May 3rd Only: Buy Choice Points for $34+ Hotel Nights in Europe or Southwest Points at a 25% Discount

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I wrote earlier about buying Wyndham hotel points at a very cheap rate through the Discover America promotion.  The points sold out in minutes and many folks were disappointed that they couldn’t get any.  Readers on the West Coast requested me to post similar deals the night before, so here goes!

On May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm (pre-sale) or 1:00 pm (regular sale) EST, you can buy Choice hotel points via the Discover America promotion for about 0.42 cents per point with an extra 10% discount for using an American Express card compared to the regular price of 1.1 cent per point.

As always, Travel by Points has a great spreadsheet summarizing the different point options.

Some readers don’t want to have anything to do with Choice hotels, whose hotels include Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Rodeway Inn etc.  Others will be thrilled at the possibility of Big Travel with cheap hotel nights!

Here’s how you can use these cheap Choice hotel points:

1.  16% to 25% Discount on Southwest Airlines Travel.   Each Southwest Airline point is worth 1.67  cents towards Wanna Get Away fares.

6,000 Choice hotel points currently transfer to 1,800 Southwest Airline points.  This means that you’re spending $25.20  (6,000 Choice points X Cost of 0.42 cents per Choice point bought via the Discover America Promotion) to get $30 (1,800 Southwest points X 1.67 cents per point) worth of Southwest points.

This works out to a ~16% discount on Southwest Airlines travel or a 25% discount if you get the 10% discount on buying Choice points for using an American Express card.

2.   Top off for Southwest Companion Pass.  The Southwest Companion pass is one of the best deals for domestic travel.  Most folks earn 100,000 points out of the 110,000 points required for the Companion Pass via credit card sign up bonuses and use these 10 ways to get the extra 10,000 points needed.

But you could get the Choice hotel point package (36,000 points for $156) and convert those points to 10,800 Southwest Airlines points to top-off for your Companion Pass!

Do note that technically hotel transfers are not supposed to count towards the Companion Pass, so this could change anytime.

3.   $34+ Choice Hotel Stays.   Choice hotels have a LOT of hotels, many of which are very affordable on points.  For example, 1,500 hotels cost less than 8,000 points per night or $34 if you buy Choice points at 0.42 cents per point!

Choice hotels start at 6,000 points or $25 a night if you buy points at 0.42 cents per point and go up to 35,000 points or $147 a night.  Some hotels in Australia are up to 75,000 points, but those hotels aren’t great values.

Loyalty Traveler has another great post on how you can get a $300+ room in Paris at the Clarion Opera Pavilion for only 8,000 points or $33 if you buy points at 0.42 cents per point.

$33 for a hotel room in the heart of Paris is a GREAT deal!

However, the same room will cost 25,000 points in peak summer season, but that’s still only $105 if you buy points at 0.42 cents per point.

You can get cheap rooms in London, Paris, and Rome quite easily and cheaply using Choice points.  Emily and I used Choice points to stay in Sao Paulo, Brazil last year.  The room was large,  clean, and comfortable and was just around the corner from Rua Oscar Freire.

You can also redeem Choice points at the more luxurious Preferred Hotel Group or at Barcelo resorts.

4.   US Air Grand Slam.  If there is a US Air Grand Slam in 2012, it could make sense to stock up on Choice hotel points to transfer to US Air during the Grand Slam.  Mommy Points has a great post explaining the details.

 Keep in mind

1.   Points purchased via Discover America will expire on December 31, 2014.  Unlike other hotel programs, earning or redeeming points will not extend the expiration date.

2.   You can redeem points only 30 days in advance in the US or 60 days in advance for locations outside the US.  Elite members can redeem further in advance.  However, it is easy to request a status match by emailing Choice customer service and asking them to match your existing status with other hotel chains.

3.  Points needed for a room at the same hotel fluctuate based on the season.

Check out this great post by Loyalty Traveler on 3 things to know about Choice hotels.

This won’t be easy

I do NOT expect it to be easy to get these points because a lot of folks will be after them!

If you do decide to participate, be sure to be at your computer a few minutes before the offer starts (12 noon EST) and to either click refresh or press “F9″ to refresh the page to see when the offer is available.

And don’t worry if you’re not able to get the points in you cart at first.  There are always point packages which get returned since folks don’t buy them.  Don’t give up until it says “Sold Out.”

Sign-up for a Choice account BEFORE you attempt to buy the points packages, because you will be asked for your Choice account number.

Bottom Line:  Buying Choice points through the daily getaways could help you in having Big Travel with Small Money in many ways.  But there are limited packages and lots of folks will be after them.  Good Luck!

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48 responses to “May 3rd Only: Buy Choice Points for $34+ Hotel Nights in Europe or Southwest Points at a 25% Discount

  1. FYI, Choice seriously devalued their program 2 – 3 years ago. Dumpy to acceptable hotels went from 8,000 and 12,000 points up to xxx, reducing their value. If you think you’ll find a nice hotel with a 6000 or 8000 redemption rate, you have another thing coming. If you still want the Choice deal, I’d transfer the points out of their program.

  2. Sold out in minutes? More like seconds! I was refreshing constantly and clicked buy as soon as the button appeared and I was shut out with an “item is in someone else’s cart” message over and over. Tried for 4-5 mins in case the transaction fell through for someone else and then gave up…

  3. The Southwest deal is misleading – you get that ‘value’ in WN points, but you forget to discount the fact that the point travel doesn’t earn points, so the true discount is really about 7-16%, or a much lower value proposition IMO.

  4. Wow, that is incredibly cheap for a hotel in downtown Paris. I thought I had a good deal at about twice that. Wish I had seen that 3 months ago!

    • dhammer53 – I agree that it will be hard finding a room at 6K in peak season, but it is still a good deal to get a room for 25K points which is ~$100 (especially in high rent cities!). Transferring to Southwest is also a good option.

      @Justin – I won’t be trying this year for the same reason. That and I’ll be at work!

      @Ben – You’re right, there is the value of the points which you don’t earn by flying, but it is still a discount. And you get double the value if you actually top off for a Companion Pass!

      @Bottom-Feeding the High Life (zzd)
      – It could be higher depending on the season, but you can always stock up on points for future trips!

  5. Robert Hanson

    “Cheap hotel in Paris” I just went to the website for the Opera Pavillion, and forget about reserving only 30 days in advance, it is already sold out for the dates I want in September, 4 months in advance. Trying dates further and further out, I finally found a room availability in late October. Remembering you could only reserve on points 30 days out, I finally found a date in May, but then I couldn’t find anywhere to reserve on points. Only the “internet rate” of $300 to $450 a night. Maybe you have to book points stays thru the Choice website or call the CSR, I don’t know.

    As for keep on clicking, let me tell you why that might work. Numerous reports I have read tell of people filling out the purchase page, clicking on “buy;”, and getting an “error, start over” message. NOT start over filling out the form, but start over trying to get a buy page. In my case, on the first Hilton deal, I was several minutes into filling out the page when I got a “times up” cancellation message. So even if you get a buy page, that doesn’t mean you will be able to buy anything. And the reason to “keep clicking” is to get a package someone else tried to buy, but was kicked out of. This “deal” is not worth your time and effort. If you feel lucky, go buy a lottery ticket….. :<(

  6. Man, I entered the code less than 5 seconds after the code was released and it was still sold out. Some people are FAST!

  7. Does Choice allow you to book a room for someone else using points?

  8. Woo hoo! Got 2 Comfort Inn packages (72000 points) right when it started today. I don’t feel motivated/greedy to try the refreshing-browser-constantly-for-30-minutes trick like I did last time for Wyndham, I’ll be satisfied with getting in without much effort 🙂

  9. Just got the 36k package for $140.40 using my new Virgin Atlantic Amex. This is a good deal that helps meet the minimum spend requirements at the same time. Thanks!

  10. I struck out again. Maybe next time.

  11. Success! I got 2 packages at 1pm. I paid $260 for 68,000 points. I have no plans to use these in the US after reading many reviews on Tripadvisor, but I will save these for international destinations like Europe in the off-season. I think this is a fantastic deal! I have not had time to accumulate very many hotel points, so this is perfect. I am hoping to get some Hertz points tomorrow too. Do you think those are a good deal? Travelby points seemed to think so.

  12. Carsten Varming

    @Ken. Some people are not people. For instance, I use a browser extension to script my browser. It runs (Refresh; click buy ; if failed then start over) from a few minutes before the points were released.

  13. Please give me more information about this. I will be in Venice Italy on June 8,9,10 and In Barcelona Spain on June 23, 24, 25. JLN

  14. thanks for the tip!!! missed the presale (10 seconds and it was all gone?!?) but got a choice package on the 1 p.m. deal- I have a question – I just got/used my new sw visa- paid the balance online today…is there anything else I can do to ‘speed up’ seeing those RR points in my account?

  15. I thought the Choice awards was 60 days for international …?

  16. Daraius, thanks again! I was able to get 2 x 36,000 = 72,000 points. Now what to do with them …
    I think I may try for the companion pass, and see if these will qualify. I could apply for 2 Chase SW cards and see if they will give me the companion pass by, say, June/July which would give me 18 months of companion tickets. Or I could wait until December, order the 2 cards and wait until January 1 to use them and applyu these points and see if I can get maybe 10 months in 2013 and all of 2014 for the companion pass. But, of course, the Companion Pass offer may not be available anymore by then nor using these Choice Points as part of the 110,000 requirement … Dilemma.

    Of course if I apply NOW for the 2 SW cards I will have to do some horse trading because of the number of Chase cards I have recently taken on. And if the Choice points are not allowed for the Companion Pass then I will have to take quite a few months to get the $10,000 spend requirement and so will not get much more than a year of the Pass.

    Any better ideas on this?

  17. I scored 2 packages of 36K points. I kept on refreshing the page at 12:59 🙂

    How long does it take to post the points to your Choice Rewards account? I am Italy in July and want to book them now as I don’t have status with Choice.

    • @Pat – I believe you can book a room for anyone with the points.

      @Keith @Tom – Congrats!

      @Ken – No worries!

      @Jasmine
      – Congrats! I think the Hertz deal is good especially if you have any one way rentals or rentals in Europe coming up. Some Comfort Inns in the US are not too bad, but use them wherever it makes sense for you.

      @Carsten Varming – Hmmm…I need to learn how to do that!

      @June L Noel – Unfortunately, the offer has ended.

      @J Murphy – The points should appear in your SW account a few days after your statement closes. Paying the balance due online won’t help.

      @Frank – You’re right – it is 60 days for international bookings! You could wait until December, but you’d be out of luck if the credit card sign-on bonus doesn’t count towards the sign-on bonus then. If Choice points don’t count towards the Companion Pass, you can always transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then to Southwest to top-off the remaining 10,000 points. I’d transfer the Choice points now to ensure they count towards the Companion pass and work on the credit cards over the next few months. Even if you don’t get the credit cards, you’ve still got Southwest Airlines travel at a discount.

      @Ahmed – Congrats! The points take a few weeks to transfer in my experience. You can match status from other hotels to Choice.

  18. Thanks D 🙂

    I e-mailed Choice to do a status match against my Hyatt and Accor platinum status. I don’t have any night stays with Hyatt or Accor (I am platinum due to my credit card), so I hope they Choice still matches.

  19. have you heard of a way to get them applied earlier? or do I just have to wait now?

  20. Daraius, I took your advice. I had my wife apply for 2 Chase SW cards (Premier for personal and Plus for Business) yesterday as we got the 72,000 Choice points on her account and because I already have a SW card and also she had only 5 Chase cards versus my 6.

    We got the usual “not immediately approved” online and called today – took only a few minutes and both cards were approved!

    This means that if the Choice points does not count towards Companion Pass then we still have time to get this done this year. I agree with you that 12 to 14 months in the hand is better than perhaps 16 to 18 months in the bush.

    I will transfer the Choice points as soon as I get them, and then we will see if it works. Any idea how long between getting the 110,000 SW points and being approved for the Companion Pass? and is there a way to know if the Companion Pass is approved before waiting to see if it actually arrives?

    Thanks again for your suggestions – I would normally never have dreamed of getting Choice Points and would have waited until next year for these SW cards. I think I am now ready to go for a Hyatt card (maybe give it a break for a few months) and then on to the Hilton cards you seem to love.

    I haven’t had so much fun an a long time!

    • @Frank – The Choice points do count towards the Companion Pass status currently, so you’re well on your way to getting the Companion Pass. You usually will get an email letting you know that you’ve earned the Companion Pass!

      I like the Hilton cards because I need hotel stays, but they may not be the right cards for you (or others). The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Bold earn Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to Hyatt, United, or Southwest (among others) and could be better choices before moving to the Hilton card. I suggest making a goal and then decide on which cards to apply for based on that goal.

  21. So, we should have the Choice award in a week and we even have Marriott points, plus the new cards will arrive within 2 weeks. Then we spend $1 immediately on each card to get the 110,000 points this year (actually we already have a few thousand SW points this year) – tyhen we see how fast the Companion Pass comes.

    Do you think I should use some of the 72,000 Choice points we just bought, or some of the 70,000 Marriott points we got from the sign-on bonus? I don’t stay in Comfort Inns and such, and the international options seem a bit tricky to get, so maybe I should use the Choice points, unless you have a better idea.

    • @Frank – I’d suggest doing dummy searches for hotels in locations where you’d like to use Choice or Marriott points. That way, you can get a sense of the hotel options and decide which hotel points are more valuable for you. Personally, I’ve used more Choice points for hotels than Marriott, but it really depends on what’s most convenient for you.

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  23. Good idea, thanks.

  24. Hey Daraius,

    I just stopped by to Thank You for posting about this deal the night before for those of us on the West Coast. I can’t believe you remembered and was so happy!! I had just gotten into bed when I did a last check of email on my phone, and yours popped up, and it reminded me to make some extra time in the morning to check out the deal.

    While I didn’t jump in on it this time around because the math was just a little too pricey for me this time around, I did want to thank you for it. I appreciate you breaking the mold and leading the way as always, and hope that other blogs also follow suit and send out postings and emails the night before a massive deal like the Wyndham points sale.

    All the best!
    🙂

  25. I just got my 36,000 Choice Hotel points posted. I bought these to convert to SWA companion status. Has anyone transferred these points to Southwest yet and if so, can you confirm that these still qualify for Companion Pass status?

  26. @Bonnie, just so you know, there’s a lot of good information about SW Companion Pass options on http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/01/09/southwest-companion/. I can personally confirm that both Choice and Wyndham do work for converting to SW and counting towards the Companion Pass status. Just so you know, Choice took about 8 days to transfer for me, whereas Wyndham took only a day.

  27. I just transferred Choice points to Southwest and it said it would take 6 to 8 weeks! Is that normal? That’s all I need for the Companion Pass.

  28. @Frank, I think that’s the standard sort of timeframe that most of these offers list. However, two weeks ago, it only took 8 days for my Choice –> SWA transfer. (Note that Wyndham Rewards also lists 6-8 weeks, and for me that only took 1 day!)

  29. @Keith, that’s good news – thanks!

  30. Did the May 3rd purchase post to people’s accounts yet? Mine hasn’t,and I’m getting worried…should I call,or wait?

  31. My Choice points from May 3 haven’t posted either. The email confirmation did say it could take 10 business days, so I wouldn’t worry. If you were able to make the purchase, I’m sure you’ll get the points.

  32. @Keith @ J Murphy – Not seeing the Choice points from this deal in my account yet either. Has anyone received theirs?

  33. Mine just posted about an hour ago.

  34. Yup, mine just posted sometime today as well.

  35. ack! Nothing yet!!! oh the waiting….;-)

  36. should I call cs? nothing yet,and it’s 10 days…..:(

  37. Well, they did say 10 *business* days, which would actually mean next Thursday 🙂 There’s no harm in calling, I suppose, but like I said, if you’ve got the email confirmation, I’m sure they’ll get the points to you. It’s not as if this is some gray-ish area like applying for a card with an expired or non-public link, this was just a straightforward purchase.

  38. Keith…10 business days….I hadn’t considered that….I got them using a choice account in my husbands name,so I called, but couldn’t get any info(learning as I go here) I guess I will wait till next week to have him call,I really hope I won’t have any problems! 😉

  39. got the points!!!! (woohoo) how do I convert them to SWA points? do I click ‘redeem’? I’ll keep looking……