Trust me when I say that I’m not just pumping this deal up to make for an exciting post… I can say with 100% sincerity that one of the best hotel promotions of any kind is back this spring and we’re absolutely thrilled. The Choice Hotels “Stay Twice get a Free Night” promotion.
Wyndham is currently running a similar promotion and I discussed it here. While it’s nice, this one is a whole different animal for a variety of reasons.
You have to play the game a little though, so this is how it works…
Essentially they’re running a promotion now that allows you to stay for 2 nights and get enough points for a free third night at one of their cheaper hotels or enough points to cover a large chunk of the fee for a more expensive hotel. We did this last fall and got WAY more points than we generally would have for the same stays. The best part is, the promotion runs through May 25th and there’s no limit to how many times you can do it. You do need to register for the promotion, but you can keep doing this over and over.
That said you do have to know how to play the game a little bit, so here’s what I’ve found out.
1) Obviously you need to sign up for Choice Privileges (which is free and not tied to a credit card at all unless you get it to add an extra 5 points per purchase at a Choice Hotel and you might as well since there’s no annual fee. I have it and I love it but BEWARE of the interest rate). Then you have to register for the promotion at the link above.
2) DO NOT stay at the same hotel 2 nights in a row. That’s a complete waste. You need 2 separate qualifying stays which means two separate stays at one of their hotels. Normally you’re free to do this with Choice, but don’t do it during this promotion. When we visited Busch Gardens Tampa last year we got into town on Friday night, went to the park on Saturday (with the 1 AM close) and needed to stay right near the park on Saturday night. Ideally we would have loved to just stay at the same hotel both nights but I booked a Comfort Suites one night and a Sleep Inn the next night for no f*cking reason other than to get it to count as 2 separate stays which worked. You can’t fool the system by checking out and back into the same hotel. You need to actually pick two hotels. I know it’s stupid, but it’s worth doing.
3) From what I can tell there’s actually no benefit to staying at a nice hotel (from a points standpoint, obviously your tolerance for mediocrity may vary). Normally when I pay for a room and don’t use points (rare since it’s so easy to rack up points with Choice) I stay at Comfort Suites or Sleep Inn (which I consider to be their best offerings) since I know I get 15 points per dollar anyway so I don’t mind splurging a little but with this promotion you seem to get 8000 points no matter what so I suggest racking up sh*tty Econo Lodge stays. For our trip last fall we stayed at Comfort Suites and Sleep Inn because the economy options nearby had horrendous reviews, but you get more bang for your buck by staying at cheap hotels. Kind of weird, but it seems like a loophole that they overlooked. You’re getting the same amount of points regardless of what you spend on the room anyway. By the way, AAA rates or other discounted rates will all work for this promotion.
4) Rooms booked at rates below $40 per night don’t qualify. I know you’ll never find that in most parts of the country and if you do you should run away kicking and screaming but I’ve actually been to a few places where you can get a decent room for $40 a night (like Las Vegas or the Midwest for example) so I figured I’d point that out. If you’re near that threshold, pony up some extra cash for a better room (ooooh, a $41 room, treat yourself! You’ve earned it!).
The major benefits to this program (when compared to the Wyndham program) are really the variable redemption rates. With Wyndham, a Super 8 near a truck stop in North Dakota is the exact same amount of points as Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip when you go to redeem the points. That’s completely nonsensical and only works out for you if you never want to redeem points for cheaper rooms. The other (and even better) benefit to this program is that you can do this an unlimited number of times between now and May 25th. Get to booking, and remember to register first!