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The Choice Privileges Visa Card – Will you enjoy a top hotel or be left out in the cold?


Here we have the Choice Privileges Visa card that is brought to you by Barclays. It was originally offered by the Bank of America, but it was unsurprisingly discontinued back in 2009 because so many customers made complaints about the severe lack of rewards offered by them. Fast forward to 2011 and the Choice Privileges Visa card reappears, but this time issued by British banking giant Barclays. The card faced a lot of controversy because of its predecessor, but having trust in such an established bank brought the hotel rewards card back into public favor. Does it offer more than when the Bank of America issued it and is this card worth committing to after all that? Let’s take a look.

First things first, let’s take a look at the rewards program

So, we know where we stand on rewards credit cards in general and we are always looking for that surprising opening bonus offer or nice little ongoing earner. With the Choice Privileges Visa card you can earn points for your travel and your stay, which is quite an attractive feature in and of itself, but does it have the qualities we so desperately want from our rewards card?

Well, the Choice Privileges Visa card offers a sign-up bonus of 8,000 points when you make your first purchase and 24,000 bonus points the first time you pay for a hotel stay with the card. This equates to a total sign-up bonus of 32,000 points, which is huge and can be used to pay for up to four free nights at the hotel of your choice. So on the face of it, the Choice Privileges Visa card seems to have the bonus points ‘wow’ we want.

Then the Choice Privileges Visa card offers a nice 2 points per $1 on standard purchases and a whopping 15 points per $1 that is spent at certain Choice Privilege locations! Not only that, but cardholders can also earn 5 points per $1 on extra Choice Privilege points and Choice Hotels gift card buys, so we’re sold. With both the sign-up bonus balance and attractive spending points, how could we not be?

It sounds really good until you dig a little bit deeper…

The fine print clearly states that the Choice Privileges Visa card only actually earns cardholders 5 of the 15 points that are supposedly offered at Choice Privilege locations .Yep that means that 10 whole points are not available simply by charging the card. Those ten points are actually earned through the Choice Privileges membership program, which is a free membership program that is completely separate from the card itself. Of course, signing up won’t cost you anything but time, but the fact that both Barclays and Choice Privileges allow such a misleading statement to be a major selling point for this card, it really makes a potential customer wonder. Add that to the fact that some of those ‘certain Choice Privilege locations’ only offer 5 points for the membership program instead of 10 and you have also been mislead once more.

The cash value of the points will make up for the misleading information about them, right?

Wrong. Sadly the very attractive looking 2 and 5 points per dollar begin to lose their luster when you read that pesky fine print. The usual cash value of a bonus point equates to $0.01 in all major credit rewards cards, but the Choice Privileges Visa card only offers a meager 0.6 cents to 1.0 cents for every point. That means that, although you might get a lot of points, you need a lot more of them to be able to redeem anything. For example, other hotel rewards cards will give you free stays when points are redeemed, for a lot less of those bonus points than Choice Privileges will.

Will the hotels that I can stay in with the Choice Privileges Visa card make up for these downsides?

Well, with the Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, the Quality Inn, the Sleep In, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, the Roadway Inn and the Ascend Collection among the qualifying hotels, that really depends on the kind of hotel stay you want. The Choice Privileges Visa card does offer a wide range of discount and lower end hotels on their bonus point payroll so the budget conscious will definitely be impressed.

So what are the standard features of the Choice Privileges Visa card?

Cardholders automatically receive Elite Gold Status on the Choice Privileges Visa card, which offers you the ability to book free nights a massive 50 days in advance. That’s an extra 20 days compared to the standard 30 that is offered by its major competitors.

The rest of the standard features are:

  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months
  • 14.99% or 18.99% variable APR thereafter (based upon creditworthiness)
  • Cardholders can earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • There are no mileage caps
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem points for travel (for example, if you redeem 25,000 miles for travel, you’ll get 2,500 miles back)
  • Cardholders can exchange miles for statement credit toward airline purchases to any destination
  • There are no seat restrictions or blackout dates

Overall, is the Choice Privileges Visa card worth committing to?

That depends. Barclays and Choice Privileges are both trusted companies that have allowed a misleading sales pitch on this card. Does that instill further trust for your commitment? The bonus point value is low, but you do get a lot of them. Does that make up for the fact that other cards will offer you slightly less points for much better value?

There it is, you can see the problems that arise when trying to make a decision on this card and maybe that’s enough to warrant the decision itself.

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