What are points and miles worth? May 2021 monthly valuations
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
Note: These valuations are not provided by card issuers.
For the latest travel news, deals, and points and miles tips, subscribe to The Points Guy’s daily email newsletter.
I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from last month to give you some context. Given the ongoing pandemic, we are not adjusting valuations at the moment, barring major devaluations and new program launches.
Despite some encouraging signs for the travel industry from the summer, we still see a lot of uncertainty — and some analysts say 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||May 2020 (Cents)||April 2021 (Cents)||May 2021 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.8||1.8||1.8|
|American Express Membership Rewards||2.0||2.0||2.0||
15% bonus on transfers to Avianca LifeMiles through May 31.
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|ANA Mileage Club||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Best Western Rewards||0.6||0.6||0.6|
|Brex Exclusive Rewards||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Capital One Rewards||1.4||1.7||1.7|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|IHG Rewards Club||0.5||0.5||0.5||
Launched new bonus points promotion.
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
Expanded partnership with Qatar Airways.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
Launched new partnership with Uber.
|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|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||1.1||1.1|
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks||1.5||1.5||1.5|
Launched new cobranded credit card.
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.6||1.5||1.5|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.7||1.7||1.7|
Key points and miles news
Let’s start with the big news. In mid-April, the bank added four new transfer partners and created a new 1:1 transfer tier. Previously, all Capital One points transferred at a 2:1.5 or 2:1 ratio. Some partners have remained at these levels, but key partners have been moved to the 1:1 tier. In response, we upped Capital One’s valuation from 1.4 cents per point to 1.7 cents per point at the end of April.
Capital One’s new transfer partners include:
- British Airways Executive Club (2:1.5 transfer ratio)
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (2:1.5 transfer ratio)
- TAP Portugal Miles&Go (1:1 transfer ratio)
- Choice Privileges (1:1 transfer ratio)
The new 1:1 transfer tier includes:
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Etihad Guest
- Asia Miles
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Finnair Plus
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- TAP Portugal Miles&Go
- Choice Privileges
- Wyndham Rewards
Adding Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest as 1:1 transfer partners is huge news. This makes it easy to leverage your Capital One miles to book luxury travel. Think Lufthansa first class for 87,000 miles (through LifeMiles) and American Flagship first for as low as 32,500 miles each way (through Etihad). Plus, Turkish Miles & Smiles has incredible deals on Star Alliance business class flights, while British Airways can be used for a good rate on short-haul Oneworld flights.
Not all of April’s news was good, though. We saw Southwest reduce the value of Rapid Rewards points by approximately 6%. This isn’t a huge difference but makes it less attractive to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest. The fact that Southwest gave no notice is more concerning — especially given the airline recently let customers convert travel vouchers to points.
New travel credit card offers
During the pandemic, we saw several credit card issuers struggle with assessing creditworthiness. However, we also saw various bonuses and new perks launch for existing cardholders, aimed at keeping them engaged. Now, as we move into the new year, we’re seeing some incredible new welcome bonuses on some popular cards — including the following:
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the easiest-to-use travel rewards cards. It offers 2x miles per dollar spent on all purchases, so there’s no worrying about bonus categories. You’ll earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening. You can still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Venture card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is often seen as the quintessential travel rewards card. With its current welcome offer, you’ll earn an impressive 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, this offer also includes up to $50 in statement credit towards grocery store purchases within your first year from account opening. These points are worth $1,600 toward travel (based on TPG’s most recent point valuations), so you’re looking at $1,650 in value from just the welcome offer.
For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
One of the most popular cards for TPG staffers during the pandemic, the Amex Gold is offering 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first six months of account opening. This bonus is worth $1,200 based on our valuations, but be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for an even higher offer (subject to change at any time).
The card is also great for many everyday purchases. You’ll earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x) and 4x points at restaurants worldwide. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Gold card.
Even better, you’ll earn a huge 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That’s equivalent to a 20% return (based on TPG valuations) on gas in the U.S. and groceries at U.S. supermarkets, which is hard to beat.
Of course, the card is jam-packed with benefits like airport lounge access, hotel elite status and more. These benefits can make your post-pandemic travel experience smoother and more luxurious than ever before. The card has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment required for select benefits.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Platinum card.
The Business Platinum card also offers an enhanced bonus: 125,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your card in the first three months of account opening.
The card also provides a slew of additional perks similar to (but slightly different from) the personal version — you can compare the two cards in this guide to see which one would be a better fit for your wallet.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Business Platinum card.
Airline credit cards
Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia — the three Avios airlines — have nice welcome offers on their respective cobrand credit cards. The Aer Lingus and Iberia cards offer up to 100,000 bonus Avios after meeting the spend requirement, while the British Airways card offers 50,000 Avios and a Travel Together Ticket.
Here’s a closer look at all three offers:
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card: Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earn an additional 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
- British Airways Visa Signature Card: Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn a Travel Together Ticket after spending $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Iberia Visa Signature Card: Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earn an additional 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
Hotel credit cards
Several hotel credit card sign-up bonuses provide a simple way to boost your point balances when travel returns in full force. Hilton is currently offering increased welcome offers on two of its cards — here’s a snapshot of what’s currently available:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors bonus points. You’ll earn 130,000 points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months.
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn up to 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points. You’ll earn 80,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months.
Other hotel credit cards to consider include:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
All of these new offers put you in a great position to earn a ton of bonus points or miles as you get ready to travel again, 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 several popular currencies, so stay tuned for that.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors card, click here.
Featured 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.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.