What are points and miles worth? February 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. 2020 has gotten off to a quick start on the loyalty program front, especially related to credit card offers and hotel programs. We saw a handful of bonuses from the major transferable point currencies, and several programs launched promotions on purchased miles.
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||February 2019 (Cents)||January 2020 (Cents)||February 2020 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Ongoing customer support issues
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.8||1.8||1.8|
|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|
Launches award-ticket sale for some Star Alliance flights.
Gives double Avios through online shopping portal
|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||
Launches stay two, get one free promotion.
|Brex Exclusive Rewards||-||1.7||1.7|
|Capital One Rewards||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Announces new hotel transfer partners.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.0||2.0||2.0|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7|
New Amex cards launch with limited-time welcome offers.
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
Announces plans for first-ever U.S. credit card.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.5||0.5||0.5||
New bonus of up to 140k points on IHG Premier card.
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
Launches enhanced bonuses on JetBlue credit cards.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
2020 award category changes announced (to take effect Mar. 4, 2020)
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||0.8||0.8||0.8|
New Spontaneous Escapes promotion launches.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Earn a Companion Pass with a single new credit card.
|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|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.5||1.5||1.6|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|World of Hyatt Loyalty Program||1.7||1.7||1.7|
Implements new award chart.
Key points and miles news
The last several months have seen many airlines and hotel programs launch bonuses and/or discounts, and that trend continues. The previous month included offers from Alaska, American and Hyatt for purchasing their respective currencies, and we also saw new promotions announced for IHG, Hyatt and Best Western. However, the most exciting announcement along these lines came from Alaska, as you’ll soon be able to earn a minimum of 10,000 Alaska miles for every long-haul, international, round-trip flight you take on partner airlines.
On the credit card front, some exciting new offers came out, led by the updated slate of Delta Amex cards. While these changes were announced in the fall, the updates took effect on Jan. 30, coinciding with new welcome bonuses of up to 100,000 SkyMiles (available through Apr. 1, 2020). IHG launched its best-ever offer on the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, while Southwest made waves with a new bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, allowing new cardholders who meet the full spending requirements to earn the carrier’s coveted Companion Pass outright.
Other key developments impacting loyalty programs included:
- Capital One adding new hotel transfer partners
- Emirates announcing plans for its first-ever U.S. credit card
- IHG Rewards club (potentially) discontinuing PointsBreak awards
- The World of Hyatt announcing category changes and a date for peak/off-peak pricing (Mar. 22, 2020)
However, three programs made the most significant announcements of the month:
Alaska Mileage Plan
November value: 1.8 cents
December value: 1.8 cents
Valuation: Alaska’s loyalty program has long been characterized by its individual partnership with airlines across alliances (as well as those not affiliated with a major consortium or carriers). Well, that has now been turned on its head. With less than a month before the previously-announced cuts to its agreement with American Airlines were slated to take effect, Alaska stunned the loyalty world by announcing a renewed (and enhanced) partnership along with plans to join the Oneworld alliance in 2021.
Speculation on what (exactly) this means for award travelers is rampant, and we put together a guide with major FAQs on the announcement, but for now, not much has changed. The old Mar. 1 deadline for redeeming Alaska miles for American flights (and vice versa) is now gone, and the carriers plan to launch reciprocal mileage across all flights this spring. However, complete Oneworld entry and reciprocal award redemption — for the carriers with which Alaska doesn’t currently partner — won’t happen until next year. As a result, we’re keeping Alaska miles where they are, but we’ll certainly be monitoring the situation closely to see if future developments warrant an adjustment.
Associated credit cards: the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
November value: 0.8 cents
December value: 0.8 cents
Valuation: Another huge bit of news came from Marriott Bonvoy. Less than six months after implementing peak and off-peak pricing, the program announced its annual slate of award category changes, and they are rough. 22% of the entire, worldwide portfolio is moving up in category, while just 7% of properties are moving down in price. This includes a decent number of properties currently eligible for the free-night certificates offered on select Marriott credit cards, so it’s definitely a blow to any loyal Marriott traveler.
That being said, you can still book properties at current award rates through Mar. 4, 2020, so we’re sticking with our previous month’s valuation. However, we’ll be sure to crunch the numbers after this change hits to see if the number of properties moving up results in a notable drop in the average value of Marriott Bonvoy points.
Associated credit cards: the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, and any card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
November value: 1.5 cents
December value: 1.6 cents
Valuation: Like Alaska, Virgin Atlantic is another non-alliance carrier that has individual partnerships with a cross section of airlines. It’s now added two new carriers to that list — Air France and KLM — thanks to the new joint venture between the three European airlines and Delta. As of Feb. 13, you can now redeem Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM flights, and there are some solid values to be had. One-way economy flights from the U.S. to Europe on Air France/KLM start at just 12,500 miles, while a one-way business class flight from the Eastern U.S. is just 48,500 miles. There are also new short-haul redemption options for intra-Europe flights, filling what was previously a hole in Virgin Atlantic’s own flight network. Finally, we’re even seeing a new way to avoid Virgin Atlantic’s high fuel surcharges thanks to this new partnership, as you can fly from Amsterdam (AMS) or Paris (CDG) through London-Heathrow (LHR) en route to the U.S. and only pay taxes, fees and surcharges imposed by Air France and the French Government.
All of these things represent a notable improvement to the Flying Club program, so I’m raising its currency from 1.5 to 1.6 cents per mile.
The future: New methodology
As noted previously, with all the changes in the air, our team will be diving into the data in greater depth for all airline and hotel programs in the coming months. I wouldn’t be surprised to see future adjustments to our value for a number of popular currencies, so stay tuned for that.
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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