If a lengthy road trip is in your plans this spring, take a look at this new promotion. The Choice Hotels free night promotion is back. Officially called “Stay Two Times, Earn a Free Night“, the promotion accrues one award night per two stays. Now through April 27, complete two stays at any Choice brand, and you’ll earn enough points for a free night. Though the “free” night isn’t exactly straightforward, this can still represent a good way to rack up a useful number of points.
How the Deal Works
Honestly, it’s pretty clunky. Choice Privileges works on a points system like everyone else. The program awards 10 base points per dollar spent, with award nights starting at 6,000 points. Once you complete two stays, Choice automatically “tops up” your account so that you earn 8,000 points combined for both stays. Furthermore, you can rinse and repeat as many times as you want. Stay 4 times, earn 16,000 points, and so on. Of course, not all properties offer award nights at less than 8,000 points, a point even Choice concedes in the mouse print. So, it’s not exactly a free night for every two stays.
A Potentially Lucrative Deal for Road Trippers
Generally, most people think of Choice Hotels as the cheap Comfort Inns at the side of the interstate. Although not particularly glamorous for a weekend in the city, I’ve found Choice Hotels useful for longer road trips. When you run out of daylight in towns like Deming, New Mexico, SPG and Hyatt don’t exactly provide a ton of choices. Choice, though, with a footprint of more than 6,000 properties, usually has something everywhere. And this is where the Choice Hotels free night promotion potentially adds up.
For example, if you’re road tripping from Texas to California over Spring Break, that might involve two overnights each way. If you stay at a Choice property each time, that’s 16,000 points for four stays. We actually have a road trip planned for April. Our two small town Choice stays average $80 per night, or 800 base points per night. Assuming the same rate, four stays earns an incremental 12,800 points, or 3,200 points per stay. If you value Choice points at half a penny a point, that’s $16 worth of points per stay. In other words, not a bad return for the price point.
Important consideration: the promo works per stay, not per night. Hence, your best value lies in a long distance trip requiring multiple separate overnights along the way. I don’t suggest staying at a Choice property to take advantage of this for a longer stay. Three nights at a cheap motel off the 101 in San Francisco earns the same 8,000 points as one night in Fresno. The return simply isn’t compelling in the former case.
Why Choice Rewards Points Can Be Valuable
At this point, you’re probably asking: why would I want to hoard all these points to redeem at roadside motels? And if you focus solely on domestic travel, that is an issue. Though there are a few decent Clarion/Ascend Collection hotels, like the O’Brien Historic Riverwalk in San Antonio, most Choice properties aren’t exactly “aspirational”. Head across the pond, though, and it’s a different story. Choice has some very nice hotels in Europe, such as the Hotel C Stockholm.
It runs as low as 16,000 points per night. So if I’m faced with the choice of four Days Inns or four Comfort Inns while road tripping? The 16,000 points is enough to steer my choice, pun intended. Furthermore, Choice Vacation Rentals are now eligible for points redemption. Although I’d imagine the redemption levels are pretty bad, it’s an interesting option if you’re headed somewhere like Destin or Panama City Beach, where chain hotels are hard to find.
One additional consideration: remember that Hilton Honors offers its “2k Every Day” promotion through April 30. Hilton’s reach is extensive enough to overlap with Choice in small towns. You’ll probably come across a Hampton Inn in many of the towns that have a Comfort Inn. Of course, Hampton’s rates typically run a bit higher. But you should still do that math, especially if you’re otherwise chasing Hilton Honors status.
No, I don’t suggest mattress running at your local Quality Inn to take advantage of this deal. But if a road trip is in your future this spring, I’d consider this lucrative enough to shift my business to Choice, especially if you’re interstate hopping from town to town.