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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 February. I didn’t make any changes to the list this month, but several loyalty programs announced important updates, and others that were announced previously are scheduled to take effect in the coming weeks. 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||March 2017 (Cents)||February 2018 (Cents)||March 2018 (Cents)||Note|
Air Canada introduces basic economy fares.
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5||
Earn double points with Double Days promotion.
Review of ANA 787-8 regional business class.
Buy LifeMiles for 1.39 cents with subscription program.
|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|
|British Airways Avios||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Get a 35% bonus when you transfer hotel points to Avios.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.6||1.7||1.7|
Program rebranding as Radisson Rewards.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Chauffeur service cut from premium award tickets.
New option to redeem for travel purchases outside of FlexPerks portal.
Frontier announces 35 new routes and 4 new cities.
Earn bonus points on paid and award stays through May.
How to maximize free nights from the IHG Rewards card.
What is Mosaic status worth in 2018?
Has Korean Air tightened award availability?
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||-||1.1||1.1|
Review of the Ritz-Carlton Bali.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||-||0.4||0.4|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||-||1.3||1.3|
How to unlock value with Flying Club.
Movers and Shakers
This month brought several small but negative changes from airline programs. Alaska Airlines announced it would block select partner awards within Asia — the new rules only apply within 72 hours of departure, but I don’t feel good about the precedent being set. Singapore Airlines implemented new award fees and tweaks to mileage earning rates that were announced back in December. Meanwhile, the Miles & More program switches to revenue-based earning on March 12, though at the time of writing we still don’t know if award redemption rates will be affected.
February Value: 0.9 cents
March Value: 0.9 cents
Valuation: Marriott recently announced its list of award category changes for 2018, and the news wasn’t good Marriott Rewards members. Over 1,000 properties are going up in price, while a much smaller number will go down — a clear net increase in the cost of awards program-wide. However, unlike IHG Rewards (which also announced category changes earlier this year), Marriott didn’t add a new top award tier. The program’s most valuable features (like the partnership with SPG and Hotel + Air awards) remain intact. I was on the fence about lowering Marriott’s valuation, but I decided to leave it alone for now given the program’s upside.
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?
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