What Are Points & Miles Worth? January Monthly Valuations

Jan 23, 2015

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

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 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 December, as well as explanations for any fluctuations in value. The past month brought some significant program changes (like Delta’s refreshed SkyMiles program and Citi adding Virgin Atlantic as a transfer partner) and lots of other program-related news, which you’ll find noted in the What Changed/News column.

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, so let me know which you’d like to see featured.

PROGRAM 2013 (cents) Dec 2014   (cents) Jan 2015 (cents) What Changed/ News?
American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9 Amex Platinum targeted 100,000 points welcome bonus. 35% transfer bonus to Virgin America. Amex Fine Hotels Adds Free WiFi.
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1
Capital One 1 1 1
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.2 2.1 2.1 Korean Air still not showing up among transfer partners, but should return soon.
Citi ThankYou 1.3 1.6 1.6  Virgin Atlantic added as new transfer partner. Premier card changing bonus categories.
Diners Club Rewards 2.1 2.1
FlexPerks 1.33-2 1.33-2 1.33-2
Aeroplan 1.9 1.6 1.6 Bonus miles for Best Western stays.
Alaska 1.8 2 2 Free checked bags for Mileage Plan members in January.
American 1.9 1.7 1.7 2015 double miles promotion.
ANA  1.7 1.7
Avianca 1.7 1.7
British Airways 1.6 1.7 1.7
Delta 1.5 1.2 1.3  Improved award availability and one-way awards. Pay With Miles tickets eligible to earn SkyMiles. Partners China Southern and China Eastern bookable on Delta.com.
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3
Frontier 1.3 1.1 1.1
JetBlue 1-1.3 1-1.7 1-1.7  Earn double TrueBlue points promotion.
Singapore Airlines 1.5 1.5 1.5 Bonus miles for Hilton stays.
Southwest 1.8 1.4 1.4
United 2 1.5 1.5 Enhanced options for premium dining. Mileage bonuses for elites in premium classes. Discount awards for economy in North America. Bonus miles on transatlantic flights
US Airways 1.8 1.9 1.9
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  Bonus points for Extend Your Stay promotion.
Hilton 0.7 0.5 0.5 New benefits for Citi Hilton Visa. Bonus points for Amex Hilton cardholders. Winter sale in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Hyatt 2 1.8 1.8 Launch of Stay More Play More promotion. Free WiFi beginning in February.
IHG 0.7 0.7 0.7 No points earned for stays booked through an OTA. Bonus points with Set Your Sights promotion.
Marriott 0.7 0.7 0.7 Free breakfast for Gold or Platinum members. Bonus earnings with MegaMiles promotion. Protea properties join Marriott Rewards.
Ritz-Carlton  –  0.7 0.7  140,000 points sign-up bonus for Ritz-Carlton Visa. Double elite night credits for 2015.
Starwood 2.4 2.4 2.4
Bonus points with Double Play promotion.

Movers and Shakers
Just one program changed values this month (Delta SkyMiles); Ultimate Rewards would have also, but was saved by the bell. Citi ThankYou Rewards also made noise, though I decided to let the previous valuation stand. Read on for more details.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards

December Value: 2.1 cents. January Value: 2.1 cents. Valuation: In November, Korean Air quietly disappeared from among the available Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. Citing technical issues, Chase and Korean Air have stated that this removal is temporary, but that was two months ago, and anyone waiting to book an award has been left twiddling their thumbs. I strongly considered knocking Ultimate Rewards points down a notch, but it looks like Korean Air is finally set to return in the next few days (hat tip: One Mile at a Time).
Associated Credit Cards: Ink Plus, Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta Air Lines

December Value: 1.2 cents. January Value: 1.3 cents. Valuation: After several devaluations and a string of negative program changes, Delta seems to have hit bottom and rebounded. I had already factored the new award search engine into last month’s valuations, but I’m pleased with the improved level of award availability, and the fact that some partner awards are showing up on the website.
Associated Credit Cards: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressPlatinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressDelta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi ThankYou Rewards

December Value: 1.5 cents. January Value: 1.6 cents. Valuation: Just this week, Citi ThankYou Rewards added Virgin Atlantic as its tenth airline transfer partner. The program has improved enormously over the past year, and I don’t think it’s done growing; however, I don’t think this new partnership adds enough to warrant a change in my valuation. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t bring a lot of good options to the table that weren’t already there, especially considering the fuel surcharges added to many awards. For now, I’ll leave ThankYou Rewards at 1.6 cents apiece, but I’m optimistic about the program’s future.
Associated Credit Cards:  Citi Premier® CardCiti Prestige Card, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.