Assigning a value to the miles and points you earn from your travels or a rewards credit card can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to compare them to cash rewards. What you save on travel will depend on the price in points at the time you travel, which can vary widely, and the amount you’d save in cash by using rewards points for travel. That can depend on your own tastes and preferences, in addition to the prevailing rates at the time you travel.
With that said, here are our estimates for what miles and points in major U.S. airline and hotel programs are worth for travelers willing to be flexible when making a redemption. We assumed the cash value was the cost to take the same flight, or stay in the same hotel as the one you’re booking with miles or points.
The values are in a ‘cents per point’ metric for easy comparison if you’re considering an intro bonus or choosing between programs for a reward. For example, a program where points are worth 1 cent each would require about 10,000 points to get $100 in travel value.
These values are not intended to be cash values, are illustrative, can change at any time, and may not be what you ultimately achieve, so consider them accordingly.
Alaska MileagePlan – 2.0 cents. If you like to use international awards, Alaska has some of the most lucrative options available, and we value them at over 2 cents each if you save them for big business and first class awards. For standard domestic travel, the value is closer to 1.25 cents each. Alaska charges for awards based on a menu of prices, and has three levels of prices for its own flights, which dilutes value during popular times.
American AAdvantage® – 1.7 cents. Award prices are based on a menu of Saver and Anytime awards, with a separate menu for partner awards. We value AAdvantage miles at about 1.8 cents each, which is about the price you can often buy these miles when American puts on special buy miles promotions. You can sometimes get more value by being flexible and booking Saver or partner awards when cash tickets are expensive. The big drag on value for American miles for international flights are fuel surcharges on British Airways, which often cost more than just buying the cheapest economy fare outright.
If you’re not flexible, expect the miles to be worth closer to 1 cent each.
Delta SkyMiles® – 1.5 cents. There’s no published award chart for Delta miles, and we value them at about 1.5 cents each. Delta tends to tie award prices more closely to the actual cash airfare than American or United, making getting outsized value harder. But there are still decent deals like Economy Class to Europe and some domestic awards for as few as 5,000 miles one way. At minimum, you can get 1 cent per mile in value from Delta SkyMiles if you hold a Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and use the Pay With Miles feature. That lets you use miles to pay for some or all of the cost of a cash ticket, with 10,000 miles worth $100.
JetBlue True Blue – 1.4 cents. JetBlue prices award tickets based on the cash cost of a ticket, though because of leverage on taxes and fees you can get better value booking cheaper tickets with points. You’ll also find economy class fares on less popular flights have a more favorable value than Mint first class seats on peak flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® – 1.3 cents. Southwest awards are priced directly based on the cash price of tickets. Every dollar of airfare requires about 78 points, which works out to a value of about 1.3 cents per point. The actual travel savings you realize will be higher because Southwest calculates the price in points only using the base airfare. It doesn’t charge you points for most of the taxes and fees on award tickets, which boosts your savings. 10,000 Southwest points can get you about $130 – $150 in travel value when the tax and fee savings are factored in.
Spirit FreeSpirit™ – 1.0 cents. Spirit has a complicated pricing structure for awards, and while it advertises some very low point prices that can yield great value if you’re very flexible and patient, more often you’ll end up getting close to 1 cent per mile in value.
United MileagePlus® – 1.8 cents. We value these miles at almost 2 cents each, so if you’re flexible expect to get around $200 in flight value out of 10,000 miles. For example, United’s 60,000 mile Saver Economy award to Europe with no fuel surcharges can often save you around $1,200 in airfare during peak travel season with good availability on Star Alliance partners. International Business Class awards are harder to come by, but can yield a value of 2 to 4 cents per mile. Domestic awards might get you less value, and closer to 1 cent per mile if you’re not flexible and travel at peak times.
Hilton Honors – 0.4 cents. Honors points generally get you about 0.4 cents in value, including when you use the feature that lets you pay in a mix of cash and points on any hotel rate. Some hotels may offer closer to 0.55 cents per point in value, and some luxury properties may offer much less value, but 0.4 cents is the most common value you’ll see.
Hyatt Gold Passport – 1.25 cents. Hyatt doesn’t have as many hotels in its portfolio as Hilton, IHG, or Marriott, so it offers more value with every point. You can often get 1.5 cents per point in value using Hyatt points, but there are also a lot of cases when you end up getting only 1 cent per point or lower in value, so we tend to benchmark them around 1.25 cents each.
IHG® Rewards – 0.4 cents. Most hotels are available at a rate of about 0.4 cents per point, with some getting closer to 0.55 cents per point like Hilton. You can also get much more value via IHG PointBreaks awards, which are available at a rotating list of hotels for 5,000 points a night. The catch is those hotels tend to be in less popular destinations during less desirable times to travel.
Marriott Bonvoy™ – 0.6 cents. Marriott Bonvoy points tend to get you a little more value than Hilton or IHG points, especially if you use them when rates are high. That could change as Marriott moves toward a peak and off peak based price chart in 2019, but for now expect to get more out of a Marriott point than an IHG or Hilton point.
Radisson Rewards – 0.5 cents. You can get about a half a cent per point in value out of Radisson points, but beware the hotel footprint is pretty limited in the United States. Europe and Asia are the stronger suits for Radisson.
Starwood Preferred Guest® – 2 cents. Marriott and Starwood are merging, and every Starpoint® will turn into 3 Marriott points as of August, 2018 (See Marriott Bonvoy™ details above). Until they merge, they’re worth around 2 cents or more, thanks to Starwood’s low award prices, and good opportunities to convert Starpoints to Marriott points.
Wyndham Rewards – 1.3 cents. Every Wyndham hotel is available for one price – 15,000 points a night. That means if you save your points for hotels that cost $200 or more a night in cash, you can get over 1.3 cents per point in value, but if you use them on cheaper hotels you’ll get much less value.
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