What are points and miles worth? October 2020 monthly valuations
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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.
These valuations are based on a combination of what I would pay to buy points if given the opportunity and the overall value I could get from redeeming them, factoring in variables like award availability, fees and change/cancellation policies. 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 each month.
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To give you some context, I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from last month. However, as we’ve done the last few months, we are once again leaving all individual valuations alone given the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Despite some encouraging signs for the travel industry from the summer, we’re still seeing a lot of uncertainty — and some analysts are saying travel won’t fully rebound until 2024. As a result, it’s still too soon to analyze the long-term impact the outbreak will have on the value of the various currencies below.
That said, we’re currently hard at work on preparing a new methodology for these valuations that’ll kick in when travel ramps back up. Scroll to the bottom for more information.
Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for some of the most important loyalty program news from the last month.
|Program||October 2019 (Cents)||September 2020 (Cents)||October 2020 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||-||-||-|
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Announces new program, to launch Nov. 8.
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.8||1.8||1.8||
Permanantly waives change fees on all tickets, excluding Saver fares.
Will permanantly waive change fees on all tickets, excluding basic economy and Web Special awards.
|American Express Membership Rewards||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|ANA Mileage Club||1.4||1.4||1.4|
Held an excellent buy miles promotion.
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||0.7||0.6||0.6|
|Brex Exclusive Rewards||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Capital One Rewards||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Launches 100K welcome bonus for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.0||2.0||2.0|
Offering a $50 gift card to select merchants after two stays.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Launches double rewards promotion.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.5||0.5||0.5|
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
Makes progress on new routes to London-Heathrow.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||0.8||0.8||0.8|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Launched a promotion that let you earn Companion Pass after two flights.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks||1.5||1.5||1.5|
The first airline to permanently waive change fees.
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.5||1.6||1.6||
Points no longer expire.
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.7||1.7||1.7||
Launches various new promotions.
Key points and miles news
As noted above, the biggest news of the past couple of months has been the coronavirus outbreak. Some airlines have completely suspended operations during the pandemic, while others have filed for bankruptcy — which may or may not affect their respective frequent flyer programs. We’ve also seen elite status extensions from almost every major airline and hotel program, ensuring that loyal members can retain their benefits in 2021.
Virgin Atlantic also grabbed headlines in September, as it announced a new name for its loyalty currency (Virgin miles) and a new policy whereby the miles will no longer expire. This is on the heels of announcing that select award flights would begin counting toward elite status as of Sept. 1. We haven’t seen others follow suit, but here’s hoping that it spreads to other carriers in the future.
Finally, the slew of airlines eliminating change fees continued to grow over the month of September, following United’s move in late August. The major U.S. carriers that now offer some form of a no-change-fee policy include Alaska, American and Delta — joining Southwest (which has always allowed fee-free changes to flights).
However, some of the biggest news of the last month came from some of the biggest credit card issuers.
New credit card offers
During the pandemic, we saw a number of credit card issuers struggling with assessing creditworthiness, but we also saw a variety of bonuses and new perks launch for existing cardholders, aimed at keeping them engaged. Now, as we move into the fall, we’re seeing some incredible new welcome bonuses on some popular cards — including the following:
One of the best travel rewards cards out there, the Sapphire Preferred launched a new bonus, giving new cardmembers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This is worth a whopping $1,600 based on our valuations — and a notable jump above the standard offer of 60,000 points.
For more details, check out our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.
Capital One also got in on the action, as it launched a new bonus on its Venture Card. New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening — or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Based on our valuations (not provided by the issuer), that full bonus is worth $1,400 when you transfer to partners (or $1,000 if redeeming your miles for travel purchases at a fixed rate).
For more details, check out our full review of the Venture card.
Hotel credit cards
Finally, we saw a handful of new welcome offers launch on select hotel credit cards, giving you a simple way to boost your point balances for when travel begins to return. Here’s a snapshot at what’s currently available:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 140,000 IHG points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn five free nights (each valid up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you use your card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership — plus a TPG exclusive offer of a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new card to purchase an ExpertFlyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year.
And while not a strictly points-and-miles card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is offering a limited-time welcome bonus of $300 back (as a statement credit) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months. Offer ends 12/10/2020.
All of these new offers put you in a great position to earn a ton of bonus points or miles (or cash back) in the final months of 2020, and there may be more to come. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign-up for our daily newsletter. You can also bookmark our coronavirus hub page for up-to-date information on the pandemic and its impact on the travel industry.
The future: New methodology
As the travel industry continues to rebound from the coronavirus outbreak, our team is already diving into the data in greater depth for all airline and hotel programs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see future adjustments to our value for a number of popular currencies, so stay tuned for that.
Illustration by The Points Guy
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page for the most up-to-date valuations, so you can bookmark it and check back each month for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older valuations below.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.