Travel News: Wyndham wins title of best hotel rewards program!

When travel bloggers talk about their favorite hotel rewards program, you hear a lot about the Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards programs, but when US News & World Report Travel tallied up their scores, Wyndham Rewards won the number 1 spot! After causing a stir last year when they through out complicated award tables and offered all hotels for 15,000 points/night without blackout nights, they followed up with new elite level perks this year – and passed last years winner Marriott to win the trophy! Find out what else helped them win and who made it into the top 10!

You probably want to know where the other big programs landed, so here is the top ten list of the hotel rewards programs:

Rank Program Score
1 Wyndham Rewards 4.77
2 tie Choice Privileges 4.64
2 tie Marriott Rewards 4.64
4 Best Western Rewards 4.24
5 La Quinta Returns 4.21
6 Club Carlson 4.08
7 Hyatt Gold Passport 3.97
8 Hilton HHonors 3.95
9 IHG Rewards 3.87
10 Leaders Club 3.81

If yesterdays post “Battle of the Budget Hotels” didn’t get you to look more closely at the budget chains, this ranking should: They are taking up three of the top 4 spots – so how did they beat out their popular rivals from the upscale chains? While the 15,000 points for a free night at any Wyndham hotel is a headline-grabber, it’s not enough to win the title! The number one criteria (with a weight of 45%) is how easy it is to earn a free night – and that is at the heart of what travelers want from a hotel rewards program! US News looked at how many paid nights you need to earn one free night and Wyndham and the other budget chains make it easier to earn a free night!
The next important criteria (at 25%) are additional benefits and includes the way to earn and redeem points (for example earn with credit cards or spend on something else than free nights) and perks like upgrades, late check-out or free internet for members! Now, Wyndham, Choice and BestWestern all offer their own credit cards and have added perks to their elite programs, answering one of the complaints of travelers and travel bloggers alike!
The final criteria look at the reach of the hotel program, like the number of properties (10%) and in how many locations around the world they are (15%), as well as the diversity of hotels (5%) – from city hotels to beach resorts and from budget to luxury hotels! And here, the budget brands also strike – with Wyndham, Choice and Best Western all offering more than 4,000 hotels worldwide! They also have tried to go more upscale with new brands, like Dolce for Wyndham and Ascend Collection for Choice, increasing their diversity away from the budget segment!

Like with any fact-based study, you can argue about the criteria and the weights, but I applaud US News for taking a more scientific approach to evaluating the rewards programs. And it’s interesting to see the budget chains taking top honors. Keep following my “Battle of the Budget Hotels” series of articles for a deeper look if these accolades are well deserved or just a fluke due to the US News criteria! Sign up for Sunday Summary, my newsletter, to get all the details in the coming weeks!
And to celebrate Wyndham’s win, I will be giving away Wyndham giftcards – comment on the “Battle of the Budget Hotels” and enter for your first chance to win a $25 Wyndham Giftcard!

Find the details of US News’ Methodology here! Find their review and scores for all the programs here!

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