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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 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 valuations from one year ago and from May, as well as explanations for any fluctuations in value. There wasn’t any big news this month, but after some thought I decided to lower my valuations for three rewards programs that had instituted changes previously. I also added Wyndham Rewards to the list after its recent updates. As always, there’s plenty of other program-related news, which you’ll find noted in the What Changed/News column.
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||June 2014 (cents)||May 2015 (cents)||June 2015 (cents)||What Changed/ News?|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.8||2.0||2.0||Amex Travel waives booking fees for Platinum.|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||0.5-1.1||0.5-1.1||0.5-1.1|
|Capital One||1.0||1.0||1.0||New partnership with Uber.|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1||Chase issuing debit cards with EMV chips.|
|Citi ThankYou||1.1||1.6||1.6||Citi Prestige 4th night free hotel benefit works with discounted rates.|
|Diners Club Rewards||–||2.1||2.1|
|Alaska||2||2||2||New preferred plus seating option.|
|American||1.7||1.7||1.7||Increased mileage bonus for non-elites in premium cabins. Bonus miles on flights to Europe this summer. Aer Lingus will return to Oneworld.|
|ANA||–||1.7||1.5||Analysis of the new award chart.|
|British Airways||1.7||1.7||1.6||Award chart devaluation.|
|Delta||1.2||1.2||1.2||New discounted 5,000-mile awards. Battle for Seattle continues to heat up. Blackout dates added to partner awards.|
|Flying Blue||1.3||1.3||1.3||Alitalia ending partnership with KLM and Air France.|
|JetBlue||1-1.7||1-1.7||1-1.7||New service to Mexico City and Quito. 7,000 TrueBlue points for new members. New partnership with Amazon for in-flight entertainment.|
|Singapore Airlines||1.5||1.5||1.5||Save 50% on select awards. New A380 suites and business class in the works.|
|Southwest||1.4||1.3||1.3||50,000 points sign-up bonuses return. New service to Albany and Costa Rica.|
|United||1.5||1.5||1.5||Up to 1 million miles for reporting security bugs. New website operational. 787-9 Dreamliner set for launch.|
|Virgin America||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||60% bonus on points purchases.|
|Virgin Atlantic||1.5||1.5||1.5||Discounted awards to the UK.|
|Club Carlson||0.6||0.5||0.4||Major devaluation via category changes and no more free “last night” benefit with the Visa card.|
|Hilton||0.5||0.5||0.5||Double your HHonors promotion extended. 100% buy points bonus.|
|IHG||0.7||0.7||0.7||New PointBreaks list for June and July.|
|Marriott||0.7||0.7||0.7||New text requests feature.|
||Lower spending requirement for SPG Amex card. VIP access at Caesars for Platinum members. Targeted 7,500-point bonus for stays.|
|Wyndham||–||–||1.2||New award chart puts all redemptions at 15,000 points.|
Movers and Shakers
The two changes this month were to ANA and British Airways, both of which recently altered their award charts. I also added Wyndham Rewards to the list after major updates to the program went into effect last month.
May Value: 1.7 cents. June Value: 1.5 cents. Valuation: ANA announced last year that it would transition to a zone-based award chart; however, the new system launched in April ended up being less rewarding than what was originally presented. While there are still some sweet spots in ANA’s award chart and some routes that don’t incur heavy surcharges, the higher seasonal mileage requirements and the decrease from three permitted stopovers to just one result in lower value overall.
Associated Credit Cards: The Platinum Card from American Express, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and other Membership Rewards cards.
May Value: 1.7 cents. June Value: 1.6 cents. Valuation: The new British Airways award chart went into effect at the end of April, dramatically increasing the mileage requirements for most premium cabin redemptions, particularly on long-haul flights. Originally I left the valuation alone, since Avios are mostly useful on short-haul flights anyway, and that portion of the award chart was left more or less unharmed. However, even if long-haul redemptions weren’t great before, you can’t use companion tickets on short-haul flights. The value of these buy-one-get-one certificates dropped by 50% on some awards, which makes them (and therefore Avios) less valuable.
Associated Credit Cards: British Airways Visa Signature Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Plus Business Card.
May Value: 0.5 cents. June Value: 0.4 cents. Valuation: In May I dropped Club Carlson for its most recent hotel category changes, but after further consideration, that wasn’t enough. While I hadn’t originally based my valuation on the free last night award benefit offered by Club Carlson’s co-branded Visa cards, I realized that for me, those free nights were the most valuable aspect of the program. Now that they’re no longer available, Club Carlson Rewards is looking pretty meager.
Associated Credit Cards: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
May Value: Not listed. June Value: 1.2 cents. Valuation: Wyndham announced a complete overhaul of its Rewards program back in March, and the new system went into effect this past month. You can get more than 2 cents per point in value at some high-end Wyndham properties, but even at your average Days Inn or Howard Johnson, the Go Fast (cash + points) rate seems to provide a pretty consistent baseline of at least 1 cent per point. Overall I think Wyndham Rewards is much more intriguing than it was before.
Associated Credit Cards: Wyndham Rewards Visa Card.
With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.
- Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a calendar year for baggage fees at one airline.
- Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, when available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc.
- $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
- Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees