What are points and miles worth? February 2021 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.
Note: These valuations are not provided by card issuers.
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I’ve included my valuations from one year ago and from last month to give you some context. However, given the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, we are leaving valuations alone, 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||February 2020 (Cents)||January 2021 (Cents)||February 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||
Launched new perks for personal and business Platinum cards.
|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||1.4||1.4|
|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|
Introduced new premium economy cabin.
Slashed status match requirements in half.
|IHG Rewards Club||0.5||0.5||0.5||
Announced new 2021 updates, including a bonus points promotion and lower elite status requirements.
|JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program||1.3||1.3||1.3||
Announced new Mint cabin for transatlantic flights to London.
|Korean Air SkyPass||1.7||1.7||1.7|
|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||
Gave all members a head-start toward elite status and Companion Pass qualification.
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||0.4||0.4||1.1|
|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||1.6||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
As noted above, the biggest news of the past couple of months has been the coronavirus outbreak. Some airlines have completely suspended operations during the pandemic, while others have filed for bankruptcy — which may or may not affect their respective frequent flyer programs. We’ve also seen elite status extensions from almost every major airline and hotel program, ensuring that loyal members can retain their benefits in 2021.
Even though the year is just starting, we’ve already seen two major devaluations.
We saw Virgin Atlantic devalue its Flying Club program by removing low-cost Delta award tickets. The carrier used to offer a very reasonably priced region-based award chart on these flights. Earlier this month, prices skyrocketed when it switched to a distance-based award chart.
Thankfully, Virgin Atlantic backtracked on rolling out the new pricing on flights from the U.S. to Europe. You can still book these flights for 50,000 Virgin points one-way in business class, keeping the old award pricing for the time being.
With this in mind, we’ve lowered the value of Virgin points to 1.5 cents apiece from 1.6 cents. One of the most valuable Virgin Atlantic redemptions — Delta One from the U.S. to Asia — is now significantly more expensive than it was in the past. You’ll also now pay more for economy Delta-operated flights that cover more than 2,000 miles in distance — which includes all transcontinental flights from New York-JFK.
Thankfully, other sweet spots like low-cost ANA first and business class flights remain.
Speaking of Delta, the airline devalued its SkyMiles program in early February. Partner award tickets to Europe and Asia now start at 120,000 SkyMiles in business class, up from 95,000 and 102,500 SkyMiles, respectively, last year. Some economy awards were also devalued, but not to the same extent as business class.
This is the second time that Delta’s devalued partner redemptions in recent history. This shows us that the airline is encouraging members to redeem miles on its own planes. But since Delta award availability is so volatile, this ends up making Delta SkyMiles harder to use for international trips across the board.
In response to this change, we’ve lowered SkyMiles from 1.2 cents per point in value to 1.1 cents per point.
Moving onto positive news, Spirit Airlines launched its new Free Spirit program in late January. This program brings dynamically-priced award tickets that start at just 2,000 points one-way. Likewise, the airline introduced new elite status tiers that provide solid benefits like free bags and seat selection.
We dove deep into the new Free Spirit program and found that it’s relatively easy to find reasonably priced award tickets. Because of this, we’ve raised the value of Spirit points from 0.4 cents per point to 1.0 cents per point. Check out our article on how much Spirit points are worth for more info.
Other than that, we saw Delta and United offer discounted domestic tickets. On the Delta side, the airline offered domestic tickets for as low as 2,000 SkyMiles one-way in Basic Economy.
New Travel credit card offers
During the pandemic, we saw a number of 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:
One of the most popular cards for TPG staffers during the pandemic, the Amex Gold is awarding 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months from 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 on gas and groceries, 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).
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Platinum card.
Meanwhile, the Platinum card’s business version is also offering an enhanced bonus: 85,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your card in the first three months of account opening. You’ll also earn 5x points on eligible U.S. purchases on shipping, wireless telephone services, advertising in select media, office supplies and gas stations, with the card in the first three months — up to 80,000 bonus points per category.
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 solid hotel credit card offers provide a simple way to boost your point balances when travel returns in full-force. Here’s a snapshot of what’s currently available:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 140,000 IHG points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points after using your card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
All of these new offers put you in a great position to earn a ton of bonus points or miles as you get ready for a (hopeful) return to travel in 2021, 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.
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.
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WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.