What are points and miles worth? TPG’s May 2023 monthly valuations
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
One of the questions people often ask me is, “How much is a point or mile worth?”
The true answer varies from point to point and person to person. It also depends on your travel goals and how well you can maximize a particular loyalty currency. Still, some rewards are clearly worth more than others, and my goal is to give you a sense of how they stack up.
Historically, TPG has valued points and miles based on a combination of the price at which we would purchase the miles, award costs in the program (factoring in availability and fees) and our own expertise in the inner workings of the programs.
However, we are in the process of evolving our valuations to become as data-driven as possible.
Looking for a convenient way to see all of your points and miles in one place? Download the free TPG app!
We are currently working with a new provider to expand the dataset we use to calculate the most popular individual currencies, so we do expect these to change in the coming months. For now, the numbers below should offer a good estimate of what a savvy traveler can get by leveraging sweet spots, transfer partners and other top redemptions in the individual programs.
Note: These valuations are not provided by card issuers.
Points and miles valuations
* Calculated using TPG’s revamped data-backed valuations methodology, launched in December 2021.
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Points and miles news
While award charts are unfortunately becoming a thing of the past for the major U.S. airline loyalty programs and devaluations are becoming increasingly common, there are still plenty of sweet spots to get great value from your points and miles. From upgrades to Hawaii to great-value short-haul hops from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, here are TPG’s favorite award redemptions.
However, just this week brought proof of how hard it is to plan ahead without published award pricing.
On Wednesday May 17, United introduced a major devaluation, with pricing for European routes jumping by as much as 33% over previous rates. While this hasn’t been rolled out across the entire system (Asia routes are still pricing at previous levels at the time of writing), it’s still tough to swallow. In fact, some of TPG’s own staff are now seeing domestic awards for as little as 0.64 cents per mile — flights that previously were pricing in the 1 cent per mile range.
As a result, we’re opting to drop our valuation of United MileagePlus miles from 1.21 to 1.1 this month.
We are getting closer to restarting our data-backed valuations, including the addition of even more airlines, so this may be a temporary change. Nevertheless, it’s an important reminder to earn and burn your rewards, since points and miles are not a long-term investment.
One can only hope that a similar change isn’t in the cards for American Airlines, which implemented dynamic pricing last month to replace the airline’s AAnytime, MileSAAver and Web Special award classifications. However, in an apparently positive change, the airline recently started offering cheaper award tickets for those who book select round-trip flights rather than one-way tickets. Only time will tell if this expands across AA’s network or was just a temporary option.
The world of hotel loyalty programs hasn’t seen the same level of volatility, but there were some big announcements over the last month. Hyatt is once again making a play to extend its reach into the luxury hotel segment, planning to acquire Mr & Mrs Smith, a London-based travel booking platform comprising more than 1,500 boutique and luxury hotels and villas around the world. The Mr & Mrs Smith deal reaffirms Hyatt’s historic high-end business model — and pumps further luxury fuel into the World of Hyatt loyalty program’s pipeline. There are more than 1 million members in the Mr & Mrs Smith travel program, which should be a significant addition to the 36 million World of Hyatt members reported at the end of 2022.
Finally, there are a handful of ongoing transfer bonuses to be aware of:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 25% transfer bonus to Air France-KLM Flying Blue until May 22 and 15% transfer bonus to Avianca until May 31.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club through June 15.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards: 25% transfer bonus to Air France-KLM Flying Blue until June 17.
Travel credit card offers
There is no shortage of incredible new welcome bonuses on many popular cards — here are a few of our favorites this month.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Per TPG’s valuation, that’s worth $1,600 when you leverage transfer partners or $1,000 if you redeem through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 cents per point.
The card comes with a manageable $95 annual fee along with a variety of travel protections and additional perks — like a $50 annual hotel credit for reservations made through Chase Travel and a 10% anniversary points bonus based on your previous year’s spending.
However, this offer is ending as of 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, so don’t wait if you want to snag this elevated bonus.
Of course, you may want to spring for the Chase Sapphire Reserve instead. While the card has a hefty $550 annual fee, it includes perks like Priority Pass lounge access, an annual $300 travel credit and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, among other benefits. Plus, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses, so you can quickly rack up rewards for your next big trip.
For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Official application: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
On the higher end of the spectrum is the Capital One Venture X, one of the most exciting travel credit cards on the market, thanks to great earning rates and included perks.
The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening — worth $1,388 according to our valuations — thanks to Capital One’s excellent airline and hotel transfer partners.
For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
Learn More: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The standard Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is currently offering the same welcome bonus as the Venture X. You can earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Like the Venture X, the Venture card earns 2 miles per dollar on everything.
For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Learn More: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
With the current welcome offer on the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn 80,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.
Of course, the card is jam-packed with benefits like airport lounge access, hotel elite status and more. These benefits can make your travel experience smoother and more luxurious than ever before — especially with the most recent additions. The card has a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment is required for select benefits.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Platinum Card.
Official application: The Platinum Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
One of the most popular cards with TPG staffers during the pandemic, the Amex Gold offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership. This welcome offer is worth $1,200 based on our valuations — but be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for an even higher offer. (Offers are subject to change at any time.)
The card is great for many everyday purchases. You’ll earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar) and 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Gold Card.
Official application: American Express Gold Card
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card offers 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your card in the first three months of card membership. Per our valuations, this welcome offer is worth at least $2,400, but you can get even more value when redeeming for high-end airfare.
The card also provides a slew of additional perks similar to (but slightly different from) the personal version — you can compare the two cards in this guide to see which one would be a better fit for your wallet.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Business Platinum Card.
Official application: The Business Platinum Card from American Express
Airline and hotel credit cards
There aren’t many elevated offers on top airline credit cards right now, but we did just see new offers launch on Hilton’s portfolio of cobranded American Express Cards. There are four Amex Hilton credit cards, each offering a solid welcome offer for new cardholders of up to 150,000 Hilton Honors points and an array of perks to make your next stay more rewarding and enjoyable. Two of these cards have very reasonable spending requirements, so snagging these offers now could be very valuable.
Several other hotel credit card welcome bonuses can provide a simple way to boost your points balances, especially ahead of a busy summer travel season. You can use these points to save money on hotel stays worldwide, no matter where your travels take you.
Data-backed valuations update
Finally, we wanted to share an update on our increasing use of data to drive these valuations. This process began in November 2021 with our four major transferable currencies — American Express Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Rewards points and Capital One miles.
As a result of these efforts, the above valuations use a mathematical model that takes into account a number of factors specific to transferable points, including:
- Unique transfer partners (not shared by other card issuers).
- The most valuable individual partners in the program.
- The base redemption value when you redeem points or miles directly for travel.
Based on this rollout, the valuations for our credit card currencies are rounded to the nearest five-hundredths of a point in order to better capture the real-world value they offer cardholders.
We fully expect these numbers to fluctuate over time as we refine our equations and roll out additional data-backed hotel and airline valuations in the coming months.
Likewise, we moved three airline currencies — American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus miles — to a data-backed model late in 2021. However, we have put these valuations on pause while we work out an issue with our data provider, and United’s devaluation led us to update its value this month. We’re excited to have data-backed valuations updated in the coming months with even more loyalty programs included.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson, Andrew Kunesh, Benji Stawski and Nick Ewen.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page for the most up-to-date valuations, so you can bookmark it and check back each month for updates.