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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 October. The past month was a busy one in the award travel world, as we saw the birth of a new brand of transferable points, a hotel program devaluation, benefit changes to several rewards credit cards and new fuel surcharges from British Airways. Read on for more details, and check the last column of the chart below for more loyalty program news and other related posts.
|Program||November 2017 (Cents)||October 2018 (Cents)||November 2018 (Cents)||Note|
|Accor Le Club||-||2.0||2.0||
Join the Accor Le Club program.
Three partners added to online award booking. Economy web specials from 5,000 miles one-way. Bonus miles for Hyatt stays, vacation packages and other partner activity. Higher EQD requirements for Executive Platinum. Changes coming to partner earning rates.
|American Express Membership Rewards||1.9||1.9||2.0|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||1.0||1.0||1.0|
|Barclaycard Arrival Miles||1.0||1.0||1.0||
Arrival Premier no longer available to new cardholders.
|Best Western Rewards||0.7||0.7||0.7||
Join the Best Western Rewards program.
Venture Rewards launches airline transfer partners and 75,000-point bonus.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||2.2||2.0||2.0|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.5||1.7||1.7|
|Diners Club Rewards||2.1||2.1||2.1|
New 5x categories announced for 2019.
Join the Emirates Skywards program.
Get a 25% bonus on purchased miles through November 15.
Earn 3x miles with No-Stress-Tivus promo.
Join the HawaiianMiles program.
JetBlue updates route network toward 'focus cities.'
|Miles & More||1.4||1.4||1.4|
|Qatar Airways Qmiles||1.1||0.8||0.8|
Join the Radisson Rewards program.
Review: Ritz-Carlton Kapalua in Maui.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||0.4||
Spirit Mastercard doubles bonus to 30,000 miles.
|Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles||1.3||1.3||1.3|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||-||1.5||1.5||
Earn More Mall is a mess for in-store purchases.
New status match and challenge offers.
Movers and Shakers
Last month, British Airways increased fuel surcharges on premium cabin awards departing from the US, piling on to the egregious fees already being imposed. On the bright side, award travelers got a relief when Virgin Atlantic surcharges for awards on Delta-operated flights turned out to be nothing more than a glitch.
In credit card news, Citi announced the popular Fourth Night Free benefit on the Citi Prestige card will be capped at two uses per calendar year starting in September of 2019. Meanwhile, Amex introduced a $120 dining credit and new 4x spending categories on the American Express Gold Card, doubling the previous earning structure for restaurant and supermarket purchases.
The biggest news in the past month was the addition of transfer partners to Capital One Venture Rewards, a new Amex transfer partner, a devaluation of Hyatt’s Points + Cash awards, and improvements to AAdvantage award booking.
Capital One Venture Rewards
October Value: 1.0 cents
November Value: 1.4 cents
Valuation: Getting new ways to redeem rewards is always good news, and award travelers got a whole lot of it this month. Capital One recently announced the addition of 12 new airline transfer partners, including Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest — a move that redefines the formerly nondescript Venture Rewards program, and puts it in at least the same ballpark as other transferable points programs.
Venture Rewards miles were previously worth a consistent 1 cent apiece toward travel via the Purchase Eraser. While that redemption floor remains intact, these new transfer options now offer a much higher ceiling. The transfer ratio of 2 Venture Rewards miles for 1.5 airline miles isn’t ideal, but it’s good enough to create valuable opportunities to book award flights. It’s hard to see this as anything but a massive improvement, and I’ve raised my valuation accordingly.
American Express Membership Rewards
October Value: 1.9 cents
November Value: 2.0 cents
Valuation: Venture Rewards wasn’t the only program to notch a new airline partner this month. Amex improved the Membership Rewards roster by adding Avianca LifeMiles as a 1:1 transfer option, opening up redemption options like inexpensive regional domestic flights on United and surcharge-free premium awards to Europe on other Star Alliance carriers. Booking Avianca awards by phone can be challenging, but I still rank LifeMiles among the most valuable airline miles out there, so this is a strong addition.
While Chase lost one of its best partners earlier this year and watched another devalue this month, Amex has added partners and continues to offer extra value through transfer bonuses. I now view Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards as being on par with one another, but they’re two programs moving in different directions.
World of Hyatt
October Value: 1.8 cents
November Value: 1.7 cents
Valuation: For years, Hyatt’s Points + Cash awards have reliably offered solid redemption value. Because the cash portion was fixed for each hotel category, you could score huge discounts at higher-end properties or when paid rates were high. Unfortunately, Hyatt changed the structure of these awards this month by tying the cash portion to the nightly standard rate. Instead of paying a fixed amount, you’ll pay 50% of the going cash price, which diminishes the potential to score an outsized return.
There was some good news as well. Hyatt introduced the option to book premium suite awards, and to use points for upgrades to a premium suite during a paid stay. These options could be useful if Hyatt is clear about which suites are eligible. In fairness, the new Points + Cash awards may occasionally come out ahead of the old pricing when paid rates are low. But I view these updates as a net negative, and I’m lowering my valuation for Hyatt accordingly.
American Airlines AAdvantage
October Value: 1.4 cents
November Value: 1.4 cents
Valuation: Over the past two months, American Airlines has rolled out a series of small improvements to make booking awards easier. After adding Malaysia Airlines and Fiji Airways flights to online award searches in September, last month American added three more partners and the ability to book awards through the app. There’s evidence Cathay Pacific and LATAM will also be added in the near future as American continues to make good on its August pledge to make more partners bookable through AA.com.
These are minor changes, but they’re in the right direction. Adding this functionality makes AAvantage award searches a viable option for finding Oneworld availability. It’s not enough to alter my valuation, but if American can improve its award inventory (especially on domestic flights), that number will go up.
Associated Credit Cards: the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and others.
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), 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