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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 October. While there were no adjustments to the list this month, various airline, hotel and credit card programs made significant changes that you can read about below. As always, you’ll find plenty of other program-related news in the What Changed/News column.
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||November 2015 (cents)||October 2016 (cents)||November 2016 (cents)||What Changed/ News?|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9||Increased sign-up bonus for Business Platinum card. 2x rewards at small businesses until 2017. 50% transfer bonus to SPG.|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0||Increased sign-up bonus for Arrival Plus card.|
|Capital One||1.0||1.0||1.0||10% off HotelTonight with Capital One promo.|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1||New Ink Preferred Business Card introduced. Sapphire Reserve creates huge jump in new accounts.|
|Citi ThankYou||1.6||1.6||1.6||JetBlue added as new transfer partner.|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|Aeroplan||1.6||1.5||1.5||Get 1,000 miles for online quiz. Award fees increasing in December. New membership program for kids.|
|American||1.7||1.5||1.5||Up to 50,000 bonus miles on flights to New Zealand and Australia. Premium Economy service coming in April.|
|ANA||1.5||1.6||1.6||Win round-trip tickets from A380 design contest. Free Wi-Fi on select flights.|
|British Airways||1.6||1.5||1.5||Devaluation of Pay with Avios option. New nonstop service to New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale. Check bags from anywhere in London. Earn triple Avios through December.|
|Delta||1.2||1.2||1.2||New Sky Club opens in Seattle. Earn MQMs and double miles for Hilton stays. Silver Medallions eligible for award upgrades.|
|Emirates||–||1.2||1.2||Save up to $1,000 with Visa Checkout. Service to Fort Lauderdale coming this winter.|
|Etihad||–||1.4||1.4||Book Etihad Residence with miles. Check out the new first-class amenity kits.|
|Flying Blue||1.3||1.3||1.3||New Promo Awards available for the winter.|
|JetBlue||1-1.4||1-1.4||1-1.4||New amenity kits coming to Mint.|
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Singapore Airlines||1.5||1.5||1.5||Choosing the best seats on Singapore’s A350 in economy, premium economy and business. Launch of new SFO flight.|
|United||1.5||1.5||1.5||Negative changes to award pricing. 25% transfer bonus from hotel programs.|
|Virgin America||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||1.5-2.3||Double elite credits in first class. 500 Elevate points for joining Virgin Hotels email.|
|Virgin Atlantic||1.5||1.5||1.5||Changes to Flying Club program coming this month.|
|Hilton||0.5||0.5||0.5||Triple points on stays through end of 2016.|
|Hyatt||1.8||1.8||1.8||Major changes coming to loyalty program in March. 500 points for booking through app. 20% bonus points in Las Vegas.|
|IHG||0.7||0.7||0.7||Get 1,000 points on your birthday. New PointBreaks list now available.|
|Marriott||0.7||0.9||0.9||20% bonus for transfers to American Airlines.|
|Starwood||2.5||2.7||2.7||Earn 5,000 bonus points with Amex cards. Buy Starpoints at up to 50% off. Co-branded SPG and Marriott cards now earn bonuses with either program.|
|Wyndham||1.2||1.2||1.2||New perks on co-branded cards. Redeem rewards at vacation properties.|
Movers and Shakers
There were a few interesting developments in the points and miles world last month. Citi ThankYou Rewards added a new transfer partner, and Hyatt announced plans to overhaul elite status and benefits in the Gold Passport program. Finally, United implemented some unfriendly new routing rules that have me on the cusp of lowering my valuation.
Citi ThankYou Rewards
October Value: 1.6 cents. November Value: 1.6 cents. Valuation: One of the major drawbacks of the ThankYou Rewards program has been the lack of domestic airline options. Last month, Citi took steps to remedy that problem by adding JetBlue as a transfer partner. That’s definitely good news, but an unfavorable transfer ratio keeps it from being great news. Transferring 1,000 ThankYou points gets you 800 TrueBlue points if you have a premium ThankYou rewards credit card, or just 500 points otherwise. At those rates, you’re better off booking JetBlue flights directly through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
October Value: 1.5 cents. November Value: 1.5 cents. Valuation: This past month, United made some unwelcome changes to its award-routing rules by pricing segments individually on multi-city award searches. This makes it much more difficult to get the itinerary you want, since you now have to either accept the routing options United offers or pay an exorbitant premium to select your own. This is a bad turn for experienced award travelers who book more complicated itineraries, but I’m leaving my valuation alone for now because I’m not yet convinced the new routing rules will have a huge impact on most MileagePlus members.
Associated Credit Cards: United MileagePlus Explorer Card, United MileagePlus Club Card, and Ultimate Rewards options like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Hyatt Gold Passport
October Value: 1.8 cents. November Value: 1.8 cents. Valuation: Hyatt recently announced plans to revamp its loyalty program. The new World of Hyatt launches in March of 2017, offering an added elite status level and redefined qualification requirements, along with benefits such as free nights and more upgrades. The changes are a mixed bag, but one positive is that the cost of awards is staying put. For that reason, so is my valuation.
Associated Credit Cards: The Hyatt Credit Card and Ultimate Rewards options like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?