What Are My Points and Miles Worth in August 2019?

What Are My Points and Miles Worth in August 2019?
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We post a lot about credit cards here on our blog, as well as elsewhere on Brad's Deals. Each credit card offers a different sign-up offer and earning currency, usually "points" or "miles." What's the difference between all of them? And, most importantly, what are they worth? Note: Citi is a partner of Brad's Deals.

What Are My Points and Miles Worth?

Comparing one type of point or mile to another is like comparing apples to oranges. They're similar, but not equal. Each "award currency" one earns through spending money on credit cards, flying an airline, or staying in a hotel is only as valuable as what you can redeem them for. That redemption can change overnight, at the whim of the company that issues them. This article is an attempt to place a tangible value to each point or mile you may earn, based on research across the industry, and as much personal experience as I can offer from my millions of miles redemptions.

Miles vs. Points

First, what's the difference between miles and points? Miles are usually issued by an airline, like American Airlines or United Airlines. If your credit card earns "miles," it's usually a co-branded airline credit card, one that the credit card company offers on behalf of an airline. An example of this is the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, which earns United miles for spending on the card.

If your credit card earns "points," it can either be a co-branded card or a card issued by the bank's own brand. An example of a co-branded card earning points is the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier card, which earns IHG points. An example of a bank-branded credit card earning points is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns Ultimate Rewards points. No points currencies are the same, and so earning one point in one program would not equal the same value as earning one point in another.

My Valuation Strategy

There are several data points that I referenced when creating the below values for each point and mile currency. Again, there's not an exact science to this, but we can infer some general "goal values" to redeem your points and miles for so that you know you're at least getting a good value back for your spending.

1. Ease of Use

Points and miles are only valuable if you can use them! If an award program rarely releases availability, or makes it hard to use your points or miles for the best redemptions, it's simply not as valuable. I rank American Airlines as one of the worst offenders here, as they formerly had tons of sAAver award space available for their award travelers. Now it's very hard to find, and if it is available, it's only for connecting itineraries! Same goes for Delta Airlines and United, which don't have traditional award charts anymore! The intent there is to make the likelihood of a sub-optimal points redemption much more likely. Furthermore, your ability to use the points and miles would factor into your own valuation, like if you lived near a certain airline's hub of operations.

2. Ease of Earning

The rate at which you can earn these points and miles also could affect my valuations. This could mean the earning rate in the individual program (like a distance-based airline program à la Alaska), or if the award program is a transfer partner of one of the credit card programs (like United is for Ultimate Rewards), as miles would be easy to accrue through credit card spending. Finally, I'll also take into account the historic price of buying miles, which can occasionally be a good deal if you're trying to fly in first or business class.

3. The Types of Awards You Can Redeem For

The "value" you place on any given experience is the most subjective part of my valuation. Some folks reading this blog will want to redeem their points and miles for the most premium experience possible—think Emirates First Class. That's one fun part about points and miles: getting something you normally wouldn't be able to afford.

The other side of the coin is a family looking to save the most out-of-pocket cash on a vacation. They don't care about flying first class to Orlando—they want free economy flights, a free hotel room, and their out-of-pocket costs kept to a minimum. I understand that inclination as well. We've even written about how to get to Disney World for a Dollar!

Overall, use these valuations as a guideline, and see how they fit into your overall travel strategy. Everyone is different!

Value of Credit Card Points in May 2019

Chase Ultimate Rewards are one of my favorite currencies, for a number of reasons. I value them at 2 cents per point, because of easy-to-accrue points and valuable transfer partners. Read our guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Citi ThankYou Points I value at about 1.5 cents per point. They also have transfer partners, but they're less useful to the more casual traveler. Frequent changes to their credit cards that earn ThankYou Points (Prestige) makes it harder to use points effectively. Read our guide to Citi ThankYou Points.

American Express I value Amex at 2 cents per point. Their transfer partners are incredible, and cover all alliances (with some airlines that aren't in an alliance).

Capital One points used to be a strict redemption at 1 cent a point, but in the past year, they've added transfer partners, albeit at a worse rate than other credit card programs. For that reason, I give them a value of 1.3 cents per point.

Barclaycard Arrival Miles have changed a bit since I first got the card, and they, too, are now valued at 1 cent per point for me. The new Premier card with transfer partners can possibly adjust the value upward a tad. Read our guide to Barclaycard Arrival Miles.

Value of Airline Miles in August 2019

Airline
Valuation*
Reasoning
Air Canada Aeroplan Miles
1.5 cpm
Easy to use, creative itineraries, good availability
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles
1.2 cpm
Was higher, switched award chart
Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Miles
1.9 cpm
Earns on mileage flown, strong partnerships and redemptions
American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
1.3 cpm
Terrible award availability, revenue-based earning and future spending
ANA Miles
1.4 cpm
Awards based on total itinerary distance
Avianca LifeMiles
 1.7 cpm
Good partner award availability, easy to buy
British Airways Avios
1.4 cpm
Distance-based award chart, devaluation coming;
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
1.3 cpm
Some interesting opportunities, but confusing to use
Delta Skymiles
1.2 cpm
No published award chart
Etihad Guest Miles
1.3 cpm
Airline is in financial trouble
jetBlue TrueBlue Points
1.2 cpm
Revenue-based
Korean Air SkyPass Miles
1.7 cpm
Excellent award chart
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
1.5 cpm
Great business and first class, decent award chart
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Points
1.5 cpm
Flying to Hawaii, companion pass effectively doubles value
United MileagePlus Miles
1.3 cpm
Going demand based
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
1.4 cpm
Lots of fuel surcharges, but good partners

Value of Hotel Points in August 2019

Airline
Valuation**
Reasoning
Marriott
0.7 cpp
Award chart now demand based
Hyatt
2 cpp
Excellent properties, cheap award chart relative to other chains
Wyndham
1.2 cpp
Every property worldwide is 15,000 points a night (can be good or bad)
Hilton
0.5 cpp
Aspiration properties expensive, but thousands of properties worldwide; Amazon redemption at 0.5 cpp
IHG
0.6 cpp
Good promotions each quarter
Radisson Rewards
 0.4 cpp
 Good credit card, good Europe coverage
Choice Privileges
0.6 cpp
Great for road warriors
* cpm = cents per mile
** cpp = cents per point

Overall

This is a basic rundown of points and miles values that I see in May 2019. This will change month to month, so we'll be updating accordingly. We'll also deep-dive into our reasoning of each valuation in future blog posts.

Related travel rewards credit card offers:
Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
$700 Bonus with Barclaycard Arrival Plus!
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage Miles