This week at Frequent Miler was all about hotel loyalty programs as Greg worked towards rounding out our data-driven Reasonable Redemption Values by calculating the value of Wyndham Rewards points and Choice Privileges points and then stacking them up against Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Radisson to see which programs are the most rewarding for those without status, those with a co-branded credit card, those with elite status, and more. Surprisingly, Wyndham fared very well by all measures which prompts the question: is Wyndham a legit first tier hotel program? Greg and I discuss our two slightly different viewpoints and what Wyndham needs to do to win us each over on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air below. More on that in video or podcast form or read on for this week’s key posts about hotel point values, the most underrated $95 credit card on the market, and more.
- 00:43 Giant Mailbag: Wyndham is great! No, Wyndham stinks! Or maybe it’s all the same feedback….
- 5:28 What crazy thing….did Days Inn do this week?
- 10:22 What crazy thing did….Wyndham Rewards do this week?
- 14:57 Mattress Running the Numbers: Best Western offers 5K per night for 1-3 nights. Is it worth it?
- 20:48 Main Event: Is Wyndham a legit first-tier program?
- 42:30 Post Roast
- 46:12 Question of the Week: Is the Hyatt or Hilton card better for hotel spend?
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This week at Frequent Miler
In hotel programs
If you read the title question and thought Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, or IHG, you are forgiven for being mistaken. However, the fact that most of us would have gotten this question wrong goes to show that there is always something new to learn in this game and that it can be worth challenging your assumptions and looking where you least expect to find value. All that said, Greg’s conclusion hit the nail on the head: this comparison undervalues Hilton because Hilton is almost always running a double or triple points promotion (as they are right now), which would put them near the top of each chart.
Answer: more than you expect. And that’s not because of Vacasa — Greg didn’t even consider Vacasa when determining this latest Reasonable Redemption Value. I wasn’t shocked that Wyndham points could offer so much value toward properties that cost 15K points, but I was surprised that the median and mean point prices for the hotels that made it into the analysis indicated that Wyndham has a lot of popular 15K properties. Have we all been ignoring Wyndham for far too long? I think that a combination of strong point value and great earnings on the Wyndham credit cards is bound to win over hearts and minds in this community. I’ll certainly be giving Wyndham a closer look.
I was surprised to see Choice Privileges points dip so much in value with this latest evaluation. While I’ve known that there are poor values to be found in the Choice Privileges program, I have often found them to offer excellent value in the situations in which I’ve checked. On the other hand, since Choice is a backup program in my book, I’m likely only searching for Choice when paid rates are high and I’m finding limited availability in my preferred programs. That likely skews my perception toward outsized value. The good news is that Greg’s valuation is data-driven and it is clearly still possible to get more value from the points — just not enough to justify buying points speculatively.
Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is yes. One of the best uses for Amtrak points for those with Amtrak elite status or $20K spend on an Amtrak credit card has long been the ability to transfer those points 1:3 to Choice Privileges. Amtrak has quietly eliminated this partnership, which is a disappointing change for those who were sitting on Amtrak points thinking they would preserve flexibility.
In credit cards
Is the Hilton Honors Surpass card the most underrated $95 credit card on the market? Between a huge bonus offer, easy bonus categories, a short-term opportunity to earn Diamond status with as little as $10K spend, and the chance to earn a free night certificate that’s valid any night of the week through the end of next year, this card is punching above its weight class. Yes, Hilton recently increased the number of points per night for the Waldorf-Astoria in the Maldives, but there is still more than enough value here to make this card and offer and timing pretty compelling for anyone eligible.
Greg roasted me for this post during Frequent Miler on the Air, but he roasted my unfair interpretation of his conclusion about the value of Choice points rather than my argument that the Choice Privileges Visa offer is worth a look. While not as strong as the Surpass card offer, the newly-enhanced 75K + 4x everywhere Choice Privileges Visa offer is as good as it has ever gotten in terms of a way to collect easy Choice Privileges points.
On this week’s Frequent Miler Ask Us Anything Live, we answered a wide range of questions about points, miles, and loyalty. One particularly interesting question we tackled was about the best hotel card for a newbie. See our answer to that and many more questions in the playback.
The Rakuten Visa has been a holdout maintaining price protection while most other cards have eliminated this once-prevalent perk. Unfortunately, Synchrony is following the prevailing winds and eliminating price protection in July. See our guide to the best purchase protections for which cards still carry price protection.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Don’t forget to check out this week’s last chance deals.