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One of the questions I’m asked most often is “how much is a point or mile worth?” That question varies from person to person and depends on how well you can maximize a particular currency for your needs. Still, some points are worth more than others.
To give readers – both old and new – some context, I’ve included my valuation of points from 2013 and from July, as well as explanations for any changes in value (like devaluations or new fees). There weren’t many definite changes in the last month, but the August list notes some programs like IHG and Ultimate Rewards that lost a little value, but not quite enough to show up in the chart. There’s plenty of other program related news, and I noted which credit cards out there can help you rack points up fastest, in case you decide you want to focus in on a loyalty currency you haven’t considered previously.
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, so let me know which you’d like to see featured.
|PROGRAM||2013 (cents)||July 2014 (cents)||August 2014 (cents)||What Changed/ News?|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.8||1.8||Amex Centurion Lounge opens in New York LaGuardia. Amex Membership Rewards 25% JetBlue Transfer Bonus|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||0.5-1.1||0.5-1.1||0.5-1.1||Rising TSA fees add an attractive redemption option for fixed value points.|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.2||2.1||2.1||More changes to Ultimate Rewards, including portal earning and Pay Yourself Back feature.|
|Citi ThankYou||1.3||1.1||1.5||Added 8 new transfer partners, including one in each of the major airline alliances. Citi Prestige updated benefits.|
|American||1.9||1.7||1.7||Partner Etihad announces new nonstop service between Abu Dhabi and SFO, DFW.Citi AAdvantage Reduced Mileage Awards for Cardholders|
|Avianca||–||1.7||1.7||Announced program changes (i.e., devaluation) for October.|
|Delta||1.5||1.2||1.2||Added free entertainment to domestic flights over 90 minutes. 50,000 sign-up bonus offers for Delta Amex cards.|
|Flying Blue||1.3||1.3||1.3||Announced 50% off Promo Awards for Oct.-Nov.|
|JetBlue||1-1.3||1-1.7||1-1.7||Added Mint business class service with better returns. Also, see American above.|
|United||2||1.5||1.5||50,000 mile offer for United Explorer card is back.|
|US Airways||1.8||1.9||1.9||Minor increases in award levels went into effect on August 1.|
|Hilton||0.7||0.5||0.5||HHonors app adds Choose Your Own Room feature.|
|IHG||0.7||0.7||0.7||PointBreaks list is looking steadily less impressive. If this continues, value may fall.|
|Marriott||0.7||0.7||0.7||Announced plans to add Atlantis Resort and Casino to the Marriott Autograph Collection this fall.|
|Starwood||2.4||2.6||2.3||End of 50% transfer bonuses to American and US Airways.|
Movers and Shakers
There wasn’t too much moving and shaking this month. The only change was a decrease in the value of Starpoints due to the end of their 50% transfer bonus promotions. There was also some lateral movement as several programs announced small changes that weren’t enough to alter point and mile values.
Starwood Preferred Guest June Value: 2.6 cents July Value: 2.4 cents Why it changed: the SPG program continues to offer huge value, and Starpoints remain my most highly valued loyalty currency, but part of last month’s valuation was based on some particularly lucrative promos that are no longer available, like the effective 50% transfer bonuses to American Airlines and US Airways. With those promos gone, the value of Starpoints has come back down from the stratosphere.
Associated Credit Cards: Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express.