Wyndham first turned my head when they rolled out a flat-rate redemption structure where a free night at any hotel cost the same number of points. This allowed savvy travelers to get the most out of their points at the rare, but often nice, top tier properties within the program. Since then, Wyndham has moved to a three-tier redemption chart, taking much of the value out of the program. However, there is a new best way to use Wyndham points: Vacasa.
What is Vacasa?
Vacasa is a vacation rental management company and booking platform. Rather than simply connect guests with hosts (a la AirBnb), Vacasa offers more for both the property owner and vacation rental guest. For starters, they have local offices and staff that handle guest check-in and check-out, cleaning, stocking necessary amenities, and responding to any guest issues. Vacasa states that they can provide 24/7 guest service, which I’d be curious to see how they manage. All the properties they manage for owners are listed on their Vacasa website and app.
Vacasa makes it easy to search and book as a guest, too. The website is easy to use. Although they don’t show you the nightly price with all taxes and feed included, once you do plug in dates for a property, you’ll immediately see the total price.
Think of Vacasa as similar to Vrbo or AirBnb. But with units that are dedicated vacation rentals, rather than an extra room, as you can get with AirBnb.
Vacasa’s Value: Why It’s the Best Way to Use Wyndham Points
If you prefer vacation rentals to hotels, you’ll want to start earning Wyndham Rewards points. Wyndham used to be one of those chains where I’d keep a minimal stash of points, enough for a night or two. After they moved away from the single-tier reward structure, I didn’t see the value.
But with the ability to book Vacasa rentals, it has really changed my earning strategy. Historically, I’ve gotten around 1.0 cent per Wyndham point, which is the general value I give them. But you can get much more with Vacasa. It is hands-down the best way to use Wyndham points.
Wyndham prices Vacasa based on the number of bedrooms — 15,000 Wyndham points per bedroom per night. Therefore, a two-bedroom vacation rental would cost 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night.
That might seem steep, until you consider that two-bedroom Vacasa properties can go for $250-400 per night. That’s solid value.
The best part: you don’t pay the taxes or cleaning fees when redeeming Wyndham points for Vacasa rentals. One of my biggest gripes about AirBnb is these extra fees. It’s fantastic that these are included when redeeming Wyndham points for Vacasa rentals.
A Quick Example
Let’s look at the first stay I booked. Three nights in a one-bedroom Vacasa rental cost me 40,500 Wyndham Rewards points. This is the standard 15,000 points per bedroom per night, and I receive a 10% redemption discount as a Wyndham credit cardholder (i.e. it cost 13,500 points per night). The property is technically a “one bedroom plus loft”. Wyndham doesn’t charge any extra for the loft.
Total cost Vacasa would have charged: $1,429. That’s a phenomenal 3.5 cents per point.
What’s even crazier is that this isn’t close to pushing the highest value stay available in the same area.
There was one property that would have yielded over 5 cents per point! Update: the original terms capped redemptions at $500 per bedroom, inclusive of taxes and fees, a policy I was not aware of. However, this has recently been updated to a maximum of $350 per bedroom, inclusive of taxes and fees. Source: Frequent Miler. This unfortunately means I would not be able to book the same rental, at least at the high rate over Labor Day weekend.
It’s unlikely I’d ever pay $350 per bedroom for a vacation rental. But it makes for a fantastic redemption! You can get a maximum of 2.6 cents per point, assuming you have a Wyndham credit card. Since Wyndham doesn’t charge for the cleaning fees or taxes, I paid truly $0 for our stay in September 2023.
I use the Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card for to earn 8X points on gas. This, plus the annual bonus points, have netted me around 40,000 points per year. This is enough for three nights, which is an easy $1,000 in value. Not bad for a card with a $95 annual fee and only a portion of my annual gas spending.
The One “Gotcha”
The only catch is that you have to confirm your rental a 30 days in advance. After this point, your rental is locked in and you cannot get your points back. If you need flexibility, Vacasa is not a good option. But if you have firm travel plans, it’ll work great.
In the case of our Labor Day vacation, I was fine locking it in. I had high confidence we’d make the trip. I’m not so sure I’d book a Vacasa rental on a vacation where we are traveling across the country. But if my Wyndham points can get us one or more annual vacations each year, I’ll be more than happy.
Bottom Line: Don’t Sleep on the Best Way to Use Wyndham Points
The recent devaluation makes sense. The previous value was simply too good. I don’t know who picks up the bill for each redemption, whether some is passed along to the property owner, whether Vacasa takes some, or whether Wyndham pays out of their pocket for each redemption. But when you can get up to 2.6 cents per point, Vacasa is solidly the best way to use Wyndham points.