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The worst hotel loyalty program point expiration policy award had to go to Choice Privileges. In fact, I just wrote a reminder to redeem Choice points a few weeks ago since their points expired on December 31st, two years after the year in which they were deposited into your account – even if you continued to have activity in your account.
It is very, very rare for a US hotel or airline loyalty program to expire your points if you continue to have account activity, but that was the route Choice Privileges took.
New Choice Hotel Points Expiration Policy
At least that was the route they took until very recently (and after they expired another round of points on 12/31/15). Now Choice points will not expire as long as you have eligible activity in your account at least every 18 months. This new policy will kick in on February 1, 2016, so the first date points should expire after that time is August 1, 2017. That is a shorter window than the previous policy if you don’t continue to have account activity, but infinitely better since you can extend the life of your points indefinitely by having qualified activity in your account.
How to Keep Choice Points Alive
Examples of qualifying activity include: “completing a qualified point-eligible stay, earning points, airline miles or Amtrak Guest Rewards points, redeeming Choice Privileges points, earning points from a purchase using your Choice Privileges Visa® card*, earning points with one of our partner programs, purchasing points, and referring a friend**.”
Some activities that do not count towards extending points include: “completing a non-eligible stay, registering for a promotion, and gifting points (only counts as a qualifying activity for the member who receives the points, not the member who gifts the points).”
Point Reinstatement Available for Some in the Future
Members who earned points between January 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016, under the former point expiration policy, which carried a firm expiration of points on December 31, 2017, and December 31, 2018, respectively, will be eligible to request any points forfeited under the new forfeiture policy (stated above) be reinstated to their member account by contacting member services. This point reinstatement is only available for points earned between January 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016, and forfeited on August 1, 2017, where the member had no qualifying activity under the new forfeiture policy but whose points would not have expired until December 31, 2017, and December 31, 2018, respectively, under the previous point expiration policy.
Overall Improvement for Choice Privileges
Choice Privileges is far from my primary hotel program, but I have successfully earned and redeemed their points before – especially when staying at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island to get access to Atlantis.
I know some like Choice for the ability to transfer their points to Southwest Airlines to count towards the Companion Pass even if they don’t regularly stay at Choice properties. My dad pretty regularly stays at Choice properties since they are often budget-friendly joints scattered along less traveled roads and I know he and others with similar travel patterns will benefit greatly from this change.
Overall this is certainly a positive change in my view since earning or redeeming at least once every 18 months isn’t that hard, though I wish they would have introduced the change before so many had points expire or redeemed in a less-than-ideal fashion at the end of 2015.
Now if only they would improve the rules surrounding redeeming points so that you didn’t have to wait until just 30 days before your stay!
Thanks to Loyalty Traveler for sharing news of this update!