What Are Points and Miles Worth? June Monthly Valuations

by on June 20, 2014 · 27 comments

in American Express, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, JetBlue, Mile and Point Value Series, Starwood, Ultimate Rewards, United, Virgin Australia

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You can view all posts in the Monthly Valuation Series here.

One of the questions I’m asked most often is “how much is a point or mile worth?” That question varies per person and how well they can maximize a particular currency for their needs, but still there are some points worth more than others.

How much are all those points and miles really worth?

How much are all those points and miles really worth?

To give readers – both old and new – some context, I’ve included my valuation of points from 2013 and from the last month, as well as the reasons why there have been changes in their values (like devaluations or new fees).I’ve also added values for Singapore Airlines Krisflyer and Flying Blue.

I also noted which credit cards out there can help you rack points up fastest in case you decide you want to focus in on a currency you haven’t considered previously.

The Calculations I’ll be honest, there isn’t a mathematical formula at work here. At some point I’d like to create a system that could calculate a precise value based on award availability, fees, award levels, and ease of accrual, but for now these valuations are based on a combination of how much I would pay to buy points if given the opportunity, and the overall value I could get from redeeming them. I encourage you to share your thoughts where you think I’m off base (and on point, no pun intended), and I’ll take TPG reader feedback into consideration when I update the list next month. This list doesn’t include every currency under the sun, and I’ll work to add more moving forward (this month I added Flying Blue), so let me know which you’d like to see featured.

PROGRAM 2013 (cents) May 2014   (cents) June 2014 (cents) What Changed/ News?
American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.7 1.8 Hawaiian Airlines transfer bonus. New Uber redemption option (though not great value).
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1 New travel categories, Chip + PIN, World Mastercard, 120 Day reimbursement window. Still, the max value of the points when redeemed for travel is approximately 1.1 cents.
Capital One 1 1 1 40,000 mile limited time sign-up bonus after $3,000 in 3 months
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.2 2 2.1 Added Singapore as partner, but more United devaluation.
Citi ThankYou 1.3 1.1 1.1
FlexPerks 1.33-2 1.33-2 1.33-2
Aeroplan 1.9 1.6 1.6
Alaska 1.8 2 2
American 1.9 1.7 1.7
British Airways 1.6 1.7 1.7
Delta 1.5 1.2 1.2 June 1 devaluation has passed, more potentially on the way in 2015
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3 New addition- big fuelsurcharges keep value down compared to others, though good premium economy availablility and relative value. One-way Delta awards
Frontier 1.3 1.2 1.2
JetBlue 1-1.3 1-1.3 1-1.7 Added Mint busines class service with better returns.
Singapore Airlines 1.5 1.5 1.5 It’s now a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner as well as Membership Rewards and SPG. There’s still great value on Singapore operated awards
Southwest 1.8 1.4 1.4 50,000 point credit card offers give the opportunity for easy companion pass accrual
United 2 1.6 1.5 Announced change to revenue-based earning program means harder miles to accrue in the future and greater chance of a revenue based redemption system in the future.
US Airways 1.8 1.9 1.9 Minor increases in award levels and increase of domestic first class 3 cabin awards, but continued buy and share miles bonuses kept the value the same as last month.
Virgin America 1.5-2.3 1.5-2.3 1.5-2.3
Virgin Atlantic 1.4 1.5 1.5
Club Carlson 0.7 0.6 0.6 Flash sales allows for banking more points at a good price
Hilton 0.7 0.5 0.5
Hyatt 2 1.8 1.8
IHG 0.7 0.7 0.7 Negative changes to Points Break bookings, but not enough to shift the value fundamentally
Marriott 0.7 0.5 0.7 Based on reader feedback I increased the value of Marriott points, because they truly are more valuable than Hilton. I recently did a 7 night stay +miles package in Cannes, which was an incredible value
Starwood 2.4 2.1 2.3 Increased signup bonus offer for personal and business credit cards (expired 6/30/14). Also, since there is a 25% bonus to Alaska, SPG points should at least be 25% more valuable

Movers and Shakers

Make sure to transfer your Amex points before you close the account otherwise you will lose them.

American Express Membership Rewards

May Value: 1.7 cents June Value: 1.8 cents Why it changed: Based on reader feedback, I think my old valuation was a little too low, especially since I have always undervalued Singapore KrisFlyer miles, but those miles can be leveraged for great value (as we wrote about here). Amex also announced a 20% Hawaiian Airlines transfer bonus, which is nice, but not a huge game-changer.   Associated Credit Cards: Premier Rewards Gold, Platinum, Business Platinum, Everyday Cards

Chase Ultimate Rewards
May Value: 2.0 cents June Value: 2.1 cents Why it changed: Chase recently made Singapore Airlines its 11th transfer partner, adding valuable award options through the Krisflyer program, as well as on Singapore’s partner airlines. I still think Ultimate Rewards are among the most valuable points currencies out there, despite negative changes to United (which instituted a major mileage devaluation earlier this year) and Hyatt (which not only raised the pricing of some award categories, but also added a new top tier for redemption). Associated Credit Cards: Sapphire Preferred Ink Bold Ink Plus In combination with the above: FreedomSapphire   Starwood Preferred Guest
May Value: 2.1 cents June Value: 2.3 cents Why it changed: SPG didn’t make any program changes this month, but sometimes a strong credit card offer is enough to boost point values. My reasoning is that each point by itself is worth very little, but as you accumulate them, they make each other more useful(up to a certain point). For example, 1,000 Starpoints won’t get you much, but 30,000 (which is the current offer of 25,000 points after $5,000 spent within the first 6 months plus the 5,000 points you will earn when meeting the spending requirement) can get you a lot. Also, I took reader feedback into account and if Alaska miles are worth 2 cents, SPG points should be worth at least 25% more considering the 25% transfer bonus per 20,000 points to Alaska (and many other airline partners). Associated Credit Cards: Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express jetblue mintJetBlue
May Value:
 1-1.3 cents June Value: 1-1.7 cents Why it changed: The value of TrueBlue points is generally fixed within a narrow range, but now that booking is available for JetBlue’s new business class product Mint, I’ve found redemption options that offer much higher value (like 35,000 points for the $599 fare). For now Mint is only available between New York and Los Angeles, but the numbers don’t lie. Associated Credit Cards: JetBlue Amex United
May Value: 1.6 cents June Value: 1.5 cents Why it changed: After already having devalued earlier this year, United just announced that it will move to a revenue-based earning system in 2015. While United has so far been mum about how award redemptions will be affected (saying only new redemption options would be offered), and despite the fact that the changes so far aren’t necessarily bad news for all flyers, I’m doubtful that the 2015 MileagePlus program will be an improvement. As of now, my United miles are on the clock, and I’ll be looking for ways to burn them rather than earn them. Also, Delta will be moving to a new tiered system and since United is copying Delta, I am more pessimistic about the future of United miles more than ever. Associated Credit Cards: United Explorer United Club Card
May Value:
 .5 cents June Value: .7 cents Why it changed: I took into account reader feedback and it does not make sense Marriott points would be the same as Hilton when redemption levels are much lower- even for high-end hotels. I recently redeemed points for an Flight + Hotel award and got well over 1 cent per point in value AND a Southwest Companion Pass for my Dad. I think there are more leverage points with Marriott than other hotel chains so I bumped up the value. Feel free to agree/disagree with their increase in value. Associated Credit Cards: Marriott Premier, Marriott Rewards  , Marriott Business

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jason

    Why would US miles be more valuable than AA miles? US and AA have the same redemption chart, same Oneworld partners, and same inventory. US charges $25-$35 for awards which AA does not. AA allows one-ways, US does not. AA allows same O&D changes for free, US does not.
    You haven’t done your DL research lately. Their availability is better than it used to be.

  • thepointsguy

    US and AA absolutely have different charts and different routing rules and US is much more generous. 110k miles in business class to Australia and South Africa and the option to add in a stopover.

    What delta awards have been more available? Saver? What routes?

  • Ed

    A value of 1.7 cent per point for JetBlue Mint is a pretty good deal. Equal to many other legacy programs.
    Also, with the imminent arrival of one-way awards on Delta, Skymiles should become a little bit more valuable.

  • Greg

    Just this week I upgraded my American Express Business Rewards Gold card to Business Platinum, primarily because later in the week I cashed in 290,000 Membership Rewards points via Amex Travel services, and the 20% rebate of 58,000 points, even at 1 cent per point, is worth $580, more than the value of the upgrade fee, or even the entire annual fee of $450. Plus, there was the 30,000 point bonus ($300 value) after $10,000 spend which will be no problem. But here’s my question: my buddy swears that his Capital One card that gives him 2 points for every dollar spent is the best card out there, and if in fact, if my business spends $300,000 in a given year on a credit card, with Amex Platinum I’d get 300,000 points + 20% rebate, but with Capital One I’d get 600,000 points. So the Platinum 20% rebate is nothing compared to the 100% bonus from Cap One. But why, then, are you valuing an Amex Member Rewards point at 1.8 cents, but the Capital One point at only 1.0 cents ? If I’m purchasing an international ticket for $1,200 using either Amex Travel Services or Capital One, doesn’t it cost me 120,000 points either way ? Thanks.

  • Ruthlessly Absurd

    Good job upping Marriott’s value. Appreciate your, well, appreciation

  • Joe

    Ditto. I hope to get a cent from them, to be honest.

  • Tim

    I just booked my first rewards travel. My wife and I are going to go to New York City for New Years Eve and staying at the DoubleTree on Times Square. My cost was 76K pts per night totaling 380K pts. If I had to pay for this room out of pocket it would have cost me over $6,300. $4,000 just for New Years Eve alone. According to my calculations this would make my points worth 1.65 cents each. So I think that the valuation of your points would depend on where you are going, staying, time of year, and events that are happening.

  • Ben Hughes

    The US routing rules and ability to do a stopover/open-jaw is huge and makes them far more valuable than American. I recently did MEX-FRA-ZRH (Stopover) ZRH-BKK (23hrs) BKK-CGK (Destination), CGK-TPE (23hrs) TPE-LAX (Dropped LAX-PHX-MEX) all for 90k in biz. Back when they were in *A, but similar routing possible on OW. Nothing even remotely like that is possible on AA miles.

  • Chris

    You say that SPG points should be 25% more valuable than Alaska. But 2.3 vs 2.0 is only 15% more.

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  • Tek Traveller

    Sorry to jump in on the thread… but really hoping I can get your input on this post:

    Just got an offer for Amex Prem Gold for 50k sign up bonus after first $1k purchase.. just not sure if this will be good for me for travel.. as I usually travel once a year to Dubai .. should I sign up for this or choose another card?

    Thanks in advance – Credit card noob -

  • David Mieras

    I’d like to comment on Club Carlson & Southwest. Club Carlson value @ 0.6 might be low compared to other chains but when you factor the credit card, I think it is the winner compared to all other hotels. 0.6 x 5 pts. per $ spend w/ the US Bank card is 3 cents per $. Consider the bogo for a two night stay and that would equal 6 cents per $. My wife and I both have the card so I book two nights, she books two nights, etc., etc.. Southwest you value @ 1.4 cents. I have the companion pass, so essentially I double your figure to 2.8 cents.

  • Miles

    It’s very easy to get a higher value for Citi TY points if you have a Premier or a Prestige (especially a Prestige card!)

  • vapers

    I disagree with your Barclays valuation. And actually, so do you: “you get a return on spending of 2.27%”
    Read more:

  • BobChi

    Yes, but that doesn’t mean the points themselves are worth more – just that the Arrival card gives you 2.2 of them for each dollar spent.

  • Lumpy

    The problem is you ‘cashed in’ the MR points. 200k MR points, transferred to KrisFlyer, would get you a RT to Singapore in Suites, worth over $20k, or getting you 10 cents of value for each MR point.

    The best value for your MR point does not come from buying travel directly, but transferring it to a partner, and get an partner award ticket.

    You buddy’s capital one points has no such option, which caps their value at 1 cent per point.

  • Dan

    I’ve been wondering about this too, lately. Shouldn’t the earning potential factor into the overall equation? I got this card based on the accolades here, so it’s odd to see it looking so… undervalued in these comparisons.

  • Greg

    Lumpy – Thanks for your reply. I understand what you’re saying, but here’s a follow-on question: I needed to book a complicated, multi-city itinerary, as follows: San Diego (SAN) to Barcelona (BCN), BCN to Stockholm (STO), STO to Brussels (BRU) to be purchased separately while in Europe to save big-time, and then BRU back home to SAN. At the very least this would have involved 2 airlines, and the best routing was on Iberia / American. Although MR points can be transferred to Iberia, and Iberia is OneWorld with American, on Iberia’s rewards website there’s no way to book this itinerary with Avios points, even though if you’re willing to pay for the ticket, it’s very easy ($1,612). So I guess the problem is that for real-world travel, with multi-city or open-jaw routing, there are limitations on what you can do with rewards points. My question is: have you ever booked a multi-city reward using partner points ?

  • Teri Ross

    I agree. Points and miles are a commodity than can be acquired and redeemed at various price points. If we are going to assign a value to them, then we have to look at the spread between the cost of acquisition and the redemption value, not just the redemption value, as is featured here. That makes this chart rather misleading, IMHO.

  • Teri Ross

    Bob, that does make them worth more than the valuation identified here. If you acquire them at 2x per dollar spent, then the .5 redemption value identified here is really 1x, as you got 2 for 1 in acquiring them. That doubles their valuation.

  • Steve

    Do you think next time you might throw in Sun Country UFly Rewards for giggles?

  • Richard

    I know that the value is unique for each person and each opportunity or requirement to redeem them but in the last month I have redeemed 255000 United miles for 3 tickets, IAH-IAD-DXB First Class on United for 90000 miles and $6.40 (ticket value $12148.40), JFK-JNB Business Class on SAA for 80000 miles and $2.50 (ticket value $8176.50) and JNB-LHR-IAD Business Class on SAA for JNB-LHR and First Class on United for LHR-IAD for 85000 miles and $127.50 (ticket value $5633.10), so if you redeem your United points for premium cabin international flights at the saver award rate you can realize approximately 10 cents per mile versus the 1.5 cent valuation. I am also following in TPG’s footsteps and booked 12 nights at the Conrad Maldives for two free weekend night certificates which I got from the Citi HH Reserve card and 760000 HH points, so for these HH points I realized a value of over 1 cent each.

  • DNW

    What is being compared here is Points Value, not what they “cost”. The Cap1 points may _accrue_ at 2 per dollar spent, but they are only _worth_ a penny a piece.

    To be fair, if you spend $100k on Amex you get 100k points, worth $1,000, or you can spend the same $100k on Cap1 and get 200k points, worth $2,000.

    The question comes down to, do you put your eggs in the Partner Transfer basket and hope that the Partner is still there when you want to cash in, and hasn’t hopelessly devalued their miles, or put them in the fixed value basket? The advantages of the FV is that you are not limited to awards availability on specific airlines. For instance, you will never get a First on Swiss with miles unless you are a high ranking true FF, but you can buy First with your Cap1 card (earning status with that purchase), and get reimbursed with the rewards.

  • Rushabh Pasad

    When booking a ticket on southwest, the miles redeemed are calculated on the base fare. If we take the surplus taxes/fees into consideration, the effective value for a southwest mile turns out to be 1.7c

  • Greg

    Thanks DNW. Makes sense.

  • allyn

    Can you provide links for each rewards program to articles (that probably already exist) on how to achieve maximum valuation for points?

    For example, I don’t see how Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2.1 cents and how to realize that value. Redeeming for cash just seems to be 1 cent each so I must be missing something very fundamental.

    Thank you.

  • Chris

    I’ve signed up for the Amex Platinum this year, and received a 100k signup offer, I ended up using the MR points to buy United Tickets, because I barely squeak in at 25k miles a year, so even though i’m only getting .01/MR point, i get a lot of value out of the PQMs i’m getting without paying out of pocket for my flight… So i don’t think it’s a terrible option if you’re like me and fly a bunch of shorter domestic routes and rarely get to cash in for award tickets.

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