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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?” The answer varies from person to person, and depends on how well you can maximize a particular loyalty currency. Still, some rewards are clearly worth more than others — my goal is to give you a sense of how they stack up.
To give you some context, I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from January. This month I boosted one airline frequent flyer program thanks to a new transfer option, and I adjusted a few others to accommodate the format of the newly updated site. As always, you’ll find plenty of other program-related news in the What Changed/News column.
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, so let me know which ones you’d like to see featured.
|Program||February 2016 (Cents)||January 2017 (Cents)||February 2017 (Cents)||Note|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
Avianca passengers now eligible for TSA PreCheck.
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|British Airways Avios||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.6||1.6|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Etihad CEO stepping down this year.
Service to Kapalua (West Maui) set to resume soon.
New list of PointBreaks hotels for stays through April 30.
Buy back Marriott elite status starting at 7,500 points.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Lufthansa and Etihad codeshare agreement spurs merger rumors.
SPG lowering earning rates for Uber rides.
You can now transfer Elevate points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
Virgin Atlantic passengers now eligible for TSA PreCheck.
January was a relatively quiet month in the award travel world. Southwest made some award travelers anxious by flip-flopping on Companion Pass qualification rules, and Hilton just announced some changes that may affect the value of Honors points moving forward, but the biggest news this month was a new transfer option from Virgin America that dramatically increases the usefulness of Elevate points. For bookkeeping purposes, I also adjusted several valuations (including JetBlue and U.S. Bank Flexperks) to provide a specific number instead of a range.
Movers and Shakers
December Value: 2.0 cents.
January Value: 2.4 cents.
Valuation: The Elevate program has long offered a solid return for awards, but it was short on opportunities to actually get that return due to the airline’s limited route network and small roster of partners. That changed this month when Alaska Airlines began allowing Elevate members to transfer to Mileage Plan at a favorable ratio of 1.3 miles for every point transferred. That means these points can now be used toward flights not only on Alaska, but also on a much more impressive list of partner airlines. Even if you never fly with Virgin America, Elevate points should now be on your radar.
Associated Credit Cards: Virgin America Visa Signature Card, Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards