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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 November. The past month was relatively quiet, but still brought us announcements of new rewards programs from Uber and Lyft, changing airline partnerships, and two airlines increasing surcharges on award tickets. Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for more loyalty program news and other related posts.
|Program||December 2017 (Cents)||November 2018 (Cents)||December 2018 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||2.0||2.0||
Win trips, gift cards and more with 31 Thank Yous promo.
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5||
First look at new Maple Leaf lounge in LGA.
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.9||1.8||1.8|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||2.0||2.0|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|ANA Mileage Club||1.6||1.6||1.4|
Save up to 48% on award bookings.
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0||
For a limited time, earn 70,000 miles with Arrival Plus Card.
|Best Western Rewards||0.7||0.7||0.7|
|Capital One Credit Card Rewards||1.0||1.4||1.4|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.0||2.0|
Earn up to 3,000 points with Book, Spin, Win promo.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7||
25% bonus for transfers to Avianca.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Hawaiian raises checked bag fees.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.7||0.6||0.6|
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||1.1||0.8||0.8|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4||
Spirit launching new routes from Austin in 2019.
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Virgin America Elevate||2.4||-||-|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||1.5||1.5|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.8||1.7||1.7||
Earning and redeeming added at 50+ luxury properties.
Movers and Shakers
The past month brought us changes to two of the major airline alliances. China Southern will leave SkyTeam in January, citing the high cost of membership compared to the benefits it gets in return. On the bright side, Oneworld is adding Royal Air Maroc to its roster in 2020, bringing the airline’s modern fleet and West Africa network into the fold.
Marriott has yet to reveal the full details of its unified rewards program, but a leak that sprung just after Thanksgiving provided a peek at what might become the program’s new name and elite tiers. Marriott hasn’t yet confirmed the information, and judging by the response from TPG readers, it may be worth reconsidering.
Once again, surcharges made big news this past month. Flying Blue began adding an unexpected fee to awards on Delta domestic flights, ranging from about $10 to $15. Mysteriously, these fees only show up when booking through the Air France or KLM app, and are classified as “other taxes,” so there’s a decent chance a glitch is to blame. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only fees to show up recently…
ANA Mileage Club
November Value: 1.6 cents
December Value: 1.4 cents
Valuation: After ANA increased fuel surcharges earlier this year, the airline followed up by raising surcharges yet again, this time even more dramatically. Mileage Club members now face fees of several hundred dollars on many economy awards, and well over a thousand dollars on premium awards. That’s a harsh penalty to pay for the privilege of redeeming your miles, and these surcharges alone give me ample reason to drop my valuation.
But there’s more to it. While ANA keeps a schedule for amending fuel surcharges, it doesn’t do much good unless you’re in the habit of tracking the cost of jet fuel. I appreciate that the airline attempts to be up front about its pricing, but the system for setting these fees is overly complex, and the frequency of changes makes the program’s usefulness unpredictable.
ANA still has a favorable award chart, and some partner awards (like Singapore Airlines flights from New York to Frankfurt) appear to be unaffected. But if I can’t be reasonably confident about what an award will cost a few months down the road, then the value of Mileage Club miles drops in my estimation.
Associated Credit Cards: ANA is a transfer partner of Amex and Marriott Rewards, so you can earn miles with cards that earn Membership Rewards points (like The Platinum Card® from American Express) or Marriott Rewards points (like the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card).
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.
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), up to 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.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- 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.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees