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Ed Pizza: This week's episode of the Miles to Go Podcast is brought to you by the new Wyndham rewards earner cards designed with road trippers and road warriors in mind. Apply today, and you can earn up to 45,000 bonus points enough for up to six free nights, at thousands of hotels by Wyndham around the world. Whether it's the no-fee Wyndham Rewards Earner card, the $75 annual fee earner plus card, or the $95 annual fee Earner Business card, Wyndham Rewards has a card that's right for you. Plus with up to eight X points on eligible hotel stays and purchases up to five X points on marketing advertising utilities, purchases with the earner business card, and up to four X points on restaurant and grocery purchases, your neck gateway could be closer than you think. Earn like you mean it every day and get to free nights faster with the Wyndham Rewards earner cards. Terms and conditions apply. Learn more at

Announcer: You're listening to the Miles to Go Podcast, the go-to source for travel tips, news, and reviews you can't afford to miss. Now here's your host, travel expert, Ed Pizza.

Ed Pizza: Welcome back to the Miles to Go Podcast while we've been trapped at home through most of the past year. And who saw that coming back in January? The travel world has seen some remarkable changes. Most of them have been sad to see though, there have been a few bright spots. Just a few weeks ago, we had executives from Air Canada back on the show as they launched the new Aeroplan program, one that's especially good for family travel. They're not the only ones with positive changes out there though. As a side note, we've got one of the best giveaways in the history of the Miles to Go Podcast starting this week. So stay tuned a bit later for that. At any rate, a few months ago one of our shows frequent guests, Richard Kerr brought a new credit card to my attention. It was part of the newly refreshed lineup of Wyndham Rewards Earner credit cards.
And the card that piqued my interest the most was the Wyndham Earner Business credit card. It's a new card for them. You guys know that I'm a small business owner and the bonus categories were really, really intriguing to me. I love being able to earn points on things that I'm already spending on for a business. So we're going to dig into that more in just a bit, but it really made me give the Wyndham Rewards program another look. After all the value of a credit card is really only as good as the program I can redeem those points in.
I've always known there were some pockets of value at Wyndham Rewards, but the bigger question for me was could a road warrior rely on Wyndham, and they've certainly got the footprint with over 9,000 hotels. Our guest this week is here to answer that question and a handful more. Eliot Hamlisch is the executive VP of loyalty and revenue optimization at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Elliott, welcome to the show.

Eliot Hamlisch: Thanks so much. Great to be with you.

Ed Pizza: So you've been in the hotel space for closing in on a decade now, including a stop at one of my favorite hotel chains of all time, Starwood. At Wyndham you're overseeing strategy for over 9,000 hotels, which for some folks they might not know, that makes Wyndham the biggest hotel chain by number of hotels, bigger than Marriott or Hilton. That's a lot of properties to keep track of Eliot.

Eliot Hamlisch: Not only a lot of properties, but a lot of fun. Great, great opportunity to think across, to such an expansive array of a lot of household names that many folks that are listening to the podcast will know and love, brands like Days Inn and Ramada and Howard Johnson, Super Eight, just to name a few. So it's a really fun job in such a enjoyable team to work with.

Ed Pizza: And some brands that people may not have heard of that are actually some really awesome aspirational stays, which we're going to get into as well. But let's dive into the new credit card lineup first, since that's what's got me digging deeper into the Wyndham Rewards program overall. I'm sure these cards were awhile in the planning phase, but it really seems like you guys hit on the perfect balance of earning potential for a pandemic.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. We're bringing these cars to market at a really relevant time. And the updated card suite really was designed with road trippers and road warriors in mind. That's who our members are. And to your good point, the cards are coming to market at a good time, but are based on many, many months of extensive research. And the earning structure that we're delivering really is what our card members want. It helps the members maximize points earned when they're on the road, as well as through everyday purchases. And I'm looking forward to getting into the details on not only the business card, but the rest of the card portfolio as well.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And let's start with the personal cards because even though I'm a small business guy, I know we've got lots of folks that listen, who are that everyday traveler. Maybe they don't get on the road every single week like me. And so we've got two different cards that, that address sort of the individual. They've got the earner card and the earner plus card. And the thing I think I like from a high level standpoint is I like when a program has an entry-level card that doesn't have an annual fee because I think it gives folks the ability to hold that card and think about the value of the program without having to judge whether they can justify that annual fee right out of the gate.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah, these are both great cards for road-trippers with the most exciting feature being the point accelerators on gas spent. So five X on the earner card and six X on the earner plus, and to your good point, the honor card comes with no annual fee. And in addition to the five X accelerator on gas, offers two times points on dining and groceries, and one time on other purchases as well. At the same time, I do think that for most road trippers the earner plus card, which is the $75 per year fee card is likely going to be a great choice, not only because of the six X points that it offers on gas, as well as the four X on dining and groceries. But it also comes with platinum status, which unlocks a host of really great benefits like Avis Budget Rental Car upgrades, early check-in when you arrive ahead of schedule, accelerated point earnings on Wyndham stays as well as status matching to Caesars Rewards. Just to name a few of the really great benefits on that card.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. I think the Caesars status match is a really great option for folks. And I think when you think about, as you mentioned, the difference in costs, if you will, with the annual fee, there are a lot of benefits to that earner plus card. I think if you're a typical either family or or somebody who feeds more than one person, I think six points on gas and certainly four points on dining and groceries is really competitive in the marketplace right now for what folks can earn.
And I think it also ties in nicely to the fact that Wyndham has a very, flat is probably not exactly the right word, but a very simple award chart to understand. You've got three levels of awards. And I knew there weren't a ton of properties in the top reward category, but as I went through the program in more detail, I was really surprised to see some really nice properties in that 15,000 point tier, which is pretty accessible for somebody who might hold either the earner or the earner plus category and spend on it for normal everyday stuff over the course of a year.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah. That's exactly right. Just to touch on some sort of broader aspects about the reduction portfolio, I think a lot of folks also don't realize about Wyndham that the redemption opportunities are really broader than the 9,000 hotels that we have. So we have 30,000 hotels, vacation club resorts, and vacation rentals around the world. So in addition to all of those household names that we talked about before, there are cottages in Ireland and villas in France that folks have the opportunity to redeem for as well across a number of those different categories. And to your earlier point, we really have tried to keep the redemption structure very simple. There's a lot of complexity out there in the marketplace, both in terms of earn and burn, as you look across the loyalty landscape in both the hotel industry and more broadly, and we've tried to keep it very simple at three distinct levels, 7,500 points, 15,000 points, and 30,000 points, which has been really well received by our member base.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And so when we tie that back to the card, for starters, I think there's a couple of things to note here. Both the Earner and the Earner Plus card can earn a 7,500 point bonus each year, with the free version of the car that earn a card, a card member needs to spend $15,000 a year on the card, but just the action of continuing to hold the card and pay the annual fee for the earner plus card gets you that 7,500 bonus points.
So the way I look at that is that's certainly a wide collection of properties I can redeem at the 7,500 point level, or I'm halfway to a whole slew of really nice properties, just as part of that annual bonus. And I think given where we stand today, especially where there's so many people who aren't on the road fully yet, I think it's a really smart choice for Wyndham to look at this and say, "We're going to tie something to that annual fee that rewards folks to continue to hold the card year over year so it makes it an easier decision when it comes time to pay that annual fee each year."

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah, I think that's right. And I'll add to that as well. In our research and was reading a consumer study recently that highlighted that Americans on average spend $2,000 annually on gas. And so when you combine the points earned either on the earner card or the earner plus card, or the business card for that matter, you combine the gas accelerator points that you earn with the 7,500 point anniversary bonus and the bonus points that you get when you sign up for the card, it gets really rich really quickly. And when you've got such a vast array of redemption options across all of those different point amounts, again, the 7,500, 15,000, and 30,000, really an endless amount of opportunities and a really exciting sort of prospect for folks that may be considering these cards really within the first year in terms of those redemption possibilities.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, for sure. And I think when you talk about how to tie all that stuff back to what people are going to spend on, it gives them that landscape, if you will to plan out a trip. And I think this also comes back to the simplification of the award chart in that with only three tiers, it's easier for people to figure out how much that next vacation is going to cost and how much spending they might need to put on the card over the course of the year to afford the trip they're looking for. When I think about the card that geared towards small business, which is Wyndham's first foray into offering a business card, I think the thing that probably excites me most about it is that these are some categories...
Well, I guess take a step back for a second. The eight X points on gas is huge. And that's what got me interested in the card for starters because like Richard Kerr who turned me onto the card we both bought RVs. And so we're pulling these big hunking things around the country with pickup trucks. Very out of character for a city boy like me, but I'm buying a lot of gas on top of all the gas I would buy on a normal basis. So eight points per dollar there is huge, but then you have the five X category, five points per dollar on marketing and advertising is something I've seen for other small business cards out there, which is definitely a really nice one to have. But utilities is a really unique category that I haven't seen pretty much at all when it comes to a small business credit card.

Eliot Hamlisch: It's interesting. And going back to your comment about the RV, we'll take some time offline and just talk about that because I've always been curious and you've piqued my interest now. So look forward to having that conversation with you as well and hearing about your adventures. On the small business card, it really does fill a gap that we had in the previous card suite while catering to Wyndham's everyday business travelers. So it's industries like transportation and utilities and logistics and infrastructure. A lot of these industries where spend on marketing advertising into your good point, utilities really are over over-indexed. And so by offering a five point accelerator for those categories, in addition to the eight points on gas, we feel, and consumer sentiment and small business sentiment certainly has sort of borne that out over the first call it six to eight weeks of the car in market in terms of interest in the card. And so we've been really excited to see the uptake and a lot of the interest specifically in those subcategories.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I think, when you look at the pricing for the card, I think it's priced very competitively for other business cards at 95 bucks a year. So it's one of those things where at least from my standpoint, from a small business standpoint, even before you get to the anniversary bonus and the signup bonus, I can pay for this annual fee pretty easily on my gas spend. And then certainly on my utility spend such that for me, I can see this being sort of an anchor card in my wallet to cover those categories and cover that $95 annual fee on a yearly basis without really having another card that can help me do that. Setting that aside for a second, as we move up the ladder and cards, if you will, from the earner plus to the earner business.
I think the other thing here again, when I think about the breadth of properties that Wyndham has a 15,000 point annual bonus for this card, each anniversary year means that essentially I can get a free night at thousands of properties that I actually want to stay at just by holding the card in my wallet. So even if I wasn't using the bonus categories heavily, and this is where some of us mile and point nerds get into the value of certain things, I'm essentially getting a night at a great property in a number of different places around the world for a $95 annual fee, which is a great value for my wallet. Yeah,

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah. Very, very well said. And I'll add to that as well. Not only are you getting a great night at a great property, but that's coming with Diamond status as well, right? Our Diamond member level, which includes, in addition to all the great amenities and benefits that you're getting at the Platinum level, you're also getting suite upgrades and a unique welcome amenity at check-in as well. So doing everything we can to, to really sweeten the deal for the business card holders. And that Diamond status generally comes with a requirement of 40 nights per year in terms of stay behavior. And so it's a really rich benefit that we're excited to offer to our small business card holders.

Ed Pizza: It's almost like you should be interviewing me cause that's the perfect segue. As a road warrior, I think one of the tough things for me to consider is if I'm loyal to a specific hotel brand or an airline, it's that threshold of I have to hit 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 nights to move over from one brand to another and start enjoying the benefits that I might've earned somewhere else. Same thing with flying. And so here, I think it's interesting that Wyndham has chosen to include their top tier level Diamond status with the Earner Business card, such that if I'm new to the program, if you will, or maybe I'm a casual member. So like for example, right now I'm a gold level member in the Wyndham abroad program.
If I wanted to start staying at Wyndham properties to earn that diamond status like I have with other chains, top tier status with a Hilton or Hyatt or Marriott, it's going to take me some time to get to those diamond benefits where here, what you're saying to me is "look, Ed, if you put this Earner Business card in your wallet, we're going to give you Diamond status right away," which is pretty appealing to me from a road warrior standpoint because I don't need to prove my loyalty to get to that top tier. Let's talk a little bit about what Diamond does offer and how that can help the road warrior, both when they're on their business trips, but for me, those most important trips when I want my family taken care of when we're on vacation.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah. Absolutely. So as you mentioned, diamond is our top tier for member levels, and I'll share a few of the benefits that you get even earlier on, which I think are just that much more additive to diamond, including things like early check-in and Avis Budget Car Rental upgrades, which start to factor in at the Platinum level. And then in addition to those, as I shared earlier, suite upgrades and a welcome amenity at check-in are things that you get as a Diamond member of the program too. One of other really sort of unique and interesting component of Diamond is the opportunity to give Gold. And so when we think about our small business card holders, whether this is to a spouse or to a member of the team that has gone above and beyond and that is on the road often and would benefit from Gold status.
That's something else that's a really unique offering once you achieved that Diamond level. The other thing, we've talked about Caesars now a couple of times, but for folks that are either frequenting Vegas or any of the other Caesars properties around the country, opportunity or world for that matter, opportunity there to status match into Caesars Diamond level, which comes with a host of really unique and really compelling value propositions for folks who may be interested in that as well. So that's been an exciting partnership for us over the past handful of years and something that's a unique piece of the value prop for the small business card, too.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, and specifically on Caesars Rewards, I'd say, as you mentioned, it's fairly unique. Hyatt has their partnership with MGM. And I think that Caesars is obviously the other big brand in Las Vegas. And I think the thing that's most often overlooked, and certainly we could see this change in '21. There's obviously been a slew of changes in hospitality over the past nine months while we dealt with the pandemic and who knows what '21 brings us, but resort fees, destination fees, wherever we want to call them are still a big part of the casino world. And I think one of the things that I've enjoyed from my Caesars Rewards status match was the ability to waive those destination fees at the casinos when I've stayed in Vegas. We have some business properties out there. I visit there frequently. And gosh, some of those fees can be 40 or $50 a night. So I don't think this is one to minimize it. It can really be a big cost saver for somebody who travels to someplace like Las Vegas frequently.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah, no, absolutely. We really think about the Caesars portfolio very much as an extension of the broader Wyndham rewards portfolio, from both earn and a burn perspective, but you're right. There are both of the platinum and diamond level in the Caesars program, a host of really great benefits, including no resort fees for Diamond members, discounts at stays at both the platinum and diamond level as well. And it's been interesting over the years just to watch how closely the demographics between the Caesars Rewards member portfolio, which is upwards now of 50 or 60 million members, tracks just so closely to the Wyndham Rewards member base, which is now upwards of 85 million. And so the power of those two programs coming together across the different aspects of the partnership have been really exciting to watch.

Ed Pizza: It has been. And it's a really interesting point because I've been involved with the Freddie Awards for about 10 years now, and they recognize the best in travel loyalty on a yearly basis is voted on by the general public. And in the beginning, when these partnerships first came around, I won't say that these were afterthoughts by any stretch of the imagination, but these programs, Caesar Rewards specifically, these were things that were focused mostly on folk that came to Vegas to gamble, and they've really expanded that program.
And I think part of that is some of the daylight that the Wyndham partnership shines on it, but I think it's been interesting to see the members of these programs see the value in these partnerships and in both directions, that the Caesars folks are getting more out of a partnership with Wyndham and Wyndham, obviously you guys get to add these diverse properties, that for a long time the ability to stay with points in Las Vegas was limited to say, maybe a timeshare property off the strip or something like that. They were still nice to have, but you didn't have that say classic big style Vegas casino vacation that you could do on point before you had partnerships like the Wyndham and Caesars partnerships. So I definitely think it's a big feather in the cap for what you guys are able to offer to your members.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah, no, absolutely.

Ed Pizza: So let's look back a second on the award chart. Because I did a little bit of homework. I really want to understand what the different levels of points could get me. And I think, first off I learned about the trademark collection, which I do want to talk about a little bit. These are properties that, again, just being a hundred percent honest, I didn't know were part of the Wyndham program before I started digging in when the new cards came out, and there are some really exceptional properties in the trademark collection. Can you talk a little bit about how that collection folds into Wyndham?

Eliot Hamlisch: There are, absolutely. So Trademark is our soft brand collection. So to your good point, there are a host of really unique and differentiated properties that are part of the Trademark collection that may look and feel a little bit different than properties that folks might think of as sort of the more traditional members of the Wyndham portfolio. One really good example of that is a hotel called the Galt House, which is in Louisville, Kentucky, which I've had the opportunity to go to a couple of times, absolutely phenomenal property right in downtown Louisville.
As you can imagine, it gets packed every year for the Kentucky Derby and is just one of a handful of properties in that portfolio that I think really differentiate both opportunities to stay at Wyndham properties, but then also redeem, not a property that necessarily fits in cleanly to any pre-existing brand and such a great opportunity to market it uniquely, be out there in market with a value prop that is differentiated. And another nice thing about the Trademark brand is that there is so much variety within it. So in some cases, the Galt House is a thousand plus room property. In other cases we're looking at more unique sort of one or 200 room properties in different destinations that do offer just a good, unique, and diverse piece of the puzzle that is relatively new to Wyndham here over the past few years.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And this is where the value properly clicked for me on Trademark. As a road warrior, the vast majority of my stays are properties that are not aspirational. They're not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but typically I'm on the road for business. So I'm staying at what's closest to where I need to be. And a lot of times at the limited service hotel. I actually knew one of the Trademark properties prior to knowing it was a Trademark property. And that was a property called Magic Village down in Florida, near Disney World. And this is one of those sneaky, good values that I've written about a number of times where in the past, you've been able to redeem 15,000 points at certain times to get upwards of a three or a four bedroom townhouse/condo, beautiful property, right near Disney World.
So you can have it that sort of extended family vacation. And certainly I'm a Disney nerd, so that really rung true to me. But then I started again, when you talked about unique properties and I'm going to sound like a big cheerleader here, but I think people really need to look at, even if they just look at the pictures, things like the Sedona Rouge in Sedona, Arizona, a place where again, it's really hard to use points. And if you do, you're not getting something anywhere near as aspirational as this. So I think that's a great example. And then other places like Branson, Missouri, I think is another again, place that's off the beaten path where you can have an unbelievable vacation without necessarily being able to find points hotels very often. And again, these are properties where I was able to find availability, not every day of the year, but reasonable availability with the amount of points that I would otherwise expect to have.
And then two other spots where I think the program does well, just in this Trademark collection, are there a number of unique properties in the provinces in Canada. Something that can be a bit thin with your competing loyalty programs and then some really nice properties down in Mexico, specifically the Playa Del Carmen property. So I don't think a lot of folks know about the depth of Trademark, and we're not talking about thousands of hotels here, but we're talking about some really well-placed and unique, fun, aspirational sort of once in a lifetime kind of properties.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah. You've now filled out my travel wishlist for the next couple of years. So I appreciate that. I have, unfortunately, not had the opportunity to visit Magic Village, but couldn't agree more, the pictures just look so beautiful, and the value there to your good point, really outstanding. Just to add to the good points you've highlighted around Trademark is the variety is what makes this brand so unique. So you've got downtown boutique hotels. One example of that is the Burgess hotel in Atlanta, which is absolutely gorgeous. And then on the other side, you have resort destinations, beach side, pools down in Mexico, Florida, and elsewhere, like you highlighted. And as I shared before, also just a tremendous variety from a size perspective.
So if you're looking to host a big group meeting, the Galt House, as I shared before, is a great opportunity to do that in a really unique and exciting city like Louisville and also works really well in other places, if you're looking to either travel with a family or host smaller group gatherings. So I am really glad that we're highlighting Trademark today. It is one of the unique offerings of the broader Wyndham Rewards portfolio. And again, appreciate you calling out a handful of properties that are now on my list.

Ed Pizza: That Branson, Missouri property is high on my list because Branson's supposed to be beautiful. I've never been. And so the opportunity to be able to leverage my elite status, to get a cabin in Branson, Missouri is a sort of thing that I love to see. Nothing against any other sort of destinations, but I love those sort of one-off things. I don't know if you'll remember this from your Starwood days, but at one point Starwood had an island off the coast of Key West that was part of their collection. And you redeemed a lot of points to get there, but it was one of those once in a lifetime sort of things. And I feel like the Branson cabin sort of thing fits in that category of not the sort of typical thing you'd expect from a loyalty program. And so if I can bring that to my family without having to shell that out of my pocket, it's that sort of once in a lifetime memory, that the program helps me make.

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah no, couldn't agree more. Absolutely. I'll meet you there.

Ed Pizza: So I did do a bunch of digging, as I'm wont to do. And one of the other things that I uncovered again, that I didn't know that I want to sort of close with from a benefit standpoint is the partnership that Wyndham has with Marathon Gas. And I think, again, this won't apply to everyone because not every city has a Marathon Gas station, though there's a lot more of them across the US than I expected when I started looking. And so for folks, again, when we get back to the gas tie in on the cards, I think the ability to "double dip," it's one of our favorite things, us mile and point nerds, is the ability to say, "Hey, I've got this credit card in my wallet. I'm going to earn points on my gas purchases, but Wyndham Rewards also has a partnership with a Marathon Gas to earn points when I'm filling up at the pump."

Eliot Hamlisch: Yeah. This actually, I think is an opportunity to triple dip if you will. So the Marathon Gas because who doesn't love to double dip, and if you can triple dip, even better. The Marathon Gas partnership is an exciting one, gives you an opportunity to earn Wyndham Rewards points when you fill up at the tank. And these are incremental to the points that you're earning on the cards. So not only can you pay with your Wyndham Rewards card, but you can also earn two points per gallon when you're filling up at the pump on top of that. Just for signing up Wyndham Rewards members save 10 cents off per gallon in their first month after signing up for the Make It Count program, which is Marathon's rewards program. And then for every fill-up afterwards, members save at least another 5 cents off every gallon in the month that follows. So this is a really rich program. Again, really nice tie in with the gas accelerators on the new suite Wyndham Rewards cards. And we couldn't be more happy with the partnership.

Ed Pizza: I missed the five and 10 cent thing, I'll be honest, because as a self-avowed data nerd, we recently did a vacation down to Florida to pull the RV down, drove from Virginia down there. And I had this little chart of whether it was Pilot or Flying J or Sheets or all these different gas stations where I could get a discount on gas because when you're averaging eight miles per gallon, and you're driving 900 miles, every penny counts. So I had this little Google doc so my wife could tell me where we were in terms of finding stations that had gas station discounts. So I love that 5 cent and 10 cent discount because again, especially with me pulling a house on wheels behind me, gosh, the gas bill has gone up considerably in 2020.

Eliot Hamlisch: I can only imagine.

Ed Pizza: All right. So we've reached that point, which not that I didn't like the stuff we discussed so far, but I think you guys at Wyndham came up with a really awesome giveaway for the listeners. And I don't want to steal your thunder on it. So I'm going to leave you with the floor to talk about what Wyndham's giving away on the Miles to Go Podcast over the next handful of weeks.

Eliot Hamlisch: Well, thank you. And I appreciate the opportunity. So in celebration of our new suite of Wyndham Rewards earners cards and the 10 year anniversary with Barclays, we are excited to give 10 of your listeners an upgrade to Wyndham Rewards diamond status plus, 15,000 Wyndham rewards points, which is enough for a free night at thousands of our hotels, vacation club resorts, and vacation rentals around the globe. So appreciate the opportunity and couldn't be more excited to offer that up to 10 very lucky listeners.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And you guys will have details on this in the show notes on how you guys can win. We're going to be giving these away over the next handful of weeks. So you'll have multiple opportunities to win. And as we look back on earlier, diamond status has some really awesome benefits, things like suite upgrades, ability to status match to Caesars. And I can certainly say, after having dug into the program over the past handful of weeks, between the 7,500 and the 15,000 point level, there are many thousands of properties that somebody can find to stay at and plenty of these nicer hotels that you want to have a vacation at.
So we're excited to bring that to you guys. And like Eliot said, we've got 10 of those prize packs to give away. So stay tuned, look for the details on that in the show notes. Eliot, before we run out of time, I do want to check, it's such a big collection of properties. And that means that you've gotten around to your fair share of them. I'm curious as you've done your travels and your years with Wyndham, have you found any favorite destinations or properties, places that either you'd love to return to or something that's really high on your list, when we actually get back to traveling safely in 2021?

Eliot Hamlisch: Well, thanks to you, I've got a new set of properties now that I look forward to frequenting, but my number one property in the portfolio, actually both from a personal and a work perspective as the Wyndham Grand down in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico. I've been there multiple times, both for work and with my family. And it's just so unbelievably, not only beautiful, but the opportunity to engage in just a host of activities, both on property and around the property are really just limitless. It's right next to the rainforest down in Puerto Rico, which is just stunning. The pools are great. The beach is beautiful, and the folks on property couldn't be kinder and more welcoming. So certainly if you haven't been before, absolutely recommend it very highly. And I look forward to traveling back in the not too distant future.

Ed Pizza: This is not a property that I knew about, and I took the opportunity to Google it while we were talking. And all I can see are trees, beautiful palm trees, pools, and a pristine beach. So you've now put something on my list for future travel.

Eliot Hamlisch: Excellent.

Ed Pizza: Well, Eliot, thanks so much for the time. And again, thank you for the awesome giveaway for our listeners. I'm going to be super excited to bring them that here in the very near future, but thanks for taking the time today to be on the show.

Eliot Hamlisch: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Ed Pizza: Back to wrap up this week show with the final two pennies. I want to give you guys some more details on that giveaway in just a minute, but for now, if you've been a long-time listener of the show, you've heard me talk about Hyatt as my favorite hotel chain. They haven't been unseated on the top of my rankings. While Wyndham's always been on my radar, some of the other guests, you guys have heard on the show like Jen, from Deals We Like, are definitely fans of Wyndham for family travel. Five or so years ago when Wyndham flattened out their award chart, many of my fellow travel bloggers were really, really high on the changes. It was really a revolutionary simplification of how to think about redeeming your points for free travel. This was also around the time that Marriott announced they were acquiring Starwood.
And for those who have been longtime listeners, you know that Starwood was really the first hotel chain that I was very loyal to. Much of my attention was focused there. And I never really spent the time back then to dig into the Wyndham program high. Hyatt is still top on my list when it comes to hotel loyalty, but I really do see a place for Wyndham in the mix. I'll be honest, I'm still not a hundred percent sure how that fits into my travel plans going forward. Heck, I'm not sure what my travel will look like at all into 2021 yet. So definitely lots of open questions. Now you should also know that as far as the podcast is concerned and my blog, we've never taken a sponsorship on the show from anyone or any product that I don't believe in.
I really do like the new Wyndham earner cards for folks who have a mix of, say business and family travel. And especially for those who have small business expenses to put on a card. I really think that business card is a true winner for small business owners. The new credit cards are a great way to jumpstart you to a vacation at a Wyndham property. And as I mentioned in my interview with Eliot, there are some great properties for family vacations, those ones down in Orlando for Disney folks. I'm a big fan. And the Trademark collection really has some legitimate resorts. Okay. Enough delay. About the giveaway, you heard Eliot, we're giving 10 winners Wyndham diamond status for a year plus 15,000 points. You'll find a link on how to enter in the show notes. It's super easy to do so.
And since the giveaway is going to run until roughly the beginning of February, we're going to have additional ways to win along the way. So if you stay tuned to the show, you'll hear about additional ways that you can enter to win one of these awesome prizes. Click on the link in the show notes, get entered now. That's a full wrap on this week's show. Again, a big thanks to the Wyndham Rewards earner credit card for sponsoring the show this week and to the Wyndham Rewards folks for this fantastic giveaway. We're going to have 10 pretty happy winners when all is said and done, but until then, we've got miles to go.

In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Wyndham partnership with Barclays, Wyndham Rewards has given me 10 awesome prize packs to give away to you guys!

10 lucky listeners will win a year of Wyndham Rewards Diamond status, their top-tier status! Along with a year of Diamond status, you’ll also receive 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points, enough to redeem for a free night at thousands of hotels around the world.

You can enter here, and stay tuned to future episodes for ways to earn extra entries in the contest over the coming weeks!

If you enjoy the podcast, I hope you’ll take a moment to leave us a rating. That helps us grow our audience!

This week’s episode of the Miles to Go is brought to you by the NEW Wyndham Rewards Earner Cards. Designed with road trippers and road warriors in mind, apply today and you could earn up to 45,000 bonus points, enough for up to 6 free nights at thousands of Hotels by Wyndham around the world.

Whether it’s the no-fee Wyndham Rewards Earner Card, the $75-annual fee Earner Plus Card or the $95-annual fee Earner Business Card, Wyndham Rewards has a card that’s right for you. Plus, with up to 8x points on eligible hotel stays and gas purchases, up to 5x points on marketing, advertising and utilities purchases with the Earner Business Card, and up to 4x points on restaurant and grocery purchases, your next getaway could be closer than you think.

Earn like you mean it every day and get to free nights faster with the Wyndham Rewards Earner Cards. Terms and conditions apply. Learn more at

Hope you enjoy the show!

If you have a suggestion for a future show find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagramand let me know what you’d like to hear about!

Ed Pizzarello

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  • The Wyndham Earner Business credit card sounds intriguing. Bonus categories that are relevant for business owners is a good idea.

  • I have stayed in my share of Whyndham hotels over the years and can say they’ve always met or exceeded my expectations. But I’m not a loyal. Guess having an elite status would change that 🙂

  • I’m not typically hotel brand loyal but am interested in what difference it would make to have status with a hotel – I’ve definitely stayed at some lower end, probably re-branded Wyndham hotels, no complaints but our family is pretty basic in our economic hotel needs on road trips.

    • Melissa, it depends on the hotel chain. With Wyndham, things like late check-out could save you having to either pack up early or pay for a second night if you were at a resort property and wanted to hit the pools one last time (one example where late check-out can be helpful). A suite upgrade can also provide your family more space. For other chains (like Hyatt), elite status could mean free breakfast for your family. Those sorts of savings can add up quickly.

  • Thanks, always, for the tips! I am a member but don’t always think of Wyndham first. Getting status would certainly help to put them in the front of my mind when planning travel!

  • Hello Ed Pizza!

    Thank you very much for your information…

    I got to know you from Eloy Neto (master of miles) from Brazil and I see that the knowledge you brought to us in this post, in addition to the quality of the content, savings in money, makes us learn engineering and apply it in other areas of our lives!

    Thank you very much, a big hug from Brazil!

  • We are big roadtrippers and have found the mainstream hotel chains can’t be found near some parks, instead, we prefer Best Western, Wyndham and IHG. Anytime you can address travel hacking tips for families, we tune in!

    • Stacy, we’re all about family travel. I’m working on a segment with Summer and Richard coming up to talk about family travel trips you should be considering booking now for the future. Hope to bring that to the airwaves soon!

  • I stood at Wyndham while in a vacations trip. Nice experience, clean and comfortable. Hope to see you again soon.

  • I tend to use Wyndham properties fairly often on road trips because they are on every exit and we get a discount with our corporate code. But I had no idea about the higher end properties – we always just stay at the lower tier (cheap) properties on road trips. Will have to check out the Trademark properties!

  • The thing that separates Wyndham from other hotel chains is non-dynamic pricing. It is really helpful to know how much points you need to spent on a particular hotel, without even worrying about the dates.

  • I’ve had a Wyndham Rewards credit card for years, but recently decided to downgrade to a no annual fee version as I did not feel the value was there anymore.

    • Hey Ed! I enjoyed the podcast this week with Kerr! He cracks me up with his good morning to… posts every day. I’m glad you told me about all the hard stuff for a new RVer. My husband will talk about getting one every once in a while. Now I know what to play for him if he ever brings it up again. I think I prefer to stick with the convenience of hotels.

  • Wyndham has some great properties! We have enjoyed Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach a few times and love it that points make it possible.

  • I have used the Wyndham program on multiple bougie trips to Aspen. I love the high end properties that this program offers, my only wish is that they rolled back the tiered redemptions. 15k anywhere was amazing!!!

  • Ed, love your podcast and website. Always useful information. Thanks for this Wyndham opportunity. Hopefully we’ll all be doing more traveling soon!

  • I attended a conference at the Galt House in Louisville a few years ago, but stayed at the Hyatt downtown. Now that it’s part of Wyndham Rewards, I’d definitely consider staying there.

  • Hi,

    I am a big fan of your podcast and it’s very informative but again this show sounded more like a sales pitch rather than an objective review of the program. I know it’s kinda hard to do if you have management staff from wyndham on the podcast. Wyndham definitely has some great properties but, unfortunately, I have to speak from my own experience, most of them are bad to garbage. Places falling apart, no building maintenance, internet either not working or with dial up modem speeds. I try to avoid the chain as much as possible. I know a place which used to be a holiday inn express and got kicked out because of IHG standards and rebranded as Ramada. Most places in regular settings are just bad and also attract a crowd most people don’t want to deal with it. This is not Wyndham’s fault directly but more the location of the hotel and the local management. On the other side they have great places as well, where it’s really worth redeeming points for but these locations are rare. It also seems their properties abroad are in way better shape than the ones in the US. Another big downturn of their program is that points expire after for years, no matter what. With exception of the pandemic. This doesn’t make it easy to save for a great stay for the whole family at a nice property. Because of this I had to transfer so many points with a bad ratio to airlines just to save them from expiring. I would have rather saved them for great redemption with Wyndham. The expiration of points should be communicated more clearly.

    Other than that, keep it up

    • Hey, Peter. Thanks for the comments. I don’t think some of the concerns you cite are unique to Wyndham, but it’s a valid point. In my time in the hotel industry, I saw Marriotts rebranded to IHG properties because of IHG’s lower standards for certain brands. And, Ramada is an entry-level brand with lower standards than some other brands.I think the area I’d push back on is your comment that there aren’t a lot of locations worth redeeming points at. Virtually all the Trademark properties look pretty nice to me. And, I think there are some great options for families to get larger timeshare-style rooms for vacations. Can’t argue with the expiration of points and that’s something I should have brought up with Eliot during our interview to push them harder on that point.

      • Great Podcast! I agree that the Wyndham/Caesars partnership is very valuable and the ability to status match and transfer points 1:1 is a winning combination. Also getting the Wyndham and Caesars no annual fee credit cards is an easy way to keep points from expiring.

      • Hey Ed,

        I believe you with the rebrand of other hotels as well. I don’t say that Wyndham is “crap” in general. The upside to Wyndham is, they pretty much have a hotel everyhwere. Even where no other hotel brand has a hotel, there is a Wyndham. I give them that. However, I had so many bad experiences, I try to avoid them. I don’t say every Wyndham is bad. Trademark Collection is definitely nice. But finding needles in the crack of the bed isn’t what I am looking forward to. No matter if it was used for a legit reason (e.g. diabetes) or for drugs. It’s horrible to find that after the room got cleaned. I have tons of stories like this. This is even one of the better of the bad stories. I for sure would like to give Wyndham more opportunities but the expiration of points makes that hard. Now I have to redeem them for a bad value and transfer them to partners. Well it’s better than let them completely expire. If they could get rid of the expiration, at least with activity, it would be a way better program. It’s also hard to match Best Western with no points expiration whatsoever. 😉

        • Peter, I’d definitely say a needle in a bed is a horrible experience. And, can’t say I disagree with the points expiration policy. Hopefully, we can push for some changes there.

    • Hello Ed Pizza!

      Thank you very much for your information…

      I got to know you from Eloy Neto (master of miles) from Brazil and I see that the knowledge you brought to us in this post, in addition to the quality of the content, savings in money, makes us learn engineering and apply it in other areas of our lives!

      Thank you very much, a big hug from Brazil!