Recently, AwardWallet alerted me that my Choice Privileges points were due to expire in 2 months. So, I logged onto my Choice account to see what I could do to extend the life of my points.
Fortunately, it’s possible to reset the clock on your points for 18 months simply by earning or redeeming Choice points.
I wondered if booking and then cancelling an award stay would work?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: I booked an award night for 8K points and then my account immediately showed that the life of my points had been extended to about 19 months from today. Yay! Then I cancelled the award night in order to get my points back. Then, my account immediately showed that my points would once again expire within 2 months. Boo.
Next I wondered if booking and cancelling a points+cash stay would work?
Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: When booking a points+cash stay, you’re essentially buying the points you need at a discount. When you cancel the stay, you get back more points than you started with (since you had bought the extra points).
I booked this stay for 6,000 points plus $32:
I paid $32 with a credit card that offers an annual travel rebate. Since the charge comes from Choice Hotels, it is categorized as travel. After booking the above stay, I had 6,000 fewer points and my point expiration date had been extended:
The question was what would happen when I cancelled the stay? Would the expiration date reset back to 5/1/2021?
As you can see above, the answer was that I kept the new expiration date after cancelling the stay. I’m now $32 poorer and 4,000 points richer. In other words, I indirectly bought 4,000 points for $32 and reset the clock on my points. Yes, I could have achieved the same thing by buying Choice points directly, but Choice would have charged me $48.40 for 4,000 points that way. I saved about 35% by buying indirectly. Also, if I bought directly, the charge would have come from Points.com and would not have coded as travel.
Other ways to keep points alive
- Book paid stays at Choice hotels earn points (and actually complete the stay)
- Shop through the Choice Privileges shopping portal (Note: I’ve heard that this portal takes a long time to pay out, so make sure to do this many months before point expiration)
- Rent a car from a company that offers Choice points as a rewards option (Avis or Budget, for example)
- Sign up for the Choice credit card
- Buy points from Choice for $12.10 per 1,000 points (poor value compared to the points+cash trick described previously)
- Refer a friend who’s new to Choice Privileges and who is planning an upcoming stay
- Book an award stay (and actually complete the stay)
- The following options offer poor value for your points:
- Redeem points for gift cards
- Redeem points to donate to charity
- Redeem points for an AARP membership
Transfer points to Choice
- Transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards to Choice Privileges (1,000 to 1,000)
- Transfer points from Amtrak to Choice (5,000 to 15,000). Requires Amtrak elite status or $20K spend on the Amtrak World Elite Mastercard.
Transfer points from Choice
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- Alaska MileagePlan: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- American Airlines: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- Amtrak Guest Rewards: 32,000 Choice points to 5,000 Amtrak points
- AeroMexico Club Premier: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles (1,600 Kilometers)
- Czech Airlines: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- Qantas: 20,000 Choice points to 8,000 miles
- United: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- Southwest: 6,000 Choice points to 1,800 Southwest points
- Spirit: 5,000 Choice points to 1,000 miles
- Virgin Australia: 20,000 Choice points to 8,000 miles
It’s possible to indirectly buy Choice Privileges points for .8 cents per point by booking and then cancelling a points+cash stay. While Choice points vary widely in value depending upon how they’re used, I’ve often found points to be worth 1 cent or more towards free nights. As a result, I don’t mind buying points for less than a penny each. The side benefit to doing so is that it causes your points expiry to reset for another 18 months.