Reader Question: Why are transferable points worth more than other rewards?

Apr 5, 2021

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a column to answer your toughest credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com

TPG reader Khant sent us a Facebook message to ask about point valuations:

“I noticed that you value Ultimate Rewards more than points or miles from any of Chase’s transfer partners. Why is that the case, and how do I get the higher value out of Ultimate Rewards points?”

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Here at TPG, we tend to put a premium on Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards compared to their airline and hotel transfer partners. For example, we list Ultimate Rewards points at 2.0 cents apiece in our most recent valuations, while the highest transfer partner (World of Hyatt) is listed at 1.8 cents apiece.

We’re frequently asked how we account for that difference: The answer is that we value the added flexibility of having more redemption options, but it’s also a result of our methodology.

TPG’s valuations are based partly on the value we can get by redeeming points, as well as how much we’d pay to buy them outright. They don’t necessarily represent the absolute best redemption value possible — you can certainly get more (or less) than 1.4 cents per AAdvantage mile or 0.5 cents per Hilton Honors point. These numbers are meant to help you decide whether an award redemption is worthwhile, and on the earning side, to guide you toward getting the best return for each transaction. That said, it makes sense that transferable points would be worth more than any of their transfer partners.

Related: A guide to earning transferable points and why they’re so valuable

Deciding which points to redeem

Imagine you’re booking a trip that involves a flight and hotel stay. When airfare is cheap and hotel rates are high, you should pay cash for your ticket and use points to cover your room. Conversely, when hotel rates are low and airfare is high, then you should pay cash for your room and redeem miles for your flight. Hotel points and airline miles each offer good value in only one of those two scenarios, but transferable points cover you in either case.

Programs like Ultimate Rewards have multiple airline and hotel partners, so the same principle applies when you’re comparing different flight or hotel options. For example, you might transfer to United MileagePlus for an economy award from San Francisco to Europe. However, you could transfer to British Airways for a short-haul award from Miami to New York.

The virtue of transferable points is that they allow you to access the sweet spots in each partner program and ultimately give you more opportunities to redeem points efficiently. You don’t have to do anything special to get that higher value; just try to target awards that give you a good return and stay away from ones that don’t.

Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021

United Boeing 737 at the gate at Chicago O'Hare International Airport
(Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

Related: Should I earn airline miles or transferable points?

Deciding which points to earn

Of course, the other thing to remember about TPG’s valuations is they don’t necessarily have to be yours. You might value SkyMiles higher if you live in a Delta hub, or you might value ThankYou points less if you’re not interested in Citi’s transfer partners. There’s plenty of room for debate, and we always welcome a healthy discussion about the relative values of all these rewards!

If you’re in the market for a transferable points credit card, check out these Chase offers. Cards in Chase’s Sapphire family earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which are super valuable when transferred to partners. The TPG team has redeemed Chase points for everything from high-end Hyatt hotel stays to Lufthansa first-class tickets.

Here’s a look at current offers:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn  80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn up to $50 in statement credits towards eligible grocery store purchases in the first year of account opening. Earns 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earns 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases.

Feature photo by Soos Jozsef/Shutterstock

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 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.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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

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