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How to use Amex points and a sneaky Choice hotels trick to get 5 star hotel discounts

Miles Amex Business Platinum

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If you’re like me, odds are, when you hear the name Choice hotels, the likes of Quality Inn, Comfort Suites, etc come to mind. Great budget minded hotels, but the thought of getting pampered silly isn’t synonymous with the brand.  That’s where we are both a bit wrong. While the overall hotel chain isn’t taking the luxury hotel market head on, their points program actually does an excellent job of opening up high end redemption options through their partnership with Preferred hotels.  Let me walk you through how you can use 6k Amex points and a trick to gain huge discounts at luxury properties within the Preferred hotel umbrella.

Choice hotels runs a cash + points redemption program

If you’re familiar with the IHG cash + points trick this one is very similar. Essentially, as long as you have a minimum of 6k points in your account, you can buy the remaining points needed for a redemption at just $7.50 per 1000 points.

You just need to make sure you follow these rules/steps set forth by Choice:

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Miles – I don’t have an Choice hotel points. Hello Amex.

Other than just buying the 6k points when there is a juicy sale, you can just transfer the 6k points over 1:1 from your Amex account. The transfer is instant and you’ll be able to start booking Cash + Points awards. We wouldn’t advise using any more than 6k to boost your account solely because Amex points are worth far more than $0.0075 you’ll pay to buy what you need with Choice.

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An example of HUGE savings. The Montage Laguna Beach.

Preferred hotels can’t be booked online, you need to phone in, but you can check avail and search redemption levels at Preferred hotels here.  The Montage Laguna is a super lux 5 star hotel with nosebleed prices. Predictably, this property is priced at the top of Choice’s redemption level at 55k points.

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You check avail and see that you can go over November 2-4

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Let’s say you want to keep the 6k points in your account for future cash + points bookings and you buy 2 nights worth of points: 110k.

Two nights would set you back $825. No small amount. But how does this compare to paying outright at the resort?

Buying the points will save you over $1000

What if I need to cancel? This is actually a great workaround.

Much in the same vein as IHG’s program, the refund is solely in the form of points. So in the above scenarios, the 110k points would be refunded, not the money paid to buy the points.

If for some reason a phone rep gives you a hard time about buying points via the “points + cash” program for Preferred Hotels properties…don’t argue, simply hang up and find a hotel within the broader Choice umbrella that you can make a dummy booking with to buy the points needed. Cancel it and the points will be deposited in your account. Phone back in with the needed points in your account and book the property you want.

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Is there a maximum amount of points you can buy.

Yes, 250k

Not just 5 star hotels

Properties like the Montage Laguna Beach are stupid expensive. Hell, even at $400ish a night they are really expensive, but for a special occasion, perhaps more within reach than the nearly $1k a night you’d pay direct to the hotel.  We like to illustrate ways of accessing flights and hotels that are aspirational, but these tricks can be applied to most any price point. Hope this has helped!

Overall:

Amex and Choice are partners, often overlooked, but worthwhile for these specific purposes. This technique is ongoing, but there are many times throughout the year whereby Choice sells their points for even less than this deal.  If you’re thinking you’d take advantage of these redemption options in the future, I’d highly recommend buying the 6k needed to initiate a “cash + points” redemption rather than move 6k Amex over, but the transfer option is always there if need be.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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Affiliate LInk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


4.8
4.8/5
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Annual Fee

$95

Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex®  and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

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.

8 Comments

  • […] Use Points For Discounts On Choice Hotels:  Even if you’ve been in this hobby for a while, you still stumble across some sweetspots, or some tricks that save you a boatload of points or cash.  Here’s one that I never knew. You’re welcome!! […]

  • SANFORD FOGG October 17, 2018

    I just tried checking availability of several Preferred hotels and there is no availability, ever. Maybe not such a great deal if you cannot find availability.

    • Miles October 17, 2018

      Sanford – really? I looked at 10+ and found quite a bit of availability ( a couple were blocked) however, while i didn’t check every hotel, it does seem the 2019 charts haven’t been loaded yet so they were showing red across the board. will be good to check back on them

      • Sanford Fogg October 17, 2018

        OK. I was checking 2019 dates. I’ll check back in a month or so.

  • Sonya October 15, 2018

    Most of the hotels don’t have redemption values this good. Often the price to purchase the points is greater than just booking the hotel directly. I have only seen a few examples where hotels are priced in cash high enough to justify this work around, often only the very top 55K category. The other hotel categories tend to have relatively inexpensive hotels. Always check before you buy!

    • Miles October 15, 2018

      Sonya – definitely want to make sure its advantageous

  • mojo October 14, 2018

    Who processes the points purchase, is it Points.com? Or is it processed buy Choice Hotels directly?

    Thinking about the whole 3x with CSR angle here….

    • Miles October 14, 2018

      hey mojo – it’d be points.com

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