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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.
To give you some context, I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from July. The past month was another quiet one for this list: Aeroplan announced plans to add transfer partners (though not until 2020), and Hyatt introduced new experiential redemption options. We also found out when the new Marriott program and award chart will go into effect, and I added a new hotel program to the list. Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for plenty more loyalty program news and other related posts.
|Program||August 2017 (Cents)||July 2018 (Cents)||August 2018 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||-||2.0||
Accor to acquire 85% stake in 21c Museum Hotels.
Seattle lounges leaving Priority Pass.
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5||
Great Dome Car returning this fall.
Hundreds of flights canceled due to 787 engine problems.
Cathay Pacific adding service to Seattle in 2019.
|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|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.2||2.1||2.1||
Chase loses $330M to super card users in Q2.
Get a 30% discount for buying at least 40,000 points through August 10.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.5||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Increased sign-up and spending bonuses on co-branded cards.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||1.1||0.8||0.8|
Co-branded Ritz card no longer accepting applications.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||-||1.3||1.3|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||1.5||1.5||
Revamped Wells Fargo Propel card now available.
Earn a free night after two stays.
Movers and Shakers
This month Hyatt introduced a new award experiences platform called FIND; redemption rates are below average, but closer than what we’ve seen from similar award options elsewhere. Etihad introduced a new fee for economy awards, while American Airlines added carry-on bags back to basic economy fares. We also saw increased credit card bonus offers from Barclaycard and Hawaiian Airlines, and a new premium card from Southwest Airlines.
While there weren’t any changes to my valuations this month, I added the Accor Hotels Le Club program to the list. Meanwhile, Aeroplan and Air Canada made a series of announcements with implications about the future of their partnership and the value of Aeroplan miles, and the new Marriott Rewards program is finally set to launch in mid-August.
Accor Le Club
July Value: Not listed
August Value: 2.0 cents
Valuation: Accor’s loyalty program Le Club is pretty straightforward. You can redeem points toward hotel stays at a fixed rate: 2,000 points gets you a discount of 40 euros (or the equivalent in local currency). That works out to about 2.3 cents per point based on the current dollar/euro exchange rate. Most properties let you redeem for incidentals as well as room rates, and in addition to booking awards online, you can generally redeem at your hotel’s front desk during your stay. There are other redemption options (like transfers to airline partners), but they offer a much lower redemption value.
The program’s greatest downside is its expiration policy. Points expire after 365 days, and only hotel stays count as qualifying activity to extend the life of your points — anecdotal evidence suggests that partner activity also qualifies, but the official rules are unambiguous that points will be lost absent a stay at a participating hotel. Given the dearth of North American properties, Accor’s expiration policy feels more onerous to me than Hilton’s or IHG’s, as both those programs offer a lot more ways to reset the 12-month expiration clock.
I tend to list fixed-value rewards (like Barclaycard Arrival miles or U.S. Bank FlexPerks) at their redemption value, but Accor’s expiration policy seems like enough of a drawback to change course here. I think a valuation of 2 cents per point seems appropriate.
Associated Credit Cards: None.
July Value: 1.5 cents
August Value: 1.5 cents
Valuation: After Air Canada decided to launch its own loyalty program in 2020, the future of the unaffiliated Aeroplan program was uncertain. In July, however, Aeroplan announced plans for a complete overhaul, including the addition of 20 airline and hotel transfer partners, confirmation of award redemption levels, and charter flights for members. In yet another twist, Air Canada has now put in a bid to purchase Aeroplan from its parent company Aimia.
It’s hard to tell how all this will shake out, but the upshot for frequent flyers is that the long-term usefulness of Aeroplan miles is questionable. I’m not changing my valuation, since none of these updates are likely to take effect soon. But if you’re sitting on a large balance, I recommend you look for opportunities to redeem them sooner rather than later.
Associated Credit Cards: Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Amex and Starwood Preferred Guest, so you can earn miles with cards that earn Membership Rewards points (like The Platinum Card® from American Express) or Starpoints/Marriott Rewards (like the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card).
July Value: 0.9 cents
August Value: 0.9 cents
Valuation: More than two years after the Marriott/Starwood merger was announced, the new unified award program will finally launch on August 18. While I’m not thrilled with every facet of the new program (r.i.p. Hotel + Air packages), I think Marriott did a decent job preserving the value of both Marriott Rewards and SPG … for now. I’m still concerned about what award redemption rates will look like in 2019 when peak pricing is introduced, but barring any other surprise changes, I’m sticking with the current valuation until then.
Associated Credit Cards: the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, and other co-branded Marriott and SPG cards.
Which programs would you like to see added to the list?
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.
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- No foreign transaction fees
- Access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that