How much are my miles and points worth?
That’s a loaded question if you have transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points, because there are several ways to redeem either of these currencies for travel.
My favorite way to redeem these points is by transferring them to airline or hotel partners. This means Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points become airline miles or hotel points. Those miles or points can then be redeemed them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline or hotel program to which you transfer. The redemption value varies, but this is how we’re often able to get 2 cents or more per point.
Learning how to calculate the cents per point value is helpful, especially if you have multiple redemption options and you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible value.
Calculating a cents per point value should help guide you, but it is certainly not the only way to determine whether or not a redemption is a good value
You’re probably going to get the highest numeric value out of miles and points when you use them to book premium cabin travel and/or high-end hotels. For example, redeeming 100,000 airline miles for a business or first class flight to Asia that normally goes for $10,000 would be a value of 10 cents per point.
I’ll show the math in a moment. This is a great redemption, but I would never actually pay $10k for a flight. If I am paying out of pocket, I’m probably booking economy unless a fantastic business class sale occurs.
If I have the right type of points or miles, I could transfer them to certain airline programs to book 2 economy award tickets for 100,000 miles, the same amount of miles as 1 business class award ticket (subject to availability of course). Paid fares for 2 economy tickets to Asia probably aren’t going to add up to $10,000, so the cents per point value will be less. But the cents per point value doesn’t matter much if the goal is to get 2 tickets to Asia that I would have otherwise paid for.
The point is, the value of miles is going to vary, and your travel goals and personal preferences are also a factor when you’re deciding which miles and points will bring you the most value. Some people prefer to use miles for premium class award tickets. Others would rather stretch miles and points into more tickets and/or trips by booking economy. Neither of these are bad moves.
Just because your calculated value isn’t 5-10 cents per point every time you redeem does not mean you’re doing it wrong.
With that said, I do try to get at least 2 cents per point if I am transferring my Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards to airline and hotel partners.
I’m kind of a math nerd so I’ll “show my work”…
To calculate the value of a mile or point, simply divide the plane ticket or hotel room value by the amount of points you’re spending, then multiply by 100.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is a World of Hyatt category 7 hotel. You can redeem 30,000 World of Hyatt points for a free night at a category 7 hotel. Rates at this property are often $600 or more, but on the dates I searched, the average rate was $808.
- A cash rate of $808 is a value of about 2.7 cents per point.
- 0.0269 X 100=2.7
- ~2.7 cents per point
So you are getting 2.7 cents per point. In general, I consider redeeming for 2 cents or more per point a good value, but of course there are exceptions and situations where it may be worth it to use points even if the value is under 2 cents.
For example, since Ultimate Rewards are so easy to earn if you utilize category bonuses and shopping portals, I will still use them for some redemptions even if the value is under 2 cents per point.
I have also booked hotel rooms through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem at a value of 1.5 cents per point on travel booked through their portal (or 1.25 cents per point if you have Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred). Since earning more than 1 point per dollar is so easy with Ultimate Rewards, it sometimes makes sense to book travel through the portal, even if the redemption value is only 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point.
As you can see, doing a little simple math when redeeming points can help you determine whether or not you’re getting good value out of your points.
This post also has more detailed discussion about redemption values and why we usually choose to save our points and pay cash if the redemption value isn’t close to 2 cents per point (or more):
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