What Are Points & Miles Worth? August Monthly Valuations
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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 July. This month I made an adjustment to my valuation of JetBlue, while another loyalty currency is on notice due to some impending changes. 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||August 2014 (cents)||July 2015 (cents)||August 2015 (cents)||What Changed/ News?|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.8||2.0||2.0||New Centurion Lounge planned for Houston. 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.|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1||Sapphire Preferred to lose First Friday bonus. Get Red Carpet access at the Emmys.|
|Citi ThankYou||1.5||1.6||1.6||25% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic.|
|Diners Club Rewards||–||2.1||2.1|
|Alaska||2.0||2.0||2.0||New partnership with Hainan Airlines.|
|American||1.7||1.7||1.7||Adjustments to same-day change policy. AA and US Air merge reservations. 20% SPG transfer bonus.|
|Avianca||1.7||1.7||1.7||Avianca Brazil joins Star Alliance.|
|British Airways||1.7||1.6||1.6||EU approves sale of Aer Lingus.|
|Delta||1.2||1.2||1.2||Changes to upgrade charts. Further shift toward revenue-based rewards. Discounted awards starting at 5,000 miles.|
|Flying Blue||1.3||1.3||1.3||Price goes up for premium Flex Awards.|
|JetBlue||1-1.7||1-1.7||1-1.4||Service to Havana now available. New bundled fares. Mint service expanding to Boston.|
|Miles & More||–||1.4||1.4||SWISS unveils new 777 interiors. See the First Class lounge at Frankfurt.|
|Singapore Airlines||1.5||1.5||1.5||Flights to Moscow for $399.|
|Southwest||1.4||1.3||1.3||15 new nonstop routes added.|
|United||1.5||1.5||1.5||Bonus miles with All Day Recess promo. Improvements to amenity kits. Transcon service moving to Newark.|
|Virgin America||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||High-speed Wi-Fi coming soon. Changes to Express seats.|
|Club Carlson||0.6||0.4||0.4||Bonus for booking online. 5,000 bonus points per night promotion.|
|Hilton||0.5||0.5||0.5||Increased sign-up bonus: 75,000 points for Citi Hilton Visa. Triple points promotion.|
|Hyatt||1.8||1.8||1.8||Park Hyatt Maldives returns to Category 6.|
|IHG||0.7||0.7||0.7||New top-tier Spire status unveiled. 100% buy points bonus.|
|Marriott||0.7||0.7||0.7||Increased sign-up bonus: 80,000 points for Marriott Premier. Improvements to account security.|
||Sheraton free weekend promo. Benefits added to SPG Amex cards. US Open tickets via SPG Moments.|
Movers and Shakers
This month I made an overdue adjustment to JetBlue TrueBlue points, and put Barclaycard Arrival mile on notice. I’m also still contemplating my valuation of Wyndham Rewards (which were added in June), and will be keeping an eye on the program to see if award availability is as plentiful as advertised.
July Value: 1-1.7 cents. August Value: 1-1.4 cents. Valuation: For a long time, TrueBlue points offered particularly good value for redemptions in JetBlue’s Mint Business Class, which caused me to raise the high end of my valuation. Unfortunately, those rates have returned to more pedestrian levels, and the most you should expect to get out of JetBlue redemptions is between 1.4 and 1.5 cents per point.
On the plus side, JetBlue is adding Mint service from Boston to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as from New York to the Caribbean. Mint redemptions tend to be slightly less valuable on a cents-per-point basis, but still worthwhile.
Associated Credit Cards: JetBlue Card from American Express
Barclaycard Arrival Miles
July Value: 1.1 cents. August Value: 1.1 cents. Valuation: Last month, Barclaycard announced two changes that will negatively impact the value of Arrival miles. First, the redemption rebate will decrease from 10% to 5% in November for existing cardholders (as you can see above, the change has already taken place for new applicants). Second, the minimum redemption will increase from 2,500 miles to 5,000 miles, making it more difficult to redeem small amounts.
While the Arrival Plus card still offers decent value, there’s less separation between it and the top cash-back cards. It’s still worth getting for the sign-up bonus and a few other benefits, but if you’re sitting on a pile of Arrival miles, you should look for opportunities to use them before the lower rebate goes into effect. At that point, I’ll drop my valuation to 1 cent per mile.
Associated Credit Cards: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.