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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 February. This month I boosted one hotel program thanks to a new award payment option, and I added a new airline program to the list. 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 ones you’d like to see featured.
|Program||March 2016 (Cents)||February 2017 (Cents)||March 2017 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||-||-|
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Check out Air Canada's brand new livery.
|Alaska Mileage Plan||2.00||1.9||1.9||
Ship wine free from California to Seattle.
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|ANA Mileage Club||1.5||1.6||1.6|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||-||-|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||-||-||-|
|Capital One Credit Card Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0||
Venture Rewards card gets a makeover.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.6||1.6||
50% bonus for transfers to JetBlue.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Review of A330 First Class from New York to Honolulu.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.7||0.7||0.7||
Credit card breach confirmed at 12 properties.
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.2||1.2||1.2|
|Korean Air SkyPass||-||1.7||1.7||
787-9 Dreamliner uses the same seats in First and Business.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||-||-|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||-||-||-|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||-||-||-|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Virgin America Elevate||2.0||2.4||2.4|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.5||1.3||1.3|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||-||-|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.8||1.8||1.8|
After a quiet January, February saw several major loyalty program developments. The new World of Hyatt has now launched, while Singapore Airlines announced plans to increase award rates later this month. Hilton’s new award payment option looks promising, and should make it easier to get a good return on Honors points moving forward. Finally, upon request from several readers, I added Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program to the list.
Movers and Shakers
February Value: 0.5 cents.
March Value: 0.6 cents.
Valuation: After Hilton announced several new program features in January, we’ve now been able to see Points & Money awards in action, and the outlook is good. These redemptions appear to offer a return of between 0.4 and 1.1 cents per point, which is mostly an improvement from my previous valuation. Best of all, you can book awards starting at just 5,000 points, so it will be easier to make use of small balances. That trend will continue in April when points pooling becomes available. After years of Hilton devaluations, these most recent changes mark a move in the right direction, although the removal of redemption categories gives Hilton flexibility to increase rates without notice.
February Value: unlisted.
March Value: 1.4 cents.
Valuation: Cathay Pacific is renowned for offering impeccable first-class service, but Asia Miles and the Marco Polo frequent flyer program remain relatively unknown. That’s not a surprise, since the award charts, routing rules and booking protocol are so needlessly convoluted. Ticketing an Asia Miles award often requires a lot of time on the phone, and the variety of responses you’ll get from call center agents is likely to test your patience.
That said, this program offers excellent value if you’re willing to put in the hours. The award charts don’t have many sweet spots, but the ability to add stopovers and open jaws at no extra cost provides opportunities to book some truly exceptional itineraries, especially if you can avoid fuel surcharges. With all that in mind, I value these miles a little less than rewards from fellow Oneworld carriers American Airlines and British Airways. Look for a deep dive into the program and how to maximize Asia Miles later this month.
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?
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- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards