What Are Points & Miles Worth? October 2017 Monthly Valuations

Oct 4, 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 September. We didn’t have any major loyalty program updates this past month, but I added a new banking rewards program to the list by reader request. As always, you’ll find plenty of news from the loyalty world 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 October 2016 (Cents) September 2017 (Cents) October 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeromexico Club Premier - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5

Air Canada to begin transatlantic 737 flights.

Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9
American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

Buy miles for 1 cent apiece through Barclaycard program. New list of reduced mileage awards for winter. Airline pledges to improve award availability. Some aircraft to have even less seat pitch.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9

Expansion coming to Dallas Centurion Lounge. Select cardholders get Lufthansa lounge access, while others lose Centurion Lounge access. New Cobalt card launches in Canada.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5
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

747 service coming to Austin.

Bank of America Premium Rewards - - 1.0
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

Register for Chase Freedom Q4 bonus categories. Chase Sapphire Reserve: renew or not?

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.5 1.5

Get a 25% bonus for transfers to JetBlue. Cardholders get 4 free months of Amazon music.

Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

New Blue Delta Amex card. Gogo-equipped aircraft to offer free messaging.

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

Emirates was hit hard by the travel and electronics bans. "Budget Economy" cabin considered for A380 aircraft.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3

Air France A380 blows engine.

Frontier Miles 1.1 1.1 1.1
HawaiianMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2
Hilton Honors 0.5 0.6 0.6

The award traveler's guide to Hilton Honors. You can now redeem points for Amazon purchases (but you shouldn't).

IHG Rewards Club 0.7 0.7 0.7

Review of the InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand.

JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.2 1.3 1.3
Korean Air SkyPass 1.7 1.7 1.7
Korean Skypass - - -
Marriott Bonvoy 0.9 0.9 0.9
Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Lufthansa to launch domestic 747 service.

Qatar Airways Qmiles - 1.1 1.1

Updates to business and first class amenity kits. Qatar to offer QSuites between New York and Doha.

Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4

Review of the Radisson Blu Viking Hotel in Stockholm.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards 0.9 0.9 0.9
Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.5 1.5

New earning chart for United flights.

Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5

First revenue flight of Southwest's 737 MAX 8.

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

Review of the Palacio Del Inka in Cusco, Peru.

Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles - 1.3 1.3

Turkish plans to order 40 Dreamliners from Boeing.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks 1.5 1.5 1.5
United MileagePlus 1.5 1.5 1.5

New no-fee United TravelBank card. Added service to Iceland, Portugal and more. Nonstop service Dreamliner service from Houston to Sydney.

Virgin America Elevate 2.0 2.4 2.4
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.5 1.5

Virgin becomes first European airline to offer Wi-Fi on all aircraft.

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

Interview with Hyatt's new head of global loyalty. Reviews of Hyatt Regency in Cartagena and Amsterdam.

Wyndham Rewards 1.2 1.2 1.2

Movers and Shakers

September brought us a number of new airline routes, along with no-fee credit card options for both United and Delta flyers. American Express increased lounge access for Platinum and Centurion cardholders, and Priority Pass added a restaurant at Miami International to its network. Overall it was a quiet month in the loyalty world, and none of the latest news impacted my existing valuations.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: A man uses an ATM at a Bank of America branch on April 16, 2014 in New York City. As the nation's second-largest bank continues to struggle with fallout from the financial crisis, Bank of America reported a $276 million first-quarter loss Wednesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Preferred Rewards are stronger with a BoA bank account. Photo by Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card

September Value: Not listed.
October Value: 1.0 cents.
Valuation: Much like Capital One Venture Rewards and Barclaycard Arrival miles, Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card points have a (mostly) fixed redemption value of 1 cent apiece. That means they’re not ideal for booking premium awards like first-class flights or high-end hotels, but they are handy when airfare and other travel costs are low. They’re also useful for wiping out miscellaneous expenses that you can’t cover easily with other points or miles.

On the earning side, Bank of America offers bonuses to its banking customers through the Preferred Rewards program. Depending on your qualifying balances, you can earn as much as 75% more rewards; that won’t improve the rate you get for award redemptions, but it will give you a solid return on everyday spending with the new Premium Rewards card (and others).

Fixed-value rewards aren’t glamorous, but they’re an important part of a diversified points and miles portfolio. If you don’t already have these points (or others like them) on hand, I recommend earning some.

Associated Credit Cards: the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card, and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

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

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

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