Valuing points is a very difficult and controversial process. Below are our valuations and methodology and here is our spreadsheet that we used to calculate the values.. Instead of relying on large cash prices for business and first class flights, we fixed a certain value for a flight from the U.S. to Asia, but added a bonus for flights on top airlines.
American Express: 2.25 cents per point since ANA is valued at 2.24 CPP and British Airways is valued at 2.17 CPP.
Chase: 2.2 cents per point since British Airways is valued at 2.17 CPP.
Citi: I would estimate the value at 1.8 cents per point. We don’t have a value for Virgin Atlantic, but I would estimate it around 1.8 cents. Etihad is worth 1.5 CPP, Cathay Pacific is worth 1.64 CPP, and I would estimate LifeMiles around 1.7 cents per point.
Airlines Adjusted Cents Per Point Raw Cents Per Point Aeroplan 1.72 2.67 Alaska 2.60 6.84 American Airlines 1.46 2.47 ANA 2.24 4.38 British Airways 2.17 2.68 Cathay Pacific 1.64 3.23 Delta 1.47 1.55 Etihad 1.50 2.53 JetBlue 1.40 1.44 Korean 1.80 2.77 Southwest 1.42 1.56 United 1.68 2.74
Hotel Chain DealsPoints' Cents Per Point IHG 0.7 Hilton 0.56 Marriott 0.73 (Hotels) or 1.1 (Airline partners) Hyatt 1.94 Wyndham 1.5
Marriott: The Hotel prices for Marriott will be updated fully in early 2019 when Marriott completes the transition to their new points system. The airline point valuation is correct and we assumed you would take advantage of the transfer bonus at 60,000 Marriott points, which becomes 25,000 airline points.
- Stopovers: Airlines with Stopovers got an extra 0.1 CPP for each stopover allowed on a roundtrip award. Therefore, the following bonuses apply: Alaska (0.2), United (0.1), Aeroplan (0.2), ANA (0.1), and Korean (0.1).
- Other Adjustments: ANA Round the World (+0.1), Alaska’s ability to add a free one-way flight on Alaska (+0.1), and United’s Excursionist Perk (+0.1).
- Hotels– With Hotels you earn points for booking in cash rather than in points. To reflect those points, we deducted the value of the points from a cash stay for a mid-level elite member from the cash price to create an adjusted cash price. We choose a mid-level elite member because you can typically get this status easily from credit cards and not everyone is able to get top tier status.
- Earning Points on Cash Flights– You earn points on cash flights, so we made an adjustment for any points that you would earn. For U.S. airlines, we used the traditional earn rate for a non-elite flyer of 5x for United, American, and Delta; 6x for Southwest and JetBlue; and an estimate of 10% of cash price for Alaska since they are mileage based. For other airlines, we estimated 8% of the cash price for simplicity.
- No Adjustment for Credit Card– You earn points for using your credit card to book a flight or hotel. We did not take this into account since there are some many credit cards with different earning rates. Plus, it would throw off the value for the people who buy points with a credit card to use for a flight (e.g., buy 70,000 Alaska points for $1,500 for a Cathay Pacific flight)
Difficulty in Valuing:
- Overall: No system in valuing points will be perfect because there are way too many variables and personal preferences. We played around with the numbers and the following system for valuing makes the most sense.
- Economy Prices– The difficulty in valuing economy is due to a large number of flight deals we post. Flights to Europe are normally $700-1,000, but there a fairly regular flight deals that drop the price to $350-500. That is why we try to target economy flights that rarely go on a major sale: domestic, Australia/New Zealand, India, Africa, South America, and certain exotic locations.
- Business and First Class– Very few of us traveling on our own dime would pay for business or first class. However, many of us would consider buying a significantly discounted business or first class ticket. Therefore, we divided the international business class and domestic first-class cents per point by 2, and international first class by 3. When you combine this division with the fact that business class requires about twice as many points and first class about triple the number of points over economy, that was the best way to compare the different fare classes.
If you don’t agree with our valuations, we have plenty of tools on our website where you can use your own valuations such as: Card Earn Rate Comparison Chart, Airline Earn Rate Comparison Chart, and Hotel Earn Rate Comparison Chart.
Region Economy Business Class East Business Class West First Class East First Class West Domestic No Adjustment $800 (reclining seats) $800 (reclining seats) $1200 (lie-flat) $1200 (lie-flat) Hawaii/Alaska No Adjustment $1,200 $1,000 $1,500 $1,200 Europe No Adjustment $1,800 $2,000 $2,700 $3,000 Asia No Adjustment $2,200 $1,900 $3,200 $2,900 India (and nearby) No Adjustment $2,500 $2,100 $3,300 $3,000 South America No Adjustment $1,600 $1,600 $2,000 $2,000 Africa No Adjustment $2,200 $2,500 $2,900 $3,100 Middle East No Adjustment $2,200 $2,500 $3,000 $3,200 Australia/New Zealand No Adjustment $2,800 $2,500 $3,800 $3,500
Top Airline Adjustment
There is a big difference between flying Qatar Airways business class and Ukranian Airlines business class. To compensate for this, we added a certain amount to each business or first class award to represent how much more money in cash the average person would spend extra to fly one of the following airlines over another.
$400: Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, ANA All Nippon Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, and Garuda Indonesia.
$300: Hainan Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Australia, Swiss Int’l Air Lines, Qantas Airways, Japan Airlines, Austrian, and Air France.
$200: Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Delta (only the Delta One suites), Korean Air, China Airlines, and Oman Air.