Airline Miles vs. Cash Calculator

This calculator makes it easy to convert airline miles or hotel points to dollar figures.
Elina Geller
Sam Kemmis
By Sam Kemmis and  Elina Geller 
Edited by Meg Lee

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Let’s say you’re booking a last-minute flight on Delta and you have the option of either:

  • Paying $450 cash.

  • Paying 30,000 Delta miles + $40 in fees.

Which is the better deal? Should you book that flight with cash or miles? What should you do when booking hotels?

To help answer this common conundrum, we created a point value calculator that pairs our airline mile valuations with your own booking options.

Airline miles to dollars calculator

To use NerdWallet's airline miles to dollars calculator, enter the airline award program, cash fare, equivalent award fare and any fees associated with your award fare. Our points and miles to dollars calculator will do the rest.

Keep in mind that our valuations, while based on real-world data, are only estimates for how much miles and points are worth. If the cash and award values are similar, use your best judgment for which option is better for you.

Mile-redeeming whizzes might opt to save miles for better redemptions, but in general, we encourage spending miles rather than saving them because they devalue over time.

How to earn more airline miles

The typical way to earn miles is to fly with the airline, which earns miles based on either the distance flown or the amount spent on the fare. Yet there are many other ways to earn airline miles, including:

Many airlines offer several co-branded cards, which offer different ways to earn miles as well as other benefits, such as complimentary checked bags. here are some of our favorite cards that earn miles:

Cards for earning airline miles
Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
NerdWallet Rating
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Barclays JetBlue Plus Credit Card
JetBlue Plus Card
NerdWallet Rating
Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.


$0 intro for the first year, then $150.


Earning rates

• 2 miles per $1 on United purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 at restaurants and hotels (when booked directly with hotel).

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases.

• 2 points per $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, local transit and commuting (including rideshare), and on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming.

• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on purchases made directly with Delta and at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.).

• 1 mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 6 points per $1 with JetBlue.

• 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores.

• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 1 Mosaic tile per $1,000 spent.

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The bottom line

Airline miles are basically a currency and, like any currency, their value shifts with time. NerdWallet collects thousands of data points each year to determine the value of these miles, which means you don't have to.

That said, the actual value you get from your miles will depend on how you use them. Just because we saw 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth a certain amount doesn't mean you'll actually get that value for a given redemption. You could get more or less.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, see this page.
Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
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