Are Choice Hotels getting a leg up on Hyatt?

Welcome to our Frequent Miler Week in Review Around the Web, where we recap some of the best stories this week from around the Internet. This week we look at a couple of sides of the loyalty coin.

Choice Hotels Is Adding An Elite Benefit That Hyatt Took Away

Cambria Choice Hotels


Read that title again :-). That is not a group of words I’d have ever expected to have strung together in that order. Choice continues to make a play for travel loyalty, and there are some strong values in the program. Just this past week, I was looking at a hotel for a last-minute trip my parents needed to make. A Clarion Hotel that fit their needs was $108+tax or 12,000 Choice points per night — a value of more than 1 cent per point after tax is calculated. And now Choice is upping the game with Elite recognition. Will Choice become my new go-to hotel program? Probably not. But with 8,000 points after 2 nights, great benefits at Nordic Choice hotels, and now this — I wouldn’t argue too hard against choosing Choice. It’s certainly worth a status match if you have some upcoming stays.

Free Breakfast – The Most Overrated Hotel Loyalty Benefit

Sriram at Travel Codex argues that hotel breakfast is the most overrated hotel loyalty benefit. I’m going to totally disagree with him. Can you get a cheap, more authentic breakfast elsewhere in the city you are visiting? Absolutely. But there is something really relaxing about easing my way into the day by strolling downstairs for breakfast and being able to come back up and sit in the room for a few minutes to digest. I enjoy not stressing about having to get together what I need for a day of sight-seeing before I’ve had my first cup of coffee and something warm in my stomach. Furthermore, I think I actually get up and out of the hotel earlier than I would if I were paying for breakfast — free breakfast forces me to wake up during breakfast hours and get a start to my day. Is it enough of a benefit for me to re-qualify for Hyatt Globalist? Absolutely not. Is it worth an annual fee? I’d say it certainly is if you spend $10K a year on the Citi Hilton Reserve (good for a free night and at least 30K Hilton points towards another on top of the automatic Gold status). Other cards perhaps provide less value — but I still don’t think free breakfast is overrated — do you?

Hotel cashback portal participation (it’s complicated)

The Free-quent Flyer has a great tip that I recently noticed but hadn’t yet researched. If you book your hotel stays through a cash back portal, you might be surprised to learn how little you qualify for based on your status with the chain. Did you know that being loyal to a chain means less cash back for you?

Travel Fail: Scheduling a Rental Car Pick Up for 1am

In a timely piece for me, Dakota – aka Majored in Miles at Travel Update — writes about an easy pitfall to encounter, and the fantastic customer service he received from another rental company thanks to his loyalty status (free, I assume, with his credit card). He also may have saved me an inconvenience with this post. Last night, I was flying to Colorado Springs but my connecting flight got cancelled. I rebooked to Denver and booked a one-way rental to get me to Colorado Springs (where I planned to pick up my original rental car). I wanted to stop for dinner on the way from Denver. It was late, and I probably wouldn’t have thought to call the rental counter in Colorado Springs to find out what time they close if not for this post. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in a quick stop at Waffle House on the way down — if I didn’t know I had to hurry, I might have missed the counter agent.

That’s it for this week around the web. Check back soon for this week’s last chance deals.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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9 Comments on "Are Choice Hotels getting a leg up on Hyatt?"

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Thanks for the link, even if you disagree with my premise 🙂 With all due respect, your counterargument essentially proves my point – the allure of free breakfast causes us to make poor economic decisions to obtain mid-tier status. In your example, not only are you paying the $75 annual fee, but you’re shifting $10,000 worth of spend to a points currency worth, at most, 0.4 cents/point when you could be earning a currency worth far more with category bonuses, etc., for the free breakfast (and the weekend night in your case). Plus, if you’re spending more to stay at a Hilton compared to a competitor to take advantage of the breakfast, what’s the additional incremental cost to account for? I’m just not convinced that the value proposition is as clear-cut as some make it out to be.


There is lots of stuff wrong with this analysis. First of all, I get 6X on my Hilton Surpass at grocery stores, which is where I get VGCs. So, that’s 2.4 cpp at your calculation (it’s not “at most” .4 cpp—that’s just bogus), which assumes an average redemption (I usually do better than that). So, I’m earning considerably better than I would with a 2% cashback card.

For a solo traveler spending a single night, free breakfast might not amount to much, because you might just get some food in an airport lounge. But this is a completely different equation for families traveling. For a family of four spending a week in a hotel on the beach, free breakfast is a monster benefit. That’s also when an upgraded room as a result of the status is going to make a big difference.


When I travel, it’s usually with my wife and two kids. My son is 14 and is at the stage that he eats more than my wife and I combined. A substantial free breakfast is more valuable than any other benefit a hotel could offer my family. I totally agree with you

Biggie F

Count me in total agreement with your take on the Hyatt free breakfast, which I will soon be losing when my Glob status comes to an end. Too hard to re-qualify (and I write this as someone who is dropping $3500 for hotels on current trip in cities without Hyatts). For weekend or vacation travel with spouse, a big breakfast in a good or even half-decent Hyatt starts the day off well and usually more-or-less holds us through dinner. So, no, I don’t see it as over-rated. Packaged with 4pm checkout, it has allowed us to have some amazingly luxuriant stays at places where we would otherwise always be running around on someone else’s schedule.


From someone who often pays for three people to have breakfast at a resort hotel, this can be worth a lot. Often I’m not leaving the property for days by choice and the meals really add up. I’m not shifting any spending to requalify or staying at different hotels than I would, but have had the benefit through some status matches and it is nice.

Bob Brooks

Can you go into more details about what you meant by “great benefits at Nordic Choice Hotels”? I have some travel in Norway I am planning in the future and if you any advice on that or could point me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you


I wouldn’t do crazy mattress running or anything, but as a family with 3 teenage boys, we often seek out lower-level hotels that include free breakfast, and have gotten a ridiculous amount of value out of the free breakfast Hyatt Diamond status (from the match, not earned!) afforded us last year. To us, it is not overrated at all. I agree with Nick’s analysis that going down to grab food while everyone is getting ready is a great intangible benefit.