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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 December. The past month brought us an expansion of basic economy products to several domestic carriers, an assortment of lucrative hotel promotions, and three additions to the loyalty world’s newest transferable points program. Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for more loyalty program news and other related posts.
|Program||January 2018 (Cents)||December 2018 (Cents)||January 2019 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||2.0||2.0||
Earn 22 United miles per dollar this winter.
|Aeroplan Loyalty Program||1.5||1.5||1.5|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||1.9||1.8||1.8||
Alaska releases 2018 Mileage Plan stats.
|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||
Schedule announced for A380 service to Hawaii.
How to use the new award booking engine.
Awards to London pricing below published rates.
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0||
Choose your 3% category with Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card.
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|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|
Lifetime Gold status and points for military service members and families.
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
New Air France CEO becomes first woman to lead major airline.
In-flight service prompts for on-board tipping.
Basic economy coming to Hawaiian flights.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.7||0.6||0.5|
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
JetBlue hints at London flights in 2019.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4||
Review: Lufthansa first class terminal in Frankfurt.
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||1.1||0.8||0.8|
Review: the Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5||1.5||1.5||
Here's why flights to Hawaii haven't launched yet.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4||
Spirit ranks first in on-time performance for October.
|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|
Movers and Shakers
The basic economy trend sweeping domestic carriers continued in December. Hawaiian Airlines announced plans to offer basic economy fares in 2019, while United extended its own basic economy product to select international flights, and Delta began selling basic economy award tickets. That leaves Southwest as the only major US airline that doesn’t currently offer a basic economy fare or plan to offer one in the near future.
In more bad news, Singapore Airlines announced plans to increase premium award rates on its own metal later this month. This is a clear devaluation, and is made worse by the fact that KrisFlyer members were given such short notice. I’m waiting to see what impact this will have on Singapore’s Star Alliance partner award chart before I decide whether (and how far) KrisFlyer miles will drop.
On the positive side, American Airlines added two more partners (Cape Air and S7) to online award booking, continuing the periodic improvements made throughout the end of 2018. Delta introduced new mileage upgrade options, giving SkyMiles members another way to redeem for decent (but below average) value. Finally, Marriott rolled out its Points Advance feature to many SPG legacy properties (including some favorites like the St. Regis Maldives), and announced that new Category 8 pricing won’t go into effect until March.
Two more programs made significant changes this month: one for the better, and one for the worse…
Capital One Venture Rewards
December Value: 1.4 cents
January Value: 1.4 cents
Valuation: Capital One made waves in November when it announced the addition of 12 airline transfer partners, elevating Venture Rewards from the nondescript ranks of fixed-value programs to the more esteemed echelon of transferable points programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. The news got even better when transfers went live in December, as Singapore Airlines and Emirates were added to the roster, albeit at a less enticing 2:1 transfer ratio. That brings the total number of partners to 14, with half of them transferring instantly and nearly all transferring within 36 hours.
Only a few days later, Capital One introduced yet another valuable feature: the ability to share Venture Rewards miles freely with other members. These transfers are also instantaneous, and unlike the rewards sharing options offered by many other programs, these are uncapped, so you can transfer as many miles as you like as often as you like to anyone with a Venture Rewards account. This doesn’t impact redemption values directly and doesn’t alter my current valuation, but the ability to pool resources should make it a little easier to redeem miles efficiently.
December Value: 0.6 cents
January Value: 0.5 cents
Valuation: IHG recently announced award pricing changes set to take effect later this month, and the news isn’t good. Over 80 percent of the new prices are increases — that’s an even greater proportion than what we saw during last year’s changes. I’m relieved IHG didn’t add yet another new top award tier in 2019, but most of the higher-end properties on the list are getting more expensive all the same.
It seems to me that IHG Rewards is gradually becoming a de facto revenue-based program. There’s somewhat of a floor for redemption value, but the upward creep in award prices and the devaluation of PointBreaks discounts have left a relatively low ceiling. The best deals tend to be at lower-end properties that go for 10,000 to 20,000 points per night, while awards that offer an outsized return are growing scarce. As that upside disappears, my valuation drops (along with my enthusiasm for the program).
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.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees