A no-fee hotel rewards card for a limited audience – Choice Privileges Visa

Choice Hotels has been upgrading their Choice Privileges reward program and has partnered with Barclaycards to offer an affiliated Visa Signature rewards card. As part of my “Battle of the Budget Hotels” research, I also looked at their credit card – read on what I found!

If you are new to this site, please read “how we evaluate credit cards”. I currently don’t hold the Choice Privileges Visa card and receive no compensation for this review and have no affiliate links.

Here is a summary of what the Choice Privileges Visa Signature card offers:

  • choice-privileges-visa-overview-tabelSign-up bonus of 32,000 points, worth about $192, after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days; low value of bonus, but ok for no-fee card
  • Earn Points for Spend
    You earn 5 points per US$ spent at Choice Hotels and 2pt/$ on everything else – that’s a pretty good earn rate compared, similar to Club Carlson and better than IHG Rewards or Wyndham Rewards
  • 8,000 point anniversary bonus after $10,000 spend per year – I like anniversary bonuses, but at a value of $48, that’s pretty minimal for this spend
  • Choice Privileges Gold Elite status
  • Visa Signature Benefits
  • no annual fee, 3% foreign exchange fee, EMV chip

The sign up bonus of 32,000 points at a value of $192 is ok for a no-fee card. While Choice promises that 8,000 points will get you a free night, it won’t get you even one free night at one of their nicer hotels – they can be up to 75,000 points!
Choice promises 15 pt/$ spent, but that is misleading – it includes the 10pt/$ you earn as a Choice Privileges member, with or without credit card. The regular earn rate of 1.2ct/$ is not good enough to use this as a primary card – it’s best kept to pay for Choice hotel stays with a 3ct/$ earn rate, which is comparable to other no-fee hotel reward cards.
The Choice Visa card carries a 3% foreign exchange fee, which for me is a show-stopper on any travel rewards card – it eats up any reward you earn abroad, making this a card only usefull for US domestic travel.
The card will also give you Privileges Gold status, their lowest elite level. While the benefits are minimal, they do include an extended window to book awards – from 30 days to 50 days ahead of travel.
This card has no annual fee, which makes it easy to sign up for the bonus and keep it for occasional use on Choice hotel stays. I used to avoid any credit card with annual fees and if you feel like that, this is one of the few no-fee hotel cards out there, like the Wyndham Visa, Hilton Citi Visa and Hilton AmEx.

Bottomline: The Choice Privileges Visa card is a no-fee rewards card with a small sign-up bonus and limited earn rates. Because Barclay is more restrictive with card approvals, I’d only recommend to sign up for this card, if you stay at Choice Hotels in the US regularly. For general travel, the Barclay Arrival Plus card is a better card, for hotel rewards I’d recommend the Wyndham Rewards Visa instead. If you want a no-fee hotel rewards card, I’d recommend the Hilton Citibank Visa or Hilton American Express cards instead.

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