What Are Points & Miles Worth? June 2017 Monthly Valuations

Jun 7, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

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 May. This month I dropped one of the major credit card rewards programs, and I added a domestic frequent flyer program to the list. As always, you’ll find lots more program-related news in the last 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 feedback from TPG readers into consideration when I update the valuations next month. This list doesn’t include every loyalty 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 June 2016 (Cents) May 2017 (Cents) June 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeromexico Club Premier - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5

Air Canada will launch its own loyalty program in 2020. Some partner awards blocked temporarily.

Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9

Finnair added as new mileage partner. Buy Alaska miles for under 2 cents each. Elite status extension for new parents.

American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

Earn 50,000 miles with Aviator card. New list of reduced mileage awards. Changes to upgrade priority. Get ready for more basic economy and less legroom.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 2.0 1.9

No-annual-fee Membership Rewards card makes a splash. Amex Platinum cardholders get added lounge options and Blade gift cards. Save on hotels with Amex offers.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5

Stranded passengers get pizza delivered to train.

ANA Mileage Club 1.6 1.6 1.6
Asia Miles - 1.4 1.4

Check out our guide to the Asia Miles program.

Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7
Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5

British Airways facing fallout from recent shutdown and upcoming strike. New points and cash option introduced. Elite status extension for new parents.

Bank of America Premium Rewards - - -
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 1.0 1.0 1.0
Best Western Rewards - - -
Brex Exclusive Rewards - - -
Capital One Rewards 1.0 1.0 1.0

50% off Spotify subscriptions with Capital One Quicksilver.

Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.2 2.2

Earn 100,000 points with a Chase mortgage. Palladium cards will be retired and replaced soon.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.6 1.6

Three months left to maximize Citi Prestige benefits before changes.

Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

Earn up to 70,000 SkyMiles with Amex card offers. Surcharges added (and then removed) from Virgin Atlantic awards. Earn miles from new partnership with Lyft.

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

Wi-Fi speeds increasing up to 15 times faster. Emirates profits down 80% from last year.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3
Frontier Miles 1.1 1.1 1.1
HawaiianMiles - 1.2 1.2
Hilton Honors 0.5 0.6 0.6

Hilton dropping Citi, sticking with Amex. Earn bonus points on your next stay with Amex Platinum.

IHG Rewards Club 0.7 0.7 0.7
JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.2 1.2 1.2

Bonus points for NYC flights. New amenity kits in Mint class. Testing facial recognition technology for check-in.

Korean Air SkyPass - 1.7 1.7

New SKYPETS frequent flyer program for pets.

Korean Skypass - - -
Marriott Bonvoy 0.7 0.9 0.9

Earn bonus points with summer promotion.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4
Qatar Airways Qmiles - - -
Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ritz-Carlton Rewards 0.7 0.9 0.9

Earn bonus points with summer promotion.

Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.5 1.5

Singapore Airlines to operate biofuel flights to San Francisco.

Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5

Earn 60,000 points with new credit card sign-up bonuses. Quirks with new reservation system. CEO confirms Hawaii still a priority.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit - - 0.4
Starwood Starpoints 2.5 2.7 2.7

Earn bonus points with summer promotion. Buy Starpoints with a 35% discount. Check out the $21,000/night villa at the St. Regis Maldives.

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

Win one million miles with any Star Alliance carrier. United adding flights to South America, making improvements to transcon service.

Virgin America Elevate 2.0 2.4 2.4
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.5 1.5
Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards - - -
WestJet Rewards - - -
World of Hyatt Loyalty Program 1.8 1.8 1.8

10% back on award stays for Chase Hyatt cardholders. How to maximize Hyatt free night certificates.

Wyndham Rewards 1.2 1.2 1.2

New partnership with Total Rewards offers points and matched status.

Movers and Shakers

Alaska Airlines added a new airline partner this past month, while Delta added some uncertainty to the SkyMiles program by tacking steep surcharges on to Virgin Atlantic awards (and later rolling them back). These updates weren’t impactful enough to alter my valuations, but that could change depending on how each situation plays out. Meanwhile, I decreased Amex Membership Rewards thanks to a recent downgrade of a lucrative card benefit, and I added Spirit Airlines to the list.

Business class on the A31T is
The 50% points rebate on airfare with the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express was short-lived.

Amex Membership Rewards

May Value: 2.0 cents.
June Value: 1.9 cents.
Valuation: In April, I boosted Membership Rewards to 2 cents apiece after I saw how much value I was getting from the 50% points rebate on the Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Sadly, American Express then decided to trim that benefit even though it had only been offered for less than a year. New cardholders will only receive a 35% rebate on qualifying flight redemptions booked through amextravel.com. Existing cardholders will still get the higher rate until their next account anniversary, but the benefit has effectively been nerfed. It’s only fair to drop Membership Rewards back to its previous valuation accordingly.

Associated Credit Cards: The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express, and others.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28, 2015: A Spirit Airlines passenger aircraft (Airbus A320) takes off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City, New York. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Spirit’s frequent flyer program is as uninspiring as its paint jobs. Photo courtesy of Robert Alexander via Getty Images.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit

May Value: Unlisted.
June Value: 0.4 cents.
Valuation: Spirit finished at the bottom of our recent airline rankings, partly due to the airline’s tragedy of a frequent flyer program. For starters, Spirit’s award chart is nothing special: You’ll often need more than 25,000 miles for a round-trip flight, and the program isn’t particularly generous when it comes to earning miles either.

Free Spirit also lacks the upside of other major frequent flyer programs, since the airline doesn’t offer first or business-class products. Even Spirit’s version of a premium cabin (the Big Front Seat) requires a paid upgrade. The one sweet spot in Spirit’s award chart is the off-peak rates available to co-branded cardholders, but those are limited to about one third of the calendar year.

Unfortunately, an uninspiring award chart is far from the worst of it. Spirit adds a $15 award booking fee for mileage redemptions up to 179 days in advance. That fee increases to as much as $100 when you book closer to departure, but the smaller fee is perhaps the most damaging, since not many people book domestic airfare more than six months in advance. Finally, perhaps the biggest knock against the program is that Free Spirit miles expire after just three months of inactivity. That’s insanely short unless you fly Spirit regularly or use the co-branded credit card. Otherwise, it’s hard to put much stock in miles that are likely to end up down the drain.

Ultimately, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to get a return above 0.8 cents per mile for standard awards. The booking fee and expiration policy make the program much less valuable, and kill any long-term interest most people would have in accumulating those miles to begin with. If you have a rosier outlook on the Free Spirit program, I’d love to hear why.

Associated Credit Cards: Spirit Airlines World Mastercard.

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

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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.