If you had told me 5 years ago Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges hotel loyalty programs would be considered U.S. News & World Report top hotel rewards programs for consumers in 2016, I might have laughed in your face and given you many reasons why these programs suck.
Ask me today?
I have to say that I agree with the top rankings for these two hotel loyalty programs in 2016.
This post is not my look at the U.S. News hotel loyalty program ranking survey. I don’t place much value in these program comparisons by major media outlets. My focus in this piece are my reasons why I currently rank Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards as two of the best hotel loyalty programs right now for hotel rate discounts.
I find Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards points valuable currencies
I find Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards points to be valuable currencies for these two hotel rewards programs. These two programs provided me with significant hotel stay discounts in Europe over the past two years. I am talking some serious cash savings in the range of $5,000+ when comparing the room rates at Choice and Wyndham brand hotels to the price I paid for reward stays using points over 50 or so hotel nights in Europe since September 2014.
My reasons for loving Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges are not really touched upon much in the US News & World Report ranking criteria details.
Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges Value
Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards have seen more hotel loyalty program changes than any other major hotel programs over the past two years. My points purchases in these two programs since 2011 to build six-figure balances have saved me thousands of dollars in hotel room rates for European trips over the past two years. I redeem nearly all my points from these two programs in Europe. My last hotel redemption in Stavanger, Norway used 6,000 Choice Privileges points + $45 for a suite with a published room rate $200+ USD.
Choice Privileges members can buy points for $7.70 per 1,000 points until Sep 6.
I have been collecting and burning Wyndham Rewards points earned from purchases over the past five years through U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways. This year I booked about a dozen nights in Europe with Wyndham Rewards points GoFast rates at 3,000 points per night and a cash copay from $25 to $95. Wyndham points gave me a $185 per night discount for 3,000 points on Ramada Amsterdam during a stay last February. My cost was about $25 to buy 3000 points.
Loyalty traveler – Fantastic Wyndham Rewards Points and Cash Value at Ramada Amsterdam (March 7, 2016).
Wyndham Rewards GoFree 15,000 points nights and GoFree 3,000 points + Copay
The introduction of Wyndham Rewards GoFree rates, where every hotel worldwide is 15,000 points for a free night, is cited as a major innovation by many travel industry analysts. The limitation to this offer is most of the 7,000+ Wyndham brand hotels around the world are not particularly nice places to stay where you would want to spend points for a free night in budget brands like Days Inn, Travelodge and Super 8.
Wyndham is primarily a USA budget brand. I have had fewer than 5 Wyndham brand paid stays in the USA over the past 15 years. Therefore, I do not accumulate Wyndham Rewards points from economy hotel stays in the USA. I primarily buy Wyndham Rewards points whenever I see them on sale. One big limitation is Wyndham Rewards only allow a member to buy or receive a combined maximum 5,000 points in a calendar year at rate of $11 per 1,000 points.
Ramada is Global Brand with hotels in 50 countries
The large international footprint of Wyndham with Ramada being a global brand with 900 hotels globally makes the chain useful in many other countries besides the USA. There are many upscale Ramada and Wyndham hotels internationally. These are the kind of hotels where there is far more potential to find great value with Wyndham Rewards points.
While many of the major city hotels increased their copay by $50 or more since the May 2015 introduction of GoFast Rewards, there are still hundreds of good deal hotels.
I found upscale Ramada hotels in Italy and Switzerland when my plan was to go to the Swiss and Italian Alps for September hiking. This past week I found good value for Wyndham Hotels in Austria and Germany, where I will also be after Slovakia hiking. I am saving $70 USD per night with 3,000 points at one hotel I booked using GoFast 3,000 points + 31 EUR per night.
Choice Privileges in Scandinavia
Last month I stayed 6 nights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden using 86,000 Choice Privileges points at a cost to me around $500 for hotel nights with lowest combined room rates at these hotels around $900. That extra $400 saved on hotel rooms comes in handy for other travel expenses in Europe, like drinking 100 beers in Poland.
I still need to write up hotel reviews for Clarion Hotel Energy, Stavanger, Norway and Ascend Collection Skt.Petri Copenhagen. Clarion Hotel Sign Stockholm is the most recent Choice Privileges reward stay: Stockholm Clarion Hotel Sign great deal on points, convenient airport train access (July 13, 2016).
Clarion Hotel Energy, Stavanger, Norway has a one room suite available to Choice Privileges members on Aug 23 for 12,000 points or 6,000 point + $45 or $347 USD.
Reward nights qualify for elite status in Choice Privileges. As a Platinum elite (20 nights in calendar year) I receive upgrades at some hotels. I earned Platinum elite on reward nights and a couple of paid nights, nearly all international.
For years I was a Hyatt and SPG champion. My cheerleading stopped over the past four years as rates continued to climb at most Hyatt and Starwood hotels and the category shifts for reward nights doubled and tripled the number of points required at many of the hotels I frequented since 1999 on points.
Right now in 2016 I find the best hotel points value for my travel style is found with Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club and Wyndham Rewards.