Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
This credit card is best if you primarily stay at Choice Hotels properties when you travel. There are 12 brands in the Choice Hotels network with more 7,000 properties worldwide, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. But these tend to be more budget-level properties than luxury properties, so if you’re going for the occasional splurge we might recommend another brand such as Marriott or Hyatt.
We’d also recommend this card if you only travel occasionally. If you travel more frequently (such as a few times per year) you might be better off with a premium travel rewards card. That’s because even though they generally come with an annual fee, what you earn through the card’s rewards program may exceed your annual fee.
Competitive welcome bonus
Anniversary point bonus
0% APR balance transfer offer
Good earnings rate at Choice Hotels properties
Foreign transaction fee
Points can expire after 18 months of inactivity
- Competitive welcome bonus: We calculate that the card’s bonus is worth more than all but one no-annual-fee hotel rewards card.
- Anniversary point bonus: If you spend at least $10,000 per year, you’ll get an 8,000 -point bonus on your cardholder anniversary, which is enough points to book a rewards night.
- 0% APR balance transfer offer: While not unheard of, a travel-focused card with 0% APR balance transfer offer isn’t the norm. The Choice Privileges card gives you 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers.
- Good earnings rate at Choice Hotels properties: You’ll earn 15 points for every dollar you spend at a Choice Hotels hotel—more than double what similar cards offer.
- Foreign transaction fee: Typically, travel cards don’t have foreign transaction fees. However, the Choice Privileges card charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions. If you travel abroad, be wary of this charge.
- Points can expire after 18 months of inactivity: If you go more than 18 months without having some sort of “qualifying activity” like redeeming or earning points, your points will expire.
The Choice Privileges suspended point forfeitures through Dec. 31, 2020.
Bonus for New Cardholders
You can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, and another 25,000 after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 180 days. That's a potential bonus of 75,000 points. We estimate that Choice Privileges points are worth 0.84 cents each, which makes this bonus worth about $630 when you redeem them for more Choice Hotels stays.
Barclays claims that this is enough points to book up to six rewards nights at a Choice Hotels property. But remember, their estimate is a best-case scenario and it may not always be possible to book six nights with your bonus. For example, a room’s points cost can fluctuate depending on the demand and the day of the week, so the number of actual hotel stays 50,000 points buys you might be less than you expect.
Choice Privileges indicates that, while there are rooms for 6,000 points per night, most rooms you book will cost more than 8,000 points per night.
Earning Points & Rewards
There are two ways to earn spending-based points with the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card.
First, everything you buy will earn at least two points for every dollar you spend, and when you use your card at Choice Privileges hotels, you’ll instead earn 15 points per dollar. That’s a much higher earnings rate than most similar hotel rewards cards offer.
If you spend at least $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn an 8,000-point bonus at your next cardholder anniversary. Hitting that spending threshold requires an average monthly spend of $834.
If your account is past due, you may not be able to earn points.
Choice Privileges offers several ways to redeem your rewards, but we’d recommend sticking to the basics and using them for hotel stays because your points are most valuable when you use them that way. Your points are worth about 0.84 cents each when you redeem them for stays at Choice Privileges properties.
In general, you’ll need 8,000-35,000 points to book a rewards room, with some hotels in Asia requiring 75,000 points per night. One of the nice things with this program is that you can use points and cash to book a stay if you don’t have enough points saved up for the hotel you’re looking to book.
Also, you can redeem your points for charitable donations and gift cards.
You can transfer your points to several airline programs and one rail program, but the transfer ratio isn’t that great compared to other cards, so we don’t recommend it. Furthermore, Choice Privileges has two groups of transfer partners. The first group processes your points transfers quickly:
- Aeroplan: 5:1, minimum 5,000 points
- Alaska Airlines: 5:1, minimum 5,000 points
- Amtrak Guest Rewards: 6.4:1
- Club Premier: 5:1, minimum 5,000 points
- Qantas Frequent Flyer: 2.5:1, minimum 20,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards: 3.3:1, minimum 6,000 points
- United MileagePlus: 2.5:1, minimum 5,000 points
The second group of travel partners include big names, but it can take between two to six weeks for your points to transfer:
- American Airlines AAdvantage: 5:1
- Czech Airlines: 5:1
- Spirit Airlines: 5:1
- Velocity Frequent Flyer: 2.5:1
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
You can wring the most value from this card by using it exclusively to pay for stays at Choice Hotels and by hitting the $10,000 spending bonus each year. Aside from that, we’d recommend evaluating what your greatest spending areas are, and whether a card with higher bonuses in those categories could work.
For example, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on gasoline purchases with this card, which translates into 1.68 cents of value towards a Choice Privileges hotel stay. But if you use another card that offers 2% cash back on gas purchases, you’ll earn 2 cents per dollar spent that you can use for anything you want, including Choice Privileges hotels stays.
This card comes with one perk that The Balance's editorial team considers a valuable benefit:
- Elite hotel status: You’ll automatically be bumped up to the first elite tier level (Elite Gold) with this card, which nets you 10% more points on Choice Privileges hotel stays, among other things.
- Discounts when booking through the Choice Privileges app or website
Barclays ranks slightly below average and finished ninth out of 11 credit card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2020 survey of credit card customer satisfaction.
Barclays offers 24/7 phone-based customer service. Through the Barclays app, you can manage your accounts and view your complimentary FICO score.
Barclays offers standard security features such as text alerts and two-factor authentication. You’ll get access to even more security features if you use the mobile app, where you can lock your card, use contactless payments, and more.
Fees to Watch Out For
This card doesn’t come with any fees that are out of line for similar cards, with the exception of the 3% foreign transaction fee. If you stay in the United States this shouldn’t be a problem but the whole point of a travel card is to travel, and sometimes abroad—and if you do, we suggest leaving this card at home.