About Choice Privileges Visa Card
The Choice Privileges Visa Signature is a credit card linked to the Choice Privileges hotel chain. The card’s current offer of 32,000 bonus points can help you get free nights at more than 1,500 hotels worldwide.
You may not have heard of this credit card before now, or maybe you never thought it was a legitimate choice for a hotel rewards card.
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Most people who like to use travel rewards head to more popular hotel chains like Hilton, Hyatt or Starwood. They see the Choice Privileges Visa as the ugly duckling of the hotel rewards card world.
We get that. But, we also know that we are in the golden age of travel rewards. Credit cards you may not know about are working hard to get your attention with good deals that pack solid punch.
So, take a minute to relax while you read this review of the Choice Privileges Visa Signature. Read through our sections on the card’s benefits, its rates and fees and what other people are saying about it.
Then, read through our final thoughts on the card and decide for yourself: Is the Choice Privileges Visa the best hotel rewards credit card for you?
The Benefits You Get with the Choice Privileges Visa
Hotel rewards cards have two sets of benefits: the hotel perks and non-hotel perks.
The Choice Privileges Hotel Perks
New cardmembers will get a 32,000-point bonus if they can spend $1,000 in the first three months of owning the card.
How Choice Privileges Points Work
Those points are deposited to the cardholder’s Choice Privileges account, the portal where you can use points to book hotel rooms in the Choice Hotels network.
Which hotel brands are included in this network of more than 6,400 properties around the world? Great question. Here’s a list of the Choice Hotels portfolio:
- Ascend Hotel Collection
- Cambria hotels & suites
- Comfort Inn/Comfort Suites
- Sleep Inn
- Quality Inn
- Clarion Inn
- MainStay Suites
- Suburban Extended Stay
- Rodeway Inn
If you aren’t familiar with these hotels, most of them are economy locations – Hyatt and Starwood are not.
More than 1,500 of the hotels in the Choice Hotels network can be booked for 8,000 points, which means your Choice Privileges Visa bonus of 32,000 points could get you four free nights.
How You Get Points
Like most hotel rewards cards, you get points every time you use your Choice Privileges to make a purchase. Here’s the points structure:
- 15 points for every dollar spent at a Choice Hotel
- 5 points per dollar spent on Choice Privileges points or gift cards
- 2 points per dollar on everything else
You can also get 8,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary if you spend $10,000 in a year.
How many points could you conceivably rack up in a year? If the average spending of a typical American household is any indication, you can use your card for at least $24,000 in purchases each year.
If all of those dollars fall under the “everything else” category, you’re looking at 48,000 points on purchases, plus another 8,000 for hitting the spending bonus. Your grand total is 56,000 points, which is a huge amount considering you can book a hotel for as little as 8,000 points.
The most expensive hotels in the Choice Hotels chain will cost you 60,000 points.
How Good is Gold Elite Status?
Several prominent hotel rewards credit cards give cardholders upgraded status in the hotel chain’s loyalty program, and the Choice Privileges Visa is no different.
Cardholders automatically get Elite Gold Status, which normally takes 10 stays in a calendar year to achieve.
Choice Privileges Elite Gold status is just one step up from the basic membership, which means you get the basic perks (late checkout, priority check-in, a free drink or 250 points at Cambria hotels & suites) and a few extra:
- 10% bonus on points
- 250 bonus points or a free snack/beverage at Comfort Suites properties in the U.S.
- Can book rewards nights 50 days in advance instead of 30
Based on what we’ve learned about the Choice Privileges program and other hotel rewards programs, free Gold Elite status isn’t that great of a program.
The one perk you’re most likely to enjoy is the 10% bonus, which means Choice Privileges will deposit back to your account 10% of the points you use to book a rewards night.
So, based on the calculations we did earlier (56K points in one year), you could earn up to 5,600 points just by booking. Not bad, although it’s not enough to earn yourself a free night.
If you don’t allow your account to go into default (more than 60 days late) and you use your points at least once every 18 months, your points won’t expire.
Pro tip: Because the Choice Privileges is a Visa Signature card, you have access to the Visa Signature Luxury Collection. However, booking these hotels can cost you nearly 100,000 points.
The Choice Privileges Visa Card’s Non-Hotel Benefits
The Choice Privileges card is issued by Barclays, a European bank that offers many of the same shopping, fraud and travel protections that you’ll find with U.S. issuers like Chase and American Express.
Before we give you a quick rundown of those benefits, we want to mention an up-front perk you get with this card: 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers.
Most hotel rewards cards you get won’t offer any kind of promotional APR. For example, in our Best Hotel Rewards Card of 2017 article, only the Choice Privileges and Wyndham cards gave promotional APRs.
In our mind, this is their way of attracting new customers who are looking for value but don’t put much thought to the Choice Privileges card. Think of it as one of several ways the Choice Privileges card trying to shed its ugly duckling status.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you’ve got high-interest balances on other cards, you can transfer them to this card as long as the amount you transfer is below the credit limit you receive.
You won’t make any interest payments on the balance for 15 months. After 15 months, you’ll be charged interest on the original amount you transferred unless it’s completely paid off by the deadline.
Fraud, Shopping and Travel Benefits
As we mentioned earlier, owning this card entitles you to several consumer-focused benefits from Barclaycard.
Zero Liability on Fraudulent Purchases
If someone makes a fraudulent purchase or purchases with your card, you won’t be on the hook for any charges.
Reimbursements for Lost/Delayed Baggage
If your luggage is lost or delayed, you can receive reimbursements up to a certain amount. Details are included in the benefits guide you receive with your card.
Items you buy with your card are eligible for reimbursement if:
- The item is lost/stolen/damaged within 90 days of your purchase
- You return the item but the store won’t accept the return
You can also get a one-year extended warranty on items with warranties of three years or less.
Pro tip: You’ll also get free auto insurance coverage on rental cards. Just waive the rental company’s CDW policy.
Rates and Fees With the Choice Privileges Visa
The good side to most credit cards are the great bonuses and free nights you get. The bad side? Rates and fees; but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The following list of rates and fees will only kick in if you don’t pay your balance in full every month or you make a late payment:
- APR: 15.74%, 20.49% or 25.49%, depending on your credit scores
- Annual fee: None
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
- Balance transfer fee: $5
- Late payment fee: Up to $37
The interest rates on this card have a decent low-end interest rate, but the high rate, 25.49%, is one of the highest of seven major hotel rewards credit cards we reviewed.
Now, if you pay off your balance in full every month, these interest rates are irrelevant.
What the Choice Privileges card lacks in APR, it makes up for in annual fee. It was the only one of the seven we compared that had no annual fee.
Competing cards had annual fees of $85 (Marriott Rewards Premier) and $75 (Hyatt Visa, Hilton HHonors Surpass AmEx).
What Other People Are Saying About the Choice Privileges Visa Signature
Our research reveals that most experts give this card low ratings, minus a few exceptions.
What’s interesting about these reviews is they seem to have a split personality: either the rating isn’t bad but the written review is negative, or the written review is good but the rating is bad.
ValuePenguin’s review of the card is a good example of this. They rate the card at a 74%, but the summary statement at the top of the review reads: “Not a card worth recommending – especially for general spending.”
The summary statement is very negative, but the score is middle-of-the-road.
There’s also the review from CreditCards.com, which gives a glowing summary statement.
“Stands out for its generous rewards and wide network of well-known hotels for travelers on a budget,” the review says.
However, the site gives the card 2.7 stars. Why the weird inconsistencies between reviews and scores? We’ll tackle that in the conclusion.
Our Final Thoughts About the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card
There are hundreds of credit card blogs out there that focus on what’s called “churn,” a technique where consumers sign up for the best credit card offers (in this case, hotel cards), use the intro bonuses and then find a new card.
The sites that focus on churn tend to emphasize value – How much are your points really worth?
To calculate this, they divide the number of points for an average room by the average cost of a chain’s hotel rooms.
So, chains with more expensive hotels and reasonable redemption rates tend to get higher scores because their points are worth more.
But the question we’ve been asking ourselves is, “To whom are those points worth more?”
Higher-Ranked Cards Aren’t for the Average Person
For the single person making a decent amount of money, taking a quick weekend away at a luxury hotel is pretty easy. So, a card like the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest or the Chase Sapphire Preferred makes a lot of sense. Both of these cards get high scores for points value.
But, as we’ve found in our own research, the average American isn’t a single person with the freedom to take luxury vacations whenever they’d like.
Instead, they’re a family who makes an average wage who spends thousands of dollars a month on their card. And, from what we’ve read in research for other travel cards, they don’t usually travel for leisure.
The Choice Privileges Caters to the Average Person/Family
So, while the popular credit card sites may downgrade or ignore the Choice Privileges because the points aren’t worth as much to churners, we think the Choice Privileges card is great for the average middle-class American family who is looking for budget hotel options with basic amenities.
The card’s intro bonus and points structure mean that you can get 88,000 points your first year (32K bonus, 56K earned), which is good enough for 11 nights in more than 1,500 properties in the Choice Hotels network.
Other Hotels Have Good Points Bonuses, Bad Selection
Now, there are other cards out there with the potential to earn you a lot of points. The Hilton HHonors Surpass from American Express has a 3-points-per-dollar rate on “everything else” purchases, and the Wyndham Rewards Visa gives 2:1.
However, the Hilton HHonors card isn’t designed for budget travelers even though their cheapest hotel costs 7,500 points, or 500 less than the Choice Privileges. Why?
Because they only have 64 Category 1 hotels compared to 1,5000 Choice Hotels, and only two of those hotels are in the United States.
We Know It’s Crazy, But the Choice Privileges Visa is a Great Card
If you’re like most Americans with a family, then we think the Choice Privileges Visa is a great card.
It’s designed to provide the most benefit to people who mainly travel in the United States and who aren’t concerned about luxury as much as they are about stretching their points.
With more than 1,500 hotels that can be booked at 8,000 points a night, you can score seven free nights a year if you spend like most families spend. Also, don’t forget this card has no annual fee.
Now, if you’re into luxury and you want a card that can get you a room in a fancy hotel, then you’ll probably want to check out the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, the Hyatt Visa or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
I signed up to receive a $25 discount on a hotel reservation. Customer service could not tell me how to actually get the promised discount.
After at least six phone calls who all stated they were in the Philippines, and each call always ended with "we have a bad connection," so after six calls resulting in "we have a bad connection...so bye," I was very frustrated, to say the least, feeling the offer was a scam.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
9 out 9 people found this review helpful
Good luck on getting your points
As an Elite Diamond member with Choice Privileges, I spend about 100 nights out each year on business. Choice Hotel has always given me great service, value, and points are always correctly posted to my account for my stay. Now the problem began when I decided to get the Barclay Choice Privileges Visa about 18 months ago. It started out great and points were added to my Choice Privileges account on the 6th of each month from my purchases on the Visa.
The last six months have been a customer service nightmare for me in regards to getting my points posted to my account from using the Barclay Choice Privileges Visa. After numerous calls to Barclay and Choice Privileges, they finally got me caught up and current by the end of 2016. I had to go through this same process earlier in 2016 as well. It is now April 2017, and Choice Privileges has yet to post any points to my account for using my Visa in 2017.
I pay my bill in full weekly online so no excuse there for not getting points. I still do not know what the problem is since I can never get customer service to call me back. I do not want to use the scam word to sum up the Barclay Visa, but my situation should cause some concerns.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend