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Opportunities to redeem points at flat rates for award travel are dwindling. In early April, Wyndham Rewards switched to an award category system, much like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, getting rid of its flat 15,000-point-per-night price for a free stay. Free stays at Wyndham properties now vary from 7,500 to 30,000 points per night, meaning some hotels may require fewer or more points than before to redeem a free night.
The new awards categories went live as several new benefits for Wyndham Rewards members were unveiled, including the addition of more than 900 La Quinta hotels to the catalog, new benefits for military members and more ways to earn points through online shopping and gas purchases.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes.
New award categories
Wyndham now has three award categories that determine how many points you need to redeem a free night. Almost 3,000 hotels have moved down to Category 1, meaning it takes 7,500 points to get a free night at a Category 1 designated properties. Expect to see brands like Days Inn and Super 8 among these properties.
Meanwhile, almost 200 hotels have moved up to Category 3, which requires double the previous number of points needed for a stay. For some hotels, including Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, you will have to spend 30,000 points per night. This is also the case with several La Quinta by Wyndham locations.
The vast majority of properties will not require any more or fewer points than before. You can still score free nights at 15,000 points at Wyndham Grand hotel international locations and most of the higher-end Wyndham Vacation Resorts in the U.S. Hot destinations like Hawaii and Florida still have a lot of options at the Category 2 level, as well.
» Learn more: Find the best hotel credit card for you
Pay for award stays with a combination of points and cash
To help members earn award stays faster, Wyndham Rewards has introduced a new way to pay for award stays with fewer points if you’re willing to throw in some cash. The go fast redemption option follows the same categories as the point-based go free redemption option.
go free Redemption (points only)
go fast Redemption (points + cash)
1,500 points + cash
3,000 points + cash
6,000 points + cash
The cash contribution varies based on the hotel, but it can range from about $35 to more than $200. When you book a go fast award, the cash portion will still be eligible to earn 10 points per dollar (excluding taxes, incidentals and other fees).
NerdWallet values Wyndham points at 0.9 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.9 cent or more in value from your Wyndham points.
Use rewards at La Quinta hotels
Wyndham acquired La Quinta Inns & Suites in 2018, and now those hotels are available for loyalty members to book with Wyndham Rewards points. There are more than 900 hotels added to the roster, including locations in cities like Miami, Seattle and Toronto.
» Learn more: Wyndham Rewards matches status with La Quinta Returns
New benefits for military members
Under the latest changes, military members now earn automatic Gold level membership and 1,000 bonus points on their first qualifying night. Gold level membership comes with perks like late checkout and a 10% point bonus on qualifying stays. All of these perks are in addition to some benefits already available to military members, whether or not they are Wyndham Rewards members. Service members have access to existing discounts of 12% or more off the best available rate at participating Wyndham Rewards hotels.
Earn points through online shopping and gas purchases
Wyndham Rewards also announced new partnerships that allow members to earn points outside of hotel purchases. Loyalty program members can now earn points through the Wyndham Rewards online shopping portal at retailers like Target, Apple and Home Depot. Gas purchases and select in-store purchases at Marathon gas stations can also help Wyndham Rewards members earn extra points. In the coming weeks, members will be able to earn and redeem points with Viator tours and experiences and DoorDash food delivery.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card