Wyndham Rewards – is it really the best rewards program in the world?

Wyndham Rewards has been rated the best hotel rewards program, yet it has been widely ignored by travel bloggers and points enthusiasts! What is the reason for the wildly different opinions – is it really the best or is it forgettable? Wyndham has completely revamped the program over the last two years, making it a lot more attractive to value oriented travelers. I have done a lot of research of Wyndham this year, including staying at various of their brands and participating in a number of promotions – and, while it might not be the best program for everybody,  there is a lot to like about Wyndham Rewards – find out why after the break!

wyndham-rewards-overview-tableWho are they? Wyndham is the largest hotel company in the world with more than 7,800 hotels in 72 countries, significantly larger than Marriott, Hilton or IHG! Most of these hotels are budget properties in the US, with only a handful of upscale properties – which explains why a lot of bloggers are ignoring them – there are very few aspirational properties to redeem your hard-earned points at! But they have acquired the upscale Dolce hotels and are growing their flagship Wyndham brand and a lot of their newer properties are great value and worth checking out. You can find all the brands, price category and regional information in my post Wyndham – Facts & Figures!

Why should I care? Wyndham Rewards has revamped their program completely and some of their innovative offers helped them earn the title of “best hotel rewards program” from US News & World Travel (read more here). With a flat rate of 15,000 points/night at any of their hotels, it’s easy to earn a free night. Their GoFast cash & points awards allow you to use as little as 3,000 points plus cash, offering great discounts and excellent value for redemptions. Because they also offer lucrative promotions, have an award credit card and regularly sell points, it’s easy to stock up on points, making the program attractive for infrequent travelers. And while many of their hotels are budget properties that might not be very aspirational for a dream trip, Wyndham has such a wide reach that it is helpful as a backup program, offering a decent room during expensive peak-season at reasonable prices!

Dolce Silverado Resort & Spa, Napa Valley, California

Dolce Silverado Resort & Spa, Napa Valley, California

Earning Points: Wyndham Rewards members earn 10 points per US Dollar spend at any of their hotels, or at least 1,000 per stay. Because many of their budget hotels have average room rates of under $100, that is a very good earn rate. Unfortunately, there is no earning bonus for elite members at any level.
You can choose to earn airline miles at one of over 20 airlines instead, although the earn rate is significantly less than when earning Wyndham hotel points!
You can purchase up to 5,000 points per year to top of your account and Wyndham has recently also participated in the Travel Daily Getaway, offering up to 30,000 points for purchase per member.
Similar to other hotel rewards programs, Wyndham offers two credit cards, allowing you to earn points with daily purchases as well as sign-up bonuses as high as 45,000 points!
I value Wyndham Rewards points at 1 cent per point, so the earn rate of 10p/$ reflects a value of 10% of your spend and is one of the highest in the industry. Add the credit cards, promotions and points sales and even infrequent travelers have a chance to earn a lot of points quickly.

Redeeming Points: The biggest innovation in hotel rewards in a while is the simplification of the program to only two awards: GoFree awards allow you to redeem 15,000 points for a free night at any Wyndham hotel worldwide, doing away with hotel categories and making it the most simple program on the market. That allows you to redeem a free night for a value of $150 (at 1ct/p; after a spend of $1,500). While that might sound like a lot for a budget hotel, their upscale Dolce Resorts and Wyndham hotels, as well as Super 8 or Days Inn hotels in expensive destinations like California in peak season, can ran well over $250, making it an attractive redemption. I was able to use a GoFree award at the Wyndham Santa Monica when regular rates were $460/night and other hotels even more, making the redemption great value! I look at it as an insurance policy and back-up option. No matter where I am, what season it is or what event might be going on, I can always get a hotel room for $150 with Wyndham!
CAL WyndhamStMonica Bed1You can find even better redemption value with the GoFast points & cash awards. You can redeem 3,000 points for a free night plus a cash payment that depends on the average daily rate of the hotel, anywhere between $55 and $150. At a value of 1ct/p, you can get a free night for as little as $85, which is a great deal, again especially in high-season or during events. I was able to get value of as much as 5 cents per point from GoFast awards -find out how I did it here!)

Elite Membership Levels & Benefits: Just recently, Wyndham Rewards introduced elite membership levels, offering additional benefits for frequent guests. There are four levels of membership, with “Blue” being available by signing up, “Gold” after only 5 nights (one of the lowest in the industry), “Platinum” after 15 nights and the highest level “Diamond” after 45 nights!
While that makes it easier to attain mid-level status than in most other programs, you don’t get a whole lot for it! All members get GoFree and GoFast Plus awards – small discounts on local attraction near a hotel you have booked. As a Gold member, you receive late check-out and preferred rooms (same room category, but maybe higher level or quieter location) based on availability. Platinum members also get an early check in and an annual points bonus of 3,000 points. Only Diamond members receive suite upgrades based on availability and welcome gifts, as well as an increased annual bonus of 6,000 points.
Considering that most of the Wyndham properties are budget hotels, that is a nice set of perks, comparable to other budget chains like Best Western or Choice. But it won’t make your stay much more luxurious, like a suite upgrade at an upscale Hilton or Marriott property might!
You can see all the benefits in the table below:

wyndham-rewards-benefits-tableWho should sign up? With one of the best earning ratios in the business and great redemption value from GoFree and GoFast awards, the Wyndham Rewards program is a great program for value-conscious travelers and a good backup program for any frequent traveler. I purchased points and was able to use them to great effect for last minute and high-season travel at otherwise very expensive destinations, saving me more than 50% of the regular hotel rates (read how I did that here). Even if you usually stay at more upscale hotels, Wyndham Rewards is a great back-up program, providing you with a room in places where the other chains might not be represented or are just above your budget! I plan to maintain a points balance in my Wyndham Rewards account and suggest you take another look at the program as well!

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