Is the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card worth it? | April 2018

Review: Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card – April 2018

If you’re a regular Choice Hotels guest, you’ll consistently earn free nights with this card.

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  • Get this card if… you stay at Choice Hotels often.
  • Pick something else if…you prefer to stay at hotels other than Choice Hotels.
  • Recommended good to excellent credit score of 680 to 850.
Product NameChoice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card
Intro APR for Balance Transfer0% Intro APR for first fifteen billing cycles (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
Balance Transfer Rate (not intro)16.49%, 21.24% or 26.24% variable
APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate )16.49%, 21.24% or 26.24% variable
Annual fee$0
Cash Advance Rate26.49% variable
Card TypeMastercard
Interest Free Period
The interest-free period on purchases is the period or number of days you do not have to pay interest on your card purchases. You will be charged interest either from the day you make a purchase or from the statement date, unless you pay the closing balance in full by the due date (or within the interest-free period) on your statement.
Up to 23 days
Returned Payment Fee$37
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC)
Foreign currency conversion fees are charged when you make a transaction that is converted by a credit card network, such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express, from Australian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll also incur a currency conversion fee if you make a purchase or obtain a cash advance in Australian dollars while overseas or shopping online with a foreign merchant or financial institution.
3% of transaction value
Minimum Interest$0.50
Minimum Credit ScoreFair (660-699)
Minimum Age18 years of age
Annual fee$0
Returned Payment Fee$37
Late Payment Fee$37
Cash Advance Fee$10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
Rewards ProgramBarclaycard Rewards
Bonus Points on Sign-up32,000
Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC)15
Points ExpiryNever

The basics

A simple way to sum up the Choice Privileges Visa: Points, points and more points.

First up is the signup bonus. It’s 32,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. That’s a good deal, especially since free nights at Choice Hotels start at 6,000 points. And it’s a great supplement to the points you’ll earn through normal spending.

Annual bonuses will pad your point count. You’ll receive 8,000 points each account year you spend $10,000 or more. And because you’ll get complimentary Gold status in the Choice Privileges program, you’ll receive 10% more points each time you book with Choice Hotels.

Digging into the points

Here are the rewards you’ll earn through the Choice Privileges card.

  • 2x points on all purchases outside of Choice Privileges spending.
  • 5x points when you buy Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotels gift cards.
  • 15x points when you spend at Choice Privileges locations.

What does “2x points” mean?

“2x points” means you’ll earn two points per dollar you spend on a qualifying purchase. For example, if you spend $100 on a qualifying purchase, you’ll earn 200 points.
15 points per dollar spent sounds amazing, but 10 of these points come from being a member of Choice Privileges. Anyone can sign up for this loyalty program — not just cardholders. Ultimately, the Choice Privileges Visa lets you earn just 5x extra points when you stay at Choice Hotels.

What can I use points for? And how valuable are they?

Here are a few rewards you can redeem your points for:

  • Free nights at Choice Hotels
  • Free nights at vacation rental properties
  • Gift cards from restaurants and retailers
  • Memberships to associations and organizations
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Point transfers to airline programs and other loyalty programs
  • Cruises

Though you can earn many points through the Choice Privileges card, they’re worth slightly less than you might expect. For free nights at Choice Hotels, points are typically worth between 0.4 and 0.8 cents apiece. That’s below the industry average of 1 point = 1 cent.

  • For everyday spending, you’ll receive an average rewards rate of 1.2%. This rate is sub-par. If you don’t spend much at Choice Hotels, consider cards like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards (1.5x points on all spending) and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus (2x miles on all spending).
  • For Choice Privileges spending, you’ll receive an average rewards rate of 3%. This is an excellent rate. You’ll get much more out of the card if you’re a Choice Hotels regular.

Where can I redeem points, and how much are they worth?

You can redeem points for free nights with Choice Privileges properties, which include:

  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Sleep Inn
  • Quality Inn
  • Clarion Hotels
  • MainStay Suites
  • Econo Lodge
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Cambria Hotels & Suites
  • Suburban Extended Stay Hotels

Here are two examples of booking free nights with points:

  • A night at Cambria Hotel & Suites in Chicago’s Theatre District costs $136. Book it for 16,000 points and your points are worth 0.8 cents each.
  • A night at Comfort Suites in Downtown Denver costs $71. Book it for 16,000 points and your points are worth 0.4 cents each.

For other rewards, you’ll often get a lower rate. For example, you can purchase a $16 AARP membership for 5,000 points. That’s a value of 0.3 cents per point. Similarly, a $50 Amazon gift card costs 16,000 points, which comes out to 0.3 cents per point.

Is the card worth getting?

Aside from a good balance transfer promotion — 0% APR for the first fifteen billing cycles — the Choice Privileges Visa doesn’t offer any particularly exciting benefits. The 3% foreign transaction fee is a drag as well, especially for a hotel card. You’ll pay no annual fee, however, so you may find that worth to keeping the card around.

Ultimately, the Choice Privileges card is most effective if you’re a frequent guest at Choice Hotels. Since you’ll earn an extra 5x points on hotel stays, you’ll quickly earn free nights.

The perks

  • Signup bonus: 32,000 bonus points. If you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days, you’ll earn 32,000 bonus points. That’s enough points for a two-night stay in a Choice Privileges hotel chain.
  • Rewards: Earn points on everyday purchases, and more on Choice Privileges purchases. On everyday purchases, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent.
    On Choice Privileges purchases, you’ll earn more rewards. You’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent on Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotels gift cards. And when you make purchases at Choice Privileges locations, you’ll earn 15 points per dollar spent (10 from Choice Privileges; five from the card).
  • Bonus points. Every year that you spend $10,000 or more with your card by your account anniversary, you’ll earn 8,000 bonus points. And each time you book a stay with Choice Hotels, you’ll earn 10% bonus points.
  • No annual fee

You’ll also like …

  • Complimentary Gold status. Every year, you’ll automatically reach Gold status in the Choice Privileges loyalty program. With this status tier, you’ll gain access to an exclusive reservations and customer service phone number. You can also book reward nights 50 days in advance (typically, you can only book 30 days in advance).
  • Intro balance transfer APR. Get 0% APR for the first fifteen billing cycles on balance transfers that post within the first 45 days.
  • Concierge service. Call Visa for assistance with dining, travel and entertainment reservations.
  • $0 Fraud Liability protection. You’re not responsible for unauthorized charges you report to Visa.

What to watch out for

  • Potentially high APR. Depending on your credit, you could have a purchase and balance transfer APR as high as 16.49%, 21.24% or 26.24% variable.
  • Higher APR for cash advances. Cash advances come with a 26.49% variable APR.
  • Other fees. The card has balance transfer, cash advance and foreign transaction fees.
  • Penalty fees. Late and returned payments can hurt: You’ll pay up to $37.00.

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card, you must be at least 18 years old and a US resident. Residents of Puerto Rico and US territories are not eligible.

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a credit card.

Information you’ll need

  • Full name and contact information
  • Residential status
  • Annual income and employment information
  • Social Security number, date of birth and mother’s maiden name

What credit score do I need?

You’ll have a better chance of approval for the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.

How to apply for the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card

1. Go to the Barclaycard Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card site and click Apply Now.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card step 1

2. Complete the application with details like your name, contact information, employment information and Social Security number. Then click Apply to submit your application.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card step 2

How long will it take to be approved?

Typically, you’ll receive an immediate decision on your application. In rare cases, you may need to wait a few days to a few weeks until Barclaycard manually approves your application.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Make timely payments. Pay your bill online at the Barclaycard website, where you can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 23 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $37. Balance transfers, cash advances and foreign transactions also come with fees.
  • Customer service. If you have questions, contact Barclaycard customer service at 866-928-8598.

Bottom line

If you rarely stay at Choice Hotels, consider a general travel card like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards. You’ll get a better rewards rate, and you won’t have to spend with Choice Hotels to maximize your points.

If you’re a regular at Choice Hotels, this is an excellent card. Through consistent stays, you’ll accumulate many points that you can redeem for free nights and more.

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