What Are Points & Miles Worth? July Monthly Valuations

Jul 6, 2015

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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 June. While there aren’t any value adjustments in this month’s edition, I added Lufthansa’s Miles & More program to the list (by reader request). As always, there’s plenty 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 July 2014 (cents) June 2015  (cents) July 2015 (cents) What Changed/ News?
American Express Membership Rewards 1.8 2.0 2.0 New Centurion Lounges in Miami and Seattle. British Airways transfer rate will decrease in October.
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1 0.5-1.1 Barclaycard confirms changes to Arrival and Arrival Plus cards.
Capital One 1.0 1.0 1.0 Analyzing Capital One’s marketing.
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.1 2.1
Citi ThankYou 1.5 1.6 1.6 25% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic. A look at transfer times from Citi to travel partners.
Diners Club Rewards 2.1 2.1
FlexPerks 1.33-2 1.33-2 1.33-2
Aeroplan 1.6 1.6 1.6
Alaska 2 2 2
American 1.7 1.7 1.7 75,000 miles with Citi Executive card. New restrictions on Hawaiian Airlines awards. More awards to Australia. Costs increasing for awards on peak dates.
ANA  1.5 1.5
Avianca 1.7 1.7 1.7
British Airways 1.7 1.6 1.6
Delta 1.2 1.2 1.2 Targeted Platinum status after one round-trip. Low-level awards now on ExpertFlyer. New check-in lounge at LAX.
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3
Frontier 1.2 1.1 1.1
JetBlue 1-1.7 1-1.7 1-1.7 New bundled fares. Mint service expanding to Boston. Rooftop space at JFK now open.
Miles & More 1.4 New surcharge for third party bookings.
Singapore Airlines 1.5 1.5 1.5
Southwest 1.4 1.3 1.3 50,000-point sign-up bonuses return. New service to Albany and Costa Rica.
United 1.5 1.5 1.5 Transcon service moving to Newark. Updates to Club lounges along with higher prices. Brussels Airlines awards on United.com. Cheaper awards within Japan.
Virgin America 1.5-2.3 1.5-2.3 1.5-2.3 New partnership with ScoreBig
Virgin Atlantic 1.5 1.5 1.5
Club Carlson 0.6 0.4 0.4 5,000 bonus points per night promotion.
Hilton 0.5 0.5 0.5 Targeted promo for 7,500 bonus points.
Hyatt 1.8 1.8 1.8 Hyatt Diamond challenge returns. 20% rebate on awards still in play.
IHG 0.7 0.7 0.7 3,000-point rebate on Points & Cash stays
Marriott 0.7 0.7 0.7 Netflix added at select hotels. Delta Hotels and Resorts now bookable with Marriott Rewards.
Ritz-Carlton  –  0.7 0.7
Starwood 2.6 2.4 2.4
20% transfer bonus to AAdvantage. Benefits added to SPG Amex cards.
Wyndham 1.2 1.2 New GO FAST rate offers good value. Why Wyndham Visa is now a high-value hotel card.

Movers and Shakers
This month I added Lufthansa Miles & More to the list thanks to repeated interest from readers. I also considered changing my valuation of Wyndham Rewards (which were added last month), but ultimately decided to leave it alone.

Lufthansa, welcome to the valuations! Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Lufthansa Miles & More

June Value: Not listed. July Value: 1.4 cents. Valuation: Lufthansa has a lot going for it. First off, the airline offers an exceptionally comfortable first class product that makes for a great travel experience between the US and Europe. Members can access first-class award space before it gets released to partners, and Miles & More is one of only a handful of programs that let you hold awards before booking. Lufthansa is also a Starwood transfer partner, so you have options for earning miles apart from flying.

On the negative side, Lufthansa’s award chart doesn’t offer particularly good value (especially in first class). The routing rules aren’t particularly favorable, and you have to pay fuel surcharges on some awards. Ultimately I think Lufthansa miles aren’t as useful as those from Star Alliance partners United and Air Canada, but the Miles & More program has its uses.
Associated Credit Cards: Miles & More Premier World MasterCard

Wyndham’s new rewards program offers solid value at properties like the Wyndham Grand Qingdao.

Wyndham Rewards

June Value: 1.2 cents. July Value: 1.2 cents. Valuation: Wyndham made its debut in the monthly valuations in June after completely overhauling its Rewards program back in March. Considering that you can get more than 2 cents per point in value at some high-end Wyndham properties, and that the GO FAST (cash + points) rate seems to also offer good value, I’m tempted to increase my valuation. However, while Wyndham’s marketing says you can use rewards at any of its hotels, readers have reported difficulty actually booking stays in some cases. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the program to see if availability improves, and if it does, Wyndham’s valuation should get bumped up.
Associated Credit Cards: Wyndham Rewards Visa Card.

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.

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