What are those travel points even worth?



Travel points are a great way to make your trip affordable and more frequent. Depending on your spending habits and how points are awarded by your credit card it can take a long time to earn tens of thousands of points. That makes it that much more important to make sure you are getting the most out of them when you redeem! It is worth your time it to make one simple calculation: amount of money required to book it divided by points required. This will give you a rough estimate of how much value you are getting for your points. *Taxes and certain other fees are not covered when redeeming points so pay close attention to those added costs.


I have done the heavy lifting to assign ranges of what I suggest you aim for. The “Bare Minimum” is based on the general consensus across the internet of how much a single point is worth. This sets the bar for us to beat and you shouldn’t be willing to accept anything less.

I suggest as you read through the list keep in mind generally which companies tend to charge more for flights or hotel nights (it will impact your calculation). If we look at Southwest for example their points are near the lower valued BUT their fares tend to be very cheap relative to competitors thus the points value isn’t inflated.


To calculate a good value and great value I pulled 5 flights or nights for each company and when possible I pulled 3 international and 2 domestic destinations. I compared how many points it would take to book it verse how much it would cost out of pocket.

Not surprisingly, I found that the highest valuations were for international flights but often times the price for that one leg was steep. A few airlines were charging 3k for one way flights to Europe, which made their points worth double digits! But you shouldn’t have to pay 3k to fly from the US to Europe, it should be in the 700-1400 dollar range for roundtrip!


The sole purpose of outlining all these programs is to help you understand when you are paying way too much with your points and being taken advantage of! Just because it feels free when using points doesn't mean you shouldn't treat them the same way as your hard earned money.


Airlines


Southwest Points (Rapid Rewards)

Bare Minimum: 1.5 cents per point

Good Value: 1.5-1.6 cents per point

Great Value: 1.7+ cents per point

Tip: Did you know Southwest allows you to rebook your flight if the costs of points drops? Either give them a call or log on to your Rapid Rewards Account. I suggest checking back on any booked flights when Sales pop up. I’ve saved 10,000+ points on trips by checking back on sales.


British Airways (Executive Club)

Bare Minimum: 1.5 cents per point

Good Value: 3.0-5 cents per point

Great Value: 5.0+ cents per point

*When pulling my sample I found international flights that cost between 16,250 to 23,000 but if you were to pay cash it is $3,000 That is ~13 - 18cents a point! Seems absurdly great.. But again I would argue 3k is quite expensive for some of these one way tickets when compared to competitors.


Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)

Bare Minimum: 1.2 cents per point

Good Value: 3.5-5.0 cents per point

Great Value: 5-9.9+ cents per point

*Air France was similar to British Airways, when I pulled international flights the flights were between $2400 to $3200. This resulted in a high point redemption value of between 9-12 cents again.


Korean Air (SkyPass)

Bare Minimum: 1.8 cents per point

Good Value: 2-3.2cents per point

Great Value: 3.3+ cents per point

*3 out of 5 flights came back with a point value of 1.4 cent per point, I’d most likely save my points for another time since it came in under the Bare Minimum.


Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)

Bare Minimum: 2 cents per point

Good Value: 2-3 cents per point

Great Value: 3.1+ cents per point

*only 1 out of 5 flights came in under the Bare Minimum!


United (MileagePlus)

Bare Minimum: 1.5 cents per point

Good Value: 2-3 cents per point

Great Value: 5+ cents per point

*2 flights came in under 1 cent per flight


Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club)

Bare Minimum: 1.5 cents per point

Good Value: 3 - 6 cents per point

Great Value:6-10 + cents per point

*Again international flights redemption value were worth the most, some as high as ~10 cents a point.


Hotels

Redeeming points for hotel night can be quite costly, look below!





Ritz-Carlton

Bare Minimum: 0.9 cents per point

Good Value: 0.9-0.95 cents per point

Great Value: 1.0 + cents per point

*3 out of 5 locations came in below our benchmark of the Bare Minimum


Hyatt

Bare Minimum: 1.8 cents per point

Good Value: 1.8-2.1 cents per point

Great Value: 2.5+ cents per point

*2 out of 5 were below the mark


Marriott

Bare Minimum: 0.9 cents per point

Good Value: 1.0-1.2 cents per point

Great Value: 1.25+ cents per point

*No nights came in below the benchmark, but 3 matched it spot on!


IHG

Bare Minimum: 0.7 cents per point

Good Value: 0.8-1.0 cents per point

Great Value: 1+ cents per point

*2 nights didn’t make our cut!


As you can see point values can range dramatically. It is important to keep in mind if the flight or hotel is pricey to start with before calculating the redemption value. But at the very least if it is below the Bare Minimum standard I’d suggest saving your points for another day.


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