Miles and Points is a fun and rewarding game. I see varying opinions everywhere on what Miles and Points should be worth. Not all rewards are built the same and my goal is to help give you a better sense of what Miles and Points from specific programs are worth.
Since I am based in the United States, I will focus on U.S based airlines and hotels that I currently utilize. I will be providing valuations on the following programs:
- Alaska Airlines Miles
- American Airlines Miles
- Delta Airlines Sky Miles
- United Airlines Mileage Plus
- Hilton Honors Points
- World of Hyatt Points
- American Express Membership Points
- Chase Reward Points
I’m currently not holding a Citi rewards or Capital One rewards earning card and I don’t stay at Marriot properties so I will omit those programs from my analysis.
Airlines miles have constantly been devalued in the last 5 years. Back in 2018, my first year out of college, I was consistently able to find great business class saves awards for 25,000 miles on United. Since then much has changed, here’s my valuation.
One of the harder airline miles to earn, Alaska Airlines Miles can be redeemed for awesome business class flights on Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. For domestic flights, transcontinental award flights typically start at 12,500 (saver economy) and 50,000(Business Saver). This leads me to value Alaska Airlines miles at about 1.4 cents per point.
Valuation: 1.4 cents per point
American Airlines is one of the few U.S. based airlines where I can still consistently find long haul business class award flights to Europe. I was recently able to snag 2 one-way business class tickets from San Francisco to London for only 60,000 point + $13 in taxes. These flights would typically cost upwards of $1,500. Similarly I was also able to book lie-flat seats from San Francisco to New York for 50,000 points in business, with non lie-flat seats available for under 30,000 points. As a results, I am still super high on American Airline Miles giving them a valuation of 1.5 cents per points.
Valuation: 1.5 cents per point
Delta Airlines was an early adopter of Dynamic pricing which severely devalued their loyalty program and the valuation of their Delta Sky Miles. Delta is notorious for charging massive points rates, making it a program I more or less try to avoid.
For flights for April 2023 to London, award flights are around 250,000 points while paid rates were around $2,800 for one way flights. This brings me to a final valuation of 1 cent per Delta Sky Mile. I think this a fairly generous valuation.
Valuation: extremely poor/ don’t even bother
Oh how the mighty have fallen. United Airlines used to be my favorite award redemption airline as United Miles were easy to earn via shopping portal, United MPX App, and Chase issued United Airlines credit cards. From 2018-2019, I was able to earn over 500,000 United Miles. That was good enough for business class SFO-HKG in United Polaris for 2, SFO-EWR in United Polaris for 2, SFO-EWR red-eye in business for 2, SFO-HNL also in United Polaris for 2, and a couple of trips SFO-MKE for my brother who was in college at the time. Talk about a massive steal. The SFO-HKG cost 70,000 points at the time and the SFO-EWR in Polaris route cost 50,000 at the time. The SFO-EWR in standard domestic first class cost a meager 25,000 miles just 4 plus years ago. Talk about fast changes!
Fast forward to present day and saver awards in business are extremely hard to come by. Economy flights seem to fare a lot better. Currently, you can fly from San Francisco to London for 30,000 points in Economy and 175,000 in Business. I think this represents extremely poor value bringing me to value United Miles at a meager 1.25 cents per point. This is due to the face that United is a Chase transfer parter and rather than earning United Miles, you could earn Chase points and redeem for at least 1.25 cents per point (Chase Ultimate Rewards).
Valuation: 1.25 cents per point
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ll know that I primarily stay at Hyatt and Hilton hotels. Both programs are excellent, but Hyatt is my go to brand thanks in part to their excellent loyalty program. Here’s how I value Hilton and Hyatt Points.
Hilton Honors Points
Hilton Honors points can be easily earned on many of their cobranded credit cards. The program is also an American Express transfer partner(poor value). Don’t be fooled by the 12x or 10x earning rates on Hilton credit cards, Hilton Honors was one of the first hotels to role out a strange version of dynamic pricing. Hilton has standard award nights which tend to a follow an award chart. On nights without standard award space, rates at top tier properties can exceed 1 million points per night, ten times more than the standard rate.
In my experience, bookings tended to net me about half a cent per point. I have been able to get 1 cent per point on Hilton bookings, but generally most of my award bookings have gotten me around .5 cents per point. This is an accurate depiction of where I value Hilton points.
One major perk of Hilton Honors is the fifth night free on award bookings. This means that if you book 5 nights using points, the cheapest night is free.
Valuation: .5 Cents per point
Example of Dynamic Pricing with the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabo Pedregal:
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt is my favorite loyalty brand and during the year, I earn upwards of 120,000 Hyatt points per year. The brand offers two co-branded credit cards with Chase and you can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the program. In contrast to Hilton, Hyatt implements an award chart with peak/off-peak pricing. I find this chart extremely valuable, allowing me to get a gauge of what I should expect to pay.
In addition to having a standard award chart, Hyatt also has a very generous award policy giving free parking on award nights. Hyatt also waives all resort fees on award stays (Hyatt Globalist have waived resort fees period). As a result of the limitless potential of the program and the ability to get outside value, I value Hyatt Points at about 2 cents per point.
Valuation: 2 cents per point
Past Hyatt Redemptions that provided outside value:
Alila Napa Valley – 35,000 points vs $1800 per night (5.1 cents per point)
Carmel Valley Ranch – 25,000 Points (now 30,000) vs $700/$800 per night( ~2.6 cents per point)
Hyatt Regency Birmingham (UK) – 24,000 Points (Executive Suite) vs $924 (~3.9 cents per point)
Credit Card Points
Credit card points should make up the core of your points holdings. Unlike hotel or airlines loyalty points, credit card points retain their value and are mostly unaffected by devaluations. Rather than give a valuation on all credit card currencies, I will be focusing on the two programs I currently employ: American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Both are touted as the best credit card points, but Capital One is quickly making a run for their money.
American Express Membership Reward Points (Amex Points)
I truly love the power of Amex points. With the ability to earn an enormous amount of points from Rakuten and generous signup bonuses, Amex points have a valuable spot in my points wallet. American Express consistently rolls out great transfer bonuses, which make’s their points even more valauble.
With the American Platinum Card, you can transfer Amex points to a variety of airlines and hotels. Throw in the American Express Schwab Platinum Card and you also get the ability to cash out points for 1.25 cents per points. With the incredibility to transfer points and flexibility to potentially cash them out as needed, I value Amex Points a tick higher than 1.25 cents per point.
Valuations: 1.6 cents per point
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Another darling in the world of transferable currencies, Chase Ultimate Rewards Points is the most valuable reward points on the market. With the power to transfer to numerous parters ( you must be holding one of the 3 preferred or sapphire travel cards) and the ability to redeem points at a rate of 1.25 cents per points via the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, Chase points are extremely valuable.
Chase Ultimate Rewards also run infrequent transfer bonuses. Most recently, the program ran a 30% transfer bonus with Air Canada’s Aeroplan allowing Jen and I to book business class tickets to Brussels for just under 58,000 points for one way flights( normal rate cost 75,000 points).
Valuation: 1.7 cents per point
Other Chase Ultimate Rewards Reads
My Final Thoughts
Everyone has their own method of coming up with points and miles valuations. When placing a value on miles and points, I like to account for opportunity cost as well as ease of earning. For American Express Points, the relative ease of earning them allows me to place a lower value on them in contrast to Chase. Writing about valuations also allows to rethink the way I view miles and points.