Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card

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Other hotel cards reward you better for your loyalty.

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The Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card is the rare hotel card that offers fewer rewards for booking a stay than does the hotel loyalty program itself. You’ll earn a whopping 15 points for every $1 spent at a Choice-branded hotel, but the credit card itself will net you just 5 points per $1 spent. The remaining 10 points comes from having a Choice Privileges membership.

Review

Choice Hotels International manages more than 6,300 properties worldwide, with the bulk of its locations within the U.S. Most of the properties are value-priced or mid-range hotels and extended stay suites. Brands within the portfolio include Clarion Hotel, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn and Sleep Inn.

If you travel often and this type of property fits your needs, then The Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card can help you earn elite status and free nights. If your preference is for a more luxurious escape, then your only option within the Choice portfolio is one of the upscale boutique hotels under the Ascend brand name.

The value of a Choice Privileges point varies from bad to just OK. When Bankrate looked at Choice properties in Chicago for one night, we found the following:

  • A room at the mid-range Comfort Suites on Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago was listed for $176 a night or 30,000 points, making a point worth about half a cent.
  • A room at the upscale Hotel Blake, part of the luxury Ascend collection, also downtown, was listed for $180 a night or 16,000 points, making a point worth about one cent.
  • A room at the Comfort Suites at O’Hare Airport was listed for $107 a night or 12,000 points, making a point worth about 4/5ths of a cent.

These are not stellar redemption rates compared with the value offered by other hotel co-branded cards and general travel rewards cards. If you are intent at staying at a Choice hotel, and you want to earn the maximum rewards for your money, you may want to consider a card with a better rewards. Just make sure to also sign up for the Choice loyalty program.

When using the card for spending unrelated to the hotel, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent.

Choice Privileges comes with a decent sign-up bonus of 32,000 bonus points, worth between $160 and $320 depending on how you redeem them, after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account. For someone looking to take take advantage of a sign-up offer, this is fairly easy to attain.

You also get 8,000 anniversary bonus points every year you spend $10,000 or more on your card, and a 10% points bonus every time you purchase a stay wth Choice Hotels. This is nice, but other hotel-branded cards offer better bonuses for your loyalty. The card comes with gold status which means you can book your reward stays 50 days in advance and you’ll get a points bonus with each stay ranging from 100 to 250 points depending on the property, Again, nice but doesn’t have that wow factor.

Who should get this card

We aren’t wild about the redemption values offered with this card and think you’ll likely fare better with a different choice.

Advantages
  • Pay no annual fee.
  • When you combine the rewards rate of the card with your membership, the rewards rate is generous.
  • Choice Hotels are in thousands of locations so you're likely to find a location to use for the points.
Disadvantages
  • The redemption rate is mediocre and often less than the industry average.
  • This card charges a foreign transaction fee.
  • Many hotel-branded cards offer a free night, this one only offers points that could possibly be worth one.

Fees and APR

  • Pay no annual fee.
  • Purchase APR is a variable 16.24%, 20.99% or 25.99% based on creditworthiness.
  • Enjoy an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, balance transfer APR is a variable APR of 16.24%, 20.99% or 25.99%.
  • On balance transfers, pay $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is more.
  • Pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside of the U.S.
  • Late or missed payments won’t affect your APR, but you will be subject to a penalty fee of up to $37.

Extra, perks and using points

Cardholders receive the hotel’s Elite Gold Status, which allows you to book up to 50 days in advance of your stay (instead of 30) and receive a 10% points bonus every time you purchase a stay.

Point redemptions for hotel stays typically range between 6,000 and 35,000 points, depending on the property and the time of year. Get free nights for fewer points either during the week or on weekends, depending on the property. There is no fee to redeem points and there are no blackout dates. At select properties and dates, Flex Rewards nights may be available, which require even less points.

Points expire after 18 months of inactivity. Accounts can remain active by using the card, completing a stay, purchasing points or earning points through a Choice partner program.

How this card compares

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at IHG hotels.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.994% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $0 Intro fee for the first year. After that, $49.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card has a similar value profile and proposition, offering mostly mid-range and value priced properties. If you have to choose between the two cards, and you don’t have a preference between the properties, it could come to down to this: the IHG card will give you one free night a year at any of its properties and doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. The Choice card offers a slightly better overall rewards rate on everyday spending.

The Hyatt Credit Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 3 World of Hyatt points for every $1 you spend at all Hyatt properties with your Hyatt Credit Card.
  • Earn 2 World of Hyatt points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies.
  • Earn 1 World of Hyatt point for every $1 you spend on other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $75.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

Although it may seem like you’re earning fewer points with The Hyatt Credit Card than other hotel-branded cards, Hyatt hotels have a lower points requirement to earn free nights, starting at just 5,000 points.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Card Details
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will likely appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles. You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card‘s hefty sign-up bonus, boosted redemption value when using the Chase portal, and a generous rewards program make this a stand-out among travel rewards cards offering big value for minimal cost. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.