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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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|
Air Canada to begin transatlantic 737 flights.
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||-||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||-||-||-|
|British Airways Avios||1.5||1.5||1.5||
747 service coming to Austin.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.2||2.2|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.5||1.5|
Review of the Radisson Blu Viking Hotel in Stockholm.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Air France A380 blows engine.
Review of the InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Lufthansa to launch domestic 747 service.
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||1.1||1.1|
New earning chart for United flights.
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.
Virgin becomes first European airline to offer Wi-Fi on all aircraft.
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?
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees