What Are Points & Miles Worth? February 2017 Monthly Valuations

Feb 1, 2017

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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 loyalty currency. Still, some rewards are clearly worth more than others — my goal is to give you a sense of how they stack up.

To give you some context, I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from January. This month I boosted one airline frequent flyer program thanks to a new transfer option, and I adjusted a few others to accommodate the format of the newly updated site. As always, you’ll find plenty of other program-related news in the What Changed/News column.

The Calculations

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 ones you’d like to see featured.

Program April 2021 (Cents) January 2017 (Cents) February 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club 2.0 - -
Aeromexico Club Premier - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5
Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9

Mileage Plan is ditching Aeroméxico awards, but you can now redeem on Virgin America.

American AAdvantage 1.4 1.5 1.5

Up to 40,000 bonus miles on Europe flights. 20% discount on flights in Japan. New boarding groups coming in March. More details of Basic Economy fares.

American Express Membership Rewards 2.0 1.9 1.9

Centurion Lounges coming to Philadelphia and Hong Kong in 2017.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5
ANA Mileage Club 1.4 1.6 1.6
Asia Miles 1.3 - -
Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7

Avianca passengers now eligible for TSA PreCheck.

Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5

Earn triple Avios with winter promo. AARP discount extended, but devalued.

Bank of America Premium Rewards 1.0 - -
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 1.0 1.0 1.0
Best Western Rewards 0.6 - -
Brex Exclusive Rewards 1.7 - -
Capital One Rewards 1.7 1.0 1.0
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.0 2.1 2.1
Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.7 1.6 1.6

25% bonus for transfers to Virgin Atlantic. Activate Citi cards by phone.

Delta SkyMiles 1.1 1.2 1.2
Diners Club Rewards 2.1 2.1 2.1
Discover Rewards 1.0 - -
Emirates Skywards 1.2 1.2 1.2

New service launching between Newark and Athens. Emirates passengers now eligible for TSA PreCheck.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4

Etihad CEO stepping down this year.

Flying Blue 1.2 1.3 1.3
Frontier Miles 1.1 1.1 1.1
HawaiianMiles 0.9 1.2 1.2

Service to Kapalua (West Maui) set to resume soon.

Hilton Honors 0.6 0.5 0.5

New program features announced. Earn 2,000 points per night with latest promo. 80% bonus for buying HHonors points. AXON awards return temporarily.

IHG Rewards Club 0.5 0.7 0.7

New list of PointBreaks hotels for stays through April 30.

JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.3 1.2 1.2

3x points on flights to Cuba. Free Wi-Fi now available fleet-wide. More routes and Mint service coming in 2017.

Korean Air SkyPass 1.7 1.7 1.7
Korean Skypass - - -
Marriott Bonvoy 0.8 0.9 0.9

Buy back Marriott elite status starting at 7,500 points.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Lufthansa and Etihad codeshare agreement spurs merger rumors.

Qatar Airways Qmiles 0.8 - -
Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4

Earn up to 100,000 bonus points with current promo. Review of Radisson Blu Dakar Sea Plaza.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards - 0.9 0.9
Singapore Krisflyer 1.3 1.5 1.5
Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5

Hotel point transfers still count toward Companion Pass through March. New service to Cincinnati (CVG). How service members can save with Southwest military fares.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit 1.1 - -
Starwood Starpoints - 2.7 2.7

SPG lowering earning rates for Uber rides.

Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles 1.3 - -
U.S. Bank FlexPerks 1.5 1.5 1.5
United MileagePlus 1.3 1.5 1.5

Buy elite status for 2017. United retiring 747s sooner than expected.

Virgin America Elevate - 2.0 2.4

You can now transfer Elevate points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.3 1.3

Virgin Atlantic passengers now eligible for TSA PreCheck.

Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards 1.5 - -
WestJet Rewards - - -
World of Hyatt Loyalty Program 1.7 1.8 1.8
Wyndham Rewards 1.1 1.2 1.2

January was a relatively quiet month in the award travel world. Southwest made some award travelers anxious by flip-flopping on Companion Pass qualification rules, and Hilton just announced some changes that may affect the value of Honors points moving forward, but the biggest news this month was a new transfer option from Virgin America that dramatically increases the usefulness of Elevate points. For bookkeeping purposes, I also adjusted several valuations (including JetBlue and U.S. Bank Flexperks) to provide a specific number instead of a range.

Movers and Shakers

Elevate points are more valuable now that you can transfer them to Alaska Airlines.

Virgin America

January Value: 2.0 cents.
February Value: 2.4 cents.
Valuation: The Elevate program has long offered a solid return for awards, but it was short on opportunities to actually get that return due to the airline’s limited route network and small roster of partners. That changed this month when Alaska Airlines began allowing Elevate members to transfer to Mileage Plan at a favorable ratio of 1.3 miles for every point transferred. That means these points can now be used toward flights not only on Alaska, but also on a much more impressive list of partner airlines. Even if you never fly with Virgin America, Elevate points should now be on your radar.

Associated Credit Cards: Virgin America Visa Signature Card, Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

Which programs would you like to see added to the list?

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