Originally, I planned to evaluate each mile and point program individually. However, at the end of the day, this will only be my personal opinion. So, please, take it as such. Your value may differ from mine significantly, and that is perfectly fine. Even though my blog is quite opinionated, I truly believe that in the world of miles and points, it’s no “one size fits all.” Keep in mind, I am writing from a perspective of a a middle-class family of 4 who travels occasionally.
The reason I wanted to put this post together is to hopefully make it easier to evaluate each sign-up bonus. When a card gives 400 dollars, there is no need to discuss it any further. Four hundred dollars will purchase the same airline ticket for you as it will for me. The same can not be said for miles and points.
A single person with a flexible schedule will be able to derive a much greater value from a sign-up bonus of 50000 miles on Delta than I would for my family of four. When I say value, that is what I would pay for it. Also, I assume that the purchase is made speculatively. If you have a specific redemption in mind and can book it fairly soon, that changes the game considerably. So, without further ado:
1) SPG point- 1.5 cents each. You get a 25 percent bonus on each 20,000-mile transfer to many airline programs. There are quite a few family-friendly hotels, that are a category 1 and 2. They run 2,000 and 3,000 points per night on weekends.
2) Ultimate Rewards point- 1.25 cents each. There are two reasons for this: Southwest Rapid Rewards transfer and possibility to get 1.25 cents from each point towards travel redemption. So, 1.25 cents per point will be the floor, as long as they have that option.
3) Membership Rewards point- 1.25 cents. I value BA Avios (a partner) at around 1 cent. The miles transfer on 1:1 basis. However, since Amex runs transfer bonuses, I would be willing to pay a little more for a Membership Rewards point.
Keep in mind, it assumes I am buying speculatively; otherwise, the valuation would be higher. I find Avios to be extremely handy for short-haul redemptions around USA, trips to Caribbean and some routes to Europe. However, there is always a risk of award chart changes, so I factor it in here.
1) Most traditional airline miles- around 1 cent each. I would be willing to pay a little more for AAdvantage. I wouldn’t pay 1 cent for Delta Sky miles, but probably 0.8 cents.
2) Southwest Rapid Rewards point- 1.25 cents each, because you can officially get 1.43 cents per point and closer to 1.61-1.69 cents, factoring in tax. This is probably the most stable airline currency at the moment IMO.
First, be very careful when buying or hoarding hotel points. It is the most vulnerable type of currency in this hobby. Rates sometimes can go up overnight with no prior notice. I usually book 2 or 3 rooms because we travel with my in-laws, so my valuation is influenced by that fact. However, my husband and I go on short trips by ourselves occasionally.
1) Hyatt Gold Passport- 0.70 cents each. Their high-end properties go for 30000 points and cost 800 dollars, but I won’t be staying there any time soon. I am mostly interested in hotels close by or cities I might be visiting in a near future. There are some nice Hyatts in New York costing 25000 points. I may be willing to pay 175 dollars per night, but no more.
There is also a nice Hyatt on the beach not too far from us that goes for 20000 points. Checking Biddingfortravel (tracks Priceline bids), I saw that some people were able to get it for 140 dollars per night, including tax.
That is how I arrived at my 0.70 cents valuation ($ 175 divided by 25000 or $140 divided by 20000 points). That’s the thing with “amazing” hotel redemptions. The rack rate is not what you should base your value on, but rather, the lowest Priceline bid. Hyatt Gold Passport is probably the most stable hotel points currency at the moment.
2) IHG point- 0.5 cents each. My value would be lower if it wasn’t for their PointBreaks program, where you can get hotels for only 5000 points per night. Most hotels on the beach in Florida go for 35000 points, a significant amount. If the PointsBreaks program is discontinued, my value will drop as well. I would be very cautious on stockpiling speculatively, though, due to huge amounts of points they are giving out through IHG Big Win promotion. It can only mean one thing – devaluation.
3) Marriott point- 0.4 cents. (my value would be a bit higher if redeeming for air+hotel package. Read more HERE) Most Marriotts I am interested in run at 20,000-30,000 points per night. There are quite a few in USA that cost 10000 points, so it could be a good deal, even if you needed 2 rooms. It would be an equivalent of paying 80 dollars per night.
4) Club Carlson point- 0.25 cents. I don’t have their Visa, which gives a second redemption night free. Otherwise, my value would be a bit higher. As it stands, the properties I like run at 38000-50000 points per night. This is another program IMO ripe for devaluation.
5) Hilton HHonors point- 0.25 cents each. Hotels I like cost around 40000 points, and I would be willing to pay no more than 100 dollars for them.
There are other point programs, but I wanted to round up all the usual suspects and hopefully provide a helpful guideline. As I always say, do your own math and don’t listen to bloggers like me too much!
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.