What Are Points & Miles Worth? November 2017 Monthly Valuations

Nov 3, 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 October. This month we heard some great news from Southwest Airlines and IHG Rewards, while Avianca LifeMiles added a useful region-based award chart for flights within the US.

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 November 2016 (Cents) October 2017 (Cents) November 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeromexico Club Premier - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5
Alaska Mileage Plan 1.8 1.9 1.9

You can now pre-order meals in first class.

American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

Select Citi AA cardholders get priority boarding on international flights. Over 8,000 flights canceled due to 2017 hurricanes. DFW Club to close during renovations.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9

Earn 5,000 points for Amazon Prime membership. Free night offers from Amex FHR. PHL Centurion Lounge opens. Miami lounge expansion coming in 2018.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5
ANA Mileage Club 1.6 1.6 1.6

TSA PreCheck now available on ANA flights. Review: ANA 777-300 economy from LA to Tokyo.

Asia Miles - 1.4 1.4

TSA PreCheck now available on Cathay Pacific flights. Review: Cathay Pacific Arrival lounge at HKG, and First/Biz lounge at CDG.

Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7

New short-haul awards in the US.

Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5
Bank of America Premium Rewards - 1.0 1.0
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 1.0 1.0 1.0

Barclaycard introduces new no-fee Uber Visa.

Best Western Rewards - - 0.7
Brex Exclusive Rewards - - -
Capital One Rewards 1.0 1.0 1.0

New Savor Card offers 3% back on dining.

Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.2 2.2

Earn bonus points for mobile wallet purchases. Sapphire Reserve retention better than expected.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6

Maximize Choice points in Europe and Japan.

Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.5 1.5
Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

Basic economy going global in 2018. Delta One to offer pre-ordered meals. Tour of Delta's first A350. CEO reaffirms commitment to free upgrades. Tweaks to partner earning rates in 2018.

Diners Club Rewards 2.1 2.1 2.1
Discover Rewards - - -
Emirates Skywards 1.2 1.2 1.2
Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4

More (temporary) cuts to US service.

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

Earn double SkyMiles and MQMs for Hilton stays.

IHG Rewards Club 0.7 0.7 0.7

Kimpton Karma Rewards will merge with IHG Rewards in 2018. New list of discounted PointBreaks awards through the end of January.

JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.3 1.3 1.3

JetBlue pulls the plug on online travel agencies. New group boarding process goes into effect.

Korean Air SkyPass 1.7 1.7 1.7

5 things to know about Korean Air SkyPass.

Korean Skypass - - -
Marriott Bonvoy 0.9 0.9 0.9

My disastrous experience at Renaissance Philadelphia Airport. Marriott launches a shopping portal. Book stays through new Slack extension.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Lufthansa set to buy parts of Air Berlin.

Qatar Airways Qmiles - 1.1 1.1
Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4

Earn 3,000 bonus points with the Club Carlson app. Review: Radisson Blu Edwardian in London.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards 0.9 0.9 0.9

Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.5 1.5

Some business-class awards pulled from airline partners. First routes confirmed for refreshed A380.

Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5

Southwest announces flights to Hawaii and in-air concerts. California residents targeted for Companion Pass shortcut.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit - 0.4 0.4

Spirit helps deliver Puerto Rico relief aid.

Starwood Starpoints 2.7 2.7 2.7

No more Starpoints for Uber rides starting mid-December. Reviews of W St. Petersburg, the W Bellevue and the W Seattle.

Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles - 1.3 1.3
U.S. Bank FlexPerks 1.5 1.5 1.5
United MileagePlus 1.5 1.5 1.5

Earn 50,000 miles with United Club Card. Get a 30% bonus for transfers from hotel partners. Get more miles on select card purchases. Partner boarding passes added to mobile app.

Virgin America Elevate 2.4 2.4 2.4

Flights will switch to Alaska Airlines in April. Virgin America cards will be closed without conversion.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5 1.5 1.5

Review: Virgin Atlantic A330-300 economy from Miami to London.

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

Hyatt endures another credit card breach. Hyatt Card holders can save $50 at Hyatt Place and Hyatt House.

Wyndham Rewards 1.2 1.2 1.2

Movers and Shakers

October brought us great news from Southwest Airlines, which announced it will begin flying to Hawaii in the not-too-distant future. Both Barclaycard and Capital One launched intriguing new credit card products, while Delta announced plans to lower partner earning rates in 2018. However, the most impactful news of the past month came from an unexpected improvement to the Avianca LifeMIles program, and an overdue one to IHG Rewards.

Avianca’s new domestic award chart offer some mile-saving opportunities.

Avianca LifeMiles

October Value: 1.7 cents
November Value: 1.7 cents.
Valuation: In October Avianca introduced new award pricing for flights within the US starting at 7,500 miles one-way. These short-haul awards are similar to those offered by British Airways, but they have two important advantages.

First, British Airways prices awards based on the distance flown, so the cheapest economy rate is only valid on flights that cover up to 1,151 miles. Avianca uses zones instead of flight distance, so you can travel a bit farther for the same number of miles — for example, Boston to Miami is 1,259. miles — that would cost 10,000 Avios through British Airways, but just 7,500 LifeMiles through Avianca.

Second, Avianca’s awards are priced from origin to destination, whereas British Airways charges you for each flight segment. That makes booking with LifeMiles the more attractive option if you can’t find award availability with non-stop service.

This change is a win for award travelers in the lower 48 states, though I don’t think it’s enough of an improvement to increase my valuation. Check out Richard Kerr’s recent post for other sweet spots in the LifeMiles program.

Associated Credit Cards: Avianca Visa cards (read more about those in our overview of the LifeMiles program), and cards that earn Starpoints like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

Kimpton properties like the Hotel Wilshire will soon be available through the IHG Rewards program.

IHG Rewards

October Value: 0.7 cents
November Value: 0.7 cents.
Valuation: After IHG aquired Kimpton in late 2014, their two loyalty programs were kept entirely separate. That’s finally set to change, as IHG recently announced Kimpton Karma Rewards will join IHG Rewards in early 2018. At that point you’ll be able to book rooms at Kimpton properties using IHG points with no blackout dates, and Kimpton elite status will be matched to corresponding IHG status.

This is good news for IHG Rewards members, as Kimpton offers an upscale, boutique experience that’s hard to find elsewhere in the IHG portfolio. However, the overall impact is too small to affect my valuation, since Kimpton’s roster includes just 66 properties in 32 cities (almost entirely in the US). It’s also too early to tell if Kimpton’s hotels will provide good value for awards, since we don’t know yet what the redemption rates will be.

Associated Credit Cards: IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, and cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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

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