Greg’s wrong: The Choice Privileges Visa is totally worth a look right now

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Yesterday, Greg published a post about the value of Choice Privileges points. I know that most readers don’t get wildly excited about a Comfort Inn or even a Cambria Suites. However, even if Choice Privileges property doesn’t fit your typical hotel preference, there is value in diversifying your points. With the value of the current offer — both in terms of a big bonus and extra bonus points on all purchases for the first year — this card is suddenly on my radar. Given those factors and the card’s big spend bonus, now is the time to go after it if you’ve ever been interested in Choice Privileges points. To be clear, we don’t have any affiliate link for this card, I just find the current offer intriguing and worth a bit more thought.

The Hotel Napa Valley, which was like a cross between a B&B and motel, quite unique and only 12K Choice points per night.

Bonus offers great return on spend

Here is the current offer on the Choice Privileges Visa that has my attention:

Card Offer and Details
Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card issued by Barclays
Up to 75K points + 4x everywhere
Up to 75K points + 4x everywhere: 50K after $1K spend in 90 days + 25K after $2K total spend in 180 days. 2 additional points per dollar for all spend until December 31, 2021 (for a total of 4 points per dollar on everyday purchases)

No Annual Fee


Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 5X at Choice Hotels and on purchases of Choice Hotels points or gift cards ⚬ 2X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Earn 8,000 annual bonus points after $10,000 in annual spend

Noteworthy perks: Automatic Gold status

First of all, 75,000 Choice Privileges points is quite a haul. We more typically see a bonus of just 32,000 points on this card. I can’t recall a time we’ve seen so many points available as a new cardmember bonus.

In yesterday’s post, Greg adjusted our value for Choice Privileges points downward to 0.68c per point. At that valuation, 75,000 points are worth about $510. As a return on $2K spend, that’s not too shabby – and that’s not the full story. Since you ordinarily earn 2x everywhere on this card and with the current offer you also earn 2 more bonus points per dollar spent until the end of 2021, you’ll get 4x on the $2K required spend. That means you’ll actually end up with a total of 83,000 Choice Privileges points after just $2K spend. At the 0.68c valuation, that’s $564.40 in value.

I think many readers likely focus on using points to better-than-reasonable value. After all, the fun in the games we play is in the feeling of “winning”. Since Greg’s reasonable redemption value was the median observed value, that means you have a 50% chance of doing better than 0.68c per point. He found that in 25% of observed cases, you’d get 0.8c per point or more in value. While it may not be the majority of properties, I think it is likely that the properties most interesting to those of us immersed in loyalty programs will be that group of hotels that yield higher value. If you’re able to save your points for those types of opportunities, you’re looking at getting $664 in value out of the points. That’s like a 33% return on $2K spend. That’s really solid return on spend. To be fair, the current return on the increased Hilton card offers is even better. I wouldn’t prioritize this Choice offer ahead of those limited-time Hilton offers, which yield even more value. However, Choice gets pretty competitive here against most hotel credit cards with this 75K offer – particularly considering that the Choice card has no annual fee.

Big spend bonus juices the first year totals even more

For those folks willing to get mildly spendy on this card, the total net deal could get even better. Greg buried the key analysis of the Choice Privileges Visa in the conclusion of his post about the value of Choice points and then (in my opinion) did not give it the enthusiasm it deserves. As he noted, the Choice Privileges Visa has an annual big spend bonus of 8,000 bonus points after $10K spend in a calendar year. That’s a standard card benefit on top of the 2 additional points per dollar on everyday spend.

In other words, if you opened the card now and met the spending requirement in the first 3 months and proceeded to spend $10K total on the card during 2021, you would have:

  • 75,000 points (credit card welcome bonus)
  • 20,000 points ($10K at 2x everywhere)
  • 20,000 points (extra 2 points per dollar on spend during 2021)
  •   8,000 points (big spend bonus for spending $10K in a calendar year)
  • 123,000 points after $10K in total purchases

Talk about boosting your balance! Going from zero to 123,000 Choice Privileges points could be a nice deal for someone wo knows how to get good value out of the Choice Privileges program (and in fairness, Greg implied as much). Based on the 0.68c valuation, that’s about $836 worth of value. With half of the properties Greg surveyed getting even more value out of that many points, there is a 50/50 shot of doing even better.

Getting more than $800 back on $10K spend is a very good offer indeed.

Let’s be clear: This isn’t the best offer for $10K spend; I’d much rather have the Amex Platinum card special referral offer that yields 100K bonus points after $5K in purchases in the first 3 months and also 10x at US gas stations and US Supermarkets on up to $15K in purchases in the first 6 months. Doing just $2K of the minimum spend requirement at US gas stations and US Supermarkets would ensure a minimum of 123K Membership Rewards points. Those points could be transferred to Choice Privileges (but don’t do that since you could cash out Membership Rewards points via the Schwab Platinum and buy even more Choice points if Choice Privileges were your end game).

And while I’m using dollars and cents comparisons for the points to get an idea as to the value to be had, Choice points obviously aren’t dollars and cents. The offer only makes sense if you’re able to make use of some Choice properties. If you’d ever be interested in Choice Privileges properties, picking up the points via this offer — on a credit card with no annual fee that will help you meet the 18-month activity requirement to keep your Choice points alive in perpetuity — makes a lot more sense than using Greg’s cash and points trick to buy points at 0.8 cents each down the road.

But at the same time, if you’re more into dollars and cents, Choice typically offers the opportunity at least once a year to buy $50 gift cards to popular retailers for 8,000 points. The 123,000 points you would have after $10K spend could theoretically yield fifteen $50 gift cards — $750 in total. Again, $750 back on $10K spend is a solid rate of return.

Get outsized value from Choice points

The above numbers ignore the fact that Greg’s analysis is only US-based. While I think our approach of only using major US markets absolutely makes sense for the purpose of calculating a Reasonable Redemption Value, I think that it’s worth noting that those who would consider using their Choice points abroad can do much better than our Reasonable Redemption Value. The classic example of great value for Choice points is in Scandinavia, where select Nordic Choice properties offer not only complimentary breakfast, but also a complimentary evening meal — which can be a huge value in countries where food can be pricey. I probably wouldn’t want to travel all the way to Norway or Sweden just to eat at the Clarion every night, but I wouldn’t mind saving on dinner a few nights to splurge on other nights out at a nice restaurant. Even at the properties where you don’t get dinner, it isn’t hard to find great value for points in Scandinavia.

And even if Choice properties aren’t your preferred redemption, several readers have pointed out the value that can be had with Preferred Hotels. Preferred Hotels offer a partnership with Choice Privileges that allow for the redemption of 25K-55K points per night for luxury properties that look quite nice in some cases. You can find a list here. It isn’t terribly hard to find opportunities where $10K spend on the Choice Visa this year could yield 2 or 3 quite valuable nights at properties of a much higher quality than your average Quality Inn.

Bottom Line

The Choice Privileges Visa hasn’t really ever been on my radar because it hasn’t offered enough of a bonus to get excited and I’ve had access to the ability to purchase cheap Choice points through the cash and points trick that Greg noted yesterday. However, between a much-increased bonus, 4x everywhere for the rest of the year, and an annual big spend bonus that yields even more points on top of those limited-time offers, I think that if you’d ever be interested in squirreling away some Choice Privileges points, you’d be nuts to miss out on the current opportunity. Would I take this offer over the current Amex Platinum offer or a Chase Ink Cash or Ink Unlimited or the newly increased Hilton card offers? No, I wouldn’t. However, I think the risk/return here is in your favor if you have a healthy stash of those other points and/or aren’t eligible for those offers. I wouldn’t recommend that everyone rush out to get this offer right now over other offers, but I think it represents a rare chance to get a pretty respectable return out of a less-loved currency that’s a good tool for an award traveler’s belt. With no annual fee, no expiring certificates to keep track of, and points that are relatively easy to keep alive, this is exactly the type of opportunity for those who subscribe to the philosophy of hoarding and cherry picking – which makes me wonder if Greg might consider running out and getting this card after all?

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