When So-Called Experts Can’t Even Agree With Themselves On How Much A Mile Is Worth

There are a lot of sites that purport to tell you how much a mile or point is worth. I offer a comprehensive list of point values and I explain how I derive them. I also compare my work to other prominent sites to show where we differ, and hopefully give you a good idea how to think about the value for yourself. If you’d like to understand this better, I highly encourage you to read my most recent valuation exercise.

The range quality and rigor offered by various sites to value points is significant, I think. Take the largest site that offers these. The valuations offered by The Points Guy website make no sense – even on their own terms.

  • They systematically overstate the value of points because they are telling you ‘how much travel could a point, potentially buy?’ and that’s not actually what that point is worth. And they overvalue points even answering the wrong question, such as valuing Southwest points at 1.5 cents apiece even though Southwest has a revenue-based program where each point gets you about 1.2 cents apiece in base fare, or perhaps a smidge over 1.35 cents apiece in ticket cost when you factor the taxes saved as well.
  • More than that, though, they aren’t even internally consistent in how they value different currencies. Would you believe they say Marriott points have gotten more valuable in the past year, even though their own analysis on the change in redemption pricing puts ‘ouch’ in the title.

But while values listed by ‘TPG’ skew high, they actually do a much better job than those offered by some other sites – even by other sites owned by the same company.

  • The Points Guy was acquired about a decade ago by Bankrate.
  • Bankrate was later acquired by Red Ventures.
  • Red Ventures owns both websites, and each one puts out values for points. Bankrate would do far better if they’d just copy the flawed TPG valuations.

The valuations from Bankrate are, well… special. Let’s compare TPG and Bankrate valuations:

The Points Guy Bankrate
Aer Lingus 0.015 0.012
Aeromexico 0.006
Air Canada 0.015 0.012
Air France KLM 0.012 0.013
Alaska Airlines 0.018 0.011
American 0.0177 0.01
ANA 0.014
Avianca 0.017 0.008
British Airways 0.015 0.007
Cathay Pacific 0.013 0.03
Delta 0.0141 0.013
Emirates 0.012 0.018
Etihad 0.014 0.018
Finnair 0.012
Frontier 0.011 0.013
Garuda Indonesia 0.016
Hawaiian Airlines 0.009 0.01
Iberia 0.015 0.01
JetBlue 0.013 0.014
Korean Air 0.017
Malaysia Airlines 0.008
Qantas 0.004
Qatar Airways 0.018
Singapore Airlines 0.013 0.022
Southwest Airlines 0.015 0.015
Spirit Airlines 0.011 0.01
Thai Airways 0.006
Turkish Airlines 0.013 0.006
United Airlines 0.0121 0.011
Virgin Atlantic 0.015 0.026
Best Western 0.007 0.006
Choice 0.006
Hilton 0.006 0.006
Hyatt 0.017 0.021
IHG 0.005 0.007
Marriott 0.0084 0.007
Radisson 0.004 0.004
Wyndham 0.011 0.009
Accor 0.02
Other programs
American Express 0.02 0.02
Bank of America 0.01 0.01
Bilt Rewards 0.018 0.022
Capital One 0.0185 0.02
Chase 0.02 0.02
Citibank 0.018 0.019
Discover 0.01 0.01

I could quibble with Bankrate assigning Air Canada Aeroplan points a value of only 1.2 cents, or Alaska miles just 1.1 cents (while TPG overvalues at 1.8 cents) and Avianca at just 8/10ths of a cent (while TPG overvalues at 1.7 cents). But that’s not where the things go really wrong.

  • Bankrate values British Airways Avios at 7/10ths of a cent, while valuing Aer Lingus Avios at 1.2 cents – even though you can transfer points between programs if both of your accounts are active and not brand new, and even though British Airways gives you far more options to use your points (Aer Lingus’s primary use case is if you want to earn Avios while flying United).

    You can also move points 1:1 between British Airways and Qatar Airways, yet BA points are valued at 0.7 cents and Qatar’s points at 1.8 cents. Surely every member would be engaged in the carry trade on a daily basis if this were plausible?

  • Bankrate considers Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to be the world’s most valuable currency, worth a whopping 3 cents per point. Maybe that’s just a typo? It’s far more than the bank currencies that transfer to Asia Miles.

  • They consider the second most valuable airline currency – behind Cathay Pacific – to be Virgin Atlantic’s, despite sky high fuel surcharges.

  • Bankrate has Emirates and Etihad (1.8 cents) and Garuda Indonesia (1.6 cents, mind blown for one of the world’s less valuable currencies) each worth more than a Turkish and British Airways point combined and worth more than United, American, and Alaska miles.

  • To them, the least valuable airline currency belongs to Qantas – whose points they list as less valuable than Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, and Aeromexico – and as being only half as valuable as a Frontier Airlines mile.

  • American Express and Chase points are listed at 2 cents apiece. Both currencies transfer to Singapore Airlines. Yet Singapore’s currency is valued at 2.2 cents. The flexibility of those bank transfer currencies somehow makes their points worth less than where you can transfer them to?

I could go on. And I call this out not because Bankrate’s point values have any special significance, or because Bankrate and The Points Guy can’t agree on the value of a point (maybe someone could get them together in a room in Charlotte sometime?). Instead I flag this because it’s a great illustration, I think, that much of the analysis that goes into writing about points and miles isn’t very rigorous. A lot of writing also comes from people who do not know what they are talking about.

I try to do better than that. This site also has a comments section, so you can challenge me if you think I’m off base, and I take a very light touch (too light a touch!) moderating it. In contrast, neither TPG nor Bankrate allow comments. Though I suppose it’s worth noting that their valuations are far from the most detached from reality.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. To me, they are worth the cash price of the ticket or the upgrade. So the value varies a lot.

  2. The value of a mile in frequent flyer programs varies when defined by one person, let alone many people.

    I can see how 100,000 miles is worth $800 because it may be redeemed for 4 domestic economy class round trips. If you spend it on a business class seat from the US to Europe, it will cost more miles yet an economy class seat might be $700. Such philosophy is true if you value awards in terms of distance travelled, not cost of the business class seat, if you paid for it.

    Which is better? Traveling 5 times to various European and Far Eastern cities or only twice in business class?

    My feeling is that economy class JFK-LHR during the day is better than a business class red eye JFK-LHR. LHR-JFK in business class is not that great. The meals are a little fancier and people are farther away from you.

  3. On some of these it’s so close its just splitting hairs.
    I also think some are no-brainers. Membership points to Singapore airlines first class to me are a lot more valuable than some BS Marriott points. Jet blue versus Southwest. Spirit vs Frontier. Anyone who argues this are just wasting their time.
    I think you need some sort of metrics and everyone provides some sort of baseline. At the end of the day It’s all about optimizing the greatest value for the greatest experience. I don’t really care if my first class ticket on a premier airline cost 80,000 or 110,000. It’s a ticket I could never afford anyway. So to me it’s always a win.
    I think the miles game has become way too convoluted and way to “what’s in it for me because they owe me”. I’ve seen people comment on your site and others about their “worthless” multi million points at Marriott, Delta, American you name it.
    I shop at Publix all the time. And I mean all the time. No one’s ever offered me a free gallon of milk. So I will take my points for a free night/flight (almost free re credit card cost) and be happy

  4. I personally don’t care about the absolute value of transferable points.
    In each instance I am about to redeem points for an award flight or hotel stay, I compare the current cash price to the points price and decide if redeeming points is worth it, compared to say cashing out the points directly.
    For example, if a business class flight to Europe is $2,400 (RT) and the points price is 100,000 (RT) then at that moment in time the points “are worth” 2.4 cents which I think is a better value compared to cashing them out. Thus, I spend the points. However, if the return trip is $,2400 and the points price is 200,000 then those points are worth only 1.2 cents which I think it a bit too low. Then, I rather spend the cash and keep the points.

    Of course, their might come a time when ALL loyalty programs have devalued their awards to such low levels that (transferring and) using points for an award NEVER makes sense. At that moment, points are dead to me and I will switch to cash back cards only.

  5. It’s about time that someone calls out The Points Guy. Has anyone noticed the massive turnover there in the last two or three years? The trusted voices are mostly all gone, replaced by 20-something kids who have no institutional knowledge and are, essentially, fan boys for the big hotels and airlines with credit cards that TPG pimps. They are no different than fentanyl dealers. Most of the people who read TPG are never going to accumulate 1.4 million Delta miles for a Delta One trip for two and however many Marriott points you’ll need starting next year when whatever internal controls on Bonvoy pricing are lifted.

  6. @Nick Thomas: Fentanyl dealers kill people. However, inexperienced “20-something kids who have no institutional knowledge” may improperly advise readers that staying in a roach-infested Marriott hobo hotel like the Residence in by Marriott is an excellent hospitality bargain since there is no resort fee, the panhandlers at the front entrance may protect your rental car from theft when you make a $20 free-will offering and the drug dealers in the parking lot help to save the local homeless and vagrants money so they can afford a nourishing happy meal at McDonald’s.

    Read more: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g29105-d84380-r779510373-Residence_Inn_by_Marriott_Pasadena_Arcadia-Arcadia_California.html

  7. I agree with the general sentiment that “experts” are splitting hairs here. For the most part, the average person doesn’t care about whether a Southwest Rapid Rewards point is 1.2c or 1.35c, or whether Avianca is 1.7c or 1.8c. There’s two primary questions people are trying to answer:

    On the earning side, “which credit card should I use for this purcahse?”. Points valuations are useful for thinking about a comparing things like is it better to earn 3x Bonvoy points or 2x Thank You points for a given purchase.

    On the redemption side, most people want to know “am I getting a fair return on my points?”. And, well, this depends on how it cost you to get them!

    I honestly find it useful to group points into three buckets:

    < 1 cent: Low Value
    1c – 1.5c: Medium Value
    1.5c+: Great Value

    Most bank points I can redeem for between 1c and 1.5c, and honestly, most of my airline points I generate from transferable bank points. If I have UR points, my only question is: am I better off transferring points to a frequent flyer program, or cashing out my points at 1.5c each? As long as the airline point is worth more than the original UR point, I don't really distinguish between if it's worth 1.8c or 1.9c or even 3c — I'm still coming out ahead, now we're just talking about degrees of coming out ahead.

  8. Another aspect to consider is the cash out value of miles. American doesn’t do gift cards. United is a bad rate. Delta is decent with miles being redeemed for nearly 1 cent for a gift card. That puts the value at .8 cents when the gift card is sold on raise. Amex Delta cards to me are worth .8 cents because that’s what I redeem them for. Delta has the option to use miles at I think 1 cent to pay for airfare but I haven’t traveled to the same degree as before Covid nor do I want to lock myself into Delta or the worst alliance if doing awards.

    I transitioned to cashback and cashing out points and miles for cash because the risk of cancellations are too high. I don’t want to travel 12 hours and be forced to sit in economy. People who pay in cash for business are more likely to be rebooked the next day in business or can take the refund and book on another airline. Those who use miles might be rebooked in economy and be given a token amount of points back because agents value the economy equivalent of points on the fare 24 hours before departure as opposed to the normal fare when booked far out. There is less recourse when using miles on an award than when paying cash. People hate JetBlue but you know exactly what you’ll get with the occasional 25% boost. I rather pay in cash with money I have earned cashing out points and miles. I like United Miles because there are a lot of options in Europe to get home. It’s easy enough to take train from one country to another and have a bunch of Star alliance partners to book business in if your original award is cancelled. For something to Asia or Egypt and longer, I wouldn’t risk an award.

  9. I could go on. And I call this out not because Bankrate’s point values have any special significance, or because Bankrate and The Points Guy can’t agree on the value of a point (maybe someone could get them together in a room in Charlotte sometime?). Instead I flag this because it’s a great illustration, I think, that much of the analysis that goes into writing about points and miles isn’t very rigorous. [DCS sez: “I agree!”] A lot of writing also comes from people who do not know what they are talking about [DCS sez: “I agree wholeheartedly if you include yourself among those people!”].

    I try to do better than that. This site also has a comments section, so you can challenge me if you think I’m off base, and I take a very light touch (too light a touch!) moderating it.

    –Gary Leff

    I take the challenge.

    You sound pretty sure of yourself, so let me ask you a couple of non-trick questions, the answers to which will be not only edifying, but are also key to beginning to settle the endless debate about loyalty currencies:

    1. What do your values of points/miles currencies and those that other self-anointed “travel gurus” publish and hotly debate really mean, especially with pretty much everyone that puts out values premising their publication with caveats like

    I often get asked how much I value various miles & points currencies, including those issued with credit cards, airlines, and hotels. The truth is that there’s no valuation for these currencies that everyone will agree on.

    — OMAAT


    One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How much is a point or mile worth?” The true answer varies from point to point and person to person and depends on your travel goals and how well you can maximize a particular loyalty currency.

    — TPG

    If those caveats are indeed meaningful [they are not; they simply reflect a universal misunderstanding of loyalty currencies], then why bother publishing or spilling gallons of cyber ink debating values that pretty much everyone agrees cannot be determined accurately? What good do such uncertain values do travel enthusiasts everywhere? Shouldn’t everyone agree that (pun intended) “your miles may vary” (YMMV) and just leave it at that?

    2. As “YMMV” as they are, do you believe that the relative magnitudes of published values of hotel loyalty points currencies in cents/”point” (cpp) reflect their relative “worth”, meaning that a hotel points currency with a bigger value is more valuable than another, as pretty much everyone has believed for years?

    As the saying goes, do not ask questions for which you do not have the answers. I agree, which means that I do have the answers, 😉

    In the meantime, my recent mathematically and scientifically rigorous modeling and validation of values of only the points currencies of the major hotel loyalty programs do agree with you that TPG consistently overvalues hotel points. On the other hand, the modeling found your own valuations of the same points to be generally on the low side. The site that get things “right”, other than undervaluing the value of the Radisson Rewards point is OMAAT.

    This is travel blogopshere’s moment of reckoning, so we’ll be waiting for your response with bated breath. You issued the challenge. I just responded with a couple of key questions to start us off…

  10. I took a business class AF TATL RT. Would have cost about $4K, but saver awards were 55K miles X 2. So worth 3.6 cents per mile to me.

  11. @ Gary

    “This site also has a comments section, so you can challenge me if you think I’m off base”

    Great…except a recent article about Hyatt which invoked extensive counter commentary on a rigorous mathematical approach to point valuations no longer appears to be live on your blog (? – perhaps credit card deal is over – ?).

    The observations on the inconsistencies you raise are, obviously, well-made within the aegis set by various blog authors for the exercise.

    Your own “method” (or list of considerations when determining generic point valuations from 2014 onwards) indicates that you are entirely focused on just redemption rates.

    That would be fine for comparative purposes in the specific cases where choice of transfer from another currency is at hand (e.g. generic credit points with equivalent exchange rates to given loyalty program currencies).

    If that’s the ambit and sole scope of the exercise, then, no problem.

    But step out of those cases where the earn rate is effectively constant (and thereby your only concern is redemption rate) and you are continuing to perpetrate an utterly bogus position on point / mile values…

    Let’s refer to your practical scenarios used to justify the applicability of your point valuations and pass a quick sanity check:

    “Comparing when to spend miles or cash. Should I spend 50,000 miles for an award ticket or $700?”

    No. It doesn’t work (other than a very general guide for those who have already accrued their points).

    You need to know how much cash you have “invested” in the first place (either by direct purchase of points or earn on spend) to gain those 50,000 miles.

    Let’s look at an example.

    There are real life occasions when I earn one mile per dollar (bypassing examples wherein folk are struggling along at 0.5 miles per dollar)– I’ve had to spend $50,000 to accrue those miles. If I settled for an award ticket of $700 value, I’ve been right royally hosed up the (shaved puppy’s) backside when I redeem for $700!

    On the other hand, when I earn 50 miles per dollar (which I can do very easily and consistently), I’m considering that $700 of value against $1,000 spend within the loyalty program. Not bad.

    On a good day (not always – but it can happen through some periodic promotions), I can earn 200 miles per dollar. Now I’m reflecting upon a cash value award ticket of $700 for the miles accrued from just $250 of spend. Happy days.

    Of course, if I can find a cash value award ticket of greater than $700, I’ll be even better off.

    “Comparing when to spend on airline’s miles versus another for the same award. Should I spend 25,000 United miles or 35,000 Delta miles?”

    Again, no. It doesn’t work (other than a very general guide for those who have already accrued their points and / or have generic credit card with equivalent exchange rates to comparative loyalty programs).

    Let’s look at a real-life example. A trans-Pacific business class award seat on QF sourced either through Alaska or Qantas itself.

    Naturally, if you can transfer to either from a generic pool at the same exchange rate, you’ll be better off spending 55,000 AS miles than 108,000 QF FF points (award availability issues notwithstanding).

    Real life example…if I accrue my points on a BA first class paid airfare this will put AS in the box seat (the earn for the flight is greater and the number of points to redeem is half and there are no carrier charges!).

    But I only get to accrue AS miles in decent numbers through their sale of miles. My earn rates with QF blow those out of the water (I have accrued my QF FF points at consistently greater rates to overcome the 2x differential in their respective redemption rates!).

    “Comparing the value of different credit card signup bonuses. Is an 80,000 point offer from Marriott better than a 75,000 point offer from Hilton? In fact, I view a 50,000 point offer from Chase Sapphire Preferred better than both.”

    OK. That’s nicer.

    That works because you are basically now anchored in scenarios solely focused on redemption rates. You might be able to ever refine your methodology for defining redemption rates, but that’s unlikely to upset the math (because the relative valuations are generally similar and probably well within the natural variation of real redemption values upon actual redemption).

    Ideally, you should also take into account any minimum spending criteria (hypothetical comparative examples $5,000 for 100,000 point bonus versus $3,000 for a 75,000 point bonus: relatively 20 versus 25 points per buck): which is equivalent in such a scenario as factoring in the earn rate against the cash you are spending within the loyalty program.

    “Determining which hotel chain offers the better value reward when you’re considering staying at two different hotels. Should you spend 12,000 Hyatt points or 35,000 Hilton points?”

    This raises exactly the same issues as articulated in response to your second point above. It only works in specific scenarios, not necessarily in the general case.

    “Deciding whether to buy points when there’s a big bonus promotion. Figuring out how much extra you might be willing to spend to earn points through a bonus promotion, or figure out whether a hotel promotion should influence your decision about where to stay”

    Now we’re getting closer to the reality that point values are actually determined by both earn rates and redemption rates. Buying points is effectively an “earn”. The “Gary Leff Valuations” are a (highly subjective) estimator of redemption value. Finally, we’re on track. We can compare an exact and define earn rate (the price of points / miles on promotion). And you “invest” cash with the goal of getting better cash value out than the cash you put in.

    Nice. But then could you absolutely f—k it up, because the real-life redemption value of your goal redemption was significantly higher than Gary’s estimator and the promo offer just below it. Clanger.

    Let’s conclude with some positives. Point / mile valuations published by some (e.g. Gray and OMAT), which maintain some inner consistency no doubt can serve as a handy sanity check for those who do not do the end-to-end math. Nice work – that will stop rookies making some awful mistake when buying points for redemption for low redemption value. That’s cool and worthwhile.

    Also, those of our cousins in the wonderful US of A are likely very focused on their credit cards as a principal source of their points and miles (partly explaining an overly obsessive focus on redemption rate).

    BUT…the AVERAGE net returns from any given loyalty program will likely be fairly consistent (the loyalty program is controlling the buy and sell price behind the scenes in broadly similar business models for broadly similar profit margins).

    That is why @ DCS (in now deleted commentary on a different article on Gary’s bog) can end up with an equation that is a mathematically derived predictor of point / mile values that is (1) highly consistent and (2) where key parameters are highly correlated to earn rates (co-dependent upon redemption rate since the two are controlled by the loyalty program partners to arrive at an internal profit margin ) …;).

    Basically, you cannot ignore the earn rate when addressing point / mile valuations (excepting in the case of constant earn rates, such as same exchange rates from a generic credit card and accepting that may be the scenario in which may of my US “buddies” herein reside).

    Now there are obvious alternatives (as some have cited above).

    One is to benchmark against the minimum redemption value offered for cash-based redemptions (since this effectively incorporates the earn rate since the loyalty program has factored that into the math already when setting the cash buy rate from members for miles / points).

    That at least gives a minimum realisable valuation (regardless of award availability).

    Another is to analyse the population of real-life experience (for example, @ DCS’s equation for hotel loyalty programs which mathematically / statistically derives a formula for pint / mile values for hotel programs including associated credit card) – to note, once again, that equation shows the implicit relationship between value and earn rates.

    There are others…;)

    In the meantime, my uberly-loyal loyalty lemmings, keep jumping off that cliff…be well and travel safe…keep focusing on the redemption rates and I’ll keep buying the popcorn and save on my subscription to the comedy channel…

  12. @Ken

    Fentanyl dealers or any drug dealers don’t kill people just like soda vendors, alcohol vendors, or red meat vendors don’t kill people. Individuals make a choice what they put into their own bodies. Alcohol is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking and causes the most cases of hepatic failure. Grilling of red meat at high temperature is the third leading cause of non genetic cancers. Sugary drinks and foods can cause obesity which can lead to heart attacks. People being drunk while driving causes more deaths than people overdosing or even gun deaths when suicide is removed from statistics.

    You don’t blame cashiers and grocery stores for selling alcohol, soda, or red meat do you?

    Drug dealers provide a product people want and it should be up to the individual to decide what’s best for their own body instead of the government or you or me. It’s their life to live. If there were no war on drugs, drug dealers wouldn’t exist nor the violence associated with drug dealing, gangs, and cartels because people would buy drugs for $10 in a drug store at a controlled dose of specified purity instead of buying some random drug on the street. Prohibition of alcohol didn’t work and only caused violence. The war on drugs does the same.

    Overdoses shouldn’t bother you because only dumb people take drugs without ensuring the purity, quality, dose, and that side effects are limited. It’s like cigarettes. Let dumb people get cancer. Let dumb people overdose, although, it won’t be fair until drugs are decriminalized and people can buy them in drug stores. The government and police put people in danger by guaranteeing poor drug quality and incorrect dosing.

  13. @Dublin

    Publix gifts ice cream or carrot cake on birthdays, check the Publix app (provided you have your birthday set in profile)

  14. My miles come from putting my expenses on credit cards, which I pay off monthly. So they aren’t costing me anything.

  15. Great…except a recent article about Hyatt which invoked extensive counter commentary on a rigorous mathematical approach to point valuations no longer appears to be live on your blog (? – perhaps credit card deal is over – ?).

    — platy

    @platy — I do not believe that the Hyatt credit card deal ending was the reason for that post suddenly becoming inaccessible. The post was pulled because the concepts that you and I discussed therein represented a “dangerous” counter commentary — just like coherent and knowledgeable answers to the two questions that I posed up-thread — that threatened to make obsolete years of travel blogosphere misconceptions that had achieved dogma status, through ad nauseam promulgation by this site and others.

    On the other hand, I disagree with much of the rest of your comment, which simply muddies the waters by taking issues with something that @Gary Leff and others actually get mostly right: his list of How to Use The Valuations. Though this site does not describe an actual “method” of how it arrives at the values that it publishes (one cannot get actual values from abstract considerations about “How to Think About The Value of Frequent Flyer Miles”!), other sites do spell it out, which is: to do a bunch dummy standard award bookings; calculate the redemption of each dummy booking; and then estimate the “value” of a point as the average of the redemption values over all the dummy bookings. The issue is not with “values” derived in that manner that many sites publish, which are generally not too bad, especially when averaged across many sites to take out the “noise” inherent in individual site’s “values”. The issue(s), which I tried to elicit with the two questions I posed above, is with the interpretation of the published “values”.

    As for @ Gary’s list of How to Use The Valuations, there is nothing wrong with (most of) it:

    Comparing when to spend miles or cash. Should I spend 50,000 miles for an award ticket or $700? Within each program, that is a valid use of the “values” of points currencies. The “value” of a Radisson point is about 0.4cpp; 50K Radisson points are therefore nominally “worth” $0.004/Radisson point * 50K Radisson points = $200. What you cannot do, and this is one of the issues, is to directly compare the monetary “value” of 50K Radisson points with that of 50K Hyatt points ($0.015/Hyatt point * 50K Hyatt points = $750) and claim that the Hyatt points are “worth more, and that because to earn 50K points, a WoH Globalist would have to spend 50K WoH points/(10.5WoH points/$) = $4,762. For that kind of money, a Radisson Rewards Platinum member would earn: $4,762 * 45 Radisson points/$ = 214,289 ! So, what one should compare are the nominal monetary values of 50K WoH points vs. that of 214,289 Radisson points!!! For head to head comparisons between or among programs, one has to adjust for differences in earn rates because, e.g., Hyatt and Radisson award different numbers of points for the same number of cents spent !!!

    A similar reasoning applies to the other items on the list. For instance,

    Determining which hotel chain offers the better value reward when you’re considering staying at two different hotels. Should you spend 12,000 Hyatt points or 35,000 Hilton points? That would be a valid use of the “values” of points: 12,000 WoH points * $0.015/WoH point = $180; and 35,000 HH points * $0.005/HH point = $175. Presented with such a real choice, one could go with either redemption. However, a 12K/night WoH award ($180) is for considerably more expensive room/hotel than a 12K HH/night award ($60). It is the converse of the item above on comparing 50K Radisson points vs. 50k Hyatt points. It makes as much sense as comparing a 12K/night WoH to a 12K/night HH award. Got to adjust for differences in earn rates!

    What to keep in mind is that those comparisons simply provide “baseline benchmarks”, which is not controversial. What is controversial and universally misunderstood is what the two questions that I posed above would elicit.

    Cheers, mate!

  16. I’ve recently decided to go 100% cash back and now sweat or stress the BS points/miles game.

    Cash is king!

  17. I’ll absolutely continue to accumulate points and miles as part of stays/flights, but I have no more interest in trying to game it.

  18. To understand if anyone is getting value, one has to know
    1 Lost cash from spend
    2 Fees vs benefits for keeping a points card vs cash back card
    3 Earn Mechanism rate – SUB vs bonused spend vs day to day spend
    4 Transfer bonuses
    5 Utilization cost including factoring in lost miles from paying cash
    6 Overall availability of awards vs cash

    Lost cash – 2.625c if you can have a BofA card; 2c if you dont or 3c if you have Discover 1st year
    Earn rate SUB – Sign up bonus example Amex 90k for 10k spend is 265$
    250$ annual fee – 120$ uber = about 150 Total 400$
    Real cost to acquire Amex so far is 400$/100k points = 0.4c
    earn rate 1mile / $ spend
    Hyatt and Radission have different valuations due to differing earn rates, I get that – Radisson earn rate was 5 miles / $ spend on card vs Hyatt 1 point, so I understand why people think they are equal.
    If you can get 5x spend on Ink cards = > Chase ->
    Hyatt for 1.2c, then Hyatt is really much better value – a 15k room is 180$ a night for 2 people with free breakfast in Amsterdam vs Paying 75k Radisson at 0.4c = 300$ a night with no food
    The reason I use 1.2c for Hyatt even at 5X is that if you have a card ythat you need to transfer ie Sapphire preferred or Reserve, now you can redeem the 5X points at 1.25-1.5c for cash – so now you have a second lost cash scenario; not just the original lost csah at buying 5X stuff
    Transfer bonus 40% to Avios = 7k Amex = 9.8k Avios
    9k Avios vs paying 250$ for short notice ticket on AA
    real cost is 0.4c x7000Amex = 28$ = 9k avios = plus 6$ fee = 34$ vs paying 250 – no brainer

    The real issue is forgetting the details and using an Amex card for unbonused spend =2.625c – not worth it at all
    A Ongoing Unbonused spend – High rate cash back card better than any mileage card most times
    B Bonused spend – depends on cards you have for choices and their fees
    C SUB – as many as possible as usually better than A & B earn rates
    D what points to accumulate
    E deciding what points to transfer – If my Amex is mostly from SUB and new cards or %X airline, my amex cost is < 0.5 – and doing with a bonus makes sense. If all my amex is from unbonused spend at 1x, then better to transfer my Capital One poinst to Avios for 2x at 1c each than get 1.4x at cost of 2.6c each
    F How to use and evaluate choices – Time and experience tells you if a QR Avios at 170k miles with 1 stop JFK_DOH-DEL is better than a United 180k miles Nonstop EWR-DEL

  19. @ffi — That is a different debate altogether. Before getting “there”, by which I mean down in the “weed” of the more “subjective” valuations of points/miles currencies, there needs to be a better understanding of how to interpret the published values of points/miles currencies, which are the ones that the debate has always been about.

    I booked a 3-night award stay at the new Hilton Singapore Orchard for 60K HH points/night that would have cost $1,138, including taxes and fees as a revenue stay. The value of that redemption is

    $1,138/(60,000 HH points * 3) = $0.0063/HH point or 0.63cpp

    There is no argument about that. I made the redemption based on my personal planning, preferences and circumstances. It is all subjective and, in fact, an earlier redemption at the same hotel as part of the same trip yielded a value of a 0.51cpp. So, redemption values at the same hotels can also be quite variable.

    However, that is not the case with what I’ll refer to as “average” values of points/miles that bloggers publish, which have changed very little per blogger and can thus be considered fixed. What do these values represent and why do bloggers claim that everyone values them differently when the values are fixed? Is it not possible that these published values should, in fact, be the same among different bloggers and that the only differences are simply measurements errors or “noise”? That is a rhetorical question because the answer is “yes”. The values, at least those for hotel points currencies that I have modeled extensively, are identical and bloggers should be getting exactly the same “average” value for each program.

  20. If you are going to call out another blogger, please focus on double-dealing and kickbacks to One Credit Card at a Time. Biggest fraud on the Internet. Keeps comments but very actively edits to make sure only comments favorable to his credit card handlers survive. Joker has zero credibility. All hotel stays are on travel agent rates. His blog actively trashes specific people employed at hotels/airlines if they do not do what he wants. Guy is a total low life. Just my opinion!

  21. @ DCS

    My friend, actually, I don’t disagree with you (within the boundaries of the scope of baseline benchmarks and have acknowledged the utility of such above). And you appear to agree with me that the published valuations by certain travel bloggers are basically focused on redemption rates (of sampled available award bookings).

    That said, I don’t presume that folk are necessarily conversant with the pitfalls of such an approach, which are amply illustrated when applying the widely varying earn rates of airline loyalty programs to real life scenarios.

    It has always struck me that travel blogger valuations are mainly very similar, in fact the differences between them are so slight that the bickering and sniping between the bloggers on such matters would appear to be churlish and misplaced!

    I think we should await @ Gary’s response to the question you posed – why the similarity in valuations and equivalence between hotel loyalty programs upon mathematical analysis (and counter to the mythology of most valuable points / miles), especially since our own recent debate on such has apparently vaporised…

    (PS. I have enough HH points for 3 nights at WA or 5 nights at Amingiri – your take?!)

  22. What @Dublin says “At the end of the day It’s all about optimizing the greatest value for the greatest experience. I don’t really care if my first class ticket on a premier airline cost 80,000 or 110,000. It’s a ticket I could never afford anyway. So to me it’s always a win.”
    My points allow me to do something I’d never be able to normally do. Flying F on LH for my wife and I was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Best value? Maybe. Maybe not. But it was sure fun and a really good time.

  23. The value of a mile depends on how you will use them vs. (what that same use will cost you in dollars minus the value of the miles you would get if you paid cash for that use). I give you step by step instructions how how to compute this on my website freefrequenflyermiles.com. Click on Value of Miles in the left menu.

  24. @platy — The method of estimating “face” values of points based on redemption values requires a large ‘n’ to ensure that the mean converges to the value of each point as assigned by its ‘creator’. It assumes that redemption values have Gaussian distribution. That values published by bloggers are quite similar and any differences simply reflect measurement errors or “noise” indicate that the methodology is tedious but statistically valid. The fact that “face” values of points are assigned and fixed by programs, which also generally strive to achieve “baseline parity” with competitors in the form of ‘return on the dollar’ or ‘rebate’ or ‘reward payback’ equivalency, is why “face” values of at least hotel points can be calculated analytically from knowing only the base earn rates of top elites…

    About @Gary entering the fray of his own making, I am not holding my breath and nor should you

    As for WA or Amigri Maldives, Amigri is easier because it has plenty standard awards available at 110K HH/night. The WA is always tough. As of right now (Monday, 10/10/2022 @ 4:50am NYC time), you can snatch up to 5 nights of standard awards if you have the flexibility to schedule a stay for this week 😉 Otherwise, you need to look within a month or two of the current date as the plans of people who preemptively booked awards begin to finalize and many decide to cancel (there is a 3-day availability Nov. 4-7 and more may become available), or you need to keep checking way in the future (12 months from current month) and hope to get lucky and catch one of the rare “dumps” of standard awards…

  25. The value of a mile depends on how you will use them vs. (what that same use will cost you in dollars minus the value of the miles you would get if you paid cash for that use).

    @Gary Steiger – FreeFrequentFlyerMiles.com — The values that you calculate are or should be referred to redemption values of points. They are by your own definition subjective and highly variable. They are different from the “average” and fixed values miles and points that bloggers estimate pretty well for the most part and publish, but then misinterpret their meaning because, like you, everyone obsesses with the ‘redemption’ side of points and pays little to no attention to the ‘earn’ side, which is actually the one that determines the values of, at least, hotel points currencies that I have modeled rather thoroughly…

  26. @Gary Steiger (- FreeFrequentFlyerMiles.com):
    You have been my hero for years doing this a long time publishing ways to get free miles
    But the burn rate equation is only part of the story – The earn rate equation has to match.
    If you get all your miles from 1x Spend at Amex (losing 2.625c cash back) and burn that on a ticket that is 4k spending 200k miles on QR or paying 1000$ taxes on Emirates, I would argue the value is very low for doing this stuff. You are better off paying cash

    ALL bloggers publish high rates for redemptions – Then they can jack up the price of the value of the credit cards they tout and make it appear a bargain.
    Paying cash I would not go in F if it cost me twice the amount as business
    Paying miles at times I did, until I started looking at actual cost all the way down the chain
    I still get great values, but I am fooled less often on the “great deal” I am getting.

    1138$ vs 180k HH is not the full story, – As Gary Steiger points out, you should factor in the points lost by not paying cash. Further, if my employer is paying, then by all means go for 1138$
    My additional point is still this – for unbonused spend a HH car gets 3 points = 2.625/3 = 0.85c
    Never makes sense to spend on the HH card to get points as cash value of redemption is 0.6c
    So the earn rates and burn rates should betaken in to the equation

    I just saw the Amex 30% bonus last month
    Earn Amex = 2x on Busines PLus = 1.3c => gives 2.6HH during bonus = cost 0.5c
    Value of most redemptions now 0.5c = not worth the time or effort to accumulate HH

    Most of my Marriott came from SPG cards = #x Marriott -cost 0.85c but redemptions have been devalued – 0.6c

  27. 1138$ vs 180k HH is not the full story

    @ffi — For me, it is the full story as far as redemption values are concerned because those numbers capture all subjective decisions that went into generating either of them. There is no way to generalize such values into a ‘well behaved’ model because pretty much everything is subjective, except for (a) how many points the desired standard award requires, without regard to the source(s) of points; (b) what is the cash cost of the same standard room, which you may opt pay, without regard to the source(s) of the hard cash; and (c) whether or not the redemption value (total cost in cash/total cost in points) meets your pre-established criteria for go or no-go. That is the whole story. You can calculate redemption values even more precisely after a stay when the total costs, including incidental cash and points, are known precisely but I am not at interested to know that. I am need a good estimate of the redemption value before a stay so that I can decide whether it is a go or no-go.

    You are concerned about esoteric things like “if my employer is paying”, “unbonused spend on cards”, etc, etc, etc. Where do you stop and who decides whether factors that are important to one person impact another? In the end, all you have is a standard room that requires a given of number of points or hard cash, however you earned either, and you need to decide whether to pay with one or the other. Just you can decide that, not Gary Steiger. Just you.

    Like I said, that is way down there in the “weeds”…

Comments are closed.