What Are Points & Miles Worth? March 2017 Monthly Valuations

Mar 3, 2017

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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 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.

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 March 2021 (Cents) February 2017 (Cents) March 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club 2.0 - -
Aeromexico Club Premier - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5

Check out Air Canada's brand new livery.

Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9

Ship wine free from California to Seattle.

American AAdvantage 1.4 1.5 1.5

Basic economy fares are now available, but premium economy is delayed. Check out reduced mileage awards through May. Earn bonus Business Extra points.

American Express Membership Rewards 2.0 1.9 1.9

Major changes to Amex Platinum: added benefits and increased annual fee. 10% back at restaurants with Amex Blue Cash cards.

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

Cathay Pacific introduces first US credit card. Very minor cuts made to amenities in first class.

Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7
Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5

35% bonus for transferring hotel points to Avios (through March 8). Updated award chart for Iberia.

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 1.4 1.0 1.0

Venture Rewards card gets a makeover.

Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.0 2.1 2.1

Only weeks left for 100,000-point bonus. Chase Freedom cards offering 10% cash back on hotels and rental cars in March.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.7 1.6 1.6

50% bonus for transfers to JetBlue.

Delta SkyMiles 1.1 1.2 1.2

Earn 3 SkyMiles per dollar with Airbnb. New Choice Benefits for Diamond Medallion members. Complimentary main cabin meals on transcon flights.

Diners Club Rewards 2.1 2.1 2.1
Discover Rewards 1.0 - -
Emirates Skywards 1.2 1.2 1.2

New A380 business class bar. Emirates may add narrow-body aircraft and charge for  premium amenities.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4
Flying Blue 1.2 1.3 1.3

Earn bonus Amex points for Air France flights. Award calendar extended to 360 days. New Paris-Maldives service coming in November.

Frontier Miles 1.1 1.1 1.1
HawaiianMiles 0.9 1.2 1.2

Review of A330 First Class from New York to Honolulu.

Hilton Honors 0.6 0.5 0.6

New award rates for Honors program. Points & Money award option now live. Earn 500 points for stays booked through app. Get elite benefits until 2019 with extended status match offer.

IHG Rewards Club 0.5 0.7 0.7

Credit card breach confirmed at 12 properties.

JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.3 1.2 1.2

5,000 points for new TrueBlue members. Cuba flights are being scaled back. New 'Blueprint' livery unveiled.

Korean Air SkyPass 1.7 1.7 1.7

787-9 Dreamliner uses the same seats in First and Business.

Korean Skypass - - -
Marriott Bonvoy 0.8 0.9 0.9

Nearly 1,100 properties changing award categories. Mobile app is getting an upgrade.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Lufthansa A350 service coming to Boston. Swiss Air to charge for Business Class seat assignments.

Qatar Airways Qmiles 0.8 - -
Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ritz-Carlton Rewards - 0.9 0.9
Singapore Krisflyer 1.3 1.5 1.5

Singapore increasing award rates, eliminating 15% discount and some fuel surcharges. 500 miles for new KrisFlyer members. Some fees will now be bundled into paid fares.

Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit 1.1 - -
Starwood Starpoints - 2.7 2.7

In March 2017 Amex was offering 35K points with the Starwood cards, though this offer is no longer available. Up to 30% bonus for buying points. 325 properties changing categories.

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

Up to 80% bonus for buying United miles. Basic economy fares available on some routes. More domestic 777-300ER service coming. Earn 50,000 miles with MileagePlus Explorer cards.

Virgin America Elevate - 2.4 2.4
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.3 1.3
Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards 1.5 - -
WestJet Rewards - - -
World of Hyatt Loyalty Program 1.7 1.8 1.8

Get Explorist status by spending on Hyatt credit card. What to expect from World of Hyatt.

Wyndham Rewards 1.1 1.2 1.2

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

Hilton’s new Points & Money option makes it easy to redeem small point balances.

Hilton Honors

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.

Associated Credit Cards: Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express and Hilton Honors Card from American Express; Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card and Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card

Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program offers good value if you can avoid fuel surcharges.

Asia Miles

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.

Associated Credit Cards: Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card; you can also transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.

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

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.