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You can earn an array of travel currencies by opening and using the best rewards credit cards. They’re not as straightforward as cash back, but they can be far more valuable if you know how to use them.
But if you’re earning airline miles and hotel points, who’s to say what kind of a return you’re earning? If you earn six hotel points per dollar on groceries, is that better or worse than 3% cash back? Most miles and points do not have a flat value. They instead depend entirely on how you use them. You can receive 0.1 cent per point. Or you can receive 26 cents per point (I did that once, ask me how).
If you’re looking for a reliable estimation for the value of your points, your search is over.
The below MMS points valuations are altogether unique from other miles and points blogs. They aren’t calculated based on an arbitrary number. They are backed by years of experience in using these currencies. Not only is it possible to receive a significantly higher value per point than listed below — it’s easy. Read our guide to frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards programs for step-by-step instruction on exactly how to do it. Note: These are based on MMS valuation and not provided by issuers.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while different points have different values, they are also usually earned at different rates. For example, while you might need less Marriott points to book a Marriott hotel, than Hilton points for a comparable Hilton hotel, it may actually be easier for you to earn Hilton points. That’s because Hilton points and Marriott points are earned at a different rate.
All this to say, the below minimum valuations are the cutoff point. If you receive a value any less than the minimum value below, it’s better to just use cash for your travel. If you receive a value equal to or greater than the below numbers, you’re travel hacking the way God intended. Yes, we’ve also included an “average value” just to quench your thirst for a more accurate expected return rate.
Credit card points
|Reward currency||Minimum value per point||Average value||What are 50,000 points worth?||How to get more value|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards points||1.25 cents||1.7 cents||$850||Best ways to use Chase points|
|Amex Membership Rewards points||1.35 cents||1.8 cents||$900||Best ways to use Amex points|
|Citi ThankYou points||1.25 cents||1.7 cents||$850||Best ways to use Citi ThankYou points|
|Capital One miles||1 cent||1.2 cents||$600||Best ways to use Capital One miles|
|Bank of America points||1 cent||1 cent||$500||Best ways to use Bank of America points|
|Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards||1 cent||1 cent||$500||Best ways to use Wells Fargo points|
Here are some of the most popular travel credit card welcome bonuses translated into a dollar amount according to the above chart:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:
- 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Worth at least $1,020 in travel (60,000 Chase points x 1.7 cents each)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express:
- 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Worth at least $1080 in travel (60,000 Amex points x 1.8 cents each)
|Rewards currency||Minimum value per mile||Average value||What are 50,000 miles worth?||Maximize value|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1.35 cents||1.5 cents||$750||(Coming soon)|
|Alaska Airlines||2 cents||2 cents||$1,000||Best ways to use Alaska Airlines miles|
|American Airlines||1.3 cents||1.4 cents||$700||Best ways to use American Airlines miles|
|ANA||2 cents||2 cents||$1,000||(Coming soon)|
|Avianca||1.5 cents||1.5 cents||$750||(Coming soon)|
|British Airways||1.25 cents||1.4 cents||$700||(Coming soon)|
|Cathay Pacific||1.35 cents||1.5 cents||$750||(Coming soon)|
|Delta||1.2 cents||1.25 cents||$625||Best ways to use Delta miles|
|Emirates||1.25 cents||1.3 cents||$650||(Coming soon)|
|Etihad||1.25 cents||1.5 cents||$750||(Coming soon)|
|Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)||1.25 cents||1.4 cents||$700||(Coming soon)|
|Frontier||1.1 cents||1.1 cents||$550||(Coming soon)|
|Hawaiian Airlines||1 cent||1 cent||$500||(Coming soon)|
|JetBlue||1.4 cents||1.4 cents||$700||(Coming soon)|
|Singapore Airlines||1.25 cents||1.5 cents||$750||(Coming soon)|
|Southwest||1.5 cents||1.5 cents||$750||Best ways to use Southwest points|
|Spirit||0.4 cents||0.4 cents||$200||(Coming soon)|
|Turkish Airlines||1.25 cents||1.7 cents||$850||Best ways to use Turkish Airlines miles|
|United Airlines||1.25 cents||1.3 cents||$650||Best ways to use United Airlines miles|
|Virgin Atlantic||1.5 cents||1.8 cents||$900||Best ways to use Virgin Atlantic miles|
Here are some of the most popular airline credit card welcome bonuses translated into a dollar amount according to the above chart:
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®:
- 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening
- Worth at least $910 in travel (65,000 x 1.4 cents each)
The information for CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
|Rewards currency||Value per point||What are 50,000 points worth?||How to get more value|
|Accor||2.2 cents||$1,100||(Coming soon)|
|Hilton||0.5 cents||$250||Best ways to use Hilton points|
|Hyatt||1.5 cents||$750||Best ways to use Hyatt points|
|IHG||0.5 cents||$250||Best ways to use IHG points|
|Marriott||0.8 cents||$400||Best ways to use Marriott points|
|Wyndham||0.9 cents||$450||(Coming soon)|
Here are some of the most popular hotel credit card welcome bonuses translated into a dollar amount according to the above chart:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card:
- 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Worth at least $800 in travel (100,000 points x 0.8 cents each)
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Worth at least $625 in travel (125,000 points x 0.5 cents each)
How to calculate the value of your points or miles
Calculating the value you’re receiving for your points is very easy. Just use this simple formula:
Price in cash / number of points required
Let’s look at an example. The above chart tells you that if you’re not getting at least 1.5 cents per Hyatt point, you should use cash. The Hyatt award chart prices its hotels as follows:
Standard Category 7 hotel rooms cost 30,000 points per night. That means if the room you’re looking to reserve isn’t at least $450 per night, you should use cash and save your points for a better redemption.
Take the world-famous Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. It’s a Category 7 hotel with average rates in November exceeding $850 per night. But you can reserve it for just 30,000 points per night. Let’s use our formula:
Price in cash ($850) / Number of points required (30,000 points) = 2.8 cents per point
This is a good use of your points — well above the 1.5 cent mark.
Now let’s look at the same dates for the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. It’s also a Category 7 hotel, with rates in November around $300 (after taxes). You can reserve it for 30,000 points, but that wouldn’t be a great deal. Let’s use that formula again:
Price in cash ($300) / Number of points required (30,000 points) = 1 cent per point
This is a bad use of your points. Better to save them and just pay cash if you want to reserve these nights. During ski season, this hotel’s prices surge to an offensive rate. Using 30,000 points to book this hotel at that time will yield you a much better value per point.
How to maximize the value of your points or miles
The miles and points game is intricate. You can learn everything you need to know by spending hours reading Million Mile Secrets’ material. If you’re new to collecting points, start by reading our beginner’s guide; but here are some guidelines to ensure you’re never getting totally ripped off:
- Use rewards for their most obvious purpose. In other words, use airline miles for free flights, and use hotel points for free accommodations. You can redeem these currencies for free gift cards, to reserve rental cars, towards cruises, etc. — but the value per point is wretched. Don’t redeem your rewards for peripheral redemptions like this
- Flexible bank points (found in the first chart of this post) are best used when you transfer to airline partners. Read our post on which points transfer to which airlines to better understand
- Generally, you’ll never want to transfer flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points to hotel loyalty programs. There are only two exceptions:
- Hotel points are most valuable at the very bottom and very top of their award charts. Those are almost always the sweet spots
- Redeeming airline miles for international business or first class airplane seats usually provides you the best value per mile. These tickets are exorbitantly priced (sometimes $10,000+), so if you technically want to get the best value for your miles, do this. They cost many more miles than a regular coach seat, but when you’re sipping from your champagne flute stretched out on your lie-flat seat, you won’t be sad you splurged
It’s unwise to redeem your miles and points for a value below the above listed minimum amounts. If you find yourself doing this with any regularity, you should certainly continue to earn big credit card welcome bonuses — but consider swapping your daily spending to the best cash back credit cards instead of travel credit cards. You may get a much better return for your travel style.
At the end of the day, you need to redeem your points in a way that makes you happiest. Don’t get too caught up in the excitement of oversized value (which, by the way, can become really stressful!). Miles and points are supposed to add joy to your life, after all.
Let us know which points you consider most valuable — and subscribe to our newsletter for more helpful miles and points posts like this delivered to your inbox.