$37.50 for peace of mind and 10,000 points


My wife just received a 10K bonus point offer from Barclaycard for her Wyndham card. All she has to do is spend $500 per month for three months:

10,000 points

This is not nearly as good as an offer I got recently from Barclaycard for 15,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $500 per month for three months, but it’s certainly not a bad offer.

15,000 points

10,000 pointsEven though my wife’s Wyndham card has been thoroughly sock-drawered after earning its original signup bonus, I thought it might be worth the effort to get the extra 10K points, but I didn’t think it was worth causing my brain to explode (see: “How to prevent your brain from exploding”).  So, I scheduled three $500 monthly payments using the Plastiq bill pay service.  I figured that Plastiq’s fee was worth the peace of mind.  I wouldn’t have to take the Wyndham card out of the house and I wouldn’t have to think about the promotion any more.  Nice.

The Math’s the thing…

Unfortunately, the Wyndham card is a Visa card so it doesn’t qualify for Plastiq’s current 1.99% promotional rate, so I’ll have to pay 2.5% to use this credit card to pay bills.

  • At 2.5%, each $500 payment incurs a $12.50 fee.  So, three payments = $37.50.
  • The Wyndham card earns 2X everywhere, so I’ll earn 3,075 points from spend ($1537.50 x 2).
  • Plus, I’ll get 10K bonus points
  • Total cost per point = $37.50 / 13,075 = .29 cents per point

In other words, by incurring a fee to meet the bonus offer terms, I inadvertently bought Wyndham points at just under 1/3 of a cent each.

A slight mistake

Is .29 cents per point a good price for Wyndham points?  My published Fair Trading Price for Wyndham points is currently .55 cents per point, so .29 cents is pretty good.  Similarly, Wandering Aramean’s Hotel Hustle tool shows the current median value of Wyndham points = .574.

Still, I don’t need Wyndham points.  I generally advise against buying points unless you have a solid plan for how you’ll use those points.  I have no such plan.

Luckily, this mistake is extremely minor.  I can afford to lose the $37.50 if it comes to that.  And, who knows, maybe we will make good use of those points and I’ll have blundered into a great success.  It could happen.

Next time

Next time I’ll do the math first and think through whether I really want to buy points or miles by incurring a bill pay fee.  I think that the general solution is a good one: pay a small amount to simplify life.  But, going forward I’ll only do so when I’m sure that I’m willing to buy points or miles at the price it would cost through this method.

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