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Awhile back I’ve put together a list of the most lucrative Barclaycard sign-up bonuses when it comes to family travel. Arrival Plus and Wyndham co-branded credit card were on it. There have been a few changes recently, so I want to revisit this topic in case you are debating as to what offer to go after.
The already great offer on Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard just got better. For a limited time, instead of 40,000 you’ll get 50,000 points, which amounts to an extra $100 off travel purchases. It’s marketed as “limited time offer.” I won’t rehash all the details, you can read them here I’ve said many times that for normal families this is probably the most “no-brainer” Barclaycard offer. It does pay me commission.
But there has been another interesting development in Barclay-land. As you’ve probably heard by now, Barclays has introduced some changes to Wyndham co-branded credit cards. Thanks to Doctorofcredit for bringing them to my attention. You can see full details here
A short summary:
- The annual fee has increased from $69 to $75 (not a big deal).
- You’ll now get automatic Platinum status (once again, not a game changer). Sure, you’ll get a possible upgrade to a better room, early check-in and 3,000 points’ bonus on top of 6,000 points you’ll receive by renewing the credit card. But you won’t get perks like suite upgrade or free breakfast.
- The earning rate will now be 1 Wyndham point per dollar, 2 points on gas, utility and grocery store purchases. With the old offer, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on all purchases.
- The new official offer comes with 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
In my opinion, the last point is what you should mostly pay attention to. Sure, the official bonus has been at 30,000 points’ mark for some time. However, it has been (and still is) possible to sign up for Wyndham Signature version that comes with 45,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Update: The link is dead.
I was never all that impressed with value you get on everyday spending, so it’s not a game changer for me. Paying $150 for a hotel, which is an opportunity cost of not using a 2% cash back card, is not my idea of a deeply discounted hotel stay. However, if you are looking to accumulate Wyndham points via everyday purchases in hopes of taking advantage of “Go Fast” rate, these changes are significant (more on that later.)
I am quite certain that this link won’t be available much longer due to major changes to Wyndham credit card. Barclays has been known as a somewhat stingy bank when it comes to extending credit. Most bloggers recommend waiting 6 months between applications to maximize your chances of approval, and I agree. So assuming you are debating between Arrival Plus and Wyndham card, which offer should you pick?
I wish I could give a universal answer, but every family is different. It will largely depend on your upcoming plans. That said, I hope I can make your decision easier:
1) I don’t recommend you apply for Wyndham card unless you are fairly certain that you’ll be able to use the points within the next two years.
I strongly discourage you against hoarding Wyndham currency. The program is as wacky as it gets, worse than IHG. Did you see the match fiasco last week? I’m so happy that my internet was down and I wasn’t able to publish a post on it. I would feel horrible if any of my readers donated SPG points not knowing that Wyndham pulled the deal before it officially started.
This program is a wackadoodle of loyalty schemes. One time I called to redeem my points on a hotel night and instead the rep made a paid reservation. When you call, it takes forever to get someone who knows what they are doing. Even simple cancellation requires 30 minutes of your time, at the very least.
Why not cancel online? Well, many times, the option is simply not available, so you are stuck with having to call in and hoping you’ll get a competent person on the line. Also, Wyndham claims “no blackout dates” policy on Go Free rate, but I can say with absolute certainty that it’s not really the case.
It’s extremely hard to determine speculative value of Wyndham points. A year ago I’ve predicted that Wyndham is the next Club Carlson and it looks like devaluation is nigh. Right now, it’s limited to the earning side (getting only one point per dollar on most purchases), but eventually, it will trickle down to the redemption side as well. I expect limited availability on their best properties and/or higher rate on points.
That being said…
2) Right now Wyndham program can be a great deal in certain circumstances, especially during holidays and peak season.
The key to extracting the most value out of Wyndham program is to redeem 15,000 per night (“Go Free” rate) on their top properties and 3,000 points (“Go Fast” redemption) in order to get a huge discount on budget hotels. Basically, if the property is $100 per night or less, you’ll be better off burning 3,000 points if the option is available.
I’ve written several posts on Wyndham which you may want to read:
There are definitely some nice Wyndham properties out there. If you stick to redeeming your points in Chicago, New York or beachfront hotels in Florida, you will do very well, especially in peak season. Of course, let’s face it, Wyndham also has many cr#ppy properties. I’m a fairly “easy to please” traveler, but reading some of the reviews of Wyndham hotels makes my skin crawl.
When a property gets two out of five stars on TripAdvisor.com, there is usually a reason. Roaches, bed bugs, and the list goes on. No thank you! Obviously, not all budget Wyndham hotels are bad, but a lot of them are. My point is, determine what kind of traveler you are because Wyndham may not suit your needs.
But if you are looking for a place to lay your head while on a road trip, the sign-up bonus can go a long way. Need few nights at a beachfront resort near Miami during spring months? Wyndham is also your guy. I got a chuckle out of Dia at TheDealMommy comparing Wyndham program to Ken Bone. I agree with her analysis, but only if Ken Bone is a mildly creepy dude. Wait a minute, according to his Reddit.com comments, he is! Internet giveth and internet taketh away.
3) Unless you value Wyndham points at more than 1.26 cents apiece, Arrival Plus is a better deal for your situation.
Why this number? Well, I took $500 value of Arrival Plus’ bonus, added $69 to it (annual fee on Wyndham offer), and divided it by 45,000. So, by this logic, if you burn 15,000 points, it’s an equivalent of paying $189 per night (all-in). It’s a decent deal on top properties, but not spectacular. Note that I’m not even taking into account a 5% rebate on Arrival Plus redemptions.
Of course, you can also stretch your points by taking advantage of “Go Fast” redemption.
Regular rate is $152 per night, so you would be saving $90 in exchange for using only 3,000 points. A great deal? You bet, especially considering the fact that the suite fits 6 people and comes with free breakfast. So once again, the value really depends on how soon you will be able to redeem the points.
I’ll admit that I don’t trust Wyndham based on unannounced changes they made in the past and lack of foresight when it comes to promos. Just because you are seeing a great deal on a certain property right now, doesn’t mean it will still be available next year. Of course, the same can be said about all hotel programs, but Wyndham just has this creepy vibe about it. It’s the same feeling I got when I first saw latest internet sensation Ken Bone. Is it the goofy red sweater? Not my thing, especially on guys.
3) Unfortunately, the math isn’t really that simple.
The problem is, I’m almost 100% certain that the zombie link for Wyndham card will permanently die very soon. And there goes your ability to get 45,000 points’ bonus, plus the potential to earn 2 points per dollar on everyday spending. I’m not as confident when it comes to increased 50,000 points’ offer on Arrival Plus. It could be gone later this year, but it may come back in 2017. I don’t really know one way or the other.
Still, if one of my relatives asked me if they should jump on Wyndham card right now, my answer would be: Only if you are fairly confident that you will be able to use the points in the next few years. Otherwise, go for Arrival Plus.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.