What Are Points & Miles Worth? July 2017 Monthly Valuations

Jul 6, 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 June. This month I boosted one frequent flyer program after considering input from readers, while another airline announced some negative award changes coming later this year. 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 July 2016 (Cents) June 2017 (Cents) July 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5
Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9

Earn 5,000 bonus miles as a new Mileage Plan member. Expanded codeshare agreement with Qantas. Enter to win a trip to see the total solar eclipse.

American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

Get a bonus and discount for buying miles. You can now book Iberia awards on AA.com.  New 24-hour cancellation policy is an improvement. Basic economy fares go international.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9

New discounts for international airline program. More gifts sent out to Platinum cardholders.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5

Former Delta chief Robert Anderson named new CEO.

ANA Mileage Club 1.6 1.6 1.6
Asia Miles - 1.4 1.4
Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7
Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5

Recent IT meltdown cost the airline over $100 million.

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
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.2 2.2

Chase Freedom summer bonus categories announced.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.6 1.6

ThankYou Premier Card decreases earnings on some gas purchases.

Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

New "Fly Now, Earn Later" program for Delta Amex cardholders. More routes available for A350 service.

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

Service returning to some US cities following electronics ban.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4

Etihad scrapping chauffeur service and will cut flights to San Francisco starting this fall. Economy passengers can now bid on empty seats.

Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3
Frontier Miles 1.1 1.1 1.1
HawaiianMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2
Hilton Honors 0.5 0.6 0.6
IHG Rewards Club 0.7 0.7 0.7
JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.2 1.2 1.3

JetBlue eyeing Mint expansion with new flights to Europe. New options for in-flight snack boxes.

Korean Air SkyPass - 1.7 1.7

Korean signs new trans-Pacific joint venture agreement with Delta.

Marriott Bonvoy 0.7 0.9 0.9

Less flexible cancellation policy for new reservations. Earn bonus points by connecting with Marriott on social media.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Lufthansa shifting LAX A380 service from Frankfurt to Munich.

Qatar Airways Qmiles - - -
Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ritz-Carlton Rewards 0.7 0.9 0.9

Ritz-Carlton cruise line coming in 2019.

Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.5 1.5
Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5

Southwest cutting some flights to Cuba.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit - 0.4 0.4

Baby born on Spirit aircraft gets free flights for life.

Starwood Starpoints 2.5 2.7 2.7

Details of new Marriott/SPG credit card expected this year. New "Master Classes" program offers experiential awards.

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

Updates to Flexperks program coming in 2018.

United MileagePlus 1.5 1.5 1.5

New Everyday Awards coming in November. Major increase in service to Hawaii announced. Pro-consumer update to basic economy fares.

Virgin America Elevate 2.0 2.4 2.4

End dates announced for partnerships with airlines and other programs.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.5 1.5

Free status match to Flying Club Silver or Gold.

Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards - - -
WestJet Rewards - - -
World of Hyatt Loyalty Program 1.8 1.8 1.8

New sign-up bonus for co-branded Hyatt card. Miraval Resort joins World of Hyatt.

Wyndham Rewards 1.2 1.2 1.2

Movers and Shakers

The biggest news for award travelers this month was United’s plan to raise the price of premium awards. Those changes represent a clear devaluation, and my valuation of MileagePlus miles could decline when they take effect in November.

Several loyalty programs also made small improvements. You can now book Iberia awards through the American Airlines website, which should make it easier to avoid surcharges on flights to Europe. Meanwhile, Delta and Amex launched an innovative program that lets co-branded cardholders borrow miles for upcoming redemptions. Those updates didn’t impact my valuations, but I did give JetBlue a boost after reassessing the redemption value of TrueBlue points.

The TrueBlue program deserves a little more credit than I’ve been giving it.

JetBlue TrueBlue

June Value: 1.2 cents.
July Value: 1.3 cents.
Valuation: For years, my JetBlue valuation has been on the low side compared to most other frequent flyer programs. That’s partly due to the airline’s relatively limited route network and lack of partners, but also because TrueBlue awards are revenue-based, so redemption values are constrained. Furthermore, despite plans to add more Mint business-class service, JetBlue doesn’t offer many opportunities to use points toward a premium experience.

That said, several readers have reached out in recent months to argue that I don’t give TrueBlue points enough credit, and after some consideration, I think they’re right. You can commonly find awards for Blue and Blue Plus fares offering 1.5 to 1.7 cents per point, and sometimes higher, which means my previous valuation of 1.2 cents per point was a bit low. I still think most other airline rewards are more lucrative, but a small increase in my JetBlue valuation is justified.

Associated Credit Cards: JetBlue Plus Card and JetBlue Business Card, plus cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards.

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

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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.

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