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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||-||-||-|
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|
747 service coming to Austin.
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||-||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||-||-||-|
|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.
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|
Review of the Radisson Blu Viking Hotel in Stockholm.
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.
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||-||-|
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?
This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- Access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that