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Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card Review

At a Glance
choice privileges visa signature card
4.1 / 5
Rating

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn 32,000 Choice Privileges points when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • Rewards: Unlimited 15 Choice Privileges points per $1 spent on eligible Choice Hotels purchases (including base point earnings); unlimited 5 points per $1 spent on purchases of Choice Hotels points and gift cards; unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on everything else
  • Loyalty Status: Automatic Elite Gold Status when your card account is approved
  • Benefits: 10% points bonus every time you purchase a stay at Choice Hotels; 8,000 anniversary bonus points every year you spend $10,000 or more on purchases
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • Regular APR: 16.74%, 21.49% or 26.49% variable
  • Fees: Foreign transaction fee 3%; balance transfers 3% of the transferred amount ($5 minimum); cash advances 5% of the advanced amount ($10 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card is a hotel credit card with no annual fee. Backed by Barclaycard, it allows cardholders to earn points on paid stays and other purchases at more than 6,000 Choice Hotels, whose brands include Econolodge, Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, and Cambria Inn & Suites. Cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Choice Privileges loyalty program at sign-up and are granted Elite Gold Status at no additional charge.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature has a fairly generous rewards program that favors frequent Choice Hotels guests. The card itself earns unlimited 5 Choice Privileges points per $1 spent on paid, completed Choice Hotels stays booked directly with the hotel or through Choice Hotels’ website, plus certain other eligible Choice Hotels purchases. As Choice Privileges members, cardholders earn an additional 10 points per $1 spent on Choice Hotels stays and eligible purchases. Further, Choice Hotels stays charged to this card earn a 10% point bonus. All told, each dollar spent on Choice Hotels stays earns 16.5 Choice Privileges points, and each dollar spent on other eligible Choice Hotels purchases earns 15 Choice Privileges points.

This card earns on other types of spending too. Purchases of additional Choice Privileges points and Choice Hotels gift cards, neither of which count as hotel purchases for this card’s purposes, earn unlimited 5 points per $1 spent, and all other purchases earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. No matter how you earn them, you can redeem your Choice Privileges points for free nights at more than 6,000 Choice Hotels properties, general merchandise, gift cards at more than 80 restaurants and retailers, airline loyalty miles, and more.

If you’re in the market for a hotel credit card that offers lots of brand choice and a host of practical perks for frequent travelers, Choice Privileges Visa Signature is definitely worthy of your consideration.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you receive 32,000 bonus Choice Privileges points. You need at least 8,000 points to redeem for a free night at one of Choice Privileges’ lower-tier properties, so this bonus is worth up to 4 free nights.

Earning Choice Privileges Points

In addition to the 10 base Choice Privileges points per $1 spent that all Choice Privileges members earn on paid, completed stays and other eligible Choice Hotels properties, Choice Privileges Visa Signature cardholders earn unlimited 5 Choice Privileges points per $1 spent.

Every paid Choice Hotels stay earns a 10% point bonus, effectively boosting the rewards rate to 16.5 Choice Privileges points per $1 spent.

Purchases of additional Choice Privileges points (available online) and gift cards earn unlimited 5 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent.

Redeeming Choice Privileges Points

Choice Privileges points can be redeemed for free nights at more than 6,000 Choice Hotels worldwide.

Redemption minimums are highly variable, but start at 8,000 points per night for lower-tier properties (such as Rodeway Inn and Econolodge), which typically cost less than $100 per night. Point requirements increase as you ascend the quality ladder – for instance, budget-friendly Sleep Inn properties generally require 12,000 points per night, while mid-level Comfort Inn properties typically require 20,000 points per night, and higher-end Cambria and Ascend properties (where rooms can easily cost $300 or more per night) can require 30,000 points or more per night.

Choice Privileges also offers redemptions at vacation rental properties, such as houses, condos, and villas, greatly expanding the universe of overnight redemption options. Point minimums and nightly requirements for vacation rental redemptions vary widely.

Though the value of points is not fixed and can vary based on the dollar cost of the room for which they’re redeemed, they’re usually worth $0.01 or less at redemption.

To redeem faster, you can use the Points + Cash option, which allows you to combine 6,000 Choice Privileges points with variable amounts of cash (higher amounts for higher-tier properties) to earn a “free” night. The cash requirement varies by property, demand, and other factors, and is not revealed until you actually select your travel dates and room preferences, but is generally equal to the value of your Choice Privileges points ($0.01 apiece or less) subtracted from your chosen property’s cash rate.

To further reduce the number of points you need to redeem, you can take advantage of Choice Privileges’ FlexRewards program, which offers discounted redemption rates at about 1,500 properties during periods of low demand (usually during the week).

If you’d prefer to redeem for something other than hotel nights, you can transfer points to about a dozen travel partners, mostly airlines. Transfer rates aren’t ideal – depending on the airline, they amount to 5 or 6 Choice Privileges points per 1 airline mile, which usually reduces their value relative to the free night redemption option.

Finally, you can redeem for gift cards offered by various restaurant and merchant partners, usually at less than $0.01 per point, along with general merchandise and magazine subscriptions.

Annual Spending Bonus

When you spend at least $10,000 in the 12-month period beginning and ending with your account anniversary date, you get 8,000 bonus points.

Automatic Elite Gold Status

When you open your account, you automatically earn Choice Privileges Elite Gold Status, Choice Privileges’ second-lowest loyalty tier. You keep it for as long as your account remains open and in good standing. Elite Gold Status perks include the ability to book reward nights further in advance (50 days, compared with the normal 30) than regular members, an exclusive booking and customer service hotline, and a special welcome gift at check-in.

Introductory APR

This card has a 15-billing cycle 0% APR balance transfer promotion. Balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening accrue no interest for 15 months for the first 15 billing cycles.

Regular APR

Following the conclusion of the introductory balance transfer promotion, the balance transfer APR rises to 16.74%, 21.49% or 26.49%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The purchase APR falls within the same range from the day you open your account. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and there is no penalty APR.

Important Fees

This card no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $37.

Personalized Concierge Service

This card includes complimentary, 24/7 concierge service. You can use your concierge however you please: making reservations at popular dinner spots, scoring concert tickets, or simply sourcing recommendations for activities in unfamiliar travel destinations.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit. If you have any notable blemishes in your credit history, your application is likely to be disqualified.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Choice Privileges Visa Signature does not have an annual fee. That’s a slightly unusual feature in the hotel credit cards category, where annual fees of $50 and up are the norm. If you travel occasionally and don’t want a recurring charge to eat into or completely offset your point earnings, it’s a real relief.
  2. Generous Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is generous and relatively easy to attain. It requires just $1,000 in spending within 3 months, which is easy to achieve if you travel often or use Choice Privileges Visa Signature as your primary credit card. Once you earn the bonus, it’s good for up to 4 free nights at lower-end Choice properties. By contrast, the Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card‘s sign-up bonus is good for just 2 free nights at lower-end Hyatt properties.
  3. Solid Introductory Balance Transfer Promotion. Choice Privileges Visa Signature’s 15-billing cycle 0% APR introductory balance transfer promotion is a welcome sight for prospective cardholders struggling with high-interest credit card balances. In fact, this is one of the most generous 0% APR balance transfer promotions in the hotel credit card category. Even if you’re not a fan of Choice Hotels, this perk alone could be worth the trouble it takes to apply.
  4. Automatic Elite Gold Status at Sign-up. New Choice Privileges Visa Signature cardholders automatically earn Elite Gold Status, Choice’s second-lowest loyalty status, without meeting the usual 10-night-per-year requirement. That’s great news for infrequent guests who nevertheless want to take advantage of Elite Gold Status’s benefits, such as exclusive reservation and customer service hotlines and special welcome bonuses upon arrival.
  5. 10% Point Bonus on Every Choice Hotels Stay. The 10% point bonus on points earned through Choice Hotels stays is a welcome boost for cardholders, especially in light of the fact that Choice Privileges points aren’t as valuable as some competing chains’ loyalty currencies. With the bonus, cardholders effectively earn 16.5 Choice Privileges points per $1 spent on Choice Hotels stays.
  6. Lots of Hotel and Rental Choices. Choice Hotels has a lot of properties in its arsenal – more than 6,000 hotels and resorts under the combined aegis of 11 distinct brands, plus a slew of vacation rental options in popular vacation destinations. Though most Choice properties are economical and efficient, there’s nevertheless a tremendous wealth of choice (no pun intended) available to Choice Privileges members, no matter where they’re traveling.
  7. Nice Incentive to Purchase Additional Choice Privileges Points. Choice Privileges Visa Signature earns 5 points per $1 spent on à la carte purchases of Choice Privileges points, which come in handy if you’re trying to build your point stash ahead of a long vacation or weekend splurge at one of Choice’s high-end properties.

Disadvantages

  1. Points Generally Have Low Value. Choice Privileges points are worth less than many other popular hotel brands’ loyalty currencies. Free night redemptions typically work out to $0.01 or less per point, compared with up to $0.02 per point (and sometimes even higher) at Starwood properties. Despite the 2-point-per-$1 earning rate on everyday spending, this card therefore isn’t a workable everyday credit card – it’s best used solely for purchases within the Choice Hotels universe. For a brand-specific hotel card that can plausibly be used as an everyday credit card, consider the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee). Otherwise, opt for a general travel rewards credit card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee).
  2. Few Luxury Properties. Choice Hotels doesn’t have a ton of high-end properties in its arsenal. The majority of its brands, and the overwhelming majority of its individual hotels and resorts, are practical, economical properties designed for budget-friendly rest and rehabilitation. If you’re looking for a credit card tied to a brand with lots of expensive properties at which you’d love to spend a free night or two, look to Amex’s Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card or one of the many options offered by Hilton, such as Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Credit Card.
  3. Poor to Mediocre Airline Transfer Options. This card’s airline transfer options are mediocre at best. The best you’ll do is a 5-to-1 transfer ratio – 5 Choice Privileges points to 1 airline mile. That’s a far cry from the 1-to-1 transfers offered by Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex, among others.
  4. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s somewhat unusual for a hotel credit card, though some no-annual-fee travel cards do carry FTFs. Regardless, if you’re a regular international traveler, this is an unwelcome feature of the Choice Privileges Visa Signature, and may be enough to disqualify it altogether.

Final Word

Most travel rewards credit cards take one of two forms. Some bear the marque of a particular loyalty program and incentivize spending with that program’s parent company. Others are broader – instead of rewarding spending with just one company, they reward spending across entire categories, such as travel, transportation, and dining out.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature definitely belongs to the first group. It’s a great tool for financing stays within the Choice Hotels universe – actually, a no-brainer, as long as you pay off your statement in full every month to avoid interest charges.

However, due to low point values and mediocre earning rates on everyday purchases, it’s not great for everyday spending. If you do choose to apply for this card, keep it in your wallet until it’s time to pay for a Choice Hotels room, and then return it to its rightful place. It’ll be waiting there for you when you book your next Choice Hotels reservation – and, with no annual fee, it won’t cost you anything in the meantime.

Verdict
choice privileges visa signature card
4.1 / 5
Rating

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card

The Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card is an ideal means for regular Choice Hotels guests to juice the Choice Privileges points they earn on paid stays and other eligible purchases. Thanks to its long 0% APR introductory balance transfer promotion, it’s even more attractive for Choice Hotels loyalists who’ve racked up high-interest credit card debt on other cards. And, with no annual fee, occasional Choice Hotels guests can keep it deep in their wallets without any out-of-pocket cost.

However, Choice Privileges points’ low redemption values and the card’s relatively low earning rate on everyday purchases make Choice Privileges Visa Signature unsuitable as a general-spending card. If you’re looking for a single travel or hotel card that can finance all your household expenses, this probably isn’t it.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature’s biggest benefits include its lack of an annual fee, its generous sign-up bonus (good for up to 4 free nights), its very good introductory balance transfer promotion, automatic Gold Elite Status for all new cardholders, a 10% point bonus on all paid Choice Hotels stays, more than 6,000 Choice Hotels properties to choose from, and 5-point-per-$1 earnings on Choice Privileges point purchases.

Its major drawbacks include low redemption values, relatively few luxury properties in the Choice Hotels portfolio, mediocre-at-best airline transfer options, and a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Overall, this is a great card for regular Choice Hotels visitors, especially those facing high credit card balances elsewhere, but probably isn’t appropriate as a general-spending credit card.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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