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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 May. The past month brought us more announcements of airline programs switching to dynamic award pricing, a new transfer partner for Amex Membership Rewards, a surprise devaluation from a rental car program and Amazon’s latest foray into the travel world. Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for more loyalty program news and other related posts.
|Program||June 2018 (Cents)||May 2019 (Cents)||June 2019 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||2.0||2.0||
Earn 4x points at Accor's new 21c Museum Hotels brand.
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Air Canada agrees to acquire Air Transat.
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.8||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||1.4||1.4||
ANA debuts A380 service to Hawaii.
Save $300 on Cathay Pacific flights with targeted Amex Offer.
|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||0.7||0.7||
Join the Best Western Rewards program.
|Capital One Credit Card Rewards||1.0||1.4||1.4|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.1||2.0||2.0||
Chase Offers now viewable online.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7||
Get a 30% bonus for transfers to Virgin Atlantic.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Extra cash back categories added for summer.
Etihad now charging for snacks and drinks in economy.
June Promo Awards offer big discounts in biz.
Frontier launches Friends Fly Free promos.
Earn 60,000 miles with Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.6||0.5||0.5|
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
Get up to a 50% bonus for points purchases.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
Homes and villas available for cash and award bookings.
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Lufthasa announces shift to dynamic award pricing.
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||0.8||0.8||0.8||
Join the Qatar Airways Qmiles Program.
Join the Radisson Rewards program.
Lie-flat biz coming to all flights in 2020.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4||
6 new routes launching from Nashville.
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|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|
All-inclusive properties no longer available for award bookings.
Movers and Shakers
Furthering the shift toward dynamic award pricing, both American Airlines and Lufthansa indicated this past month that they plan to move away from traditional award charts, though neither offered a clear timeline for doing so. Meanwhile, Hertz devalued the Gold Plus Rewards program with no notice, raising the cost of some awards by as much as 70%.
In more favorable news, American Airlines and Hyatt added reciprocal benefits for elite members, including bonus rewards and opportunities to boost status. Alaska Airlines launched a new mileage partnership with El Al; Mileage Plan members will be able to earn and redeem miles on El Al flights, though redemption rates have yet to be announced. Finally, both Citi and Amex are offering 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic, while Capital One is offering a 20% transfer bonus to Flying Blue.
The biggest news of the past month came from American Express, which added a new airline transfer partner, and from British Airways, which lightly devalued its partner award chart.
American Express Membership Rewards
May Value: 2.0 cents
June Value: 2.0 cents
Valuation: With surprisingly little fanfare, American Express added Qantas Frequent Flyer as the 19th airline program and 22nd overall on its roster of transfer partners. Points will transfer instantaneously at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 500, and through the end of June, you can enjoy a 20% bonus on these transfers.
It’s always nice to have more options for redeeming points, so this news is certainly welcome. That said, it doesn’t move the needle on my valuation. The Qantas Frequent Flyer program has only a few sweet spots, and most of them are unlikely to draw widespread demand. Unless you fly El Al often or book a lot of short hops around Australia, for example, then this addition probably won’t affect how you use Membership Rewards points.
British Airways Avios
May Value: 1.5 cents
June Value: 1.5 cents
Valuation: Last month we learned that British Airways planned to update its partner award chart, but since the airline declined to offer specifics, there was (reasonable) speculation the changes would be devastating. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. The new award chart is live, and as far as devaluations go, this one is fairly benign.
Short-haul awards are the hardest hit on a percentage basis, with Zone 1 flights (under 650 miles) increasing by as much as 39%. Zone 2 and Zone 3 flights (up to 1,151 and 2,000 miles, respectively) saw more modest increases of mostly around of 10%, while flights over 2,000 miles increased in cost by 3-4%. In terms of raw numbers, the one-way cost of economy flights went up by no more than 1,500 points, while premium economy, business and first class flights mostly went up by 3,000 points or fewer each way.
British Airways should have announced the new award chart ahead of time so members could plan accordingly; apart from that, I don’t see much to complain about here. Devaluations are an unfortunate but inevitable part of award travel. This one is mild enough that it doesn’t impact my outlook on Avios.
Associated Credit Cards: The British Airways Visa Signature Card. You can also transfer points to British Airways 1:1 from Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, or 3:1 from Marriott Bonvoy.
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.
Know before you go.
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