PayPal and Your Credit Union

By Robert McGarvey

For CreditUnion 2.0

Feast on a frightening metric: PayPal, an Internet company from the start, now is worth more than venerable American Express. Its current market cap is north of $80 billion and, meantime, it is busy fighting multiple wars, against Apple Pay at point of sale, Square in cash transfers, and Chase and Citibank backed Zelle in peer to peer payments.  

Here’s the question for you: are you better off fighting PayPal or seeking partnership?

Traditionally senior credit union management has viewed PayPal as an archenemy – one  executive once told me with a smile that he knew Satan walked in our midst and it is called PayPal.  That made a sort of sense because at the time around five years ago PayPal was seen as a barrier in p2p plays taking root at credit unions and it also chipped away at point of sale transactions that credit union execs believed should be theirs.

Many have seen PayPal as intent on disintermediating credit unions and banks.  

But maybe it’s a time for a rethink.

Especially at credit unions.

PayPal may well be in a take no prisoners war with the money center banks – it has to see Zelle as a dagger aimed at its heart – but credit unions just may appeal to PayPal as potential partners that in fact help it spread its p2p tools, also perhaps its POS tools.

There also is a history of credit union – PayPal partnerships. And lately PayPal has buried its hatchet with Mastercard and Visa, working with them to provide essentially instant transfers of PayPal cash balances into associated bank and sharedraft accounts.  PayPal even offers these super fast transfers for a fee of a quarter, significantly less than Square charges for similar.  

It’s on the move too. A few months ago it debuted tools that let Skype users send money within the Skype app. Right in that conversation, you can fire off $50 or $100 to help that relative.  Convenient.

Remember, credit unions and their traditional vendors have not excelled at the tools – especially p2p – that make PayPal (and its golden child, Venmo, which handled $17.6 million in transfers in 2016).  And the digitally savvy credit union – a credit union with a plan for longterm success — will want to have p2p tools that members actually use.

It’s not just Millennials that love p2p. It’s also the parents and even grandparents of Millennials who send money via p2p.

Future-thinking credit unions have seen the PayPal value for years. As far back as 2012, Tech Credit Union announced a technology that let members tap a few buttons on an ATM screen and send money to just about any US mobile phone number.  A few months later, Tech CU rolled out Send Money Powered by PayPal that lets Tech CU members send money to a mobile phone number or email address in some 60 countries worldwide, via Tech CU mobile or online banking.  

Many more credit unions now have ties to PayPal.  Alliant for instance.  Peninsula Credit Union.  California Coast Credit Union.  Wescom Credit Union.  America’s Credit Union.  Mountain America Credit Union.  Pacific Marine Credit Union.  

Even giant PSECU recently added PayPal to its offerings.  

The list goes on. There are many, many credit unions that partner with PayPal.

The Michigan Credit Union League even has a piece on “Why Credit Unions Should Not Fear PayPal.”  

(PayPal did not respond to a request from this reporter for detailed information on its many credit union partners.)

Bottomline: for millions of consumers PayPal is a trusted, known way to shift money around.  It’s a good p2p tool for credit unions to consider offering to members and, yes, a tab can be built into many mobile banking apps.

Won’t some consumers think about ditching the credit union and doing all financial services with PayPal?  Not many, especially not if the credit union has done a good job selling itself and its uniqueness as a member–owned, member-centric institution.  Besides, PayPal just doesn’t offer the range of services most credit unions do – and there is no indication it wants to achieve full bank status in the U.S. Does it want to battle Facebook, Google, Apple? Yep.  But that is the fintech, nonbank arena and it’s there that PayPal wants to be a heavyweight.

By all means, keep watchful of PayPal if you choose to partner with them. But know that there are things it does extraordinary well – p2p payments for instance – and it is difficult to see how many credit unions could realistically hope to rival PayPal there.  

And your members may in fact be jazzed when you tell them they can use PayPal within the mobile app.

That’s a lot better outcome than losing them to Chase and Zelle.

Seven Irish Things You Want To Do in Dublin


By Robert McGarvey


Suddenly Dublin is an “in” capital again, in part because of Brexit worries among the London monied set (many are weighing Dublin as a safer harbor) and specifically for this readership because Joe Brancatelli has found for subscribers a special Aer Lingus business class fare to Europe that includes free stopovers in Dublin or Shannon.

The stopover isn’t mandatory – you can choose to fly on to Rome or Milan, Italy; Madrid or Barcelona, Spain; and Paris, London or Amsterdam. Word of advice: do plan to spend a couple night in Dublin.  If you haven’t been before, it’s a must.  And if you’ve been before, know that Dublin has been in continuous, sometimes wrenching change over the last 30 years as it transformed from a bucolic capital of an impoverished agrarian state into a hubbub of tech and real estate deals which led to an epic meltdown but now the capital again rises as an approachable, also unique city.

Size matters. Dublin is small.  Here’s a list of EU cities ranked by population.  Dublin comes in 49. that’s behind Cologne, Leipzig, even Bremen, tho it does nose out Lisbon among EU capitals.

That’s a key to its charm. This is a town that can be readily explored and enjoyed in a few days. Walk the City Centre. Stroll along the River Liffey.  Dublin is a charming, very old place and just being there is fun.

The key to enjoying Ireland is to do uniquely Irish things.  Treat Dublin as a small London and, well, you’ll be bored because London it isn’t.

Mainly proudly so. That’s what to focus on. How?

Drink a pint.  Joe Brancatelli recently snorted to me about pint prices in Dublin topping five Euros and he’s right — expect to pay near six in the trendy Temple Bar neighborhood.  But two things: you don’t tip the barman in Ireland and this will be the best Guinness you have ever tasted.

Personally I despised the stuff – tarry bitter swill, I thought growing up in northern New Jersey.  In Dublin it just tastes grand, sweet in fact, always does but no need for more than one or two.  It’s the first that taste like nectar.

Where to drink?  Not in a hotel.  Pick a pub frequented by locals in whatever neighborhood you happen to be. Personally I’d point you to John Kavanaugh’s near Glasnevin Cemetary in north Dublin.  Michael Collins, Brendan Behan,  Maude Gonne, Parnell, O’Connell, a who’s who of important Catholics in Irish history are buried there.  Stop in the cemetery, say a prayer, be Irish. Then toast the departed with a Guinness.

The Book of Kells.  I never go to Dublin without seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College, itself a delightful, oldtime – Elizabethan – college (and still a credibly good institution of higher education).  The illuminated manucript is believed to have been created around 800 A.D.; it’s often said to be Ireland’s finest national treasure.

National Gallery of Ireland. Call me ignorant but I had no idea the Nobel laureate poet William Butler Yeats had a brother Jack until I visited the National Gallery and saw a grand collection of his art.  That is exactly the beauty of this museum: the emphasis is on things Irish so rather than having minor works by minor 17th century Dutch painters, it has extensive holdings in artists who really get Ireland because they are Irish.

James Joyce.  The other much celebrated Irish writer in my mind is James Joyce and Dublin was a city that figured large in his literature, especially Dubliners and Ulysses.  There’s Davy Byrnes pub where the thing is to order a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of red wine.  There’s Gresham Hotel, now Hotel Riu Plaza, a central place in “The Dead” short story. There’s Sandymount, a stop on the DART lightrail, and a setting for important action in Ulysses.  You could spend days retracing Joyce’s Dublin and the surprise is that much is still in tact.

A full Irish breakfast.  Don’t tell your cardiologist – I won’t tell mine – but a trip to Dublin is not finished until you start the day with a full Irish breakfast at a no frills place like TJ’s in north Dublin but near City Center.  Again, get out of the hotel and look for a neighborhood place that dishes up the real deal with fried eggs, toast, bacon, bangers, potatoes, black pudding, a few spoons of baked beans and, yes, have a cup of tea with cream and sugar.  Wherever you eat don’t spend over 10 Euros for it.  That’s plenty for a real breakfast, pay more and it’s too fancy.

A Night at the Theater.  What I love about Dublin theater is it’s easiness.  Usually I have bought same day tickets.  Typical price: about 30 Euros.  You can’t dream of doing similar on Broadway, not even off Broadway.  My usual haunt is the Abbey aka the National Theatre of Ireland. It opened in 1904. Great history including W. B. Yeats and G. B. Shaw. The Gate also is worth a look.

L’Ecrivain.  People often ask where to go for a gourmet meal in Dublin – a city that’s had a culinary renaissance – and I still point them to chef Derry Clarke’s L’Ecrivain in City Centre, where the unexpected – deer, partridge – are there with the expected (local prawns, wild turbot). A perennial Michelin star winner.  I still recall my first visit, maybe a dozen years ago, when the chef-proprietor joined me at my table after I’d finished my meal with a bottle of Midleton whiskey in hand and introduced me to what I believe is Ireland’s finest tipple.  I can’t promise he will do the same for you but the Midleton is on the menu at 22 Euros a shot. Taste it.

What about a hotel recommendation? Nah.  I have never stayed in one I’d rave about, and I’ve not stayed at one I hated either.  The TripAdvisor ranking is a good starting point.  Set your budget, select a neighborhood – I recommend City Centre, posh Dublin 4, or grittier Glasnevin – and you’re off.

Tiocfaidh ár lá.


Robert McGarvey has visited Dublin since 1989.  He holds Irish citizenship and lately admits to thinking about relocating there.

Must a Credit Union Hop on the AI Train?


By Robert McGarvey

For CU2.0

Short answer to the question posed in the headline: yes.

More nuanced answer: Yes but slowly, deliberately.

Right now, AI – artificial intelligence – is the hot buzzword in fintech circles. AI means using a computer’s brains to do tasks that traditionally have been done by people, such as speech recognition, translation, and decision making.

What’s happening now is that suddenly AI is entering our homes and offices at a brisk pace. A few years ago, Apple’s Siri – widely introduced in 2011 – was an early form of AI and now there are many, from robo-advisors that plan retirement portfolios to Amazon’s Echo which will let a user do at least some banking with voice commands.

Right now, a lot of AI is more in the spirit of demonstration. “Alexa, what’s the weather?”  Sure, it’s cool that she talks to you – but it’s not honestly much faster than clicking an app on a phone.

Next phase AI will be beefier and deliver more benefits, say the experts. Already the money-center banks are deeply diving into AI so ignore this trend  at your peril. But, no, you’re not behind if you haven’t gotten moving yet, said Celent in a recent research report on AI and banking. “Relatively few banks have begun production or even full-blown research at this stage. For those who think they’re lagging, the good news is that they’re not — there’s still some time.”

In late 2016 when Celent asked financial institutions to prioritize technology initiatives, AI came in dead last, tabbed by only 6% as a top focus.

Probably today that number has nudged up but don’t expect that AI suddenly is the top priority. It isn’t.

But it remains important to monitor.  

Celent added: “We take a rosy view of AI in banking — for those who embrace it, AI will over time provide a better experience for customers and employees while delivering real business value on every dimension.”

Question for you: how and where can you offer AI tools to members? And are there behind the scenes places where AI can star but out of member sight.

In that latter regard, be ready to use AI to help fight fraud. CO-OP is a player in this space and the idea is that a smart computer can get very good at spotting fraud earlier than a human likely would. A real promise of AI is that it can detect criminal innovations just about as soon as they are launched and, theoretically, will thereby cut the loss volumes in the first phase of a criminal gambit. That all sounds realistic, if the AI is powerful and updates itself.

AI, say the experts, will also help credit unions reduce financial risks through better – faster – analysis and very probably earlier warnings about accounts heading into trouble.

What’s tantalizing about AI is that it promises real time, tangible deliverables – if implemented carefully.  How to do that?

Celent in its report, offers a three step map for financial institutions looking for entry points into AI.

Step one:  “Keep an eye on the market, learn the landscape.”  Read articles such as this one and definitely read case studies of financial institutions and AI deployments.

Step two:  Put your data house in order (AI needs clean data, simple as that), consider using a partner, and look for ways to help people (members).

Step three:  Start small. Track progress and adjust.

Celent’s bottomline: “While there’s more AI smoke than fire in mid-2017 (that is, more banks are talking about it than implementing it), every bank should develop a strategy for incorporating AI into their technology stack over the coming years.”

Do as Celent prescribes.

And know that a key area of AI interest among money center banks are so-called chatbots where consumers engage in what looks like realtime conversation with a computer. Word of advice: pick one out and play with it. Then play with it more.

Can your credit union go the chatbot route?

There’s also a lot of interest in developing product recommendation tools a la Netflix or Amazon where, because you streamed all of House of Cards, the service recommends similar videos and – often – the recommendations are stunningly on target. Can a financial institution do likewise? Many think so. Watch this space for exciting innovations.

Sometimes fintech is more sizzle than steak, more promise than reality. That’s almost certainly not going to be the case with AI. Stay aware of progress. Stay ready to jump in. That’s your 2017 action plan.

Your Views on Business Travel: The Amex Take


By Robert McGarvey


American Express says it knows what we are thinking about business travel.  

That’s the claim in the inaugural American Express Business Travel Survey, where YouGov surveyed 251 adults and their answers produced the results.

Do they in fact think as we do?

Surprisingly yes, often. At least when I use myself as the barometer.  Not always – in a few cases I strenuously disagreed – but in many instances we are on the same page.

What about you?

Below I provide the key Amex survey results.  Use the comments form to note your agreements or disagreement.

57% of us say business travel makes our work more interesting. Count me in. Travel broadens the mind, in pleasure and also business.

62% say the face to face time in travel spent with colleagues is a top perk. Yep. I have made and kept a number of friends initially encountered on business trips.  I have also learned a lot in informal conversations over coffee at meetings.  

77% say last minute delays are the most common setback in travel.  True. And seemingly ever more of an inescapable hassle.  

61% pointed to connectivity and tech issues as common trouble spots.  Right on. But I have to say: issues seem to occur a lot less nowadays, except when traveling to exotic foreign or rural destinations.  In Berlin my phone works exactly as it does in Bayonne. And WiFi makes connecting a laptop as easy as turning it on.  

60% said they had problems with last minute changes to business agendas and meeting locations.  Can’t say I see this often.  You?

67% said experiencing new cultures and countries is a real plus of global business travel.  Agreed.

56% said not getting enough sleep on the road is a real hassle.  Sure. That and eating poorly are the two big health drawbacks to a steady diet of travel on my experience.  

As for how we seek to combat hassles on the road, respondents pointed to three tactics:

58% say that business class travel is an important perk.  I concur, at least when I can persuade a client.

47% like access to club floors in hotels.  Personally I don’t care. When I’ve had access, I’ve found the floors to be fine. But it’s not a perk I’ll fight for.

46% like access to airport lounges.  For me, this is much, much more important than hotel club floors. I find airline clubs ever less appealing but point me to a Centurion and I am abuzz.  

86% say that being aware of local customs makes it easier to achieve objectives when traveling overseas.  Can’t disagree with this.

85% do research on a country and its business customs before traveling there.  Basic but impossible to disagree with. I will also say that simply being sincere and respectful will cut a traveler slack about moments of ignorance. Or so I have found.  

How do you stack up against the Amex findings?

Mainly I agree – aside from my lack of interest in club floors and my much higher fondness for airport lounges.

How about you?

How to Lend Millennials’ Money – and How Not To

By Robert McGarvey


A new study out of Transunion – Generation Revealed: Decoding Millennial Financial Health – is a goldmine of data for credit unions that are struggling to make sense of their Millennial members and prospects and are also struggling, in many cases, to find profits in serving them.

The excellent news is that Millennials want credit products. The bad news: guided by the borrowing habits of the prior generation, you probably are offering Millennials loans they don’t want.

There are good reasons to be struggling with Millennials (born 1980 – 1994). The Transunion data say that they are a generation different – sharply different from the Gen X group (1965-79) that preceded them. For instance: they carry far fewer credit cards than do Gen Xers.  Their participation in using bank credit cards is 22% less than Gen X.  They use private label credit cards 23% less.

Why? The Transunion study points out a blatant fact: Millennials, many of them, came of age in the economic downturn of the Great Recession. Notes Transunion: “As many Millennials were entering the workforce, they faced economic uncertainty during the Great Recession when the overall unemployment rate soared to nearly 10%. Consequently, Millennials aged 25 to 34 have a 5% lower median income than Gen X consumers at the same period of their lives.”

They also were hit by the CARD Act of 2009 which severely limited the ease of obtaining credit cards by those under 21 years of age.  Gen Xers, many of them, signed up for credit cards during their freshmen orientation.  Not so Millennials.  

Dodd Frank also made it harder to get mortgages.

Add those three facts together – a struggling economy, more stringent card issuance, much more stringent mortgage issuance – and it is obvious that Millennials would have a very different relationship to credit than Gen X.  

According to Transunion, they carry half as many credit cards in their wallets as Gen Xers did at the same age. They also have an average balance $11,000 less than did Gen Xers.

Then there are myths that inhibit offering the right loans to Millennials. For instance, many believe they are happy as renters with no desire to become homeowners.  Not so, says Transunion.  “While Millennials may delay home purchasing by a few years, 74% of Millennials who don’t already have a mortgage plan to purchase homes at some point.”  

A fact however: access to mortgages still lags for Millennials.  Thy want to be buyers but are struggling to make that happen.

Another myth: that Millennials don’t want to own cars.  Said Transunion: “the myth that Millennials don’t want to own a car is simply false. More than 80% of Millennials report owning or leasing a car.”  

In fact, Transunion says that Millennials are opening car loans between the ages of 21 and 34 at a 21% higher rate than Gen Xers.

Mark that as a key opportunity in pursuing Millennial loan business.

But there are other, surprising opportunities.  Such as personal loans. Said Transunion: “Millennials open more than twice as many personal loans as Gen X. This trend is likely driven by the emergence of online lenders creating digital experiences that provide more rapid access to personal loans.”

Read the last sentence again. It fingers where credit unions are leaving lots of business on the table.  Transunion loudly made the point more plainly: “More than 60% of Millennials with a personal loan report getting it from a bank or credit union.”  

That means 40% of this borrowing is by Millennials using non traditional lenders – often online operators who ask a few questions and if satisfied with the answers, speed off a personal loan. 

Also understand that where a Gen Xer might have taken a cash advance against a credit card, or maybe run up a balance on a traditional credit card, a Millennial, in many cases, will opt instead for a personal loan.

Is your credit union set up to handle this demand?

Fintech startups definitely are and daily there are new ones.  According to Transunion, “The FinTech sector, which principally acquires customers online, grew from just 2% of the personal loan market in 2009 to 24% by Q3 2016. Engaging through digital channels like social media has been an effective way to reach Millennial consumers.”

Who hasn’t seen the TV ads for these new breed lenders?  They are eating your lunch.

Bottomline: there are rich lending opportunities with Millennials. Maybe not so much mortgages.  Credit cards also offer dwindling potentials. But definitely car loans and, unquestionably, personal loans.  

Millennials are the future. They want to borrow money. Just offer than the kinds of loans they want, through the channels they use.  

How Are You Celebrating National Credit Union Day?


By Robert McGarvey

Mark your calendar.  October 19th is National Credit Union Day and that is an ideal day to turn a spotlight on your credit union and seek to bring in new members and build stronger ties to existing members.

Sure, National Days of…have gotten silly. There are so many there’s even talk of a National Marmite Day, a spread with few fans in the US.  

But credit unions should definitely not miss out on their day on centerstage. The third Thursday in October has been National Credit Union Day since 1948 and the core idea is to use the day to make clear that credit unions are not banks.  

This year’s theme is “Dreams Thrive Here.”

“The theme reflects the initial results of CUNA’s ongoing research into what resonates with consumers about credit unions,” said Jeremiah Tucker, CUNA consumer engagement program lead. “Credit unions are good at showing how we’re the socially responsible choice for banking, but we also need to remind consumers that credit unions are their best choice for personal success and satisfaction.”

CUNA also has built in a charitable component where a donation is made by participating credit unions to a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for every debit and credit card transaction by members on October 19.

Want more specific ideas about how to celebrate?

A page noting the day on your website is a good idea.

WNC Community Credit Union is opening its doors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is serving free lunch – sliders, chips, cookies – in a day of celebrating its members.  Excellent idea.

United Equity Credit Union is doing similar – serving lunch to members from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

VUE is holding an open house and serving coffee and doughnuts all day, from  8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Fox Communities Credit Union decided a day isn’t enough so it is celebrating National Credit Union Week, October 16 through 21.  There’s a chance to win a $100 gift card.

But know that you can up the ante on all this.  How?

Get up a one page event notice on your website.  There are many members who rarely step into a branch.  So put up a notice where they are likely to see it.  Do that now.

Prepare a one page info sheet that explains how you are not a bank – and in fact are better than a bank.

A one page sheet on the Rochdale Principles that underlie every credit union is another good handout.

Members of CO-OP’s and CuLiance’s ATM networks need to tout the size of their ATM networks.  

Serve snacks from food cooperatives such as Cabot Cheese and Blue Diamond almonds and Ocean Spray cranberry juice.  Here’s a USDA list of the largest and of course it’s smart to emphasize cooperatives in your own community.

A key message: a credit union is not an eccentric, microscopic bank. In fact it is something entirely different. Better.  Member owned.  And every credit union is part of huge movement that is global.  

Open the doors not just to members but also people in the community. Be ready with account opening materials.  Have a highly trained staffer who is good at opening accounts in a few minutes. Make it fast.

Reach out to local media – newspapers, TV, radio – and seek coverage of National Credit Union Day.  Do that right now.

Get aggressive in putting the word out.  A lot of credit unions – most – are passive when it comes to marketing but that just doesn’t work in a world where the money center banks flood the airwaves with ads and don’t forget all those branches which may be empty but they definitely function as billboards.

It just is easy to be unaware of credit unions.  

That’s why this one day is crucial.  Use it wisely. Loudly.  Get out your word.  Tell your story.  The facts support you: a credit union is a better deal for most consumers.  So let them know that.


Rating the Hotel Rewards Programs


By Robert McGarvey


Hotel rewards programs are not created equal. That is a clear takeaway from the 2017 CarTrawler Hotel Reward Payback Survey. Some programs are three times as generous as the stingiest.

Some programs definitely are worth joining and using.

Others are worth it only for the free perks such as WiFi.

I know about the latter because I belong to a number of programs but only in a haphazard way. I have no recollection of ever earning a free room for points and probably have joined the very same program multiple times over the years, mainly because I wanted a perk and afterwards I forgot that I belonged.

The CarTrawler survey came as a wake up call for me.

Here’s the study’s lead: “Wyndham Rewards returns an average of 16.7% from room night spending as reward stay value in the third annual CarTrawler Hotel Reward Payback Survey. That’s 3+ points higher than the brand’s 2016 result and a 211% higher return than the reward value provided by Starwood’s SPG, which was ranked last among the six hotel loyalty programs at 5.4% for reward payback.”

Read that again. It is saying Wyndham is more than twice as generous as Starwood and it also says that Wyndham recently sweetened its deal. That latter observation says that we need to monitor our programs because, apparently, they do change.

We also need to start by knowing which programs are really stingy. Starwood is the worst, returning a bit over a nickel in rewards for every dollar spent. IHG is not much better – it ponies up 6.7 cents. Best Western comes in at 7.4. Hilton at 7.5. Marriott at 8.8. And Wyndham at a staggering 16.7.

Spend a dollar at Wyndham – which includes budget oriented properties such as Super 8, but also swankier digs such as Dolce. In the mix are also Ramada and Howard Johnson – and you get back 16.7 cents in rewards.

Note: if you are an elite road warrior who plays all the edges and also has a branded credit card, this hotel analysis may not fully apply to you. CarTrawler said: “Members that have elite status and use a program’s co-branded credit card to pay room charges benefit from an array of bonus point possibilities. The value provided by reward nights is traditionally the most important attribute for many members; the results presented here don’t attempt to assess all the benefits provided by hotel loyalty programs.”

That is, for casual hotel bookers – people like me – the CarTrawler analysis works fine.

CarTrawler also noted some stunning possible wins playing the rewards programs. It pointed to an October 14 2017 stay at the New Yorker in Manhattan – a Wyndham. “The reward payback for the Wyndham New Yorker was a stunning 50.7%. Booking a room on that date cost $610 or an incredibly modest reward price of 15,000 points. That combination, and the Wyndham Rewards accrual rate of 10 points per dollar spent (in addition to ongoing bonus points) delivers a very generous reward payback.”

It found a 17.8% return at Hospitality House in New York, a Best Western, on September 21.

By contrast, a February 2017 stay at the Westin Grand Central returned a 1.8% reward. That’s roughly 1/10th the reward of the Hospitality House.

Just when you are about to cross out Starwood, know that its co-branded American Express card offered the highest reward value returned on everyday purchases of hotel credit cards, 2.7%, according to CarTrawler.

The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card came in last with a 0.7% return.

Wyndham, by the way, came in second with its Rewards Visa card with a 2.5% return.

Should you throw your business to Wyndham? Just maybe if it has the right locations in places you travel to regularly.

But the real takeaway is this: maybe it’s time to begin really playing the hotel rewards programs. Airline programs are reaching a point of little value for most of us. Personally I accumulate miles via Amex but have begun to shrug off airline miles as such. 

But just maybe there is balm for our wounds at the hotels.