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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.
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||-||-||-|
|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 Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|ANA Mileage Club||1.6||1.6||1.6|
747 service coming to Austin.
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||-||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||-||-||-|
|Capital One Credit Card Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.2||2.2|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.5||1.5|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Air France A380 blows engine.
|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|
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Lufthansa to launch domestic 747 service.
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||1.1||1.1|
Review of the Radisson Blu Viking Hotel in Stockholm.
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|
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|
|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||-||-||-|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.8||1.8||1.8|
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.
Bank of America Premium Rewards
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 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.
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards