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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 January. This month I dropped one hotel program due to some recent negative changes. As always, you’ll find plenty of other loyalty program news 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||February 2017 (Cents)||January 2018 (Cents)||February 2018 (Cents)||Note|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5||
Amtrak collides with freight train in South Carolina.
Review: ANA 787-8 Business Class BRU-NRT.
Review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 Business Class YVR-HKG
Review: Avianca 787-8 Business Class BOG-BCN
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||-||1.0||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0||
10 tips for using Arrival miles.
|Best Western Rewards||-||0.7||0.7|
|British Airways Avios||1.5||1.5||1.5|
Venture Rewards cards now earn 10x at Hotels.com.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1||
New co-branded Starbucks card falls flat.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Win flight vouchers from 'Explore America' giveaway.
Marriott giving Platinum status to some elites who didn't qualify.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Lufthansa unveiling new livery.
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||1.1||1.1|
A380 service coming to London and Hong Kong.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||-||0.4||0.4|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||-||1.3||1.3||
Turkish Airlines places A350 order.
Movers and Shakers
This month Wyndham made news by acquiring La Quinta in a deal that should close by the end of the second quarter of 2018. I expect the La Quinta Returns program to be folded into Wyndham Rewards, and I’ll be interested to see if Wyndham makes a high percentage of those properties available for the Go Fast (points + cash) awards. Elsewhere, Amex made a negative change by removing Plenti as a transfer partner. Losing a redemption option isn’t good news, but given the sad state of the Plenti Rewards program and how little value it offered to begin with, the impact on Membership Rewards is negligible.
January Value: 0.7 cents
February Value: 0.6 cents
Valuation: IHG recently made several negative changes in the last month, including a disappointing devaluation of PointBreaks awards and a less friendly best rate guarantee. Most concerning, however, are the hotel category changes announced for 2018. Nearly 500 properties went up in price while just 200 went down, and IHG added a new top award tier that prices out at 70,000 points per night. This move exacerbates what was already a relatively low ceiling for redemption value, and despite bringing Kimpton properties into the fold, IHG Rewards is moving in the wrong direction.
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