Why Wyndham is now my new favorite Capital One transfer partner
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There was a lot to like when Capital One announced a refresh of its Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, including new features, benefits and the addition of transfer partners — some with an improved 1:1 transfer ratio. But one of those travel partners specifically caught my eye: Wyndham. The Wyndham Rewards program is now a 1:1 transfer partner (formerly was 2:1.5) with Capital One and it's quickly turned the Venture Rewards card into a must-have for anyone who wants to use their credit card rewards for lodging options beyond hotel rooms.
Related: Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review
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Why Wyndham Rewards matters
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is well known for many of its budget brands, including La Quinta, Ramada, Microtel, Days Inn and Super 8, and a limited selection of higher-end hotels like TRYP and Wyndham Grand. And while their budget properties can be great places to stay when visiting small towns and on road trips, the real strength of the Wyndham Rewards program is in its vast selection of vacation rental properties.
Wyndham recently announced a partnership with Vacasa -- a vacation rental management company -- that lets guests book their vacation rental with Wyndham Rewards at more than 15,000+ properties, spanning North America, Belize and Costa Rica. Previously, you could only redeem Wyndham Rewards points at a handful of these properties. Furthermore, the Wyndham Rewards program is easy to dissect. Hotel rooms go for 7,500, 15,000 or 30,000 points a night, while vacation rentals are just 15,000 points per bedroom, per night.
Related: The ultimate guide to earning and redeeming Wyndham Rewards
Why vacation rentals are amazing
If you're used to only staying in hotels when you travel, then you're in for a big surprise when you first stay in a vacation rental property. Or if you're familiar with the Airbnb lodging experience and enjoy the feeling of home it affords, then vacation rentals booked with Wyndham Rewards are right up your alley.
For example, on a trip to Kona, Hawaii, in 2018, my family and I used our Wyndham Rewards points to spend 10 nights at the Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village. Our one-bedroom vacation rental property had over 1,200 square feet of space, including a separate bedroom, a private lanai (outdoor patio), a full kitchen, washer and dryer and two bathrooms. This allowed the five of us to be far more comfortable than if we had booked a room even in the most luxurious hotel. We also saved a lot of time and money by preparing many of our own meals, including barbecuing at the grill next to the pool. Plus, knowing we had a washer and dryer in our vacation rental meant that we could pack less into our luggage and wash clothing as needed.
Related: 13 mistakes to avoid on your next vacation home rental
High-value vacation rentals with Wyndham Rewards
The following Vacasa properties are listed as one-bedroom units, even though they have multiple bathrooms and sleep four or more people.
Key Condo, Keystone Colorado
I've already booked a few nights during the next ski season in this amazing-looking unit, which includes a kitchen, fireplace, a queen bed, a sofa-bed and is within walking distance of the slopes. The building also has a pool, sauna and laundry facilities.
Red Hawk Lodge, Keystone Colorado
Here's another walk-to-the-lift place I'll be staying next winter, also with one bedroom and two bathrooms. With a queen bed, a sofa bed, a murphy bed and a fireplace, our whole family will sleep comfortably here. During the heart of the ski season, this vacation rental normally rents between $300 to $500 a night, plus taxes and fees that can add up to an additional 40% or more.
Mills Ranch - Woodland Park, CO
While it's not near a ski resort, this stunning cabin is nestled in the mountains, 30 minutes west of Colorado Springs. It's listed as a one-bedroom but has two-and-a-half bathrooms and sleeps as many as 10 people -- with one queen bed, two double beds, two twin beds and a sofa bed. Other amenities include a private hot tub, washer/dryer and a fireplace.
And as you can see, this unit often rents for $600 to $700 per night, plus taxes and fees.
Star Vista - Sautee Nacoochee, GA
This one-bedroom cabin in north Georgia has two bathrooms and sleeps six. But what really stands out is that it offers mountain views, a seasonal pool, a hot tub, a deck and even an extensive game room. It can actually be pretty reasonably priced at $125 to $483 (plus taxes and fees) per night, but as a one-bedroom, it's always just 15,000 points.
Related: Redeeming Wyndham points with Vacasa is a great deal — with a catch
Things to know about redeeming Wyndham Rewards for Vacasa properties
1. You must book award stays via email. After you find the unit you want at Vacasa.com and confirm availability (there's currently no way to book it online), send an email to email@example.com with your exact dates and rental and listing information. I usually receive a response within 24 hours. Once they check that the property is available for award stays, they'll email you back and request a convenient time for them to call you to complete the booking.
2. There are blackout dates for award stays. It appears that property owners can set blackout dates for individual units. For example, some of the best units I looked at in ski country were blacked out for pretty much the entire ski season. However, I was able to reserve other very nice units near ski areas during Presidents Day weekend and spring break, when mountain-side lodging is in peak demand.
3. There are no mandatory fees on award stays. I confirmed by email that there are no mandatory fees for award bookings typically added to cash stays. These include cleaning fees, limited damage waivers and booking fees. And like most award stays at hotels, there are no taxes paid since there's no money changing hands. However, you could be liable for pet fees and other optional charges. When those apply, you must pay for them directly with Vacasa.
4. Vacasa's website is excellent. Aside from being unable to determine award availability and book award stays online, I love searching Vacasa.com. I can filter for properties by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms I need and narrow the search for cabins or villas that I'm considering. Most properties I looked at had at least a dozen photos that appeared to be professionally taken, and you can even take a virtual tour with 360-degree views from every corner of the unit.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card was already one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards. The recent announcement of new features and benefits has only solidified its stature. Yet there are now dozens of excellent travel rewards cards and it's becoming increasingly difficult to choose which ones are most suitable for your needs. But once you realize how valuable Capital One's new transfer ratio of 1:1 to Wyndham Rewards is, you may have to make space for the Venture Rewards card in your wallet.
Apply link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card available for 75,000 bonus miles: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Additional reporting by Juan Ruiz.