How do credit card miles work and what are they worth? | finder.com
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How do credit card miles work and what are they worth?

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Our current points valuation for credit card, hotel and airline loyalty programs.

Between changing airfares and changing redemption and earning rates by the bank, point valuations for loyalty programs are in constant flux.

To help you get a sense of the general value of the miles and points offered across loyalty programs, we’ve calculated the average value per point across airline, credit card and hotel loyalty programs.

How do airline miles work?

At the most basic level, airline miles and other loyalty currencies are earned when you spend money on eligible earning categories in a program. You can redeem earned miles and points on a variety of services or items, such as flights, hotel stays or merchandise.

Miles valuation for airline loyalty programs

Loyalty programAverage redemption value in cents per mile
American Airlines1.5
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan1.8
Avianca LifeMiles1.5
Delta SkyMiles1.4
Hawaiian Airlines1.2
JetBlue TrueBlue1.4
Southwest Rapid Rewards1.7
United MileagePlus1.2
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1.5

Best airline rewards program

Points valuation for hotel loyalty programs

Hotel loyalty programPoint valuation in cents per point
Choice Privileges0.6
Hilton Honors0.4
IHG Rewards Club0.7
Marriott Bonvoy0.9
Radisson Rewards0.4
Starwood Preferred Guest (Now Marriott Bonvoy)0.9
World of Hyatt2.0
Wyndham Rewards0.8

Best hotel rewards program

Points valuation for credit card loyalty programs

Credit card loyalty programPoints valuation in cents per point
American Express Membership Rewards2.0
Bank of America
Capital One Rewards1.5
Chase Ultimate Rewards2.0
Citi ThankYou Rewards1.5
Discover1.0

A note about credit card point values

It’s tough to pin down valuations of credit card points. That’s because the most valuable use of credit card points — transfers to travel partners — relies heavily on the current value of that travel partner’s mile or point.

For example, the average Chase point value is 1 cent apiece when redeemed on cashback or gift cards through the Chase shopping portal. However, you could double that value if you transfer points to a program such as World of Hyatt as Chase points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and World of Hyatt points, on average, are worth 2 cents each.

How we calculated point values

To calculate our point values, we averaged the redemption value for all redemption options in a given loyalty program. Not all loyalty programs have multiple redemption options. For example, Discover points are worth 1.0 cent per point because the few redemption options available all give a value of 1.0 cent per point.

Others, like airline programs, wildly vary between the lowest and highest redemption values. While we currently list most airline miles around an average of one to two cents apiece, it’s possible to find even higher value with a little research — or lower if you’re not careful.

How to calculate the value of a mile or point

Calculating the redemption value of your miles is relatively simple once you know how to do the math. In most cases, you’ll need to divide the cost of the product in cash by the number of miles or points it would take for redemption.

For example, if the cost of a one-way flight in cash is $500 and the cost in miles is 45,000:
500 / 45000 = 0.011
The cost in cash divided by the cost in miles comes out to about 1.1 cent per point.

This same calculation holds true for merchandise. For example, if a wireless speaker normally costs $400 but you can redeem 60,000 points to purchase it, then:
400 / 60000 = 0.006
Each point would come out to a value of 0.6 cents apiece — not the best use of your hard earned points.

How to pick a loyalty program

With so many loyalty programs available, it can be tough to pick one. Here are a few considerations to help you narrow your choices.

  • Do you value flexibility? Credit card loyalty programs typically offer more flexibility in how you redeem your points.
  • Do you have a favored airline or hotel? If you travel often and prefer the services of a particular airline or hotel, you might get the most value out of the benefits and perks of their specific loyalty program.
  • How do you spend? No matter which loyalty program you choose, you’re going to need to spend money to earn miles. Make sure to choose a program and credit card that offers you the best opportunities to earn.

Compare rewards credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
$150 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months
1.5% cash back on all purchases
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
3% cash back bonus on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5%
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
90,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
Earn 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1.25x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
$150 after spending $500 in the first 90 days
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
$0
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Let these point valuations serve as a guideline as you make the most of your loyalty program rewards. Remember these point values are averages — with a little research, you can get even more from your miles.

Compare rewards credit cards to start earning toward your favorite loyalty rewards program.

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