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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Wyndham Rewards Visa Card
Many people get into award travel to score free flights and hotel stays, but another good way to maximize your points and miles is through the points + cash rates offered by many hotel brands. Today, TPG Contributor Richard Kerr looks at how these redemption options stack up in the Wyndham Rewards program.
With the recent months of program devaluations and gut checks caused by unfriendly rule changes, it’s nice to see a program take a different approach. Last month Wyndham overhauled the Wyndham Rewards program, offering awards at all properties for the flat rate of 15,000 points per night. The new system presents opportunities for some pretty valuable redemptions, but those free nights aren’t the only option. Wyndham Rewards also has a points + cash rate that can help you maximize your points.
For example, by taking advantage of a points + cash rate, you can stretch the 30,000 points you’ll earn just for swiping your Wyndham Rewards Visa Card to cover 10 full nights (you’ll also need to pay the cash portion required for your stay) — once you earn the additional 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, you’ll have enough for five more nights (again, after the cash co-pay). In this post, I’ll take a closer look at Wyndham’s GO FAST rate to see what sort of value you can expect to find at properties around the globe.
Before looking at the specific values of using points at a wide range of properties, there are a few items to note about the GO FAST points + cash rate:
- Not all Wyndham properties participate in the GO FAST points + cash rate (including very few properties in the New York City area and Europe).
- Most properties offer the GO FAST rate for 3,000 points plus a cash payment of between $35-$75 and taxes.
- Unlike other hotel programs that offer points + cash rates, the cash portion of a Wyndham GO FAST rate sometimes changes based upon the occupancy of the room (more on this later).
- As with the regular 15,000 point awards, different room types (besides a standard room) are bookable with the GO FAST rate, depending on the property.
- Anytime I found a points + cash rate, there was a free night available for 15,000 points as well.
I did a wide search of properties in popular destinations both in the US and around the globe to get a sense of what kind of value the GO FAST rate offers. The values and rates below include any taxes shown on Wyndham.com, and are listed in order from best value to worst:
|Property||Lowest Rate||GO FAST Rate (in addition to 3,000 points)||Cent/Point Value|
|Wyndham Dallas Garden North||$179.67||$39.55||4.67|
|Wyndham Houston West Energy Corridor||$227.75||$99.76||4.27|
|Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach – single occupancy||$161.00||$35.00||4.20|
|Wyndham Dallas Suites – Park Central||$185.68||$63.40||4.08|
|Wyndham Boston Chelsea||$226.92||$106.12||4.03|
|Ramada Plaza Waikiki||$179.99||$62.68||3.91|
|Wyndham Garden San Diego Seaworld||$167.70||$61.90||3.53|
|Wyndham Koloa Landing* – 2 Bedroom Villa||$519.00||15,000-point free night||3.46|
|Wyndham Garden Charleston, Mt. Pleasant||$162.10||$62.88||3.31|
|Wyndham Grand Xian South||$203.93||$109.19||3.16|
|Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar||$177.50||$94.91||2.75|
|Days Inn Maui Oceanfront||$163.88||$85.07||2.63|
|Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive||$176.57||$104.57||2.40|
|Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown||$132.65||$61.75||2.36|
|Wyndham Atlanta Galleria||$157.88||$90.50||2.25|
|Wyndham Garden Niagra Falls Fallsview||$120.65||$62.24||1.95|
|Wyndham Berlin Excelsior||$88.01||$34.62||1.78|
|Wyndham Grand Istanbul Europe||$98.91||$49.49||1.65|
|Wyndham Grand Bad Reichenhall Axelmannstein||$79.01||$29.67||1.64|
|Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach – double occupancy||$214.00||$165.00||1.63|
|Travelodge Las Vegas Center Strip||$88.48||$61.60||0.90|
|Travelodge Las Vegas||$39.38||$39.20||0.01|
*Not a points + cash rate but an excellent value I found for a 2 bedroom villa
My only real complaint is that many properties seemingly do not participate in the points + cash rate, especially among the higher-end Wyndham and Wyndham Grand properties.
As for the properties that do participate, the average value I found from the GO Fast rate was 2.72 cents per point, which is a very good return. The most surprising find was the $130 cash surcharge increase for the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach when I went from 1 to 2 adults occupying the room.
Update: Wyndham has provided the following statement regarding the cash surcharge outlined above:
With the exception of all-inclusive resorts, members of the new Wyndham Rewards incur no additional occupancy charges on all Go Free and Go Fast award reservations. In the case of all-inclusive resorts, Go Free and Go Fast award reservations cover two guests, so there may be additional charges depending on the size of a guest’s party. We are currently working with our properties to ensure that they follow the terms and conditions of the new program.
When I added a second adult (as I imagine most parties staying at this type of hotel would have), the savings dropped from $126 per night to only $49 per night.
This creates a fairly absurd circumstance where you’d be better off booking two rooms, each with a single adult occupant, as $70 and 6,000 points per night sounds is a much better deal than $165 and 3,000 points.
You can’t book two rooms at once online, but you can do it over the phone. Note that the above value for this all-inclusive property is based only on the rate, and doesn’t include food, drinks and activities, which boosts that value considerably.
Award nights for several of the other Viva properties were very difficult to find or nonexistent all the way to the end of the bookable schedule. With the popularity of the program increasing, I expect these more valuable award nights to disappear entirely.
From checking the above rates, it’s clear there is value to be had using the points + cash rate at Wyndham, and in many cases much more value than you’ll get by using the regular 15,000-point redemptions. I recommend doing the math for any upcoming Wyndham stays you have planned to see which rate works best for you, but note that the GO FAST rate probably won’t offer you much value at most commuter properties (i.e., roadside Super 8, Days Inn, Travelodge and Knights Inn). For those stays, you’re better off just paying the cash rate.
I look forward to trying out a few Wyndham properties once I get the Wyndham Rewards Visa from Barclays. The card comes with 30,000 points after your first use, plus an additional 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. The fact that the card is from Barclays means I can diversify my card issuers, and the low minimum-spending requirement makes it easy to earn the bonus.
45,000 points is enough for 15 GO FAST nights instead of only 3 GO FREE nights. I’m actually worried that the points + cash rates are a little too generous in some cases. I hope Wyndham doesn’t decide to update the program and lessen the value, especially at all-inclusive properties.
Despite the fact that many properties don’t offer points + cash awards, I still think the GO FAST option adds a lot of value to Wyndham Rewards. I’m pretty happy to be writing about a revaluation instead of a devaluation, and I applaud Wyndham for re-engaging an entire customer base of award travel enthusiasts.
Have you gotten good value from Wyndham’s points + cash rate?
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