What Are Points & Miles Worth? January 2018 Monthly Valuations

Jan 3, 2018

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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 December. The list is unchanged this month, but one frequent flyer program announced an update that will likely impact valuations down the road. You’ll find more on those coming changes and 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 January 2017 (Cents) December 2017 (Cents) January 2018 (Cents) Note
Accor Le Club - - -
Aeroplan Loyalty Program 1.5 1.5 1.5
Alaska Mileage Plan 1.9 1.9 1.9

Alaska's Air France/KLM partnership will end in April.

American AAdvantage 1.5 1.4 1.4

New reduced mileage awards through March. End of partnerships with Alaska, WestJet and Jet Airways. Plans announced for 777-300ER retrofit.

American Express Membership Rewards 1.9 1.9 1.9

Increased transfer ratio to Hilton Honors. Plenti program to be removed as transfer partner. Increased bonuses for Platinum and Gold cards. No more signature requirements.

Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.5 2.5 2.5

New seats and other updates coming in 2018.

ANA Mileage Club 1.6 1.6 1.6

ANA's recent flight to nowhere isn't as unusual as you might think.

Asia Miles - 1.4 1.4

Cathay Pacific launches nonstop service from Hong Kong to Dulles.

Avianca LifeMiles 1.7 1.7 1.7
Avios 1.5 1.5 1.5

Save 10% on flights with Chase credit cards. Some 787 flights canceled due to engine trouble. No more AARP discount in Premium Economy.

Bank of America Premium Rewards - 1.0 1.0
Barclaycard Arrival Miles 1.0 1.0 1.0
Best Western Rewards - 0.7 0.7

Take advantage of a Best Western status match.

Brex Exclusive Rewards - - -
Capital One Rewards 1.0 1.0 1.0
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2.1 2.1 2.1

Chase Freedom 2018 first quarter bonus open for enrollment. New executive hired to head Sapphire Reserve card.

Choice Privileges 0.6 0.6 0.6
Citi ThankYou Points 1.6 1.7 1.7
Delta SkyMiles 1.2 1.2 1.2

Baggage fees added to transatlantic flights. New joint venture formed with WestJet. Delta takes its final 747 flight.

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

First-class suites coming to London Stansted. Emirates receives temporary ban from Tunisia.

Etihad Guest 1.4 1.4 1.4
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

New reinstatement option for expired points. Register for latest Hilton Honors promo bonus. Hilton revises 'do not disturb' policy. Elites now get breakfast at Waldorf properties.

IHG Rewards Club 0.7 0.7 0.7

Award prices changing (mostly increasing) soon. Register for new Accelerate promo. Some IHG accounts hacked.

JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program 1.2 1.3 1.3

New award chart for Hawaiian Airlines flights. Updates to standby and fare policies.

Korean Air SkyPass 1.7 1.7 1.7
Marriott Bonvoy 0.9 0.9 0.9

Register for latest MegaBonus promo. Marriott signs new card agreements with Amex and Chase.

Miles & More 1.4 1.4 1.4

Switch to revenue-based program coming in 2018.

Qatar Airways Qmiles - 1.1 1.1

Qatar A321 catches fire in Doha.

Radisson Rewards 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ritz-Carlton Rewards 0.9 0.9 0.9

Review: junior suite at the new Ritz-Carlton Langkawi.

Singapore Krisflyer 1.5 1.4 1.4

Singapore changes upgrade rules and award fees. Review: new A380 first-class suite and business-class seat.

Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 1.5 1.5
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit - 0.4 0.4

CEO to step down in 2019.

Starwood Starpoints 2.7 2.7 2.7

Earn bonus points with Great Weeks, Grand Weekends promo.

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

Flexperks points switch to fixed redemption value.

United MileagePlus 1.5 1.4 1.4

Nonstop Dreamliner service to Tahiti coming in October, 2018. More lie-flat seats coming to transcon flights. United 757-300s to get more crowded.

Virgin America Elevate 2.0 2.4 -

Elevate program ends, folds into Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.3 1.5 1.5

Check out the rooftop igloo in London.

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

Hyatt imposes new 48-hour cancellation policy. Award nights will count toward elite status. Review: sea-view suite at the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts.

Wyndham Rewards 1.2 1.2 1.2

Movers and Shakers

Several frequent flyer programs announced upcoming changes in the past month. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer imposed new award fees, and tweaked both mileage earning rates and upgrade award costs. Miles & More will follow the recent trend by shifting to a revenue-based program later this year, and the Virgin America Elevate program has now disappeared altogether. Meanwhile, U.S. Bank FlexPerks now have a fixed redemption value of 1.5 cents per point (instead of the range that was available previously). Finally, IHG announced changes that will cause me to lower my valuation when they go into effect.

Virgin America’s Elevate program is gone, and the airline itself is soon to follow.

Virgin America Elevate

December Value: 2.4 cents
January Value: not listed
Valuation: Back in March we learned the Elevate program’s days were numbered. Now that 2018 has arrived, the program is functionally non-existent. While Virgin America will continue to operate flights until April, passengers will earn Alaska Airlines miles instead of Elevate points for flight activity. Any remaining Elevate balances will be transferred to Mileage Plan (if they haven’t been already), and in a few months we’ll say goodbye to the Virgin America brand altogether.

Associated Credit Cards: You can’t earn Elevate points anymore, but you can earn Mileage Plan miles with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. Mileage Plan is also an SPG transfer partner, so you can earn miles with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

Miles & More will switch to a revenue-based program in 2018.

Miles & More

December Value: 1.4 cents
January Value: 1.4 cents
Valuation: Unfortunately for award travelers, revenue-based frequent flyer programs have become much more common in the past few years. That trend continued recently: Following the news in November of Flying Blue’s “reinvention”, the Miles & More program announced last month that it too will switch to a revenue-based scheme, in March.

Beyond that point, mileage accrual will be based on the ticket price (with bonuses offered to elite members). We don’t yet know if award redemption rates will be affected, so my valuation remains unchanged for the moment.

Associated Credit Cards: Earn miles with the co-branded Miles & More World Elite Mastercard. The program is also a SPG transfer partner, so you can earn miles with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express.

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

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