when you spend $10,000 or more on purchases.

So, I'd like to see Choice introduce a new mid-tier hotel credit card. And, on this sub-$100 annual fee credit card, I'd expect to see some of the following perks:

Related: Why I'm applying for travel credit cards during a pandemic

Bottom line

Currently, I only stay with Choice when I'm earning points through a promotion or redeeming points. After all, I've been able to get great value from Choice points. But, if the Choice Privileges program could improve its elite perks and brand consistency, I'd start spending more nights at their properties.

Featured image by Bluegreen Vacations Fountains in Orlando, FL bookable through Choice (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
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.