What Are Credit Card Points and Miles Worth?

American Airlines, Hyatt, and a Chase program offers the most valuable rewards

young woman sitting in a first-class seat, looking out an airplane window
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Even during a global pandemic, credit card points and miles are still most valuable when used to book international flights and hotel stays. 

The Balance analyzed more than 20 different airline, hotel, and general travel credit card rewards programs to learn what credit card rewards points are worth and how you can best use your points.

Key Takeaways

  • Most travel rewards points and miles have a lower average value now than they did prior to the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Balance’s research.
  • Hotel points have suffered the greatest losses over the past six months, with average point values dropping as much as 21%.
  • The most valuable credit card, airline, and hotel loyalty points are from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Airlines AAdvantage, and World of Hyatt, respectively. 
  • Airline miles are typically worth more when used to book international flights.
  • Hotel point values are a bit more consistent, and often worth about the same (or more) when used to book standard hotel rooms rather than luxury stays.

Overall, our research looks at the average per-point value you can expect from the top rewards programs based on the most common ways Americans use points and miles. 

Average Credit Card Point and Mile Values

Point and mile values are expressed in cents, or fractions of cents. In order to make that easier to comprehend, we’ve also calculated how many dollars’ worth of travel you could expect to buy with 50,000 points on average.

Average Value of Domestic Airline Miles
Airline Loyalty Program Value Per Mile (Cents) 50,000 Mile Value
American Airlines (AAdvantage) 2.26 $1,130
United Airlines (MileagePlus) 2.19 $1,095
Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) 1.54 $770
Southwest (Rapid Rewards) 1.45 $725
JetBlue (TrueBlue) 1.43 $715
Hawaiian Airlines (HawaiianMiles) 1.27 $635
Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan) 0.85 $425
Spirit Airlines (Free Spirit) 0.72 $360
Frontier (Frontier Miles) 0.64 $320
Average Value of Hotel Points
Hotel Loyalty Program Value Per Point (Cents) 50,000 Point Value
Hyatt (World of Hyatt) 2.01 $1,005
Marriott (Marriott Bonvoy) 1.11 $555
Wyndham (Wyndham Rewards) 1.05 $525
IHG (IHG Rewards Club) 0.75 $375
Best Western (Best Western Rewards) 0.71 $355
Hilton (Hilton Honors) 0.45 $225
Radisson (Radisson Rewards) 0.45 $255
Average Value of Bank Rewards Program Points
Bank credit card rewards programs Value Per Point (Cents) 50,000 Point/Mile Value
Ultimate Rewards
(Chase Sapphire Reserve Card)
1.50 $750
Ultimate Rewards
(Chase Sapphire Preferred Card)
1.46 $730
Citi ThankYou Rewards
(Citi Premier & Citi Prestige Cards)
1.22 $610
American Express Membership Rewards 1.14 $570
Capital One Venture Rewards 0.95 $475

To learn how we calculated our valuation data, see the Methodology section at the bottom of this page. 

What’s New: COVID-19 Impact on Credit Card Rewards & Travel

Based on the data gathered for this report, the global impact of COVID-19 has begun to affect credit card reward point values. Here’s what has happened over the past six months, which may change how you use credit card rewards in the near future. 

Average Hotel Point Values Sink 

The average value of hotel points has traditionally tended to be less than the average value of airline miles, but now it’s even lower. 

All seven of the major hotel rewards programs tracked by The Balance have seen point value drops this year. These programs have shown the largest per-point average value losses:

  • Wyndham Rewards: Average point value was 1.34 cents, is now 1.05 cents
  • Best Western Rewards: Average point value was 0.90 cents, is now 0.71 cents
  • Marriott Bonvoy: Average point value was 1.32 cents, is now 1.11 cents
  • World of Hyatt: Average point value was 2.37 cents, is now 2.01 cents

While the hotel point average value changes are just fractions of a cent, they are quite large losses percentage-wise.

The lost value is most evident when we compare current hotel credit card bonus offers. The now-lower hotel point values even trickle down to general travel credit card reward point values, since many hotel programs are transfer partners for those card programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards. 

Most average airline mile values have also dropped this year, but not nearly as much. 

For travelers, the average point value losses recorded by The Balance mean your rewards may not go as far as they once did. Our figures are averages, so there are likely better deals to be found, but if you’re someone who wants to squeeze the most value from your rewards, it’s a good reminder that the value of your credit card rewards are subject to change. They are not fixed values. 

It’s always important to know how much your points are worth before using them, but particularly in a year when things have changed so fast. To quickly check how much your rewards will be worth when used, divide the price in dollars by the cost in points. So, if a $200 flight costs 25,000 miles, those miles will be worth 0.80 cents each. As a rule of thumb, rewards should be worth at least 1 cent each when redeemed to consider that option a good value.

Maximizing Rewards May Be Difficult Right Now

Travel (particularly international travel) remains curtailed as a result of the global pandemic. While this isn’t directly related to credit card point values, it does impact how you can use rewards. With fewer available flights and ongoing international travel restrictions, as well as lingering fears about catching the coronavirus in crowded public spaces, you may not want or be able to book award travel right now. 

Considering that travel is usually the best way to use travel card points and miles (even now), and that average travel reward values have mostly stayed the same or gone down, your points and miles may feel much less valuable. However, many credit card points don’t expire and if they do, it usually takes a good bit of time or an account closure for that to happen. Often you can keep your account active by making even a small charge on your credit card. So for now, if you can’t use your points or miles the way you want, or find a good deal, hang on to them.

Many card issuers are offering extra ways to earn and use travel rewards right now. To learn more about the latest offers, see “Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19.”

What Are Airline Miles Worth When Redeemed for Flights? 

Average airline mile value figures can help you determine if an airline-branded credit card is worth getting, how much the welcome bonus is worth, and whether an award flight is a good deal.

Most Valuable Airline Miles
  • American Airlines: 2.26 cents each, on average

Least Valuable Airline Miles
  • Frontier Airlines: 0.64 cents each, on average

We found the average value of miles from the nine domestic airlines we monitor to be 1.06 cents apiece. American Airlines offers the most valuable airline miles, which we calculate are worth 2.26 each on average. In contrast, Frontier Airlines has the lowest valued miles, which are only worth about 0.64 cents each. 

Because ticket prices and reward values vary for each airline, the following two charts will give you an idea of how many one-way tickets you may get for 50,000 miles with each frequent flyer program, based on our average point valuations. In some cases, our research found that your points would also buy you an extra fraction of a flight, but we’ve rounded down to show you the number of whole tickets you could actually buy.

Here's what you can get for domestic flights:

And here's what you can get if you want to travel abroad:

While we found the average cost for an international, first-class ticket was more than 50,000 miles for all the major airlines, each rewards program has a sweet spot and there can be deals to be found under 50,000 miles. Keep that in mind when looking for award flights.

For more information about how we calculated average airline mile values, see the “Airline Mile Values” section in the methodology below. 

How Should I Use Airline Miles?

Airline miles can often be used for a number of rewards in addition to flights, such as seat upgrades, hotel stays, and vacation packages. Regardless, airline miles are usually best for one thing: flights. 

Domestic vs. International 

Airline miles are typically worth more when used for international travel. For example, United Airlines miles are worth about 1.03 cents each when used for domestic flights (averaged across all classes), but their average value more than doubles to 3.35 cents each when used to book international travel. 

International travel may not be an option for everyone right now, and that means you may not be able to use your miles in a way that maximizes their value. If that’s the case, using miles for a flight within the U.S. is still usually the best way to use your miles. 

The values outlined in the chart above are averages. You may be able to squeeze more value from your miles on a domestic flight, depending on what is available for your desired trip. 

Economy vs. First-Class 

If you prefer premium seats (business or first-class) when flying, Southwest Rapid Rewards and American Airlines AAdvantage miles offer the best value for award flights when traveling around the U.S. (1.37 cents each, on average). United Airlines offers the most valuable international award flights (3.66 cents each, on average) when you book a premium seat ticket with rewards. 

If economy seats will do, Southwest miles offer the best average per-mile value for domestic coach seats (1.53 cents each), and United Airlines miles are best for economy seats when traveling abroad (3.03 cents each).

What Are Hotel Points Worth When Redeemed for Hotel Stays?

Compared to airline miles, hotel rewards aren’t usually worth as much per point, but high hotel loyalty program earning rates typically bridge that gap. For example, airline credit cards typically award 2-3 miles per $1 spent on flights, while hotel cards may award three times as many (or more) points per $1 spent on eligible hotel stays.

Our research found that the average value of points issued by the loyalty program tied to the top seven hotel brands is 0.93 cents each.

Most Valuable Hotel Points
  • World of Hyatt: 2.01 cents each, on average

Least Valuable Hotel Points
  • Hilton Honors: 0.45 cents each, on average

The World of Hyatt loyalty program offers the most valuable points, worth 2.01 cents each, on average. They’re worth 2 cents each when redeemed for standard hotel stays or 2.03 cents each when used at a luxury hotel. For comparison, Hilton Honors and Radisson have the least valuable hotel points, which are only worth 0.42-0.47 cents each, on average, depending on the type of room booked. 

Much like flights, the cost of hotel stays varies based on the length of your reservation, the type of hotel, and the chain. This chart should give you an idea of how many award nights you can book for 50,000 points with each hotel loyalty program, depending on the hotel. As with flights, our research found that your points may be able to buy an additional fraction of a hotel stay, but we’ve rounded down to show how many nights you could actually pay for with points, on average.

To learn how we determined what hotel points are worth, see the “Hotel Point Values” section in the methodology below. 

How Should I Use Hotel Points?

You probably have several options when it comes to using hotel points, such as buying gift cards or even booking airline flights, but they’re almost always most valuable when used to book hotel stays.

Unlike airline flights, hotel points are often worth more (or about the same) when used to book award nights at economy or standard hotels. The Balance found your points won’t go quite as far if you use them for a premium stay. 

However, whether you prefer staying at luxe hotels or more standard accommodations, World of Hyatt points have the highest average per-point value. They’re worth 2.03 cents each, on average, when used to reserve rooms at premium Hyatt hotels, and 2 cents each when used at standard hotels. 

What Are Credit Card Points Worth When Redeemed for Travel?

A number of credit card issuers have their own flexible travel rewards programs that allow you to redeem points for multiple types of expenses, such as flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and cruises. We cover the four major programs in this report.

Points in these types of programs are worth at least 1 cent each on average when used to book travel through the program’s reservation system or redeemed for a statement credit against travel-related charges. But they can be worth more. So even though you may be able to redeem them for cash back, merchandise, or gift cards, travel is usually the best way to use flexible card points.

Most Valuable Credit Card Points
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Ultimate Rewards points: 1.50 cents each, on average

Least Valuable Credit Card Points
  • Capital One Venture Rewards: 0.95 cents each, on average

Since the four bank rewards programs described below are multi-use programs, our average point valuations factor in the values of the travel redemption options that consumers are most likely to use.

Your points will be worth at least 1 cent each when used for travel with any of the cards listed in the following sections, but potentially more with the right card and airline or hotel transfer partner.

What Is Chase Ultimate Rewards?

Chase Ultimate Rewards is a flexible rewards program offered on a handful of Chase-branded credit cards. Cardholders can earn points on a wide variety of travel expenses and some more routine purchases such as dining out, depending on the card. These Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points: 

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred cards, your Ultimate Rewards points are best used for travel. Those cards allow 1-to-1 point transfers to more than a dozen participating airline and hotel loyalty programs, which may have even higher-value points.  

Based on our analysis, moving points to the World of Hyatt program makes Ultimate Rewards points worth an outstanding 2.01 cents each (the average value of a Hyatt point, based on our research). If you are seeking airline rewards, transferring Ultimate Rewards points to United’s MileagePlus program makes your rewards worth 2.19 cents each (our valuation of the average United mile).

With cards such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited that advertise cash-back rewards, you actually earn Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash back (1 point = 1 cent cash back) and other rewards, including travel. To get even more value out of travel redemptions, you can transfer your points from one of those cards to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred account if you have one. The value of your points when redeeming for travel is greater with those accounts.

To learn more, read Chase Ultimate Rewards Program: Your Complete Guide.

What Is Citi ThankYou Rewards?

Citi ThankYou Rewards is the flexible rewards program offered by Citi on a handful of its cards. Cardholders earn at least 1 point per $1 spent with the card, and extra points on travel, gas, restaurant, entertainment, or grocery purchases, depending on the card. These Citi cards let you earn ThankYou points on eligible purchases: 

If you have one of those cards and the Citi Double Cash Card, you can turn the cash back earned with the Double Cash Card into ThankYou Points. Just transfer the cash-back rewards to your ThankYou rewards account. You’ll get 100 Thank You Points per $1 of cash back.  

If you have the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier cards, you can transfer your ThankYou points to travel partners in order to boost their value a bit. For example, The Balance found that transferring points to JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flyer program, the program’s only domestic airline transfer partner, makes them worth 1.43 cents each, on average. 

If you have a Citi Rewards+ or Double Cash card, you can only transfer points to JetBlue’s TrueBlue program, but you’ll only get 0.80 JetBlue miles for each ThankYou point. In other words, you’ll only get 800 JetBlue miles for every 1,000 ThankYou points you transfer.

If you don’t transfer your ThankYou points, your rewards are still generally best used for travel that you book through the Citi travel portal. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed that way.

What Is American Express Membership Rewards?

Membership Rewards are points earned by cardholders of these American Express cards, plus several corporate cards:

Among the consumer cards, the Gold, Green, and Platinum consumer cards award the most points on travel purchases—as many as 5 points per $1 spent. Membership Rewards points don’t expire as long as you’ve got an active Membership Rewards account, and there’s no limit on how many you can earn, either. 

Membership Rewards points can be used to book flights through the American Express website at a value of 1 cent each, and other travel reservations such as hotel rooms and rental cars at a value of 0.70 cents each. However, regardless of the card you have, Membership Rewards are most valuable when transferred to one of the more than 20 participating travel loyalty rewards programs, such as Delta SkyMiles or Marriott Bonvoy. Your points could be worth 1.54 cents each when transferred to Delta, or 1.11 cents each when transferred to Marriott, based on our average value calculations.

What Is Capital One Venture Rewards? 

Venture Rewards is a flexible travel rewards program offered on a few of Capital One’s consumer and business cards:

Venture Rewards is a straightforward program overall: With the consumer cards, all purchases earn 1.25 to 2 miles per $1 spent, depending on the card, and there’s no limit on how many miles you can earn.

The Balance found Venture Miles are most valuable when used for travel, especially when transferred to one of 14 eligible partner loyalty rewards programs, even though the transfer ratios are worse than 1-to-1. For example, miles may be worth 1.07 cents each when transferred to JetBlue’s TrueBlue rewards program and used for flights, which is only slightly more than the 1 cent value you’d get for points you use to book travel through the Capital One portal.

For more information about how we calculated the average credit card point value for each redemption option and flight type, check out the “Credit Card Point Values” section in the methodology below. 

Should I Redeem My Points or Miles for Cash?

No. First of all, that’s rarely even a redemption option with hotel and airline-branded travel rewards cards. Those programs do often offer ways to shop with points or miles like you are using cash, but the rewards are still worth much more when they are used to book travel.

With points offered by general travel rewards cards, you’ll have the option to redeem points for cash (either in the form of a statement credit or bank account direct deposit), but The Balance has found points are still best used for travel if you’re trying to maximize your hard-earned rewards.

Methodology

Loyalty and credit card rewards programs are not all the same, so our data gathering and calculation process for each category of rewards cited in this report—airline miles, hotel points, and general travel credit card points—was gathered using different processes described below. All data in this report is current as of the third quarter of 2020. 

Airline Mile Values

There’s more than one way to use airline miles to save on air travel, so we included more than one type of flight in our value calculations. Our average per-mile value data includes one-way economy and first-class (or the equivalent classifications) ticket prices for domestic and international flights from nine airlines. The flights follow popular routes for each airline, with departures one to five months out to account for trip planners and last minute flight shoppers. We do not factor in fuel surcharges when determining value. 

Hotel Point Values

To calculate our average hotel point values, we looked at reservations available at luxury and economy hotels for seven major hotel chains. Reservation price data was gathered for five-night stays at the selected hotels in the top nine travel destination cities for each chain. We collected information for reservations one, two, and three months from the date of data collection.  

General Travel Credit Card Point Values

The rewards tied to these cards are intended for travel, so we leaned on that while making our value calculations. For each of the four programs, we took the average value of each domestic (U.S.) travel transfer partner, as well as the value of booking travel through the bank’s reservation system or getting statement credits to reimburse you for travel expenses. We used those values to establish an average point value that represents these multi-use rewards programs. 

Article Sources

  1. Citi. "Citi Double Cash Benefit Terms and Conditions." Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.

  2. American Express. "About the Membership Rewards Program." Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.

  3. American Express. "Membership Rewards: Explore Your Rewards." Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.

  4. American Express. "Transfer Points to a Loyalty Program." Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.