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Choice elite status: What it is and how to earn it

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In mid-2023, Radisson Rewards Americas became fully integrated into Choice Privileges. This integration brought new, improved benefits to Choice Privileges status, including complimentary breakfast at select Radisson brands for top-tier elite members.

Even so, Choice elite status doesn’t offer as many perks as some of the best hotel elite status tiers. But some travelers still find value in earning Choice status, so let’s take a closer look.

What is Choice Privileges elite status?

Choice elite status offers some perks and extra rewards when you stay at hotels and resorts that participate in Choice Privileges. In addition to hotel brands like Radisson, Comfort Inn and Clarion, some casino hotels, all-inclusive resorts and extended-stay hotels also participate in Choice Privileges.

You must qualify for Choice status each calendar year. Each time you qualify, you’ll keep your status through the end of the next calendar year.

Choice elite status tiers

The Choice Privileges program offers four membership tiers. The first membership tier — member — doesn’t have any specific requirements. But the program also had three Choice status tiers that you can earn as follows each calendar year:

  • Gold: 10 nights
  • Platinum: 20 nights
  • Diamond: 40 nights

In addition to elite status benefits, all Choice Privileges members can earn extra rewards on stays that include a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night through the Choice Hotels Your Extras program.

How to qualify for Choice elite status

To qualify for Choice elite status, you must stay a specific number of point-eligible or reward nights with participating Choice Privileges properties each calendar year. As discussed above, you’ll need to stay 10 qualifying nights for Gold, 20 nights for Platinum and 40 nights for Diamond during each calendar year.

The Ridgeline Hotel-Estes Park, Ascend Hotel Collection
A room at The Ridgeline Hotel-Estes Park, Ascend Hotel Collection, in Colorado. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

However, WoodSpring Suites does not participate in Choice Privileges, and stays of more than six nights at MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotels and Everhome Suites do not earn one night toward earning elite status for every qualifying night stayed. Instead, for stays of seven nights or more at these brands, you’ll accrue one night toward earning elite status for every two qualifying nights (up to 15 nights toward earning elite status per stay).

You’ll usually need to book your stay through Choice channels to earn points. However, you won’t earn Choice points or nights toward elite status when you book directly with Ascend Hotel Collection all-inclusive resorts or casino locations.

Some rates don’t qualify for points — including room rates below $40 per night and certain hotel-initiated promotions — and some hotels don’t participate in Choice Privileges. The Choice terms and conditions tell members they “may always call your hotel to confirm that it participates in the Choice Privileges program and that your rate plan qualifies for points.”

Related: Choice Hotels Sweet Spot Rewards: Hotels you can currently stay at for fewer points

Choice elite status benefits

The Choice elite status benefits aren’t as extensive as what you’ll find in some other hotel loyalty programs. But here’s a look at some of the elite benefits and how they differ based on your Choice status.

Elite bonus points

Choice Privileges members usually earn 10 base points per dollar paid for qualifying room rates (excluding taxes and incidental charges) at participating hotels. However, for stays in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan), members earn 10 points per dollar for eligible charges (including accommodation, tax, food, beverage, laundry and phone calls). You won’t earn points on stays at WoodSpring Suites, and you’ll only earn 5 points per dollar when staying at extended-stay brands for seven nights or more (earning is capped at 30 nights for these stays).

On top of these points offered to all members, Choice elite members earn bonus points based on their status tier: Gold members get a 10% bonus, Platinum members get a 25% bonus and Diamond members get a 50% bonus.

Related: How to earn points with the Choice Privileges Eat & Earn dining rewards program

Reserved parking

You’ll find several parking spots closer to the hotel entrance with elite parking signage at some Choice Privileges properties. These spaces are first-come, first-served for Gold elite members and above.

Early check-in and late checkout

Gold elite members and above can request complimentary early check-in and extended checkout. Members with Choice status can request early check-in up to two hours earlier than the stated check-in time at most hotels. However, early check-in requests are granted based on availability.

Elite members can also request late checkout as late as 2 p.m. when staying in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean or up to two hours past the standard checkout time when staying in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and most other international locations. However, late checkout is given based on availability and must be requested before the stated checkout time.

Elite welcome gift

Gold elite members and above get a welcome gift at check-in for some points-earning stays. In particular, Gold elite members and above can expect:

  • Cambria Hotels property in the U.S.: 250 bonus points
  • Radisson Individuals, Radisson Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson Red, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean: 250 bonus points
  • Clarion, Sleep Inn, Quality or Mainstay Suites property in the U.S.: A snack and beverage or 200 bonus points
  • Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn or Suburban Studios property in the U.S.: A snack and beverage or 100 bonus points
  • Ascend Hotel Collection, Clarion, Comfort or Quality property in Canada: A snack and beverage or 250 bonus points
  • MainStay Suites or Sleep Inn property in Canada: A snack and beverage or 200 bonus points
  • Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn or Suburban Studios property in Canada: A beverage or 100 bonus points

Elite rollover nights

If you have Gold elite status or above and earned more elite-qualifying nights than you need for your status, you can roll over the extra nights to the next year. Gold members can roll over up to nine nights, Platinum members can roll over up to 19 nights and Diamond members can roll over up to 39 nights.

Status match with Penn Play Rewards

Choice elite status members can match their status to Penn Play Rewards, with Diamond members matching to Penn Play Preferred and Gold and Platinum members matching to Penn Play Advantage. Choice Privileges members can also earn and redeem Choice points at Penn properties.

Bluegreen Vacations Fountains, Ascend Resort Collection, in Florida
Bluegreen Vacations Fountains, Ascend Resort Collection, in Florida. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Room upgrades

Choice members with Gold status and above are eligible for complimentary room upgrades in select regions at the following brands:

  • Cambria and Ascend Hotel Collection: Worldwide
  • Radisson, Radisson Blu, Radisson Red, Radisson Collection, Radisson Individuals and Park Plaza: Only in North America, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean

However, upgrades are subject to availability and determined by each property at check-in. Upgrades might include suites, recently renovated rooms, rooms on a higher or lower floor and rooms with better views — but some hotels in participating brands don’t participate in upgrades, and hotels aren’t required to upgrade elite members to any specific room type. In practice, the only notable upgrade I’ve gotten when staying at participating Choice brands is a room on a higher floor.

Related: 8 tips to help you upgrade your hotel room for free

Complimentary breakfast

Top-tier Diamond elite members gained access to complimentary breakfast at select brands when Choice Privileges integrated Radisson Rewards Americas. As such, it is unsurprising that only select legacy Radisson Rewards Americas brands offer Diamond elite members free breakfast during their stays.

Specifically, Diamond elite members and an additional guest registered to the same room as the member can enjoy free breakfast when staying at Radisson, Radisson Blu, Radisson Red, Radisson Collection, Radisson Individuals and Park Plaza brands in North America, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. The breakfast offering will vary by hotel but may include a fixed menu, continental breakfast or buffet breakfast.

All guests get complimentary breakfast at some Choice brands, including Quality Inn, Comfort Hotels, Sleep Inn and Country Inn & Suites.

Related: Which hotel has the best free breakfast?

Can a credit card help earn Choice elite status?

Having the right credit card can help you earn Choice elite status. Choice Privileges offers two cobranded credit cards: the Choice Privileges® Mastercard® (see rates and fees) and the Choice Privileges® Select Mastercard® (see rates and fees). Both Choice Privileges cards offer a set number of elite night credits each calendar year that qualify you for a specific status and can help you earn higher elite status tiers.

The Choice Privileges Mastercard has no annual fee yet provides 10 elite night credits each calendar year. These elite night credits are enough for you to earn Gold elite status every year and count toward helping you earn higher tiers of Choice status.

However, the Choice Privileges Select Mastercard is a better option for most Choice guests. This card has a $95 annual fee, but provides 30,000 bonus points every account anniversary. Based on TPG’s valuations, these bonus points are worth $180, almost double the card’s annual fee. Plus, the Choice Privileges Select Mastercard gives cardholders 20 elite night credits each calendar year, which is enough for Platinum elite status and means you’d only need 20 more nights each calendar year to earn Diamond elite status.

Related: Choice Privileges Select Mastercard review: Elite status and bonus points each year

Is Choice elite status worth it?

If you’re reading this article, you may wonder whether Choice elite status is worth pursuing. For most travelers, the benefits of Choice status aren’t worth going out of the way to earn. As such, I recommend staying at Choice properties when it makes sense and perhaps getting the Choice Privileges Select Mastercard since its anniversary bonus points each year should provide significantly more value than its annual fee.

By doing so, you may earn Choice status, earning you more points on qualifying paid stays and providing benefits on some stays. But these benefits are relatively minor — unless you earn Diamond status and tend to stay at brands where you’ll get free breakfast as a Diamond elite member — so I don’t recommend going out of your way to earn Choice status.

However, it may be worth becoming a Choice Privileges member, and booking stays directly with Choice even if you don’t plan to earn status. After all, the Choice Privileges program offers many perks to members on qualifying stays, including Choice promotions, member rates, mobile check-in and Your Extras on weeknight stays. Plus, you can get a lot of value when redeeming Choice points.

Related: Redeem Choice points for a Maldives resort, half-board hotels, suites and more

Bottom line

The benefits you’ll get through Choice elite status are minimal, especially compared to what is offered at high tiers of World of Hyatt status or Marriott Bonvoy status.

However, especially if you have the Choice Privileges Select Mastercard, you won’t need all that many nights at Choice Hotels to earn top-tier Diamond status. And Choice Diamond status may be useful due to its bonus points and breakfast perks at select brands. Even lower tiers of Choice status may be useful in keeping you out of the worst rooms and getting you a slightly earlier or later checkout on some stays.