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

The most valuable credit card, airline, and hotel loyalty points are from Chase Ultimate Rewards (with the Chase Sapphire Reserve), American Airlines AAdvantage, and World of Hyatt, respectively. They have the best value for the most common ways you’d want to use their points and miles, according to our research. You’ll get even more value from them when you use them on international flights and luxury hotel stays.

Those are the best-case scenarios we’ve found. 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. 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.

June 2020 Average Point and Mile Values

Average Value of Domestic Airline Miles
Airline Loyalty Program Value Per Mile (Cents) 50,000 Mile Value
American Airlines (AAdvantage) 2.32 $1,160
United Airlines (MileagePlus) 2.28 $1,140
Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) 1.54 $770
Southwest (Rapid Rewards) 1.52 $760
JetBlue (TrueBlue) 1.44 $720
Hawaiian Airlines (HawaiianMiles) 1.22 $610
Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan) 0.88 $440
Spirit Airlines (Free Spirit) 0.81 $405
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) 2.37 $1,185
Wyndham (Wyndham Rewards) 1.34 $670
Marriott (Marriott Bonvoy) 1.32 $660
Best Western (Best Western Rewards) 0.90 $450
Choice Hotels (Choice Privileges) 0.84 $420
IHG (IHG Rewards Club) 0.83 $415
Radisson (Radisson Rewards) 0.51 $255
Hilton (Hilton Honors) 0.47 $235
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)
1.64 $820
Ultimate Rewards
(Chase Sapphire Preferred Card)
1.59 $795
Citi ThankYou Rewards
(Citi Premier & Citi Prestige Cards)
1.22 $610
American Express Membership Rewards 1.20 $600
Capital One Venture Rewards 1.03 $515

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 hasn’t trickled down to affect credit card reward point values—yet. Here’s what we have seen happening, which may change how you earn and use credit card rewards in the near future: 

Travel has been seriously disrupted

Travel (particularly international) has been severely 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 cancelled flights and 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 travel is usually the best way to use travel card points and miles, rewards may feel much less valuable. We understand how frustrating that is. However, remember that 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. So for now, if you can’t use your points or miles the way you want, or find a good deal, hang onto them. This report will help you understand what rewards are worth when redeemed for things besides travel, too. (See the charts in the “What Are Credit Card Points Worth When Redeemed for Travel?” section below.)

It’s more important than ever to know how much your points are worth before using them. 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.

Card issuers are offering more ways to earn and redeem rewards

Some of the best rewards cards offer the most points on travel purchases, and if you’re spending more money on groceries and takeout than vacation getaways these days, quickly racking up extra points is tough. Fortunately, several card issuers have responded to recent changes in consumer spending habits by offering temporary ways to earn extra rewards on things we are buying. 

For example, American Express is now offering 4 miles per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets with Delta Skymiles consumer cards for a limited time. A few Marriott and Hilton-branded cards are boasting similar short-term deals. A number of premium Citi-issued travel cards are also giving cardholders alternative ways to earn statement credits that, in normal times, require specific travel purchases. 

Some issuers are also offering helpful ways to redeem rewards right now. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can now use points to get reimbursed for groceries, dining, and home improvement store purchases. What’s more, they’ll get 50% more value when they do that compared to the value of redeeming points for cash back. Typically, when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits, they’re only worth 1 cent each, not 1.5 cents, so this is a good short-term deal. That’s the same point-value boost cardholders usually get by using rewards to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.   

To learn more about what issuers are doing for travel card holders right now, see “Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19.” 

The Balance is closely monitoring the impact of the coronavirus on credit card rewards and travel. We will update this report as more information (and valuation data) becomes available.

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: 2.32 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 1.41 cents apiece. American Airlines offers the most valuable airline miles, which we calculate are worth 2.32 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 be used for a number of rewards in addition to flights, such as seat upgrades, hotel stays, and even vacation packages. 

Airline miles are typically worth more when used for international travel. For example, United Airlines miles are worth about 1.07 cents each when used for domestic flights (averaged across all classes), but their average value more than doubles to 3.49 cents each when used to book international travel. 

If you prefer premium seats (business or first-class) when flying, Southwest Rapid Rewards miles offer the best value for award flights when traveling around the U.S. (1.44 cents each, on average). United Airlines offers the most valuable international award flights (3.55 cents each, on average) when you book a premium seat ticket with rewards. 

If you’re not picky and economy seats will do, American Airlines miles offer the best average per-mile value for domestic coach seats (1.62 cents each), and United Airlines miles are best for economy seats when traveling abroad (3.42 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 eight hotel brands is 1.07 cents each.

Most Valuable Hotel Points

  • World of Hyatt: 2.37 cents each, on average

Least Valuable Hotel Points

  • Hilton Honors: 0.47 cents each, on average

The World of Hyatt loyalty program offers the most valuable points, worth 2.37 cents each, on average. They’re worth 2.24 cents each when redeemed for standard hotel stays or 2.54 cents each when used at a luxury hotel. For comparison, Hilton Honors has the least valuable hotel points, which are only worth 0.45-0.48 cents each, on average, depending on the type of room booked. 

Much like flights, the cost of hotel stays vary 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 for one thing: more hotel stays.

Much like airline flights, hotel points are typically worth more (or about the same) when used to book award nights at premium hotels, The Balance found. 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 2.54 cents each, on average, when used to reserve rooms at premium Hyatt hotels, and 2.24 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’re often 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: 1.64 cents each, on average

Least Valuable Credit Card Points

  • Capital One Venture Rewards: 1.03 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-valued points.  

Based on our analysis, moving points to the World of Hyatt program makes them worth an outstanding 2.37 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 2.28 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 cent cash back = 1 point) 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.

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 1.44 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 1.32 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 1.08 cents each when transferred to JetBlue’s TrueBlue rewards program and used for flights, which is 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 rewards 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 first 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 eight 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. American Express. "Announcing something extra to support our Card Members right now." Accessed June 4, 2020.

  2. Chase. "Sapphire Reserve is broadening your world of benefits." Accessed June 4, 2020.

  3. Citi. "Citi Double Cash Benefit Terms and Conditions." Accessed June 4, 2020.

  4. American Express. "About the Membership Rewards Program." Accessed June 4, 2020.

  5. American Express. "Membership Rewards: Explore Your Rewards." Accessed June 4, 2020.

  6. American Express. "Transfer Points to a Loyalty Program." Accessed June 4, 2020.