Feb032014

Gone with the Wyndham Rewards: points-to-miles rate cut by half Jan 31, 2014

This post looks at how different hotel loyalty programs stack up for points-to-miles exchange rates now that Wyndham Rewards devalued its program.

Wyndham Rewards for many years offered the best points-to-miles transfer rate with 1000 Wyndham points exchanging into 400 miles, currently with 19 airline partners including all the major US-based carriers like United, Delta, American, US Airways, Alaska Airlines and Southwest.

Without any advance notice to members, the exchange rate was changed on Friday January 31, 2014 to a 5:1 rate where 1,000 Wyndham Rewards points exchanges into 200 frequent flyer miles.

Wyndham Rewards points-to-miles exchange rate was cut in half across the board with all airline partners.

Wyndham Rewards miles cut

Comparing Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates across hotel loyalty programs

The change in Wyndham Rewards follows the loyalty program changes in 2013 reducing the exchange rate of points-to-miles in Club Carlson and Marriott Rewards. Club Carlson gutted its exchange rate in 2013. Marriott Rewards was a slight devaluation in comparison to Club Carlson and Wyndham Rewards.

The change to Wyndham Rewards drops the value of hotel loyalty program points to the level of most other programs with 5 points = 1 mile exchange rate. This is the same level seen with Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges and IHG Rewards Club. All four of these loyalty programs earn 10 points per dollar at their hotels. Club Carlson members earn 20 points per dollar for hotel spend and Club Carlson cut its points-to-miles exchange rate in 2013 down to 10 points = 1 mile.

When pegged to the base points earn rate for hotel spend in these five programs, the new Wyndham Rewards points-to-miles exchange rate is now the equivalent to most of the major hotel programs dominant in the USA.

Changes to points-to-miles exchange rates in the past 12 months

In 2011, Loyalty Traveler produced a series of articles analyzing the points-to-miles exchange rate across hotel loyalty programs. My conclusions were Wyndham Rewards had the best points-to-miles exchange rate among the major hotel loyalty programs in terms of hotel spend needed to earn base points.

2012 Exchange Rates

Only Marriott at high points-level transfer rates (125,000 points = 50,000 miles) or Club Carlson (100,000 points = 18,000 miles) or Starwood Preferred Guest as an elite member (20,000 points = 25,000 miles) offered comparable exchange rates to Wyndham Rewards two years ago.

Marriott Rewards (assume brands earning 10 points/$1)

  • 125,000 points = $12,500 hotel spend = 50,000 miles
  • $250 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Club Carlson (earn rate = 20 points /$1)

  • 100,000 points = $5,000 hotel spend = 18,000 miles
  • $278 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Starwood Preferred Guest (assume elite earning 3 points/$1)

  • 20,000 points = $6,667 = 25,000 miles
  • $267 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Wyndham Rewards (10 points/$1)

  • 8,000 points = $800 = 3,200 miles.
  • $250 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

The point I am trying to illustrate here is Wyndham Rewards offered the base-level hotel traveler an inexpensive route to earn airline miles. The amount of points required to get the best exchange rates take thousands of dollars in hotel spend with Marriott, Club Carlson and SPG. Only for high elites earning 50% or more elite bonus points did these other programs beat out Wyndham Rewards in the points-to-miles exchange rate analysis.

Wyndham Rewards did not offer elite membership levels with bonus points in 2012.

Fast-forward to 2014

Marriott Rewards (assume brands earning 10 points/$1)

Points-to-Miles exchange rates for Marriott Rewards points.

Marriott Rewards Tier 1 Airlines:

Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Southwest, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic.

At the minimum points-to-miles transfer level of 10,000 Marriott Rewards points, the exchange rate matches most of the other hotel loyalty programs at 5 points = 1 mile.

  • 10,000 points = $1,000 in hotel spend = 2,000 miles.
  • $500 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

* The most favorable exchange rate:

  • 140,000 points = $14,000 hotel spend = 50,000 miles
  • $280 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Marriott Rewards Tier 2 Airlines:

Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal.

At the minimum points-to-miles transfer level

  • 10,000 points = $1,000 in hotel spend = 1,500 miles.
  • $667 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

* The most favorable exchange rate:

  • 140,000 points = $14,000 hotel spend = 35,000 miles.
  • $400 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles

Marriott Rewards and United Airlines exchange rate offers 20% more miles.

At the minimum points-to-miles transfer level

  • 8,000 points = $800 in hotel spend = 2,000 miles.
  • $400 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

* The most favorable exchange rate:

  • 112,000 points = $11,200 hotel spend = 50,000 miles.
  • $224 in hotel spend = 1,000 United Mileage Plus miles.

Marriott Rewards offers a compelling exchange rate with United Mileage Plus.

* Note: Marriott Hotel + Air Travel Packages offer the best deal in the hotel loyalty program world for points-to-miles exchange. The impediment is the high number of points needed to redeem one of these rewards, starting at 200,000 points and climbing to 540,000 points for 7 hotel nights + 35,000 to 132,000 miles depending on reward type. Some packages offer airline miles at the exchange rate of 1 point = 1 mile. These rewards have an exchange rate where $100 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles or with United $80 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Club Carlson (earn rate = 20 points /$1) and 20 airline partners.

In 2013 Club Carlson reduced its points-to-miles transfer rate to a straight 10 points = 1 mile rate.

  • 2,000 points = $100 hotel spend = 200 miles
  • $500 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

Starwood Preferred Guest (assume elite earning 3 points/$1)

  • 20,000 points = $6,667 = 25,000 miles
  • $267 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.
  • Base member earning 2 points/$1 will need $400 in hotel spend to earn 1,000 miles.

Wyndham Rewards (10 points/$1)

  • 6,000 points = $600 = 1,200 miles.
  • $500 in hotel spend = 1,000 miles.

The bottom line conclusion is Wyndham Rewards eliminated its one primary competitive advantage with a great points-to-miles exchange rate as a hotel loyalty program compared to the other major brands. The only improvement here is the threshold to transfer Wyndham Rewards points was lowered to 6,000 points from 8,000 points. Now $600 in hotel spend earns 1,200 miles compared to $800 in hotel spend earning 3,200 miles last week. So, not really an improved Wyndham Rewards.

In 2014, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest offer the best points-to-miles exchange rates among the major hotel loyalty programs. Hyatt Gold Passport is comparable too, although more Hyatt spend is required considering its 30% elite bonus for Diamond members and lower earning rate for credit card spend.

Hilton HHonors sucks for points-to-miles exchange rates with a lower rate for most airlines compared to all the other programs. The value play for HHonors members is earning Points & Miles from hotel stays.

Best Western, Choice Privileges, Club Carlson, IHG Rewards Club and Wyndham Rewards all offer comparable points-to-miles exchange rates now. Club Carlson and IHG Rewards Club can probably be considered higher value programs for points-to-miles due to the ease of earning hotel points in these programs beyond the base spend earning used in this post’s calculations.

For example, IHG Rewards Club allows stackable promotion bonuses making the true earn rate far higher than 10 points/$1 in hotel spend. Club Carlson offers online booking bonuses and high rates of elite bonus points and promotional bonus points compared to Best Western, Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards.

Daily Getaways and Wyndham Rewards points

On a personal note, I have purchased Wyndham Rewards points from the U.S. Travel Association’s annual Daily Getaways offers in past years. This sale, likely to be offered in April 2014, generally has discount rates for buying hotel loyalty points. I have had difficulty buying Wyndham Rewards points the past two years due to the number of people buying these points for the purpose of transferring them to airline miles. This year the demand for Wyndham Rewards points will likely be much weaker with the devaluation of the airline miles exchange rate.

One good result of the Wyndham Rewards devaluation of its airline miles program will likely be more points available to those of us who want to buy cheap Wyndham Rewards points for hotel stays in this year’s Daily Getaways.

Loyalty Traveler: 16,000 miles for $216 with Wyndham Rewards points in Daily Getaways (July 2, 2013).

Out here in the wild west, there are numerous towns where the only hotels are either affiliated with Choice Privileges or Wyndham Rewards. I like to have a solid balance of points in both of these programs for those road trips where I find myself suddenly needing a room in a place far from the maddening crowds and big chain hotels.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. This has to qualify as one of the best titles of a travel blog post!

    Very cleaver!

    I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for all the good information.

  2. I agree that the elimination of competition from those pesky “point transferers” would be a good thing in the Discover America promo. But the problem is that Wyndham seems determined to make EVERYBODY unhappy in their loyalty program. They jacked up the price of the points last year in the Discover America promo so they weren’t even a great deal for hotel stays! I had been buying them previously for that purpose (being fast with my fingers to beat the transferers), but didn’t see enough value last year for the hotel stays. Kind of a shame because, like you, I appreciate the opportunity to get a motel deal in locations where there aren’t a lot of other choices.

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