Choice Hotels College Sports Experiences
I bet you didn't think my best hotel points redemption would be with Choice Hotels did you? You are not alone, I didn't either! This week was a whirlwind experience, one that I couldn't help but continue to say, this doesn't make any sense. When a deal seems too good to be real it gives you pause. Some people may even resist pulling the trigger on it, but not me. That is exactly what I did with the Choice Hotels college sports experiences offer.
What Is Choice Hotels College Sports Experiences?
Never heard of the Choice Hotels college sports experiences program? Me either! It was some new thing that popped up Wednesday that I hope becomes a more regular thing. I was alerted to it in a sports chat I am in with some miles and points buddies. Like we always said, the best stuff comes from networking at meet ups! By the time I finished up grabbing this insane deal the email went out to all Choice Hotels members and then it was picked up by blogs. By then it was a waste of digital ink because they were unfortunately already gone.
These offers were great, to downright insane, depending on if you got a Gold package (I think only one per team) or a Silver package (I think a few per team). Here are a few of the different offers that were out there:
My First Target Was Florida
There were some surprisingly amazing options to pick from. Louisville vs Notre Dame, Michigan vs Ohio State, Florida vs Florida State or Arkansas etc.
My first choice was the Florida versus Florida State game because my oldest friend is a Florida grad. I know that is a big rivalry and the perks you got for the price, 150,000 Choice points, were insane. I value Choice points below one cent a piece; heck you can buy them for $0.006 or less at times. So these 150K packages had a cost of like $900 in points. That is why we all initially thought they were a mistake. We assumed it was likely a bidding war scenario that they set up wrong, or it would change to that once clicking through.
Once I confirmed with my buddy that he was good with the dates, which wasn't ideal being Thanksgiving weekend and all, I got to transferring points to Choice. I still have 50K in there from the amazing Daily Getaways deal but needed 100,000 more points.
Unfortunately I don't have any Citi ThankYou points, a story for another day, but those would have been the best option with a 2 to 1 transfer to Choice Hotels. Instead I went to my Capital One account first since they are what I consider my least valuable points. I transferred the 50,000 points I had in there over to Choice. After that I checked the ToP transfer tool, definitely the wrong order, and was hit with despair when the tool said it can take up to 12 – 24 hours for that transfer. I figured I had just moved 50K Capital One miles from my Venture Business X for no reason. I immediately went to my Choice account and I was hit with relief when they were already in there.
Next up was Amex and my healthy stash thanks to all of their No Lifetime Language and Authorized User Bonus offers. The ToP Transfer Tool said immediate for this transfer and I pushed the other 50K needed over. Just like that, I had 150,000 Choice Privileges points in my account.
I ran back to the Choice Hotels page and clicked through the Florida game and … sold out. They still had the Silver Package but it wasn't near as valuable and flights were expensive for that game etc. so we decided to pass on it.
Grabbing The Back Up Plan
I was now sitting on 150K Choice points, 100K of which I burned from transferrable currencies, not a great spot to be in. I had noticed the Rutgers package earlier when scanning through all of them. This was only an option because they happen to be playing my favorite team, Michigan State. Knowing what I know now, any Gold package was worth booking though. I still wanted to see if there was a cooler environment to go to though, since Rutgers isn't exactly known to be a college football mecca, but over half of the Gold packages were gone already. The other ones that were still available didn't have dates that worked for me. So I circled back to Rutgers vs MSU. Was it worth it? A lot hinged on the $750 travel voucher per person. That is when I fired up the offer terms.
Terms Of The Offer:
As part of the Gold VIP Package, you may be given a $750 per person gift card (as specified in the package; limit two), which can be used at U.S. merchants who honor the issuing network’s card. Some limitations apply, including restrictions on use for recurring bills; see the relevant cardholder agreement for complete details. The card cannot be redeemed for cash, except where required by law. You are responsible for any income or other taxes.
If specified in Package details, you may also receive a two-night Choice® hotel stay. Reservations must be made through your Choice Privilege Representative and availability is not guaranteed; if a hotel room is not available, you will be awarded an equivalent number of Choice Privileges® points that you can use for a future stay. The stay only includes the room rate and any fees or taxes on the room rate; you are responsible for any incidentals or other expenses and the hotel may require you to provide both valid government identification and credit card. If you are provided a room and you do not check in as booked, that stay is forfeited (and you will not be provided substitute compensation).
My Understanding Of The Terms
I read that and thought, this has to mean they are giving $750 per person in Visa gift cards, or something similar. That was a lot better than saying we will book your flight for up to $750 or something like that. Initially, I thought the voucher may be something like a future booking at Choice Hotels. The more I looked at the terms the more I figured I was right about the gift card. The other thing I was curious about was if the two night stay was for the weekend of the game or if it could be used later. The $1500 was enough reasons for me to burn the 150K in points though. It alone was more valuable than the points were and everything else was just gravy. So I pulled the trigger and hit submit!
What Did I End Up Getting?
I have to admit that I was waiting for the shoe to drop for the next several hours. I figured this had to have been a mistake, someone forgot to turn the bid box on versus an outright buy box. Luckily I didn't have to wait the up to 48 hours to get my email. It came 3 – 4 hours later and here are the details of what I get from this offer:
- Two (2) Pre-game hospitality passes
- I believe this is like a pregame tailgate tent
- Two (2) Pre-game Sideline Passes (with escort)
- I have been lucky enough to get sideline passes before (see picture above) and it is a super cool experience.
- Two (2) VIP Club Tickets
- These look to be box seats on the Rutgers site that comes with access to a buffet and the only bar in the stadium etc.
- One (1) Premium Parking Pass
- I won't use this since I won't be driving so if there are any Rutgers (or MSU) fans out there that could use it let me know.
- $100 Gift card to team store
- Swag time for the kids!
- $750 per person travel voucher = $1,500 total for 2 people
- This ended up being 3 x $500 virtual Visa gift cards (nuts!)
- Two (2) night Choice Hotel stay
- They offered to book us at The Peacock Inn which looks like an awesome Ascend hotel (independently owned hotels in the Choice program) but it was in Princeton. That was 40+ minutes from the game which wasn't ideal. There wasn't anything else that really worked so I told them we would make other plans for the stay. This would have been like another $700 though.
Choice Hotels College Sports Experiences: ToP Thoughts
Pure insanity. The game tickets, field access and pregame tailgate would have been worth the cost of the points alone, everything else just blows my mind. Easily a 2 – 3 cents per point redemption, which is amazing for Choice points. If I had just bought the 150K points it would have cost $500 or so less than the Visa gift cards are worth and then you would get everything else on top of that. That is how good this deal was.
While I have had better cents per point redemptions, even if not with Choice Hotels, this memory will probably rank above most all of them. It is something unique that only points could have offered me. I think it will rank right up there with winning a trip to Hawaii for $6.