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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
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||-||-||-|
Check out Air Canada's brand new livery.
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|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||-||-|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||-||-||-|
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.
Credit card breach confirmed at 12 properties.
787-9 Dreamliner uses the same seats in First and Business.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||-||-|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||-||-||-|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||-||-||-|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||-||-|
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?
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees