According to this thread on FlyerTalk, the Wyndham hotel group has devalued their loyalty program in a big way.
This is terrible news, especially coming on the heels of Priority Club adjusting their award chart for the worse by introducing a whopping nine redemptive tiers. For a complete breakdown of that change, check out my post, Priority Club’s Big Award Chart Devaluation.
What does the new chart look like?
I have attached a screen shot of the new award chart below:
That looks fairly innocuous. What has changed?
Previously, the vast majority of the Wyndham hotel brands in the United States were grouped into four tiers, with redemptions available from 6,000-16,000 points. The only exceptions were Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Dream, and Tryp brands which required anywhere from 10,000-45,000 points/night.
The rest of Wyndham’s portfolio (Wingate, Ramada Inn, Super 8, Knights Inn, Days Inn, Travelodge, Mircotel Inn & Suites among others) isn’t very aspirational, but at least free night awards were capped at a reasonable 16,000 points.
There were some good sweet spots, too, especially in New York City where room rates are always notoriously high. You could grab a free night at a non-Wyndham Hotel property in the heart of Manhattan for only 16,000 points, even if rates were astronomical.
Unfortunately, that loophole appears to have closed with no notice. I did a quick check of New York hotel rooms in the summer and was taken aback by the results.
Previously, both of these properties were capped at 16,000 points/night. The top option, the Wingate, now requires nearly triple the points for one free night than it once did. This is very disappointing news for those of us with Wyndham points, as New York City is a place where you could really extract value out of your hotel points.
Do you see any other areas where this new chart is hurting travelers?
I checked some major metropolitan areas in the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego and San Francisco. I am still seeing all non-Wyndham hotels capped at 16,000 points/night. That’s the good news.
What’s the bad news?
This change came with no notice–a huge pet peeve of mine. At least with Priority Club’s award chart adjustments they allowed travelers a grace period to book rooms at the old rates before the new the new chart was instated.
Wyndham has eliminated a great redemption option in New York and we don’t know if there are more changes on the way. The rest of the US looks safe for now, but it’s likely that other expensive cities will be adjusted as well. It might be time to start burning your points if, like me, you have a sizable balance.
How did you initially stock up on Wyndham points?
I purchased my points through the annual Daily Getaways promotion where you could buy blocks of hotel points for deeply discounted prices. I was able to grab 82,000 Wyndham points for $227.70.
Why did you even get them?
At the time, Wyndham points had strategic uses for me. I wanted to transfer a small amount to my US Airways account to count as a “hit” in their annual Grand Slam promotion.
By doing simple things like renting a car and crediting the miles to US Airways, transferring hotel points to US Airways Dividend miles, or even buying flowers and attaching your frequent flyer number to the order, you accumulated “hits.” Accumulate enough hits, and you could receive over 100,000 US Airways Dividend Miles.
Unfortunately, you know the old saying about the best laid plans. US Airways decided not to have a Grand Slam promotion, and I was stuck with a large amount of hotel points.
I also spent some at the lovely Days Inn-Clemson for a Clemson/N.C. State football game in November. Room rates were, as you can imagine, sky high, but I burned 32,000 points for two nights in a room that retailed at $400+/night. The other options weren’t palatable: either out of my budget or too far out of town. I was satisfied with that redemption.
What’s the plan with the remaining balance?
I’ve been procrastinating, but it’s probably time to convert my Wyndham balance into frequent flyer miles.
As I wrote in my post, How to Proceed on the Wyndham 0.8 Cent Airline Mile Deal, Wyndham hotel points have an excellent transfer ratio (2.5 Wyndham points=1 mile) when converting to airline miles. The list of North American transfer partners is below.
Wyndham points can be transferred to frequent flyer miles in 8,000, 17,500, and 30,000 point increments only. The transfer ratio stays consistent no matter the transfer amount–2.5 Wyndham points will always convert to 1 airline mile.
My remaining 50,000 (which were purchased for exactly $128.70) will go to American Airlines miles or United miles. I will transfer 48,000 points and receive 19,200 miles. Remember I can only transfer in the three increments above. I will figure out something else for the 2,000 orphaned Wyndham points.
If we use the Mile Value Leaderboard, 19,200 American miles are worth $339.84 at 1.77 cents/mile. Using our 1.81 cent/mile valuation, transferring Wyndham points to United miles yields even more value at $347.52. I did very well on my initial $128.70 investment and bought the miles for a mere .6 cents.
Wyndham appears to have changed their award chart in New York City without notice. Properties that were once 16,000 points/night are now 35k-45k, a huge increase.
Other North American cities don’t appear to be affected, but that doesn’t mean they won’t increase in the future. It could be time to liquidate your balance.
Wyndham, unlike most other hotel programs, offers a favorable transfer ratio to frequent flyer miles. If you have a large balance or bought large blocks with the Discover America promotion, you should be able to reap a lot of value out of the switch.