Middle Age Miles

Keep or Cancel – Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa

barclays wyndham rewards visa card keep cancel product change
Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa

Recently, the $75 annual fee posted on our Wyndham Rewards Visa card (annual fee version). Should we keep, cancel or product change this card?

Background

We first got the Barclays Wyndham Rewards card in April 2017. At that time, we wanted the sign-up bonus on the card for a very specific redemption – to get enough points for 2 free nights at the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront when paid rates in downtown Chicago were high. We had a solid stay at the hotel, saved a bunch of money, and were even able to book a River View room, which was a step up from the base-level room.

View of the Chicago River from our River View room at the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront

Last year at our first anniversary, we decided to keep the card. (See Middle Age Miles: Keep or Cancel – Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card (posted 5/11/18)). We received a retention offer to waive half of the $37.50 annual fee. We knew that we would receive 9,000 Wyndham Rewards points from holding the card (6,000 as a direct card benefit + 3,000 as an annual bonus for having Platinum status with Wyndham Rewards (which we received by virtue of holding the card; note that there is no longer an annual bonus for Platinum status)).

In the past year, we spent a whopping $13 on our Wyndham Rewards card.

Analysis of This Year’s Keep-or-Cancel Decision

1. Basic Keep-or-Cancel Decision

As we mentioned, the Wyndham Rewards card has a $75 annual fee. Key card benefits are:

  • Bonus categories
    • 5x Wyndham Rewards points on spend at Wyndham properties
    • 2x on gas, utilities and grocery store purchases
    • 1x on everything else
  • Platinum elite status with Wyndham Rewards (see chart of Wyndham Rewards elite benefits here)
  • 6,000 Wyndham Rewards points annually, which post after the annual fee is paid
  • No foreign transaction fees

A few things have changed since our decision last year to keep our Wyndham Rewards card:

  • We now have Diamond status with Wyndham Rewards (WR) and should be able to retain that status going forward
  • Wyndham Rewards changed its program so that it no longer awards points at the beginning of each year as an elite benefit
  • Wyndham Rewards devalued its program by doubling the points price of its highest-end hotels from 15k WR points to 30k – and it’s further devaluing by eliminating points awards entirely at Viva all-inclusive properties
    • And as a result, we dropped our baseline value of WR points from 0.9 cents per point (cpp) to 0.7 cpp

At our new baseline value of 0.7 cpp, the WR Visa card doesn’t have best-in-class earning in any category, even at Wyndham hotels where it earns 5x (effectively a 3.5% return; among others, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Preferred easily beat this with 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) earning (4.5%)). Thus, the WR Visa card doesn’t provide us with any value for ongoing spend.

So, with the changes from last year, the value proposition changed from:

  • Last year: Platinum status and 9,000 WR points (then worth about $81)
  • This year: No status benefit and 6,000 WR points (now worth about $42)

A points benefit that might save us about $42 sometime in the future certainly doesn’t justify paying a $75 annual fee. Thus, our preliminary decision was to cancel this card.

2. Additional Options and Considerations

Beyond that, there were 2 other things we needed to consider.

First, last year Barclays offered to waive half the annual fee, making the fee $37.50. Would we consider keeping the card if we got the same offer this year?

Second, there’s a product-change option for this card, a no-fee version with reduced points earning and no annual points benefit. Should we product-change to the no-fee version?

One thing that’s important to know here is that the Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa card is churnable if you don’t have an active card. Thus, we’d generally be eligible to get the card and its sign-up bonus again if we canceled.

As a practical matter, I might not get approved for a new WR Visa card under Barclays underwriting rules right now, anyway. But if we cancel the card, at least there’s an option for a new card at some point.

Benefits to keeping the card (including a product-change to the no-fee version) would be to allow the account to continue to age. Also, with some issuers (think Amex), it’s worthwhile to keep cards open and pay annual fees, to improve chances of being approved for more cards in the future. But this is not a known issue with Barclays. And in fact, I should be squarely on Barclays’ good list anyway, by virtue of spend levels on other Barclays-issued cards.

Given these considerations, we felt like (a) getting 6,000 points wasn’t worth paying even $37.50 (half the annual fee, if we got the same offer as last year; and (b) the potential to get the card and sign-up bonus again in the future, even if the chances are small, outweighed any minimal account-aging benefit. Our decision remained the same – cancel the card.

Cancellation Process

To cancel the card, I called the number on the back of my card (866-428-2424). Because I didn’t intend to keep the card under virtually any circumstances, I went ahead and told the automated attendant that I wanted to close the account (note: if you might reach a different decision if you get a good retention offer, don’t say “close” to the automated attendant; just ask for an agent or representative instead). But I did want to talk to a person, to make sure they’d credit back the $75 annual fee that was billed, so I didn’t confirm closure to the automated attendant. Instead, I asked for a representative.

I was quickly connected to an agent. He confirmed that the annual fee would be credited back if I closed the card, so I wouldn’t owe anything. He did not give me any retention offers (although in fairness, I didn’t ask for one, and I hadn’t given any indication that I would consider one). He proceeded to read the disclosures, including telling me that my account would be available online for 6 months post-closure, and then confirmed that he was closing the account.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our in-depth keep-or-cancel analysis for the Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa card. We like sharing our thought processes and analyses, in hopes that it helps you out with your own credit card decisions!

What do you think about our decision to cancel the Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa card? Anything that we missed or that you’d like to add to the analysis? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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3 thoughts on “Keep or Cancel – Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa

  1. Grant

    I have 66k Wyndham Points but no plans to use the free nights in the near future. There has been a string of bad news from Wyndham Rewards over the last few months and no good news. I will end up closing my card after the annual fee posts in a few months. Such a bummer that this program went downhill so fast.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Grant – I hear you on the WR points. It’s too bad you didn’t have a need to book 4 nights somewhere before the devaluation went into effect. We burned our last 30k to book a couple of nights on our upcoming summer trip to Switzerland, although it turned out that the property stayed at 15k/night. Oh well. It was nice to find a solid use for the points, and now I don’t have to think about what I’ll do with a balance any more 🙂 ~Craig

      1. Grant

        I’ll keep my eyes open for some good redemption options. I definitely think I can get a good deal, but it’s hard to use Wyndham Rewards points on some of their low end hotels.

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