New Trick for Southwest Companion Pass (and Cheap Rooms) With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash!

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There’s a new way to get award nights at Choice hotels.  You can now book rooms with a combination of Points Plus Cash!

And it’s a new cheap way to get extra points to qualify for the best deal in domestic travel, the Southwest Companion Pass!

This could also be a good deal for folks to make their points last longer at Choice hotels, but it depends on the particular hotel!  It’s NOT always a good value (and is sometimes terrible!).

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Stretch Your Points With Choice Hotels’ New Points Plus Cash Option

Let’s see how Points Plus Cash works and how it can help you get more Big Travel with Small Money!

How Does Points Plus Cash Work?

Link:   Choice Hotels

Link:   Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Link:   Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash Terms & Conditions

If you’re a US Choice Privileges member (free sign-up) and have at least 8,000 points in your account, you can book award nights using Points Plus Cash.

Note:   Folks with fewer than the required 8,000 Choice points can buy them for 1.1 cents per point.  Or sign-up for the Barclays Choice Privileges card, which gets you 8,000 points after your 1st purchase (and another 24,000 points after your 1st stay).

Choice Hotels include:

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

There Are Lots of Choice Hotel Options in Europe, Including Rome, Italy

Only hotels that cost at least 10,000 points per night can be booked this way.  Their lowest tier hotels, which cost 6,000 to 8,000 points per night, aren’t included.

With Points Plus Cash, you’ll pay 8,000 points for any award night, plus $15 per additional 2,000 points required for the room.  That works out to 0.75 cents per point ($15 cost of points / 2,000 points).

Normally, you can buy Choice points at a rate of $11 per 1,000 points, or 1.1 cents per point.  So points bought through Points Plus Cash are cheaper (but not always a good deal, as we’ll see later!).

For example, you’ll pay:

  • 10,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus $15
  • 12,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus $30
  • 16,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus $60
  • 20,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus $90
  • 25,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus ~$128
  • 30,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus $165
  • 35,000 point award night = 8,000 points plus ~$203
New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

All Points Plus Cash Rates Are 8,000 Points Plus the Cost of the Remaining Points (at 0.75 Cents per Point)

There are some other restrictions in the terms and conditions:

  • Points Plus cash bookings can only be made online
  • Your credit card will be charged when you make the Points Plus Cash reservation
  • If you cancel at a later date, the points you bought will be refunded to your account (as long as you cancel by the deadline)
  • Points Plus Cash nights can’t be combined with any other promotion, but they do count toward elite status
  • You can purchase a maximum 250,000 points per year through Points Plus Cash

Is This a Good Deal for Hotel Stays?

It depends! 

Choice hotel award nights can be a very good deal at hotels that normally charge a high price for their rooms, like many hotels in Europe.  So in some cases this could be a good way to get more nights at a reasonable cost.

But paid nights at many Choice hotels (especially their lower-end brands in North America) can be inexpensive.  You might end up paying almost as much with Points Plus Cash as you would for a paid room (and waste points!).

Let’s look at some examples:

1.   Stockholm, Sweden

The Nordic Light Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, normally costs 20,000 Choice points per night.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

The Nordic Light Hotel Is Home to 1 of Stockholm’s Top Restaurants

Instead of paying 20,000 points, you could pay 8,000 points plus $90 using Points Plus Cash.  Considering the best available paid rate is 2,140 Swedish krona (~$259) per night, this is a very good deal if you want to make your points last!

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Hotels in Scandinavia Can Be Very Expensive, So Points Plus Cash Is a Bargain

Folks who are planning trips to Europe could do very well by booking Points Plus Cash rooms.  And Choice hotels in Europe are often much nicer than those in North America!

2.   Chicago

You could stay at the Inn of Chicago for 16,000 points per night.  Or pay 8,000 points plus $60 using Points Plus Cash.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Relax on the Outdoor Terrace at the Inn of Chicago, a Historic Hotel Right Downtown

The best available rate in April at this hotel is $199.  So Points Plus Cash will save you money and points in this case, too.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Conserve Your Points by Booking This Downtown Chicago Hotel for 8,000 Points and $60

But let’s look at an example where using Points Plus Cash is a very bad deal.

3.   Orlando

Located near Walt Disney World, the Quality Suites Lake Buena Vista normally costs 25,000 Choice points per night.  Using Points Plus Cash, you’d pay 8,000 points plus ~$128.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Planning a Florida Vacation? The Quality Suites Costs 25,000 (Ouch!) Points per Night

This is a HORRIBLE deal!  You’ll pay MORE for the cash part of Points Plus Cash than you would for a paid room!

The best available rate for the same night is $109.  Points Plus Cash would set you back 8,000 points plus ~$128!

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Wait, What? You Want 8,000 Points and MORE Than the Cost of a Paid Room?

That’s why it’s important to carefully check the price of a paid stay before you book a Choice hotel using points (or Points Plus Cash).  Sometimes Choice hotels are so cheap, it’s not worth booking any type of award night!

There’s a Trick That Could Save You Money on Paid Stays and More!

Even though this isn’t always a good deal, it can be a great deal if you want to save money on paid stays.  Or if you need extra points to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

You can use Points Plus Cash to buy Choice points at a discount.

Remember the IHG Points & Cash trick?  Choice hotels Points Plus Cash works much the same way!

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Magically Save Money Using a New Points Plus Cash Trick!

Here’s the Trick

Normally, you can buy points from Choice for 1.1 cents per point.

But with Points Plus Cash, you’re essentially buying points for 0.75 cents per point (~32% discount).

When you make a Points Plus Cash booking, your credit card is charged right away for the number of points you bought with cash.  And if you cancel at a later date, your credit card will NOT be refunded.  Instead, the purchased points are re-deposited into your Choice account.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

Your Credit Card Won’t Be Refunded When You Cancel Your Reservation, but the Points Will Be Deposited to Your Account

For example, if you were to book a hotel (doesn’t matter which) that normally costs 20,000 points per night, the chart shows that you’ll pay 8,000 points plus $90.

Then, if you cancel this reservation, you’d get 8,000 points (plus the 12,000 points you bought for $90) re-deposited into your account.  Instead of paying 1.1 cents per point for those 12,000 points (the normal rate), you’ve only paid 0.75 cents each.

How Does This Save Money on Paid Stays?

Again, this only works if:

  • You already have at least 8,000 points in your account
  • There’s an award night available at the hotel you want
  • The paid rate at the hotel costs MORE than the value of the points you’re using for the award night

If you don’t already have 8,000 Choice points, you could buy them for $88 (8,000 points x 1.1 cents each).  Or sign-up for the Barclays Choice Privileges card, which has a sign-up bonus of 32,000 points (8,000 points after your 1st purchase, and 24,000 points after you pay for a Choice hotel stay with the card).

Here’s an example.  Suppose you “bought” points using the Points Plus Cash trick at 0.75 cents per point.

Then you wanted to book a night at a hotel like the Comfort Hotel Bolivar in Rome, Italy.  Remember, many European Choice hotels are expensive for paid stays, but relatively cheap using points.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

The Comfort Hotel Bolivar Is Well-Reviewed and Good for Families, Plus Includes Free Full Breakfast

A paid night at this hotel (in a room that sleeps 4 people) costs 266 Euro, or ~$300.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

One Night at This Hotel for 4 People Costs ~$300

Or you could book the exact same room for only 10,000 Choice points.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

10,000 Choice Points for This Room Is a Very Good Deal

Here’s where the trick comes in!  If you bought those 10,000 points at 0.75 cents each using the technique I described above, your actual room cost is only $75 (10,000 points x 0.75 cents per point).

That’s a savings of $225 per night compared to the cash rate (~$300 best available rate – $75 cost of points)!  And because the room rate includes a full breakfast for 4 people (which can be very expensive in Europe), you’re getting an even better deal.

Note:  You can buy a maximum of 250,000 points per year using Points Plus Cash.  And I’m not sure how Choice hotels will view folks who repeatedly book Points Plus Cash rooms then cancel.  So I wouldn’t over-do this technique, at least until we have more information!

Note:  This is NOT as good a deal as the Choice hotels Daily Giveaways promotion (where you could buy points for as little as 0.41 cents each).  But it’s a similar deal to a recent point sale Choice ran (in that case, points cost ~0.73 cents each).  But these deals don’t run very often!

What About the Southwest Companion Pass?

I’ve written that you can buy Choice hotel points, then transfer them to Southwest if you want extra points to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass is the best deal for domestic travel, because your companion flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets!

Folks who sign-up for two 50,000 point Southwest cards get 104,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements.  That leaves them 6,000 points short of the required 110,000 points to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

New Trick For Southwest Companion Pass And Cheap Rooms With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash

You Can Transfer Choice Points to Southwest to Help Qualify for the Companion Pass

Choice Hotel points transfer to Southwest at a ratio of 6,000 Choice Hotel points to 1,800 Southwest points.  So to get 6,000 Southwest points, you’d transfer 24,000 Choice Hotel points (24,000 Choice Hotel points = 7,200 Southwest Points).

Normally, you could buy 24,000 points directly from Choice for $264 (24,000 points x 1.1 cents each).  You can buy a maximum of 50,000 points per year.

But if you “bought” the points using the Points Plus Cash trick, you’d only pay $180 (24,000 points x 0.75 cents each).  That’s a much better deal!

By spending $180, you’d earn the Companion Pass (worth potentially thousands of dollars) and have 7,200 Southwest points in your account.  Southwest points are worth ~1.43 cents each towards airfare, so you’re getting a value of ~$103 (7,200 points x ~1.43 cents per point).

And they’re worth double that (~$206) if you use your Companion Pass!

Bottom Line

You can now book Choice hotel award nights using a combination of Points Plus Cash.

This can sometimes be a good deal, especially if you’re booking expensive European hotels that don’t cost many points.

But sometimes it’s a VERY bad deal, because the cash portion of the Points Plus Cash rate can be MORE than the cost of a fully paid room!  I know this doesn’t make sense (and maybe Choice will iron this out!).

If you’re comfortable with the IHG Points & Cash trick, you can apply the same principles to the Choice Hotel Points Plus Cash program to save money on paid stays.

Or buy points at a discount that you can transfer to Southwest to help earn the Companion Pass!

Will you use Points Plus Cash to make your Choice points last longer?  Where do you like to use your points?

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8 responses to “New Trick for Southwest Companion Pass (and Cheap Rooms) With Choice Hotels Points Plus Cash!

  1. So,this angle only works for the CP if the room is booked using cash and points,then cancelled,then points are dropped into account? It doesn’t work if you actually use the room?-thanks for the info

  2. Several years ago, Choice had a major devauation. Once reasonably priced properties became expensive when using points. The ‘real world’ properties, located at the airport, or along the interstate, priced themselves out of the award market. Priceline was cheaper to use, rather than wasting lots of points on a low end property.

    Sure, the above pictures in nicer locations look good. The reality is that those properties are a one off.

    I haven’t stayed with Choice in 3 – 4 years.

  3. There are only few Choice properties “Worldwide” that are of value (Rome, Bahamas, Cayman, Nordic region, Sao Paolo and maybe Bahamas before the devaluation with Atlantis..). In US, it is mostly a bad value..
    Also, it only allows 60day booking window with points..

  4. I stay at Choice quite a bit for those quick weekend get aways where I will spend more time i the street than in the sheets. My only question is will I get my 15X from my Choice Hotel card from the cash part of the deal. at the very least I will get the normal 2X, just curious.

  5. Makes sense as a transfer to Southwest only for the Companion Pass. Otherwise bad value just for WN points.

  6. Very ambivalent about Choice points… As stated above, they have a small number of nicer properties (will be at the Cayman Island property in a few weeks, which is very well regarded). Overall, and esp. in the US, they’re mid to low end. Fine.

    But ff_lover up a few posts mis-stated about the 60 day booking window. You only get 60 days if you have status with Choice (ugh). Normal peons can only book 30 days in advance. And many of the ‘nicer’ properties enforce 30 day cancellation policy… so the moment you book it on points, you’re locked in and it’s non-refundable. A far cry from IHG, CC, Hyatt etc which give you a lot more flexibility with your plans, and in most cases allow you to cancel very close in to your reservation.

    Be careful booking with Choice and pay VERY close attention to the cancellation deadline.

  7. Pingback: Miles and Points, A Treat | Miles For Family

  8. Hi Daraius-

    Do you know if buying Choice Hotel points and then transferring them to Southwest still counts toward the Companion Pass?

    Thanks!