At least once a year I try to make a post with my valuations of miles and points across various programs. I’d say over the past year more so than ever before the value of miles and points has been shifting, which I suspect is why I’ve gotten so many requests for an updated post on this. The last time I posted my valuation of miles was in November 2011 in this TravelSort post (the one before that was in June 2010), though I focused exclusively on airline miles.
This time around I figured I’d post my updated valuations of the three major credit card points currencies (Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest points), airline miles (Aeroplan, Alaska, American, British Airways, Delta, United, US Airways), and hotel points (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, and Starwood).
The reason I’m making an introduction post is because I want to explain the basis of my analysis. First let me make one important point, and I’ll make it in bold: I’m not for a second claiming everyone should value their miles/points the way I do, and you’re more than welcome to provide a million counter-examples of how I’m wrong.
We all fly for different reasons, with different goals, and with different valuations on comfort.
For example, say I value American miles more than British Airways points (which I do). Surely someone can come along and say “that’s hogwash, with British Airways I can book a one-way flight between Los Angeles and San Diego for only 4,500 Avios, while the revenue ticket would be $500 one-way. I value them at over 10 cents each.”
Therefore I’ll try to maintain a balanced approach to my analysis, though it’s worth noting my potential biases. For example, I often travel alone, so am sometimes only looking for one award seat when redeeming miles. Furthermore, I greatly value the ability to redeem miles for premium cabins, in particular first class. On the hotel side, I value the ability to redeem points for high-end properties that I otherwise couldn’t afford.
But my main point is simply that everyone’s valuation is going to be different, both in absolute terms and in relative terms. Disagree with my analysis? That’s great, and please let me know. This is just my opinion, and at the end of the day there’s no right or wrong answer. Some will say I’m valuing miles double as high as they should be across the board, while others will say they value them twice as high across the board. Some will say they value British Airways points double as much as American miles, while others will say they value American miles double as much as British Airways points.
Hopefully that’s sufficient disclosure (though I know it won’t stop at least some of you from tearing my numbers apart). 😀