What are Choice points worth?

19

Choice Privileges is a bit of red-headed stepchild in the world of points and miles, as the majority of the chain’s properties involve budget to midrange lodging. No one ever waxes rhapsodical about their recent stay at a Quality Inn.

That said, Choice has a massive footprint in the US, oftentimes serving as the only points option in more remote locations. Additionally, the growing Ascend Collection combined with ability to redeem Choice points for Preferred Hotels and Resorts stays has even Greg the Frequent Miler working through a small pile now and again.

So, Choice Privileges can be useful, but what exactly are the points worth? Should we be putting all of our spend on a Choice card this year? In order to try to answer those questions, we do a deep dive into what Choice points will get you in 2024.

Bluegreen Vacations Big Bear Village – The Ascend Resort Collection

Methodology

In order to determine the value of Choice points, we collected real-world cash and points prices in 8 major hotel markets in the U.S: Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City, Orlando, and Seattle. Within each market, we identified the first three search results with standard award availability and a guest rating of 4 or better, and recorded both cash and award prices for three stays each: a weekday, a weekend, and a holiday weekend.

  • Why U.S. only? U.S. consumers are known to spend most of their points and miles on domestic travel. Since the majority of this blog’s audience resides in the U.S. we opted for a U.S. centric view of point values. Choice Privileges is known to have especially good value in some locations outside of the U.S., so this analysis undervalues Choice points for those who plan to use points internationally.
  • Why Guest Ratings? The goal wasn’t to find the 3 best Choice hotels in each market. Instead, the goal was to find the 3 Choice-bookable hotels that are very popular. Which ones are people really likely to book?  By using a combination of Choice’s default sorting and by picking only well rated hotels, we think it’s reasonable to assume that many members would pick these hotels.
  • Which paid rates were selected?  We always picked the best refundable paid rate shown on Choice’s website, but without applying any discounts like AAA, military, government, etc.
  • Which specific dates did we use?  
    • Weekday: Wednesday September 11th, 2024
    • Weekend: Friday September 13th – Sunday September 15th, 2024
    • Holiday Weekend Day: Friday August 30th – Monday September 2nd, 2023 (Labor Day Weekend

Calculation Approach

In CPP calculations, we account for taxes and resorts fees, as well as points earned on paid stays. The calculation is based on the following terms:

  • Base Cash Rate: This is the hotel room rate before taxes and fees.
  • Total Cash Rate: This is the total amount, including taxes and fees, that would be paid if booking a hotel’s cash rate.
  • Resort Fee: This is a fee that is imposed by many hotels above and beyond any required taxes. This goes by different names at different hotels: Resort fee, Destination charge, Founders fee, etc.
  • Points Per Dollar Earned: The number of points per dollar earned by non-elite members on paid stays. For example, Hyatt members earn 5 points per dollar, Hilton, IHG, and Marriott members earn 10 points per dollar (at most hotels), etc.
  • Points Earned on Cash Rate:  This is the number of points you would earn if you paid the cash rate.  The calculation for this is: (Base Cash Rate) x (Points Per Dollar Earned).  For this calculation, our default approach is to assume that the traveler does not have elite status (elite members earn more points per dollar).
  • Point Price: The number of points required to book a night at the hotel
  • Cents Per Point (CPP): This is the value you get per point when using your points instead of cash to pay for a stay.

Hotel Programs that Charge Resort Fees on Award Stays

IHG, Marriott, Choice and some other hotel programs impose resort fees on award stays.  For these chains, the resort fee must be specifically taken into account in the CPP calculation. We do that by subtracting it out of the Total Cash Rate. The CPP calculation is as follows:

CPP = [Total Cash Rate – Resort Fee] ÷ [Point Price + Points Earned on Cash Rate]

Results

Point Value

Analysis Date: 7/17/24 5/8/21
Point Value (Median) 0.67 cents 0.68 cents
Point Value (Mean) 0.75 cents 0.69 cents
Cash Price (Median) $216 $133
Cash Price (Mean) $262 $141
Point Price (Median) 30,000 25,000
Point Price (Mean) 30,880 21,857

 

According to the most recent data, the median observed point value for Choice Privileges points was almost unchanged at 0.67 cents per point. This means that half of the observed results offered equal or better point value and half offered equal or worse value. Another way to think about it is that without trying to cherry pick good awards, you have a 50/50 chance of getting 0.67 cents or better value from your Choice points when booking free night awards.

Pick your own point value

Analysis Date: 7/17/24
50th Percentile (Median) 0.67
60th Percentile 0.73
70th Percentile 0.84
80th Percentile 0.90
90th Percentile 1.04

 

When we publish Reasonable Redemption Values of points (RRVs), we conservatively pick the middle value, or the 50th percentile. The idea is that just by randomly picking hotels to use your points, you have a 50/50 chance of getting this value or better. But what if you cherry-pick awards? Many people prefer to hold onto their points until they find good value uses for them. If that’s you, then you may want to use the table above to pick your own point value. For example, if you think that you’ll hold out for the best 10% value awards, then pick the 90th percentile. If you cherry-pick a bit, but not that much, you might want to use the 70th percentile (for example).  I’m guessing that most cherry-pickers will land around the 80th percentile: 0.90 cents per point.

To us, this analysis shows that those who cherry-pick good value awards can count on getting around 0.90 cents per point value, or better.

Points are worth less for elite members

With most hotel programs, elite members earn more points per dollar on paid stays than do non-elite members. As a result, the relative value of an award stay compared to a paid stay decreases. The following table shows the median point values with various levels of elite status and with and without a double-point promo.

Elite Level Point Bonus on Paid Stays Median Cents Per Point
None None 0.67
Gold 10% 0.67
Platinum 25% 0.66
Diamond 50% 0.66

As you can see above, points are worth a bit less for elite members and during double-point promotions, but these factors don’t make a huge difference.

Reasonable Redemption Value for Choice points: 0.67 CPP

Our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Choice points is effectively unchanged from our previous analysis, going from 0.68 to 0.67 cents each. RRV’s are intended to be the point at which it is reasonable to get that much value or better for your points. Therefore, we believe that the median observed value for is a good choice for our RRV…

  • Reasonable Redemption Value for Choice: 0.67 cents per point
  • Reasonable Redemption Value for those who cherry pick awards: 0.90 cents per point

Reasonable Redemption Value for Choice: 0.67 cents per point

Overvaluing vs. Undervaluing Points

There is no perfect way to estimate the value of points. Decisions we made here in some ways overvalue points and in some ways undervalue points. The hope is that these things roughly offset each other…

Factors that cause us to undervalue points

  • With hotel programs that offer 4th Night Free Awards (IHG, with some credit cards), or 5th Night Free Awards (Hilton & Marriott), or award discounts (Wyndham), we do not consider the point savings in our analyses.
  • With hotel programs that offer free parking on award stays to top-tier elites (Hyatt), we do not factor this in.

Factors that cause us to overvalue points

  • We do not use discount rates (other than member rates) in our analyses.  In real-life, many people book hotels cheaper (and sometimes far cheaper) by using AAA rates, government & military rates, senior rates, etc.
  • We do not use hotel promotional rates. Often, individual hotels have deals such as “Stay 2 Nights, Get 1 Night Free” which can greatly reduce the cost of a stay.
  • We do not use prepaid rates in our analyses. Sometimes these rates are significantly lower than refundable rates.
  • We do not factor in rebates which can be earned from booking hotels through shopping portals.
  • We do not factor in extra points earned on paid stays for those with elite status.
  • We do not factor in rewards earned from credit card spend at hotels.
  • We do not factor in hotel loyalty program promotions: Most promotions, but not all, only offer incentives for paid stays.  We often see promos offering bonus points, double or triple points, free night awards, etc.
  • With hotel programs that waive resort fees for top tier elites on paid stays (e.g. Hyatt), we do not factor this in.

Conclusion

Based on the latest analysis, we’ve dropped our Choice RRV to 0.67 cents per point.  The idea is that you have equal chance of getting that much value or more from your award stays.

See all our Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) here

The idea behind using the median for our RRVs is that you have a 50/50 chance of getting that much value or more from your award stays and so it is reasonable to expect to get that much value or better. For those more advanced, this post’s percentile results show that it’s reasonable to expect to get 0.90 cents per point or better if you cherry-pick good-value awards.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

19 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Julie Garrison

I understand the domestic focus, however I have booked a two bedroom apartment in Melbourne Australia for 10k points as well as properties in Vienna and Prague for 8k points in the last year. Other great redemptions in Japan. We hear about the Scandanavian country redemptions but that’s about it.

David I

Great job. Seeing your methodology is the key for me. Redemption rates at Cambria can change throughout the year.

Mary Jane

Ok FM team, now we need an update on how to keep the points alive.

Ralph

While very useful to track these benchmark values, I wonder what the value achieved is by naive users.

Perhaps it is the influence of large SUB, but I routinely see people posting airline redemptions as low as .5 cpp or lower. Often when they are first timers trying to get peak season seats.

Would be entertaining to see airline profit margins per point. By all signs there are large SUB going the way so common with “free” money … flushed down the drain.

Jim Worrall

Those with Radisson Americas points are getting cheated by Choice. Radisson points are being force converted into Choice points at a ratio of two Radisson points per one Choice point. I routinely got more than 1 cent per point value out of my Radisson points. Choice points are worth well under 0.5 cents per point. Net result, theft of more than 75% of the value of your Radisson points.

[…] 10x earn is a 6% rebate. I should flag that others value Choice points more highly. Frequent Miler values them at […]

Brian

I’ve consistently done better than 0.68 cents per points with Choice. My coup de grace was when I spent 16K points a night at the Quality Inn in Oxford, MS during an Ole Miss football weekend when $ rates for all hotels were north of $400.

I think Choice might suffer a bit from the methodology of using big cities as the benchmark. I’ve had better success using their points in small towns. If a Quality Inn is 8K in some town, you can be pretty confident that you’re doing better than 0.68 cents per points.as hotel cash prices are rarely that cheap.

Greg The Frequent Miler

True, that could be the case.

Jeff

For most of the programs I think you indicate where the best values lie, e.g. for Hilton you get outsized value when you book expensive resorts with 120k points or a FNC. Is this comment correct that Choice is the inverse, lower value at higher end and higher value at cheap hotels?

Brian

Your “In the table above” paragraph has some typos where you say 0.6 cents and half a cent when you mean 0.9 cents and 0.8 cents.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks. Fixed.

Aloha808

sorry, but was the end of your conclusion cut off?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, thanks. Fixed.

MFK

DP: I got their card a short while ago under a much lower offer and quickly completed the minimum spend. When I saw the new offer, I sent a secure message to Barclays asking if they would match me to it. They politely declined.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Bummer. Good to know, though.

Andrew Clark

I’ve purchased points twice in the last month where the rate was in the $130-140 range and points was 12k a night. Different hotels, different towns. It seems like choice hotels don’t suffer from dynamic pricing and I’ve consistently gotten great value from them. I bought a bunch during the Daily getaways and would happily do so again.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yep, and during Daily getaways I believe you can buy points for around 0.43 cents each. Great deal when you can get it!

Mike Chicago

It was around .43 cents until it it jumped to around .48 cents in 2018 & 2019. Still a good deal, one of the best at Daily Getaways and my go-to source for Choice points. Hope Daily Getaways comes back strong in 2021, after their pandemic skip in 2020.

Larry K

One other thing about Choice is that it has a relatively short period of advance time that you can book awards. This makes it harder to get outsized value for hotels for special events that typically will sell out.