Road Warrior Review: Choice Hotels
If you are a road warrior like me, you’ll know all about taking advantage of as many rewards programs as possible. The hardest part is knowing which ones are the best and give you the most bang for your buck. I have had to learn through trial and error over the years. I tried a program out for a while, then for one reason or another, decided to change course. If there is one lesson I have learned, it’s that loyalty pays off! Trying to spread my business around doesn't get me where I want to go. I am not sure where that is, but I know I want to get there for FREE! This is part 1 of a series in which I will explore my favorite hotel chains based on their reward programs.
This chain was a favorite of mine when I was broke and in my mid-twenties. I could rarely beat the prices at the Sleep or Comfort Inn and they seemed to have properties no matter where I wanted to travel. However, as I got older and gained a better travel budget to support my road warrior lifestyle, I started to explore higher priced hotels. After dabbling with two other brands, I decided to come back to Choice Hotels and have not regretted that decision! Let’s explore what I like and dislike about their rewards program and the chain as a whole.
Quality Inn and Suites
What I Like
- It’s easy to build up points! I’m not going to outline the ENTIRE program here, but basically, you get a base of 10 points per dollar spent then various bonuses as you progress up the ladder. They also have these wonderful things called “Extras” where you can choose a special bonus for weekday stays. I always choose the 500 extra points. Then, once you are a Gold Member, you can get 250 extra points for each stay at a Comfort Suites (my personal favorite hotel). Needless to say, I have racked up a nice supply of points in a relatively short time!
- They give away points like crazy! Every few months, they have a promotion that any road warrior is sure to love! Complete 2 stays and get enough points for a FREE night (8,000 points)! The promotion usually runs for a few months, in which time, I generally rake in 2-3 free nights.
- (Most of) The hotels are very nice! I booked one Comfort Suites in the middle of nowhere. When I saw the price of $48/night, I was certain Norman Bates would be waiting for me! To my surprise, it was one of the nicest and LARGEST rooms I had stayed in for quite some time! I had recently been disappointed with a competing chain’s quality so this really won me over! I continue to patronize that hotel and the staff remembers me because of the glowing review I left them! I’ve stayed a few that missed the mark, but the great thing about Choice is that there are usually multiple properties in the same town. Some of the Sleep Inns I have stayed at recently were brand new and décor reminded me of a downtown boutique hotel!
- Reward nights are easy to redeem! For the most part, Choice makes it pretty easy to redeem your points. You can either spend a certain amount on a free night or spend a reduced amount of points along with a (usually) lower cost per night. It helps to stretch the points out.
- The prices are great! I travel a LOT for my job and must be responsible with my budget. I like the fact that I can get a nice room for sometimes HALF the price of competing chains! Why spend $150/night when all I need is a bed, bathroom, and the Internet? I don’t need a lot of frills. But even if the prices were equal, I’d still lean toward Choice Hotels as my go-to!
What I Dislike
- The reward nights are NOT ALWAYS cheaper. Occasionally (usually in popular destinations) a reward night will actually be more expensive than the normal member rate. For example, I was looking to stay in Fredericksburg, TX to go on a wine tour for my birthday. The weekends are quite busy. The “Best Available” rate was $105, but when I wanted to lower the cost by applying points, the rate became 8,000 points and $143/night! Seriously? You are going to take my points AND charge me more? The customer service rep thought it might be a glitch, but it wasn’t an isolated incident. I get it, there are
- There is an issue with my account. This one is personal and only applies to me. However, it still speaks to an overall annoyance with customer service. For some reason, I have two addresses on file. Every time I check into a Comfort Suites, I have to request my extra 250 points and tell them to look under my OTHER address. I have deleted that address from every profile and account. I have called customer service, but they only show one address! Yet every single time I want my extra points, I have to jump through hoops! If anyone from Choice is reading this, I love you guys, but PLEASE fix my account!!!
UPDATE - As of 4/172017, my account has supposedly been fixed!!! According to the service rep, the old address has been deleted. I guess the real test will occur upon my next check-in!
What Rings YOUR Bell?
What do you look for when choosing a hotel?
In case I haven’t been clear, I LOVE Choice Hotels! It is, by far, my favorite of the chains. If you are a road warrior like me, I highly recommend you give them a try! I have managed to win over some of my co-workers already. Too bad I can’t get a commission for all the business I send their way! Be sure to leave me a comment and tell me your favorite chain! Perhaps I can be persuaded to try a new one!
If you want more information about Choice Hotels and their rewards program, don't just take my word for it. Check it out yourself at: https://www.choicehotels.com/choice-privileges.