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 November. This month brought several changes, as award chart devaluations and new partnerships impacted several airlines along with two of the major transferable points programs. I also added a new hotel program to the list, and as always you’ll find plenty of other loyalty news 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 December 2016 (Cents) November 2017 (Cents) December 2017 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeroplan 1.5 1.5 1.5

Up to 62.5% bonus for transferring hotel points to Aeroplan. First look at the exclusive new Signature Suite lounge in Toronto. Upgrades to Wi-Fi service.

Alaska 1.8 1.9 1.9

5,000 miles for new Mileage Plan members in California. Some Virgin America Elevate activity will count toward Alaska Million Miler status. Cuba service ending in January.

American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

Earn up to 50,000 bonus miles with tiered holiday promotion. Enter the mileage sweepstakes. Check out the new Miami flagship lounge.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9

10% cash back for Canadian SimplyCash Preferred cardholders. Review of Amex lounge in Sydney.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5
ANA 1.6 1.6 1.6
Asia Miles - 1.4 1.4

Cathay Pacific upgrading Wi-Fi on wide-body fleet. Review of A330-300 business class.

Avianca 1.7 1.7 1.7
Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5
Bank of America Premium Rewards - 1.0 1.0
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 1 1.0 1.0
Best Western Rewards - 0.7 0.7

Best Western launches new collection of independent hotels.

Capital One 1 1.0 1.0
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.2 2.1

Aer Lingus and Iberia added as transfer partners. Earn 10x at Best Buy and Walmart with Chase Pay. New promotions with Chase Offers.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.5 1.7

ThankYou Rewards gains Avianca as a transfer partner, but loses Hilton.

Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

Restrictions to Sky Club access coming in 2019. Delta One to Hawaii and other domestic routes.

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

Check out the new first-class suites. Emirates takes delivery of 100th A380 and reports 77% jump in profits.

Etihad 1.4 1.4 1.4
FlexPerks 1.3 1.5 1.5
Flying Blue 1.3 1.3 1.3

Revenue-based program coming in 2018.

Frontier 1.1 1.1 1.1
Hawaiian 1.2 1.2 1.2

A330 engine fire caught on video.

Hilton 0.5 0.6 0.6

Earn 75,000 points from Hilton Surpass card. Citi Hilton cards will convert to Amex in January.

Hyatt 1.8 1.8 1.8

Earn double points on stays and up to 50,000 points through Hyatt card referrals. First look at Andaz Singapore.

IHG 0.7 0.7 0.7

Earn points for dining with OpenTable and GrubHub. Save on gas with IHG card.

JetBlue 1.0 1.3 1.3

Earn 60,000 points with JetBlue Plus Card. Mint coming to Vegas routes.

Korean Air 1.7 1.7 1.7
Marriott 0.9 0.9 0.9

Changes coming to Marriott/SPG in 2018. Earn points by referring friends.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

First look at Lufthansa's new business-class seats.

Qatar Airways Qmiles - 1.1 1.1

QSuites coming to Dulles-Doha route in 2018. Qatar extends free hotel stopover program, buys stake in Cathay Pacific.

Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ritz-Carlton 0.9 0.9 0.9
Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.5 1.4

Prices increasing for Star Alliance awards. Check out the new A380 suites.

Southwest 1.5 1.5 1.5
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit - 0.4 0.4
Starwood Starpoints 2.7 2.7 2.7
Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles - 1.3 1.3
United 1.5 1.5 1.4

Wi-Fi improvements promised in 2018. New bidding process for bumps on oversold flights.

Virgin America 1.5 2.4 2.4
Virgin Atlantic 1.3 1.5 1.5

Clubhouse at LAX joins Priority Pass.

Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards - - -
Wyndham 1.2 1.2 1.2

Movers and Shakers

November brought a lot of changes to the programs on this list, and most of them aren’t good. Singapore Airlines and United raised mileage requirements, and premium awards were hit especially hard. Flying Blue also announced that it will shift to a revenue-based program in April, with more details to come. Citi added one transfer partner and lost another, while Chase established a direct link to two airline programs. Finally, I added Best Western Rewards as the tenth hotel program to make to the list.

Singapore Airlines is imposing its second major devaluation of 2017.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

November Value: 1.5 cents
December Value: 1.4 cents.
Valuation: Just eight months after increasing the cost of awards on its own metal, Singapore Airlines implemented its second major devaluation of the year by also making awards on Star Alliance partners more expensive. Many flights to and from North America will see a rate increase of 20% this month, and none are getting cheaper. No cabin has been spared, as the changes affect all classes of service from economy to first.

As was the case in March, the devaluation is tempered with a bit of good news. Namely, you’ll no longer have to book Star Alliance partner awards by phone; those tickets will be available to book online or through the Singapore Airlines app. That’s a welcome change, but the fact remains this program has taken a turn for the worse in 2017. I was tempted to lower my valuation even further, but I think a drop of 0.1 cents per mile is reasonable so long as premium award availability is unchanged.

Associated Credit Cards: Singapore Airlines partners with all the major transferable points programs, so you can earn KrisFlyer miles with cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Starpoints.

Caroline
United raised prices on a range of premium awards in November.

United Airlines MileagePlus

November Value: 1.5 cents
December Value: 1.4 cents.
Valuation: In June United announced a new dynamic award pricing scheme called “Everyday Awards” for its own flights, accompanied by an increase in the cost of premium partner awards. These changes went into effect in November, and while they’re less severe than those made to the KrisFlyer program, the end result is that awards are likely to cost you more now than they did previously. Most flights have gone up by either 5,000 or 10,000 miles round-trip, with the lone bright spot being a new short-haul discount for international partner flights. Overall it’s a move in the wrong direction for award travelers.

Associated Credit Cards: Earn United miles with co-branded cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and the United MileagePlus Club Card, as well as those that earn Ultimate Rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

New York, USA - June 13, 2011: Airbus A330 Aer Lingus approaches John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, NY on June 13, 2011. Aer Lingus is the national flag carrier of Ireland. It is Ireland
Ultimate Rewards dropped this month despite adding two new transfer partners. Photo by rypson via Getty Images.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

November Value: 2.2 cents
December Value: 2.1 cents.
Valuation: I put a premium on transferable points because they provide more opportunities to book high-value awards. Historically, you could get a truly outsized return through both the MileagePlus and KrisFlyer programs by booking first and business-class seats on Lufthansa or Thai Airways, among others. That’s still true, but unfortunately premium awards were the ones hit hardest by the devaluations outlined above. With two of Chase’s airline partners taking a hit, Ultimate Rewards points also lose some potential.

On the bright side, Chase added two new 1:1 transfer partners in Iberia Airlines and Aer Lingus. Both programs were already accessible via British Airways Avios, but this direct transferability eliminates the hurdle of needing an active account more than 90 days old. That’s not enough to offset the negative changes, but it should prove useful to some award travelers.

Associated Credit Cards: Earn Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and others.

SPG
Citi recently added Avianca LifeMiles to its roster of transfer partners.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

November Value: 1.5 cents
December Value: 1.7 cents.
Valuation: Citi had mixed results in November, as the ThankYou Rewards program both gained and lost a transfer partner. Following Hilton’s decision earlier this year to make Amex its exclusive credit card issuer, we learned transfers from Citi to Hilton Honors will no longer be available as of December 14, 2017. While Honors points are less valuable than most other rewards, losing that connection leaves Citi with zero hotel partners. That’s not a good look for a major credit card rewards program.

On the other hand, Citi added a new 1:1 transfer partner in Avianca LifeMiles, which is one of the more valuable frequent flyer programs. This move resets the baseline for ThankYou Rewards to at least 1.7 cents per point (to match my valuation for LifeMiles). However, Citi’s roster of transfer partners remains relatively lackluster overall, so I don’t put a premium on ThankYou points like I do with Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

Associated Credit Cards: Earn ThankYou points with the Citi Prestige Card, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card.

Best
Best Western doesn’t have many high-end properties, but the brand covers a lot of area.

Best Western Rewards

November Value: Unlisted
December Value: 0.7 cents.
Valuation: Best Western’s loyalty program is much like its hotel properties: solid but unspectacular. Despite efforts to broaden appeal with new “independent” brands, Best Western’s portfolio is stuffed with low- to mid-tier properties, and the lack of high-end redemption options limits the return you can expect to get from booking awards. In my experience it’s uncommon to get much more than around 1.2 cents per point.

That said, Best Western Rewards has some favorable rules that make the program more attractive. Points don’t expire, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your account active. You can also transfer points freely between accounts that share the same physical address, which makes booking awards a bit easier. Finally, award stays count toward elite qualification. Best Western’s elite benefits are mostly lackluster, and you may be able to attain those benefits through a status match anyway, but it’s nice that all stay activity is rewarded.

Associated Credit Cards: Best Western Rewards has its own co-branded card, and the program is an Amex transfer partner, so you can earn points with the Premier Rewards Gold Card and others that earn Membership Rewards.

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

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • 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.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.