Whether you’re new to travel rewards or have been scoring free trips for years, the world of points and miles can be confusing. Not only are there dozens of airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs to sort through, but each one comes with its own rewards currency, transfer partners and other redemption quirks.
Add to this the fact that not all points and miles carry the same value. That means that 50,000 points from one program could end up being more valuable than 100,000 points from another.
With so many variables at play, how do you know what your rewards are worth and the best way to use them?
That’s where we come in. We collected data on hundreds of flights and hotel bookings from over 50 of the most popular airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs to show you how far your points and miles can take you. These are Bankrate’s latest point and mile valuations.
What do these valuations mean?
The value of airline and hotel rewards can vary dramatically based on your rewards program and booking details, ranging in value from less than 0.5 cents per point or mile to over 3 cents per point or mile. This can make it tough to judge how far your rewards will take you when planning a trip.
These point valuations should give you an idea of what each program’s rewards are worth on average, making it easier to decide what sort of rewards you want to earn, and see whether you’re getting good value for your redemptions.
Meanwhile, many general travel cards earn rewards that can be redeemed at one value for travel with the issuer, or transferred to an airline or hotel program and redeemed at another (potentially higher) value.
For example, with the right card, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through the issuer’s booking portal. But transferring those same points to an airline or hotel partner could stretch your rewards value to 1.5 cents per point on average (as we estimate with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program) — or even over 2.1 cents on average (as we estimate with The World of Hyatt program).
These valuations can help you decide when it makes sense to redeem points through your card issuer and when it makes sense to transfer them to an airline or hotel loyalty program based on the value you’d get by redeeming that way.
How to calculate
To see how much value you can get out of your rewards on an individual flight or hotel stay, divide the cost of a booking in cash by its cost in points or miles.
For example, a flight that costs $139 or 21,500 points will offer about 0.6 cents per point in value ($139 / 21,500 points = ~$0.006 ). If the same flight cost $250, you’d get about 1.2 cents per point in value ($250 / 21,500 points = ~$0.012).
Once you’ve calculated your potential rewards value, compare it to the estimated average value listed here. If the value you get matches or exceeds our estimated average value, it’s smart to use your rewards to pay for travel. If the value you get falls short of our estimated average value, consider using cash instead or trying another booking.
Keep in mind that how much value you can get out of your rewards will depend not only on the program, but also the details of your booking. Some airline and hotel rewards carry a better point value than others on average, but your experience may vary based on when and where you travel, as well as whether you opt for a luxury or budget fare class or hotel tier.
Note: These valuations are not provided by card issuers.
Airline rewards values
We calculated the average rewards values of these 29 popular airline loyalty programs by comparing the cost of dozens of bookings in cash with their cost in rewards. We weighted economy airfare bookings more heavily to give you the best sense of how much value you can get out of your rewards for a typical flight.
|Rewards program||Bankrate value*||Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles|
|Aer Lingus (Avios)||1.2 cents||$600|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||0.6 cents||$300|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1.2 cents||$600|
|Air France (FlyingBlue)||1.3 cents||$650|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1.1 cents||$550|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1 cent||$500|
|Avianca Airlines LifeMiles||0.8 cents||$400|
|Avios (average)||1.2 cents||$600|
|British Airways (Avios)||0.7 cents||$350|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3 cents||$1,500|
|Delta SkyMiles||1.3 cents||$650|
|Emirates Skywards||1.8 cents||$900|
|Etihad Guest Miles||1.8 cents||$900|
|Finnair Plus||1.2 cents||$600|
|Flying Blue (average)||1.3 cents||$650|
|Frontier Miles||1.3 cents||$650|
|Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles||1.6 cents||$800|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1 cent||$500|
|Iberia Airlines (Avios)||1 cent||$500|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1.4 cents||$700|
|KLM (FlyingBlue)||1.2 cents||$600|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles||0.8 cents||$400|
|Qantas Airways Frequent Flyer||0.4 cents||$200|
|Qatar Airways (Avios)||1.8 cents||$900|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||2.2 cents||$1,100|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5 cents||$750|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||1 cent||$500|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||0.6 cents||$300|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||0.6 cents||$300|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1.1 cents||$550|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||2.6 cents||$1,300|
* Based on weighted average of median point/mile values across economy and first/business class fares.
Hotel rewards values
We calculated the average rewards values of these seven popular hotel loyalty programs by comparing the cost of dozens of bookings in cash with their cost in rewards. We considered a mix of budget, mid-tier and luxury properties across several U.S. and international cities to find a median point value for each program.
|Rewards program||Bankrate value*||Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles|
|Best Western Rewards||0.6 cents||$300|
|Hilton Honors||0.6 cents||$300|
|World of Hyatt||2.1 cents||$1,050|
|IHG One Rewards||0.7 cents||$350|
|Marriott Bonvoy||0.7 cents||$350|
|Radisson Rewards Americas||0.4 cents||$200|
|Wyndham Rewards||0.9 cents||$450|
* Based on median point values across budget, mid-tier and luxury hotel bookings.
More information on airline and hotel rewards
- A guide to earning and redeeming frequent flyer miles
- Airline credit card reviews
- Hotel credit card reviews
- Airline and hotel rewards program special offers and promotions
Credit card program rewards values
To give you a sense of the best way to redeem your rewards, we’ve listed the “baseline value” of each credit card issuer’s points or miles (for travel bookings made through the issuer) as well as our estimate of how much value you can get by redeeming with some of the issuer’s best transfer partners (if available).
When researching travel, you can use your issuer’s portal to see how many points or miles you’ll get if you transfer your credit card rewards to an airline or hotel partner. Based on this transfer ratio, you may find the value of your points is higher when you move them to one partner over another.
|Rewards program||Baseline value||Bankrate value*||Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1 cent||2.1 cents||$1,100|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards||1 cent||1 cent||$500|
|Bilt Rewards||1.25 cents||2.2 cents||$1,100|
|Capital One Miles||1 cent||2 cents||$1,000|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card)||1.25 cents||2 cents||$1,000|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Sapphire Reserve)||1.5 cents||2 cents||$1,000|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards (other Ultimate Rewards cards)||1 cent||1 cent||$500|
|Citi ThankYou Points (Citi Premier® Card)||1 cent||1.9 cents||$950|
|Citi ThankYou Points (basic ThankYou points)||1 cent||1 cent||$500|
|Discover miles||1 cent||1 cent||$500|
|U.S Bank FlexPerks||1.5 cents||1.5 cents||$750|
|Wells Fargo Rewards||1 cent||1 cent||$500|
* Based on an average of the issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (if available).
More information on credit card rewards programs
- Credit card rewards program guides
- Credit card rewards advice
- Rewards credit card reviews
- Guide to rewards credit card special offers and limited-time promotions
Credit card rewards vs. airline and hotel rewards
Credit card issuer rewards programs — like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards — typically offer more dependable value than points and miles tied to a specific airline or hotel program. These programs also stand out for their unmatched flexibility.
Instead of being stuck redeeming your rewards with a specific airline or hotel, and taking whatever value you can get, the best general travel and rewards cards give you the flexibility to move your points between programs, to find the one that offers the best value. You can redeem rewards through the issuer’s travel portal or transfer to an airline or hotel program, if that gets you more value for your rewards.
Plus, with many rewards credit card programs, you may not have to redeem for travel at all. Many issuer programs let you redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, merchandise and even purchases through Amazon.com or PayPal. That said, to maximize the value of your credit card rewards, you’ll most likely want to redeem for travel through the issuer or leverage the card’s top transfer partners.
To estimate the average value of airline and hotel rewards, we collected pricing data on hundreds of flights and hotel stays, using an array of different routes, hotel locations and fare and hotel tier classes.
For each airline, we researched a mix of short, mid-length and transcontinental routes, domestic and international routes and routes from an airline’s hub to a small airport. We considered both economy and business or first-class fares for each route, and compared costs in cash and points/miles based on how far ahead of departure the travel was booked.
For each hotel, we researched stays in major, midsize and international locations at budget, mid-tier and luxury properties, again comparing costs in cash and points based on how far ahead the stay was booked.
We then divided the monetary cost of each of these bookings (minus taxes and fees) by its cost in rewards to determine the cash value of a single point/mile for a given flight or hotel stay. For example, a flight that cost $2,000 or 100,000 points would yield a valuation of 2 cents per point.
Once we determined the value of a single point/mile for each booking, we found the median point value offered across all bookings. This ensured our overall program point valuation was not skewed by outlying high- or low-value redemptions.
In the case of hotel programs, this median value is our final point valuation. In the case of airline programs, we determined our final point/mile valuation using a weighted average of economy and business/first class point values, favoring economy values. This is designed to reflect the value a program’s points offer on typical rewards bookings.
For credit card rewards programs, our final point/mile valuation is an average of each issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (assuming these values are greater than the issuer’s baseline point redemption value). This assumes rewards-savvy travelers will mostly transfer points/miles from a credit card rewards program to a travel partner, in order to increase the value of their rewards, and will opt for a partner that offers high value relative to others.