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Most of the time hotel loyalty programs devalue slightly year over year, or at least every couple of years. Occasionally they will make major (usually negative) changes all at once, but rare is the time when the entire program undergoes a truly radical change. However, that was the case this year for Wyndham Rewards. They didn’t devalue, instead they “revalued” their entire program. I know that “revalued” sounds like another code word for devaluation, but it really wasn’t.
As you may already know they did away with an award chart all together and instead valued all of their properties at 15,000 points per night for an award night. They also have a form of cash and points they refer to as “Go Faster” that is more variable based on the going rate of the room, but award nights truly are a flat 15,000 points instead of their previous award chart prices that ranged from 5,500 – 50,000 points for award nights at their various tiers levels. This really is a very different approach than most hotel loyalty programs utilize.
Of course this means that some of the lower tier properties now cost more points per night than they used to, but the majority of nicer properties that points lovers would want to redeem for got significantly less pricey on points. In fact, even their all-inclusive resorts are just 15,000 points per night – and that covers not just single or double occupancy, but up to the max occupancy of the room!
Presumably because of these major changes, Wyndham Rewards actually was ranked as the second best Hotel Reward Program by this year’s US News and World Report rankings. For those curious, Marriott Rewards was #1. Let me repeat this for dramatic effect…WYNDHAM REWARDS was ranked as the second best hotel loyalty program in the world. Yes, the same Wyndham Rewards that has made several fairly major (negative) changes in the past without notice. Being ranked #2 puts them over SPG, Hyatt, Kimpton Inner Circle, etc… I know, ranking that highly sounds a little crazy, but I’m not sure it’s wrong.
The methodology that was used for the rankings looked at ease of earning a free night, additional benefits, geographic coverage, number of hotels in the network, and property diversity. You can read the full results here, but instead of breaking down why US News and World Report ranked them as #2, it made me think about how highly I personally rank their program.
While there has been some initial confusion about which types of Wyndham properties qualify for the 15,000 flat rate redemptions, thus far it seems to be working for pretty much all of them. This even includes condos in Kauai, hotels in New York City, and the all-inclusive properties in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Some test searches I did today show availability at all of these types of properties and more…in fact some larger than normal room types are even sometimes included!
While those of us who really, really love points may not mind some of the more complex or confusing programs that occasionally offer hidden gem redemptions, most “normal” people want things simple and it truly does not get any simpler than this. In fact, if I 100% trusted that things would stay this good with Wyndham Rewards I would get their co-branded credit card as the next card to add to my collection. However, because of past history with the program I still harbor some mistrust that things will stay as rosy as they are right now.
That said, assuming things remain pretty constant with the program for a while I may very well end up trying to acquire some additional Wyndham Reward points as the current award chart really does put them at the top of the heap for family travelers like us. I really can’t argue with the #2 spot as long as you can get a two-bedroom condo in Kauai, a room in NYC, a night in London, or an all-inclusive beach vacation for just 15,000 points per night.
What do you think about Wyndham Rewards shot up to #2 on this hotel rewards program ranking? How would you rank them in your own evaluation?