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Travel Loyalty Program Reviews

Jan. 17, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Not all credit card rewards are created equal — point and mile redemption values vary from program to program.

To better understand what points and miles are worth, NerdWallet researched the cash prices and reward-redemption values for hundreds of hotel rooms and flights. The tables below show average point values derived from that research.

What we considered

To determine the potential value of a point or mile, we sampled economy prices across six months in both cash and miles on the most popular domestic routes according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, and a randomly selected number of international routes. The average presented is that of both domestic and international routes combined. Because international value trends higher than domestic value, the averages are often valued higher than considering domestic travel only. The valuations should be considered as a cost opportunity: if your points are worth more than the valuation, then you are getting a good deal on your flight.

What we omitted

To remove any airline bias, we did not consider an airline’s products or product prices outside of economy. In addition, the lowest fare in both cash and miles were considered. We did not single out any rate buckets in either cash or miles, but searched based on availability alone. While this may lead to outliers in the data, it also provides a true average of what points and miles are worth across flights.

Where we landed

Average value per point/mile, in cents
AIRLINES Domestic International Overall
American 1.0 5.0 2.6
United 1.3 3.3 2.1
Delta 1.4 2.7 2.0
Southwest 1.6 1.9 1.7
JetBlue 1.5 1.7 1.6
Alaska 1.2 1.1 1.2
Frontier 0.8 1.1 0.9
Spirit 0.4 0.7 0.5
Average value per point/mile, in cents
HOTELS Domestic International Overall
Hyatt 1.8 1.5 1.7
Marriott 0.8 0.7 0.8
Wyndham 0.7 0.7 0.7
Choice 0.7 0.8 0.7
IHG 0.6 0.5 0.6
Best Western 0.5 0.6 0.6
Hilton 0.4 0.4 0.4
Radisson 0.3 0.3 0.3

Also, check out the average redemption values of these programs below, expressed by cents per point.

American Express Membership Rewards: 1 cent

Barclaycard Arrival Miles: 1 cent

Capital One Miles: 1 cent

Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1.25 cents

Citi ThankYou Points: 1 cent

Discover it Miles: 1 cent

U.S. Bank FlexPoints: 2 cents

Wells Fargo Points: 1 cent

The easiest way to rack up points is to use a credit card that earns miles or points with every purchase. Learn more about our favorite travel cards, the best airline credit cards and the top hotel credit cards to find the card that best supports your travel goals and your budget.

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