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.
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.|
|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|
|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.|
|Club Carlson||0.7||0.6||0.6||Flash sales allows for banking more points at a good price|
|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
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: Freedom, Sapphire 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
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
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