Dec022019

Best Western Rewards 56K and 70K is not program’s primary reward devaluation

Best Western Rewards has made its biggest change to reward nights in more than a decade. This article covers three different aspects of the changes. The most reported change is the introduction of new high end reward rates at 56,000 points and 70,000 points. This is huge, but unless you were using your points in the past for 32,000 and 36,000 points hotels, then this change is not the most significant change. There is also a new low end reward rate at 5,000 points.

However, the most significant change is one not mentioned by most blogs reporting on these changes. Since I have regularly used Best Western Rewards for hotel deals for the past decade, my deep dive into changes reveals the most significant devaluation to the program are hotels now charge higher points rates for higher category rooms.The biggest devaluation in the Best Western Rewards is seen in different rates at the same hotel for different room types. This change eliminates the most competitive advantage BWR offered to members.

Best Western Rewards Rates Nov 2019
  • 5,000 points
  • 8,000 points
  • 12,000 points
  • 16,000 points
  • 20,000 points
  • 24,000 points
  • 28,000 points
  • 32,000 points
  • 36,000 points
  • 56,000 points
  • 70,000 points
Best Western Rewards at 56,000 points and 70,000 points

Best Western Rewards 36,000 points hotel nights were already pricey and now the new 56,000 points and 70,000 points hotel rates are grossly noncompetitive reward night rates in my opinion.

My hometown Monterey is a vacation destination with six local Best Western hotels near the beach.

I find these reward rates laughable, specifically since I feel assured the lowest priced hotel at 36,000 points for Carmel’s Town House Lodge will be the highest priced hotel of these three in the weeks leading up to June 19, 2020 and the lowest rate will still be BW Beach Dunes Inn in Marina. Hotels in Marina are generally hotels filled with tourists who can’t afford Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel hotel locations.

While these new high end reward rates are notable, the most significant change for Best Western Rewards members to note is one most points and miles bloggers missed. This is probably due to low familiarity with Best Western Rewards. Admittedly, I generally have only a few Best Western hotel nights each year. Yet, I picked up a couple hundred thousand points several years ago that I have slowly redeemed over time.

New Low End 5,000 Points Reward Nights

The only good news I see in the recent changes is the addition of a 5,000 points reward night rate. My searches show there are opportunities for 5,000 points reward nights in places I travel, like Poland and Romania. Given that buying 5,000 points from Best Western Rewards costs $50, there are likely not significant savings most of the time for these low reward rate nights. The deal I see here for my travels is the opportunity to buy 50,000 Best Western Rewards points at the annual Daily Getaways sale in spring 2020 for $5.50 per 1,000 points. Assuming BWR participates in 2020 Daily Getaways and there is not a price increase to the $55 per 10,000 BWR points rate that has been offered for the past decade, then $27.50 for 5,000 points will likely beat any posted room rate.

The exchange rate today is 3.86 PLN = 1 US Dollar.

BW Hotel Portos = $39.38.

BW Hotel Felix = $35.44.

BW Hotel Poleczki = $39.93.

These hotels are no deal if you buy points at $10 per 1,000 through BWR. Lowest rates are advance purchase so comparing the BWR reward rate to Best Flexible rate is a better value.

5,000 points for a 190 PLN/$49.22 is a decent redemption value for a Best Western Hotel reward booking today with the same flexible cancellation policy as 190 PLN Flexible Rate.

 

Primary devaluation for Best Western Rewards is variable reward rates based on day of week and room type

For years, the primary competitive advantage of economy chain hotel loyalty programs Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards were the availability of different room category types for the standard reward rate in points. I have stayed in suites in each of these programs using the same number of hotel points required for the standard room type. Best Western Rewards appeared to drop suites from reward options about two years ago, yet I was still finding higher category room types like superior and premium rooms and preferred view rooms for standard reward rates. Wyndham Rewards still offers suites at some hotels for 15,000 points per night, but the major devaluation for Wyndham Rewards came last year when GoFast reward rates were pegged to the daily rate for the room type. This change significantly increased the copay required when booking a higher category room or suite at any specific hotel.

The most significant devaluation I see with Best Western Rewards for my travels is the introduction of variable reward rates depending on day of week, average published rates and room type. One of the competitive advantages that initially attracted me to Best Western Rewards was the availability of higher category rooms at the standard reward rate. Up until now, it was worthwhile to check out all Best Western Hotels in an area where I needed a hotel to see what room types were offered. I regularly found hotels where higher category rooms, often priced $30 to $60 per night more than standard rooms were offered for the same points price as a standard room.

Higher category rooms now require more points

Last year I wrote two articles about the opportunity to find higher category rooms at some Best Western hotels for the standard reward rate.

Loyalty Traveler – Best Western better rooms on standard rewards – June 4, 2018

Finding higher value Best Western Rewards rooms with points – Dec 15, 2018.

Best Western Rewards now has higher than standard rates for upgraded room types, including more points required for a King Bed compared to two singles at some hotels, more points for a preferred view room, or more points for rooms with more beds. I have not seen any Best Western Hotels offer suites for reward points since 2017.

Here is the kind of points rate differentiation I now see at Best Western hotels.

Double Bed = 12,000 points

3 Single Beds = 16,000 points.

4 Single Beds = 20,000 points.

More beds, more points

Better View, more points

Double Bed Balcony Room = 8,000 points.

Double Bed Lake View = 12,000 points.

King Bed Lake View = 16,000 points.

Best Western Hotel Edison Przezmierowo, Poland

Weekend and Weekday different rates

Used to be that Best Western Rewards had a standard reward rate based on month of year. I now see reward rates change throughout the week. In Monterey, a popular weekend vacation destination, there are higher rates seen for weekends.

Thursday June 4 reward rates for Monterey, California

Friday June 5 higher weekend reward rates in Monterey

Kind of laughable to me is Best Western Park Crest Inn, Monterey is basically a motel asking 70,000 BWR points for a free night. Even more laughable is the $440 room rate shown for Best Western Park Crest Inn on a Thursday night in Monterey for the first week of June 2020. You can book a room at the Monterey Plaza, one of the finest oceanfront hotels in the area for $340 per night that same date.

Not sure why Best Western Rewards felt the need to make these dramatic changes to the loyalty program. If this program was not on your hotel stay radar before, there is little reason to concentrate on the program now.

 

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. So it seems that, if you travel to Eastern Europe AND you can find a well-placed BW hotel that meets your travel needs AND it is available for a cheap 5K redemption AND you can pick up BW points during a sale period, THEN MAYBE you can save about…..$20 ($50 for the cash price minus the cost of the room).

    The “mental bandwidth” that this requires is simply not worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

  2. In my experience with BWR, paid stays are generally a better deal than points. I went many years before burning through my stash of points. Most of my points were redeemed for hotels priced at 16,000 and 20,000 points. The real deal were hotels offering suites for standard rates, but that option disappeared.

    Best use I got from BWR points were the last two years during Nov-Jan promotions when any Best Western in North America was 10,000 points. I traveled to Miami and Key West in peak season January when room rates $300+. Thanksgiving week 2018 I stayed at Best Western hotels in Anaheim for a three day trip to Disneyland and scored several more $300 room nights. Fantastic location across street from Disneyland entrance.

    In the future I will likely find more usefulness from 5,000 points BWR hotels than hotels at 70,000 points.

  3. @bluecat

    I have regularly done the point purchase for 50K points. It can be worthwhile but you need to have a plan on how to use them.

    I looked at some of the places after the change and some I did see point category changes and others i didnt beyond may a step .

    I have seen hotels around sat 24K a night that are retail $200+ a night after taxes. a two night stay may be near $450 while a 59L pirchase is around $275 for 2 nights. some of these hotels have not changes their category ytet…

    An issue I have seen over the years is BW losing some good location hotels.

    I think in part their morivation here was to try and bring in some of the better higher end independent hotels.

    At one hotel I used a hotel voucher on said to me that they hated these because they felt the reimbursement rate was below what they thought it costs to stay there under the free certificate. point stays in general wer closer to peak stay rates.

    What we dont know yet–under these free certificates—would they not be valid at hotels above 50K in pooints?

    best western doesnt do much point generating promos. once a year they may do one of these off season 10K point promos or a free certificate that would only be used during off peak times at most hotels.

  4. Don’t forget redeeming points for stays isn’t always the best deal. I’m staying at a place now where 22000 points for a $100 travel card was the better value.

  5. Thanks, Dan and Ric. You’ve convinced me that it’s okay for me not to collect BW points! (Got plenty of others to burn through as it is…!) 🙂

  6. They just cut the benefits on their co-branded credit card with FirstBankcard as well. Trip insurance, price protection, extended warranty, and concierge services are gone 12/31

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