Quality Courts United • Choice Hotels began in 1939 when a group of seven independent motel owners in Florida created the nation’s first hotel chain, called Quality Courts United.
The group formed with the idea of referring business to each other’s hotels and establishing standards to better meet the needs and expectations of their guests. By 1952, the organization had grown to include 100 hotels. The name Choice Hotels International was adopted in 1990.
Choice Hotels was the first in the industry to guarantee reservations, offer 24-hour reservations and non- smoking rooms in every hotel, install in-room telephones, provide online reservations and launch a global iPhone app. Choice Hotels brands include Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and Ascend Hotel Collection. Many hotels offer free Internet access, complimentary break- fast and late checkout upon request.
Choice Privileges offers members the ability to earn points at over 5,500 participating locations in the U.S. and properties can be found in over 20 other countries and territories. Beginning in 1998, Choice Privileges currently has over 17 million members worldwide.
Choice Privileges members earn 10 points per dollar spent on room rates (excluding taxes and incidentals) at Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Ascend Hotel Collection and Cambria Suites hotels and five points per dollar spent in room revenue at Main- Stay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn locations in the U.S., Canada, Europe (excluding Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithu- ania, Norway and Sweden), Middle East, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Australasia (includes Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Fiji). Members can earn points for up to two rooms at the same hotel.
Other ways to earn points include making purchases with the Choice Privileges Visa card, online shopping, taking a cruise, renting a car, taking surveys and more. Choice Privileges offers frequent promotions such as double or triple points or a free night at participating locations after two qualifying stays.
Award nights are available worldwide at over 6,100 hotels starting at 6,000 points per night and go up to 30,000 points (up to 75,000 points for select award nights in Australasia). The number of points varies by hotel and time of year, so to find out how many points are required for a stay, you can enter a destination and travel dates and search online or call the service center.
Choice Privileges has no blackout dates for award nights, but has booking windows based on a member’s elite status. General members can book award nights up to 30 days in advance for hotels in the U.S. or Canada and 60 days in advance for all other properties worldwide. Elite members can book between 50 and 100 days in advance, depending on their tier.
Members can redeem points for free nights worldwide at upscale hotels at over 500 properties through Preferred Hotel Group for 30,000 to 60,000 points per night.
Car rental awards are available with Avis and Budget; members can redeem 16,000 points for a $50 Avis certificate or a free rental day with Budget. Members can also redeem their points for discounts on cruises with CruisesOnly. Redeem 85,000 points for a $250 cruise certificate and 160,000 points will get you a $500 cruise certificate.
Starting at 14,000 points, members can redeem for a variety of gift cards including over 250 national and local retailers, restaurants and entertainment providers. A $50 gift card is 16,000 points and members can claim gift cards in $50 and $100 denominations. Other options include gasoline gift cards at the same redemption levels and gift cards that can be used for unique experiences like hot air balloon rides, skydiving and more. Choice Privileges partners regularly offer point discounts on gift card options. Choice Hotels Gift Cards start at 14,000 points for a $50 card that can be used at any participating Choice hotel in the U.S.
Members can also use points for instant online redemptions through RewardsPay, with a handful of online retailers including ecampus. com, Rhapsody, Livemocha, iTunes and World Golf Tour, among others. Digital music downloads are available starting at 8,000 points for 25 songs through the Choice Privileges Music Store and magazine subscriptions start at 1,500 points.
Members can redeem points starting at 5,000 points for a one-year membership to AARP and 16,000 points for a one-year Costco membership.
Donations to the American Red Cross, Rebuilding Together and Hotels for Heroes or the Armed Forces Relief Trust are other redemption options. For each 1,000 points donated, $5 will be given to the organization you choose.
Choice Privileges airline partners include 14 airlines: Aeroplan, Aeromexico, Air New Zealand, airberlin, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin Australia. Members who choose to earn airline miles instead of Choice Privileges points earn 250 miles per qualifying stay with most airline partners. Frequent flyers can convert points into miles with these airline programs at a ratio of 5,000 points to 1,000 miles with most airline partners. Amtrak Guest Rewards members can earn 250 points per stay. Points can also be converted into Amtrak points and 32,000 Choice Privileges points are equal to 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
Choice Privileges works with Barclay’s Bank to offer the Choice Privileges Visa Signature card. Members will earn 8,000 points after first use of the card plus another 8,000 points after paying for a qualifying stay in the U.S. with the card. The program occasionally offers limited-time bonus offers with higher sign-up bonuses, such as 24,000 bonus points after first stay; 40,000 total points which is enough points to redeem for up to five free award nights at many Choice Hotels properties.
Cardholders earn an additional five points per $1 spent at Choice Hotels properties with their Choice Privileges Visa card linked to their member account, five points for every $1 spent on purchases of points and Choice Hotels gift cards and two points for every $1 spent anywhere else. Cardholders also receive automatic Elite Gold status for as long as they have the card. The Choice Privileges Visa card has no annual fee.
Choice Privileges offers an online mall where members can earn at least one point per $1 spent at over 900 stores. Participating online merchants include retailers such as Apple Store, Dell and Walgreens. Most online retailers offer between two and 10 points per dollar spent.
Book a vacation package with Bluegreen Vacations and earn from 10,000 to 25,000 points. Members can earn five points per dollar spent when booking a cruise at a variety of cruise lines from CruisesOnly.
Avis offers 1,500 points on car rentals plus up to a 25 percent discount and members can earn 1,000 points on rentals with Budget (2,500 bonus points through Dec. 31, 2013) and up to 20 percent off.
Amtrak Guest Rewards, Diners Club and American Express Membership Rewards currency can be converted into Choice Privileges points. Members can exchange 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for 15,000 Choice Privileges points, 1,250 Diners Club Rewards points for 2,400 Choice Privileges points and 1,000 Membership Rewards points for 1,000 Choice Privileges points.
Refer friends and family members to the program and you will earn 500 points when they join and complete a qualifying stay. Your friend or family member will also receive 500 points after their first qualifying stay.
Members can also earn points with LifeLock, e-Rewards, American Cellars Wine Club, 1-800FLOWERS. com, 1-800Baskets.com, Cheryls. com and The Popcorn Factory.
The Choice Privileges elite program has three tiers: Gold, Platinum and Diamond. After staying 10 nights in a calendar year (or acquiring the Choice Privileges Visa credit card), members achieve elite Gold status. You must qualify for the elite program each calendar year. Elite Gold members receive a 10 percent point bonus, an exclusive reservation and customer service phone line, exclusive elite member offers and an extended 50-day booking window for award nights.
After staying 20 nights in a calendar year, members move up to elite Platinum status and receive a 25 percent point bonus. Elite Platinum members can book award nights 75 days in advance and will be given complimentary luggage tags and access to elite partner offers, in addition to Elite Gold benefits.
Elite Diamond members are those who stay 40+ nights in a calendar year. Elite Diamonds receive a 50 percent point bonus, have access to a 100-day booking window, space-available complimentary room upgrades at check-in and an exclusive 24/7 travel concierge service.
Members who earn one million points through hotel stays will be given lifetime elite Gold status.
Rules & Conditions
Award nights are fully transfer- able to immediate family members (spouse, partner, children, parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters). Points expire on Dec. 31, two years after the year in which they were earned. There are no blackout dates for award nights. You may not transfer or combine points with other members, but members in the U.S. and Canada can purchase up to 10,000 points per transaction at $11 for each 1,000 points. A maximum of 20,000 points can be purchased each year.
If two members are sharing a room, the member who reserved the room will receive points. Points are earned on room rate only, excluding taxes and incidental charges. Members can earn points on up to two rooms per night at the same hotel. Members will not earn points or Choice Privileges benefits when staying at hotels in Brazil, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, India, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, but can redeem points for free nights at hotels in these countries.
The Choice Privileges call center is open from 7am to 10pm ET, seven days a week. It took just over two minutes for us to be connected to a customer service representative who was friendly and able to answer our questions. You can also send your questions and concerns by filling out an email form on the website to receive a response within 72 hours.
Hotel awards and other types of awards can be booked online, but some partner awards, such as Preferred Hotel Group award stays or redeeming points for a cruise, require a phone call. When searching for hotels at a particular destination, members can view the properties on a map and filter by brand, amenities and hotels with availability. Missing points or miles requests can be made online within 12 months of the arrival date for a hotel stay.
[+] Plus Features
With over 6,200 hotels, Choice hotels are located in many places where other hotel groups aren’t, making Choice Privileges points useful when traveling to smaller cities and towns. Award stays start at 8,000 points and over 1,500 hotels require only 8,000 points per night. Members can also choose to redeem points for free nights at upscale hotels and resorts through Preferred Hotels Group, among other award options. Bonus promotions are frequent and the credit card has no annual fee.
[-] Minus Features
Choice Privileges members will find it difficult to plan a vacation far in advance since non-elite members can’t book award stays earlier than 30 days prior to their stay (60 days for destinations outside North America). Elite members have an extended booking window, but even the 100 days offered to Diamond members is short compared to other programs. While Diamond members are given complimentary upgrades, upgraded rooms are not the same as the suites offered to elite members of other loyalty programs and there are few aspirational properties. Points have a shelf life of two years.
Report Card from Readers
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[tabcontent] [tab] Rating: C+
One strong positive for Choice Privileges is being able to spend a minimum number of points for lodging. Another positive is that everywhere I seem to go, there are many choices in their chain to stay. Another positive is having a credit card with no annual fee where I can earn two points per dollar.
The biggest negative is quality control among hotels in the chain. Frankly, some of their inns are the dregs of the industry, though most of the members of the chain are quite good. However, with a little research before reserving a room (through TripAdvisor.com or other tool), the consumer can usually sort out the good from the bad.
The other negative is expiration of points after being held two years, regardless of the activity in the account.
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[box] InsideFlyer Rated
Overall Score: 7.57
Earning Ability: 7.5
Award Choices: 7.5
Elite Level: 7.5
Rules & Conditions: 7.0
Service Support: 8.0
Online Services: 7.5 [/box]
Phoenix, AZ 85054