Wyndham’s announcement last year that they were totally revamping their rewards system may have left you with an “Oh, here we go again feeling.” Well, about a year later, it’s now clear that that revamping was actually a net positive!
This post covers some of the great values to be had under the updated program, from redemptions for all-inclusive resorts to excellent Go Fast (cash + points) values. In one case I actually got almost nine cents per point in value!
The Background on Wyndham Rewards
While other hotel and airline programs have been devaluing and merging, it was one of the lesser known programs – Wyndham Rewards – that made a major, unusual move last year.
Wyndham completely revamped their rewards program, going to a very simple structure. You can now book a room at any Wyndham hotel for 15,000 points per night under their Go Free program. That is a much lower points cost than some rooms were going for prior to the rewards program overhaul.
There is another element of the program that didn’t grab as much attention but has paid off big for me. That’s the Go Fast feature. It allows you to book a room at participating (more to follow) hotels for 3,000 points plus cash. The cash amount seems to vary from $35 to $150 and you’ll be charged taxes on that amount (usually amounts to about $5).
Every Go Free and Go Fast award option I saw during my research was refundable. That ups the value of these redemptions as hotels move in the direction of airlines and make the best cash booking rates non-refundable.
Redeeming for Excellent Value with Go Free Awards
Wyndhams’ Go Free awards are simple – use 15,000 points/night for a free room. And here’s a quote from Wyndham’s FAQ, on the topic of blackout dates:
Q: Do go free awards have any blackout dates?
A: No – there are no blackout dates to redeem 15,000 points for a free night for any available standard room at any of our participating hotels worldwide.
As with most hotel loyalty programs, the key words there are available standard room. If a hotel is mostly booked and only has the penthouse suite open, you won’t be getting it with Wyndham Rewards points. But if there is a standard room available, it’s bookable as a Go Free award.
Prior to the revamping of the Wyndham program last year there were two properties – Days Hotel Seoul Myeongdong and Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach – that actually required 50,000 points per night for a reward redemption! Obviously getting a room at one of those for spots for 15,000 points is a solid deal.
Booking a High-End Property – The Shelborne Wyndham Grand
Let’s check out the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach.
A search for a room a few Fridays out from now – May 13th – shows limited availability if paying cash. Apparently there are only two rooms left if paying cash. As you’d expect with such low availability, rooms are going to cost a pretty penny. A standard room is selling for a whopping $493 a night, including taxes.
So with such limited room availability can a room be booked using points, as the no-blackout policy would imply? Yes!
For 15,000 points you can book a room, which is an incredible value. The $493 cash rate includes a resort fee of $15 that may be due for a points booking so we’ll subtract that out from the $493, leaving a value of $478 from the points. That equates to 3.2 cents per point, an excellent value!
Booking an All-Inclusive Property – Viva Wyndham Azteca in Playa Del Carmen
There are some instances when an all-inclusive hotel is exactly what “the doctor ordered.” Of course all-inclusives are popular for honeymooners. They can also be a great option for travel hackers looking to really minimize out of pocket expenditures.
Yes, it would be great to stay at the aforementioned Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach using points. You would still likely spend quite a bit of money on food and drinks during a visit though as South Beach isn’t cheap. If you redeem points for an all-inclusive you really are eliminating two of the biggest costs – lodging and food/drink – in one fell swoop.
As of writing, Wyndham checks in with eight all-inclusive “Viva” properties. There is one in the Bahamas, two in Mexico and five in the Dominican Republic.
What do these resorts offer? We’ll go straight to the horse’s (Wyndham’s) mouth for the answer to that question:
The all-inclusive package offers all meals and snacks; unlimited cocktails, beverages and wine; a cocktail to welcome you upon your arrival; unlimited non-motorized sports; taxes and gratuities; daily activities program; international team of animators; live nighttime entertainment; theme parties; discotheque; dance lessons; gym; sauna; Viva Kid’s Club, a program for children 4-12 years of age; in-room safety deposit box (additional charge); deck chairs and towels at the pool and beach and a lot more.
Let’s take a look at booking one, both with cash and points to see the value offered. We’ll check out the Viva Wyndham Azteca in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. It’s not one of the world’s best all-inclusive resorts but it fares decently on TripAdvisor, ranking #68 out of 201 hotels in Playa Del Carmen at writing.
Searching for cash booking options shows that some weekends are either completely booked or there is a minimum stay requirement. Plugging in a 3-night stay for June 3-6 brings up availability at a “Spring Sale” rate of $210 per night. That rate includes any taxes and fees.
Switching our booking option to points shows that there is availability for a Go Free award at the standard 15,000 points per night.
Taking that $210 per night rate and dividing by 15,000 points per night, yields a value of 1.4 cents per point.
Of course these are just a couple of examples of Go Free redemptions, and the value achieved with these is greater than what you’ll get redeeming at many other Wyndham properties.
There are many instances though where you can redeem the 15,000 points for a night that would have otherwise cost over $200. Most hotels in major cities, Wyndham properties included, are charging about $200 or more per night, making them a decent redemption choice.
Some other great Wyndham properties to consider for redemptions include:
- Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach Wyndham Grand Resort in Hawaii
- The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in Charleston, SC
- Reunion Resort, a Wyndham Grand Resort in Kissimmee, FL
- The Mining Exchange, a highly rated Wyndham Grand Hotel in Colorado Springs
For low-end Wyndham properties selling rooms for less than $100 per night, it doesn’t make much sense to redeem a Go Free award, unless you are swimming in points.
Getting Astonishing Value With Wyndham’s Go Fast Awards
Have you ever gone to book a hotel for a trip revolving around a special event (e.g. concert, sports event) and found the rates for even low- and mid-end hotels jacked up sky high? That’s par for the course in a world of supply and demand. It doesn’t make it hurt less though. I always have a tough time paying several hundred dollars a night for a room that goes for a hundred dollars a night at other times of the year.
Well, that type of situation is one in which Wyndham’s Go Fast option offers astounding value.
Whereas Wyndham’s Go Free awards get you a room for free, their Go Fast award option requires you to chip in some cash and some points to get a room.
Hotels are not required to participate in this program so you’ll find that there are no Go Fast award nights available at some high-end properties.
However, most mid- and low-end properties (it looks like about 3/4 of all Wyndham properties) do participate. And in some cases you can get close to TEN cents/point in value.
I’ll highlight two recent examples here…
Using Wyndham Rewards Points for a Hotel in Happy Valley Yields Value of Roughly NINE Cents/Point!
There may be no better example of hotel room rates being temporarily jacked up than in the case of football weekend nights in college (and pro) football venues. This is especially true for venues that are rural as the hotel capacity in such places is limited as there is no massive weekday business industry to justify a plethora of properties.
State College, Pennsylvania fits that description – the hotels in town make a huge percentage of their profits on football weekends and probably operate at less than half of capacity on most weeknights.
Booking a hotel room for a football weekend therefore costs the proverbial arm and leg, often costing $300-$400 per night and almost always requiring a two-night minimum stay.
So knowing that and that there are several Wyndham properties in town I set a calendar reminder for myself about one year before football weekend of interest. I determined the exact date that the hotels would be bookable by checking the website ahead of time.
Once the booking window opened I saw that the Ramada in Downtown State College was available for $649 for the weekend, equating to $325 per night, including taxes. That was for a refundable rate, which is what I was interested in given some uncertainty in plans.
Some further exploring showed that in addition to Go Free award availability there was Go Fast award availability. For a total of 6,000 points and $119 I could book the two night stay.
I didn’t hesitate. I completed the booking and actually did so for multiple rooms at that rate!
If we use the cash rate listed at the time of booking – $649 for the two nights – the value I’ve achieved is 8.8 cents per point! That’s incredible!
Using Wyndham Rewards Points for a Hotel Near Amusement Park/Concert Yields Value of Over SEVEN Cents/Point!
In many locales, amusement parks and outdoor concert venues also generate very seasonal hotel situations. Business skyrockets during the warm weather months and plummets during cold weather when amusement parks are nearly empty and concert stadiums sit vacant. At those times, hotel rooms in the area may go for under $100 a night.
Then summer rolls around and those same hotel rooms are going for almost $300 a night!
Well along those lines, we were looking to book a hotel room for the night of a summer concert at Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, PA.
A search of the hotel sites showed that there are a couple properties within close proximity of the concert venue. One is a Super 8 hotel. Now nobody confuses Super 8 hotels with Waldof Astoria properties but in this case the Super 8 is not only conveniently located, it’s actually rated one of the best hotels in the area.
So off to the Wyndham website we went. Plugging in our date of interest showed that the cash rate for that one night was $296, including taxes. That’s exorbitantly high for a Super 8.
As you can see in the screengrab, the room could alternatively be booked using 15,000 points for a Go Free award or through a Go Fast award.
Breaking down the Go Free award, you get a value of 2 cents per point. That’s a very strong value for a Wyndham Rewards point.
However, it pales in comparison to the value to be had from the Go Fast award.
The Go Fast award would require us to pay $61 out of pocket. Subtracting that from the $296 all-cash rate, left us with $235 in value be covered by 3,000 points. That equates to a huge 7.8 cents/point.
Did we pause to mull over booking? No, we booked immediately. This Go Fast award can be canceled without penalty up until 6pm the night of the booking.
Other Redemption Options – Forget About Them
You can also redeem Wyndham Rewards points for air travel and gift cards but they are poor redemption options unworthy of further writing. Now that was a brief section!
Racking Up Wyndham Rewards Points Quickly
Some of the Wyndham Rewards points we’ve been redeeming were earned through paid stays at Wyndham properties. Wyndham often runs some strong promotions where you can rack up points pretty quickly.
The former has a signup bonus, at writing, of 30,000 points whereas the latter’s signup bonus is 15,000 points. Note that the signup bonus offer for the Signature card sometimes goes as high as 45,000 points. That’s an amazing deal.
Even at the standard signup bonus of 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points the Signature card can offer great value. If you use it for Go Fast redemptions, yielding an average of four cents per point, which is very feasible as I’ve shown above, you would get $1,200 of value from the signup bonus.
I got the Wyndham card in late 2015. The signup bonus posted as expected – everything about the card has been straightforward.
Wyndham’s revamping of their program was great for travelers.
As I’ve shown here, if you’re selective about your redemptions you can get strong (think two to three cents/point) value from the Go Free awards and astounding (think five to ten cents/point) value from the Go Fast awards.
You can redeem your points for run-of-the-mill hotels all the way to all-inclusive properties and high-end resorts.
Earning points via paid stays is a decent option. You can also establish a balance of points quickly with the Barclay’s Wyndham Rewards credit cards.
Have you redeemed Wyndham Rewards points? What sort of value did you get? What are your favorite Wyndham properties? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!