There’s a lot of discussion about credit cards in the travel blog space. Credit cards are how many (if not most) people earn miles and points to be able to take that dream trip. And, there are plenty of folks who sign-up for lots of credit cards for the welcome bonus without much regard to whether they’re going to keep the credit card long-term. I get it, but I don’t generally sign-up for a new credit card unless I see some sort of a long-term place in my wallet.
That’s the approach I took when evaluating the new lineup of Wyndham Rewards Earner credit cards. In the interest of full disclosure, the Wyndham Rewards Earner card folks are currently sponsoring my podcast. They haven’t reviewed anything I’ve written here, nor any of the opinions I express on my podcast. If you sign-up for one of these credit cards, I don’t receive any affiliate income or credit for you doing so. Side note: I do have a pretty awesome giveaway from Wyndham now that you should enter.
I actually learned about the new credit cards in a discussion with fellow RV owner Richard Kerr, in a discussion about how much gas it takes to tow an RV around the country. That lead me down a rabbit hole on their new credit card geared towards small business owners. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. There are 3 new Wyndham Earner credit cards that I’m going to break down today.
Wyndham Rewards Earner Card
The Wyndham Rewards Earner card is the entry level, no-fee credit card from Wyndham. It currently offers a 30,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and comes with the following bonus categories:
- 5 points per dollar on Wyndham hotel stays and gas purchases
- 2 points per dollar on dining and groceries
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
To give you some frame of reference on what a 30,000 point sign-up bonus is worth, I need to give you a basic explanation of the Wyndham Rewards award chart. It’s the simplest award chart amongst the major hotel chains, with exactly 3 categories. The most affordable properties are 7,500 points per night. The other two categories are 15,000 and 30,000 points per night. The majority of hotels in the program (including some really good properties) are either 7,500 or 15,000 points per night. My guest on this week’s podcast actually covers some of the best deals she’s gotten at Wyndham properties for 15,000 points per night. 30,000 points can get you 4 nights at that lowest award tier, but you’re more likely to get 2 nights at a nice property for 15,000 points per night.
You can also earn a 7,500 point bonus on the anniversary of your sign-up if you spend at least $15,000 on purchases each year. Holding this card earns you Gold status in the Wyndham Rewards program. Here’s a chart that breaks down all the benefits of each status level:
Entry-level status in most elite programs isn’t the sort of thing that’s going to be life-changing, but there are a few key benefits to note. First, you’ll get a 10% discount whenever you redeem points for award nights. That’s especially helpful for families trying to stretch their points for vacations. You’ll also get late checkout where available.
If you want to carry a no-fee credit card and earn hotel points that you can redeem widely (Wyndham has over 9,000 properties), then the Wyndham Earner card may be a decent one to consider. Unless you’re dead set on not paying an annual fee, I think you’ll find more value in one of the other new Wyndham credit cards.
Wyndham Rewards Earner+ Card
For just a $75 annual fee, the Wyndham Rewards Earner+ card offers a lot more value than the no-fee Earner card. You can earn a 45,000 point welcome bonus when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days after you sign-up. The Earner+ card has the same bonus categories as the Earner card, but with better multiples:
- 6 points per dollar at Wyndham properties and gas stations
- 4 points per dollar on dining and groceries
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
On top of the sign-up bonus, the Earner+ card comes with Platinum status in the Wyndham Rewards program. The biggest benefit of Platinum status with Wyndham Rewards is a status match to the Caesars Rewards program. Elite status with Caesars can save you plenty of money on a Las Vegas trip, including waived resort fees and discounts on popular shows and at certain restaurants.
Just like with the Earner card, you’ll get a 10% discount on any award redemptions. And, you’ll also get those 7,500 bonus points each year on the anniversary of when you signed up for the card. Considering that’s half of what you need for a night at a really nice Wyndham property, it’s not hard to get $75 in value out of the Earner+ card. One family vacation will more than take care of it.
Wyndham Earner Business Credit Card
As a small business owner, this is the Wyndham Earner card I’m most interested in. This card has some unique features you won’t find in other small business credit cards. There are some powerful small business credit cards, like the Ink cards from Chase. But, there aren’t really any great examples of cards that come with solid bonus categories for small businesses and elite status.
Let’s outline the specifics of the card real quick. You can earn 45,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card within 90 days of signing up. The bonus categories are more rewarding than the personal cards, and geared more specifically to small businesses:
- 8 points per dollar at Wyndham properties and gas stations
- 5 points per dollar on marketing, advertising and utilities
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
8 points per dollar on gas purchases is a great way to get a leg up on a free vacation. There are other small business credit cards that offer bonuses on marketing and advertising. That’s not unique, but still useful. However, the utilities bonus category really is unique. Many, if not most small business owners spend a pretty penny on utilities. Our businesses sure do. It’s the biggest reason I plan to add this card to my wallet. Being able to earn 5 points per dollar on expenses I have to incur every month is a big win.
On top of these bonus categories, the business credit card also comes with top-tier Diamond status in the Wyndham Rewards program. Along with the benefits I highlighted for Gold and Platinum status, Diamond members are also entitled to suite upgrades (subject to availability at check-in) and they can grant Gold status to someone.
The Wyndham Earner Business card has a $95 annual fee and comes with a 15,000 point bonus each year when you pay the annual fee. For those reasons, if you qualify for the small business credit card it’s clearly the hands-down choice for me. The only reason I can think of to pick the Wyndham Earner+ card over the business card is if you spend a ton of money on dining and groceries.
Should You Sign-Up For One of The Wyndham Earner Cards?
For those of you who follow me on a regular basis, you hear me talk a lot about Hyatt being my favorite hotel chain. Where does that put Wyndham in the mix? Let’s consider the major hotel chains with a dominant presence in the US, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Wyndham. Wyndham has them all beat by number of properties. However, they lack a bit when it comes to the number of luxury hotels in the chain. I believe they stack up favorably in comparison to IHG, and I could see reasons why people would choose Hilton over Wyndham and vice versa. Marriott is still a hard chain for me to categorize, so many great Starwood hotels folded in, but I can’t say I love the loyalty program as it’s currently structured.
All that being said, I think Wyndham has plenty of pockets of value to take advantage of. If you travel a bit for work and like to take a family vacation or two each year, I think the chain is a solid fit. As I mentioned above, I think small business owners who want to maximize their points can find a lot of reasons to like Wyndham. Will Wyndham have a 5-star property in every city you travel to? Probably not. But, they are building newer hotels in the US to go with the collection they have already. And, if you haven’t checked out the Trademark Collection (which I talked about at length in this recent interview), there are some fantastic properties there.
Wyndham Rewards’ flat award chart are a big plus for family travelers. When combined with the 10% discount on award stays, it’s easy for a family to stretch their points out for 2 rooms when they’re on a family vacation. We prefer to book connecting rooms or a suite when our family of 4 travels, since we don’t all sleep in one room and share one bathroom when we’re at home. With very reasonable award redemptions, it’s easy to save enough points for bigger redemptions.
There are more valuable credit cards out there, but many of them come with much higher annual fees. The Hilton Honors Aspire AMEX comes with top-tier Hilton Diamond status, but also comes with a hefty $450 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a comparable annual fee ($95). That card earns Ultimate Rewards points, which I value higher than Wyndham Rewards points because of their flexibility. If you’re willing to sacrifice that flexibility, the bonus points for Wyndham stays and gas on the Earner+ card would allow you to save up quickly for a Wyndham hotel stay.
The Final Two Pennies
Prior to these Barclays and Wyndham rolling out these new credit cards, I didn’t pay a ton of attention to the Wyndham Rewards program. I have some points and I’ve had a handful of Wyndham stays over the past few years. I did enjoy the benefits of a status match from Wyndham to Caesars. Since I travel to Vegas quite a bit, the status match was truly valuable for me. But, I didn’t have the Wyndham stays to maintain that top-tier Diamond status I received as part of a status match from my Hilton status.
Now, I can hold a credit card in my wallet that will give me Wyndham Diamond status. And, with a $95 annual fee I’m pretty much a lock to get that much value out of the card every year. We haven’t done family vacations at Wyndham in the past. But my discovery of the Trademark collection changes my perception on doing that. One of the Trademark properties, Magic Villages in Orlando, was already on my radar. This is where you can redeem 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points for a 3 or 4-bedroom condo in between Disney World and Universal Orlando. With other awesome looking properties in places like Sedona, AZ and Branson, Missouri, this definitely opens my eyes up to more opportunities to use Wyndham Rewards points for the types of properties our family prefers. And, Eliot Hamlisch from Wyndham turned me on to his favorite property, the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in Puerto Rico.
While Wyndham Rewards isn’t ready to unseat Hyatt atop my list of favorite hotel chains, I suspect they’re going to be stealing some of my business from Hilton and Marriott in 2021. After all, I’ll need to find someplace to use all those points I earn paying utility bills!
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