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TPG releases brand-new points calculator to make award bookings easier

Dec. 16, 2021
7 min read
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TPG's goal is to make travel as easy and accessible as possible, allowing you to leverage your points and miles to open the doors to your dream travel experiences. And we want that process to be as simple as possible, so we're doubling down on creating tools and resources to supplement our guides and articles.

Today we're bringing another new tool to help you travel more while spending less: the TPG points calculator.

If you've been reading TPG for a while, you may already know that we release an updated list of our valuations for the most popular travel loyalty program points and miles every single month. The value of a point or mile from different programs varies dramatically, so unless you are pretty familiar with a given program, it can be hard to know the value of its reward currency.

We put a big emphasis on keeping our points and valuations current for a few reasons, but mainly it's to help you -- our readers -- get a sense of how much value they should be getting when they redeem their hard-earned awards.

Even if you don't value your rewards exactly as TPG does, having some valuation range in mind can help you make better decisions about whether it's a good idea to redeem your rewards for a trip, or save them for the next time around and pay cash.

Using those valuations, the new TPG points calculator will streamline the process of helping you decide whether to spend cash or points on a booking with a few clicks of the mouse. Here's how it works.

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You'll be able to book awards like a pro

If the airline ticket you want costs either $300 or 25,000 miles, should you pay the cash or burn some miles?

Only you can decide what's right for your exact situation, but our calculator can help with the math side of the equation.

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Should you spend some hotel points for the $150 overnight at the airport hotel or keep saving them for that overwater villa you've been dreaming about? Again, only you know for sure, but our new tool can quickly calculate the value you'd be getting for your points so you can easily compare that to the cash price.

The TPG points calculator will help you suss out those scenarios and more, with information based on your specific points picture and the exact rewards you're hoping to book compared to the going cash rate.

Basically, we do the legwork for you so you can redeem your rewards more confidently.

Awards vs. cash calculator

We're excited to share that the TPG points calculator is now live on the TPG homepage.

Unlike the TPG app, which shows you your overall “points net worth,” the TPG points calculator allows you to quickly check how much a specific award is worth and whether you should pay with cash or points based on TPG's points valuations, which are updated monthly.

Of course, this is just a math-based recommendation and you'll still have to decide what's best for your own broader situation. The tool is free and you don't need an account to use it.

When you pull up the calculator, you'll be asked for the type of points you are looking to redeem and the cost in points or miles for an award, plus any taxes and fees. You can also provide the cash cost of the flight or hotel stay to compare the two, but this is an optional step. The calculator supports any airline or hotel program we have a valuation for on the site.

Just make sure you select the correct loyalty program as the value of points and miles can vary greatly from program to program. Equally important is that you enter any fees associated with the award. After all, if an airline tacks on hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges to an award, the value proposition will be totally different than if there is just $5.60 in taxes.

The same goes for hotels that don't waive resort fees on award stays as that can add $50 or more to the nightly cost in some cases. The whole fun of the points and miles game is to not pay more for an award in points than you would if you paid with cash.

The calculator will help you answer questions such as whether it's better to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to the U.K. for 47,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points plus about $700 in surcharges, or 120,000 Delta SkyMiles plus $6 in taxes. It will also tell you what the cash equivalent of your miles would be so that you can decide whether you want to just book a lower airfare with cash instead.

Here's a peek at a sample award from this scenario.

The only thing that's not factored into the formula is the opportunity cost of unearned rewards as that varies a bit from person to person based on how you'd book, your status levels, etc.

Specifically, in most cases, when booking an award flight, you won't be eligible to earn award miles or elite credits (though you'll usually earn elite night credits for hotel awards). If you want to, you can add the value of any unearned rewards in the "fees" section. Also, if you have any rewards expiring soon, it may make sense to redeem them even if you won't get the best value from them as some value is better than no value.

Bottom line

We hope that our readers will get a lot of use out of the tool as they plot out their travel strategy in the coming months and years. Plugging in the number of points required and seeing how much value you should be getting out of them can help you determine everything from whether a credit card sign-up bonus is worth applying for to whether now is the time to burn through a hoard of hotel points for a specific redemption before a program makes major changes.

As TPG continues rolling out data-backed valuations for various rewards currencies in the coming months, the TPG points calculator is only going to become more accurate and useful. For now, you'll see us plug it into various articles as we walk through the do's and don'ts of rewards and help readers put together the best points strategies for their needs.

You can bookmark the new calculator right here so it's available to help whenever you need it.

We want to continue improving our tools and offerings over time, so we'd what you think of the new tool and what you'd like to see next. Be sure to let us know on Facebook or Twitter or via email.

All screenshots by The Points Guy

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more