Helping the Grandparents Maximize Choice Hotels on Their Western US Bucket List Trip

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My parents (Little C’s grandparents) are about to embark on a two week road trip adventure through Yosemite, Sequoia National Forest, the Pacific Coast, and Las Vegas.  It was another one of their “Bucket List” trips.  Planning for this trip started at least a year ago, and I posted some about booking their flights on points here.  Now that we are closer to their departure date, I asked my dad to remind me at which chain hotels they are staying so that we could ensure they are registered for any relevant promos.  About half of their trip is at small non-chain “eclectic” places, but they do have some Best Western, Priority Club, and Choice Hotels mixed in along the way.  I already helped them maximize their two-night stay at the Venetian (aka an Intercontinental Hotel), but when I learned they had three nights at a Choice hotel, it was time to work on maximizing that stay.

They had booked three consecutive nights at the same Choice hotel in California …..a Comfort Inn to be exact.  This is their only Choice hotel stop of the trip.  I immediately thought, “That’s no good.”  They have three consecutive nights, but the current promotion awards 8,000 points after two separate stays (advertized as a $50 gift card that can be obtained for 8,000 points) between May 17th – August 15th, and they only had one stay.  You can read all the details about that promotion here.  Many of you can probably guess what my suggestion was – make new reservations with the first night in my dad’s name, the second night in my mom’s name, and the third night in my dad’s name again.  Technically you are checking in and out three times, and will end up with three stays between the two of them.  You need to break my dad’s stays up with a stay from my mom in the middle, otherwise it would likely still count as one consecutive stay.  My parents very briefly thought I was speaking in tongues, but quickly caught on and said go for it.

As I told them, it is very unlikely that they will actually have to change rooms since it is in everyone’s best interest for them to just stay in one room for the three nights.  However, there is always that slight chance that they would have to switch rooms, so just keep that in mind.  My mom didn’t previously have a  Choice Privileges account, so my dad was able to refer her via a “Refer a Friend” promo, and they will both earn an extra 500 points when she completes her first stay.  Additionally, the rates had dropped by $30 for their stay, so re-booking saved them some money.  Also, when I re-booked their stays I went through the Ultimate Rewards portal so that they will earn 3x bonus points (though be aware the reservation was still made on the Choice Hotels website).  For their approximately $400 three night stay – that will be 1,200 valuable Ultimate Reward bonus points. I am also instructing them to pay for their stay using the Sapphire Preferred card so they get 2x points for not only their hotel stay, but on many of their “travel related” expenses on the trip.

So, here is a quick recap on what a few changes did to a three night hotel stay.

Old Reservation:

$430 x 10 points per dollar = 4,300 Choice points

Paid with a 1x earning card = 430 points

Grand total = 4730 points (combination of UR and Choice points)

New Reservation:

The two nights in my dad’s name = $300 x 10 points per dollar = 3,000 points

The one night in my mom’s name = $100 x 10 points per dollar = 1,000 points

Stay 2 Nights Bonus = + 5000 Choice points to get you to the 8,000 point/$50 gift card level

“Refer a Friend Bonus” = 1,000 Choice points

Booking through Ultimate Rewards portal = $400 x 3x = 1,200 UR points

Paying with 2x earning Chase Sapphire Preferred Card= 800 UR points

Grand total = 12,000 points (combination of UR and Choice points)

Remember, they also saved an extra $30 since the rates had gone down since their original booking.  They are in the same hotel, in the same room type, with the same type of rate that they originally had.  They are just earning more than twice the number of points that they otherwise would have and are keeping some extra cash in their wallets.  My mom is also now just one stay away from earning the 8,000 bonus points herself.  I’m not sure that she will have another Choice stay before 8/15, but it certainly is possible.  The additional points they are now earning from some slight modifications will make it easier for them to get to their next bucket list destination just a little bit faster.  (Personally, I am hoping for the next trip to be to Alaska to see the Northern Lights – if so, I am so in!)

I really want them to work in a Club Carlson stay so that they could take advantage of the Big Night Giveaway, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like that will be part of their plans on this trip.  Regardless, I am excited for them to be earning many additional points while checking another adventure off their “Bucket List”.  That’s really my goal with my friends and family in the “real world”, as well as my friends in the “internet world” – be strategic about things that you are going to do anyway, and earn points that can help you experience trips that you have wanted to take your whole life.


Disclosure:  I do earn a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my links, and I really did tell my mom she better use her Sapphire Preferred card on this trip.  😉

The responses below 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.


  1. A fantastic example of how knowing how to play the game can make a HUGE difference in earnings and also how it’s possible to earn a significant number of miles/points without a huge outlay of additional cash or effort. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great way to increase value. Let me know if they need any show/restaurant/or other advice. I know this town like the back of my hand!

  3. you should goto Alaska in 2013 March as its expected to a good year for the lights…here are few of the pics we had taken in our last trip..
    hope these pics inspires you to take the trip…as your posts inspires me collecting miles/points and helping friends…

  4. @MommyPoints

    I am the rare bird that likes and has used the Comfort Inn/Choice Privleges program with much success. (in London, Paris, San Juan, Chicago-ie. October Seminar w/ FTG)

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I fear you might not have read the fine print close enough on this promotion.

    (unless your parents are Elite Diamond or Elite Platinum in the Choice Privleges program, in which case skip to the bottom)

    The promotion details in your link:
    Say, “Elite Diamond and Elite Platinum members can book through any channel”

    That’s in the BIG print…

    And the small print has this, “**The reservation must be made on…”

    So looks pretty clear that booking through third party sites, like Ultimate Rewards will void this promotin and you won’t get the points you think you will.

    There is also this gem in the Terms and conditions, “After a second qualifying stay with arrival between 5/17/12 and 8/15/12, you will be awarded enough bonus points to reach the 8,000 point level.”

    Reading that in the plain sense seems like the amount you get for this promotion is not 8,000 points, but you get the difference in the amount of points between that you earned for your stays (in the regular sense), and the 8,000 points needed to “redeem for a gift card”.

    So based on your numbers, if you booked through the Choice hotels website, I see you getting:

    $400 x 10 points per dollar = 4,000 Choice points

    Stay 2 Nights Bonus = only 4,000 more Choice points (to get you to 8,000 Choice points/$50 gift card)

    But how about having them get a Choice Hotels card?

    24,000 pts after first purchase, 8,000 after first stay charged to the card, and an extra 5 points for each dollar spent at Choice Hotels properties.

    If they are going to be staying at Choice Hotels this looks like a more rewarding play.

    FWIW Choice points expire Dec 31 two years after depoitd in their account, so these would expire Dec 31, 2014
    (there is no way I know of to extend expiration)

  5. Actually this is they right “asterisk”, “*Member must register on this page before arrival and book their stays at or 800.4CHOICE at qualifying rates.” Same effect though as what I posted above….

  6. Okay, Why settle for 24,000 plus 8,000 after first stay,

    When you can have, 24,000 plus 16,000 after first stay

    There is no landing page but the details are outlined in the Terms and conditions.
    (this is the offer I got, and it went very smoothly, points posted on the statement w/ the qualifying activity)

    From the T and C
    Bonus Points

    First Use Points – All Cardmembers will earn 24,000 Points upon the first use of the Account for a purchase or balance transfer.

    First Stay Points – Cardmembers will also earn an additional 16,000 Points after the first paid stay with their new Account at a Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, Quality®, Sleep Inn®, Clarion®, Ascend Collection®, Cambria Suites®, MainStay Suites®, Suburban Extended Stay®, Econo Lodge® or Rodeway Inn® hotel in the U.S. Five free nights are based on 40,000 Points. A free night requires more Points at most hotels. For Point level information, visit

  7. Thank you for this helpful post. Can you recommend the best way to maximize points for the Radisson promo? I have signed up for the Radisson night and am wondering if I should make my reservation through a shopping portal. Thank you.

  8. @New Girl in the Air, thanks. It is amazing how quickly stuff can add up.
    @milevalue, I would put a Choice point in the .6 – .7 cents range myself if you are putting a little thought into your redemptions, but if you are primarily using in Europe it would likely be a bit higher.
    @Vegasdealman, thanks for the offer! They are seeing Love this go round in Vegas so far. 😉
    @Vikas, can’t wait to look at your pictures!
    @RubberCityRebel, congrats for being a Choice hotels pro! I did make the reservation on the Choice hotel website – I just went through the shopping portal to get there. I didn’t make the reservation on the UR side of things for the exact reason you describe. That said, I think you are totally correct about it being 8,000 total, not 8,000 bonus, so that reduces their earning by about 3,000 points. (I think I am too spoiled with Hyatt and SPG type promos where the bonus points are really bonus points!) So, thanks for pointing that out – post fixed. 😉
    Also, thanks for posting the credit card info. I’m not sure the have enough Choice stays right now to make that their next target, but it is a great option for some – esp since it is from Barclays. Choice points can be very useful in Europe for sure. We are using ours likely in Nassau!
    @Newton, you are welcome. For the Radisson promo, many are going through TopCashBack for 10% back.

  9. I know Choice properties, especially Comfort Inns are better out west than they are in the east. East coast (Choice) properties vary from I wouldn’t stay there again to not bad.
    I gave up on this chain after they raised their redemption rates several years ago. There was a time, the 8000 points got you a decent hotel. These days, for 8000 points, you’re pretty much coming up with limited opportunities.

  10. @Dan, yeah, 8,000 points wouldn’t go too far in the US – though Europe is a different story. 😉

  11. IHG is 4 extra points. Do you think I can renew my Ambassador using the UR site and get the extra points? Also, if I do it through TOPCashBAck will I get 16% back?

    I guess that I can only use one of the above.


  12. Can you help me figure out the best way to maximize my husband’s stay that starts on Wednesday. He has 35 Choice Privilege nights so far this year and I have finally talked him into changing hotels during his next stay of at least 10 days. I am suggesting that he pick out 2 hotels and alternate nights. I am trying to acquire as many points as possible for our trip to Rome next spring.

    • @Diane, that sounds like the best plan to me – if he is willing. If he switches every night between two hotels for ten nights he will earn 40,000 points/$250 in gift cards.

  13. And now for the remedial student…how do you book travel through the UR website? I’ve used the UR mall a fair amount, and I’ve redeemed points for travel once, but can’t see where you click through to get to a hotel website.

  14. I know i am being totally elitist, but you can’t find a better hotel than Choice for Grandma and Grandpa? Holiday Inn fine, Hampton Inn fine, Fairfield Inn fine. But the Comfort Inns of the world I have experienced are truly awful.

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