redemption value

How to Calculate Your Redemption Value to Make the Most of Your Points

We’ve created a new tool to help you figure out how much your miles or points are worth when you are making a redemption decision.

Table of Contents

    How to use the redemption value calculator

    This redemption calculator will give you the most helpful results when you search your desired booking and input the actual cash and points values for your trip – don’t just guess!

    When you are thinking about making a booking with points, plug in:

    1) the number of miles or points the booking would cost,

    2) how many dollars the same booking would cost, and

    3) any taxes or fees (if applicable).

    The calculator will show you the value per point for the booking to help you decide whether and how to use your points.

    When to use the redemption value calculator

    Use this miles and points redemption value calculator whenever you are trying to determine whether paying with cash, points, or a credit card travel portal will give you the best value.

    Why use the redemption value calculator

    We hope this calculator will help you make better informed decisions about whether and how to redeem your miles and points.

    Using the redemption value to decide how to book

    If you collect miles and points, there are three main ways you may choose to pay for airline and hotel reservations:

    1. Pay with cash
    2. Book with points through credit card portal
    3. Book with points directly through airline or hotel

    The redemption value calculator can help you decide which is the best option. There is no right or wrong choice. In addition to the redemption value, you’ll be considering the points you have, booking availability, personal preferences, and more. So a low redemption value doesn’t always mean you should pay cash, and vice versa.

    Loyalty program estimated point values

    In addition to the redemption value, it’s helpful to know what the estimated value per point is for different loyalty programs. This can help you determine whether the redemption value you are calculating is low or high for that particular airline or hotel.

    While we have not calculated estimated point values for different loyalty programs, a lot of others in the miles and points world have. Below are the estimated values (as of October 2022) of some of the most popular miles and points, as estimated by The Points Guy.

    Loyalty ProgramEstimated Value Per Point (cents)
    Alaska Mileage Plan1.8
    American Aadvantage1.77
    Choice Privileges0.6
    Delta Skymiles1.41
    Flying Blue1.2
    Hilton Honors0.6
    IHG Rewards Club0.5
    JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program1.3
    Marriott Bonvoy0.84
    Southwest Rapid Rewards1.5
    United MileagePlus1.21
    Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1.5
    World of Hyatt 1.7
    Wyndham Rewards1.1
    Table 1

    Pay with cash

    Most of the time when you pay cash (the term “pay cash” includes credit, credit card and gift card payments) for a booking, you are booking directly through the airline or hotel or using an Online Travel Agency (OTA) such as Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com, etc.

    If you have a flexible rewards card – like the Venture/Venture X, a Sapphire card, or Citi Premier card – you will have access to the credit card’s OTA to make bookings with cash or points. Depending on your card, you may even be able to turn your cash booking into a points booking by “erasing” the expenditure or “paying yourself back”. The redemption value of your miles and points when booked through the credit card’s OTA is set by the bank.

    Credit CardTravel Portal Redemption Value (cents/point)
    Chase Sapphire Preferred1.25
    Chase Sapphire Reserve1.5
    Capital One Venture/Venture X1
    Citi Premier1
    American Express Platinum/Gold/Green1
    Table 2

    If you have loyalty points already or are considering transferring points into a loyalty program from a flexible rewards card, sometimes you may want to calculate the redemption value.

    For airlines and hotels that do not charges taxes or fees, you could simply compare the cost in points in the travel portal to the cost in points through the loyalty program. However, if there are any taxes, fees, or surcharges when you book through a loyalty program, knowing the best redemption isn’t always as straightforward. That’s where the redemption calculator comes in!

    If you calculate a redemption value that is less than the estimated value per point in Table 1 above, and/or less than the value when booked through the credit card OTA (Table 2), you may get the best value by paying cash and saving your points for a better redemption.

    Example 1

    You are looking at flights to Europe for your family. Round trip tickets on Air France (part of Flying Blue) cost $750 each if you book direct or through the Capital One portal. If you transfer your miles to Flying Blue, each round trip ticket would cost you 40,000 points and $400 in taxes and fees.

    When you calculate the redemption value, you find it is 0.88 cents. This is less than the estimated value of a Flying Blue point. You would get a slightly better value (1 cent) booking through the portal but you either don’t have enough points or don’t like to book airline tickets through an OTA. In this case, it might make the most sense for you to just pay cash for these tickets.

    Booking MethodCost ($)Cost (Points + Taxes and Fees)Redemption Value (cents)
    Capital One Travel Portal$75075,0001
    Flying Blue Website$75040,000 + $4000.88
    Table 3

    Book with points through a credit card OTA

    If you are making a booking through a credit card OTA, the redemption value will depend on your card (Table 2). When you are logged in and search for travel, the travel portal will display both the cost in dollars and the cost in points.

    In many cases, this makes it easy to compare the number of points for a portal booking to the number of points when booking through a loyalty program. However, there are times – notably when the loyalty program charges taxes, fees, or surcharges – where comparing the two is not as straightforward.

    If the redemption value for booking directly through the airline or hotel is less than the travel portal redemption value, you may be better off booking through the portal. Note that you may lose some of the benefits of booking direct when you use an OTA. You may not earn hotel loyalty points or be eligible for upgrades, and handling airline changes and cancellations may be more difficult.

    Example 2

    You are looking at booking an IHG hotel. You have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and know that you can either book through the portal or transfer these points to IHG and book direct.

    The stay you are looking at costs $95 per night (7,600 Ultimate Rewards) through the portal or 21,000 IHG One Rewards points booked directly. The redemption value for booking directly through IHG is 0.45 cents. In this example, it makes the most sense to book your stay through Chase’s portal.

    Booking MethodCost ($)Cost (Points)Redemption Value (cents)
    Chase Travel Portal$957,6001.25
    IHG Website$9521,0000.45
    Table 4

    Book with points directly through the airline or hotel

    You can book your airline or hotel directly with points if you already have the points in the loyalty program account or you have a flexible rewards card that transfers to that loyalty program. Each bank has different transfer partners – sign up below to get our full transfer partner guide.

    .

    If you find the redemption value is higher when booked directly through an airline or hotel than through your credit card’s travel portal (Table 2), you will get a better value transferring your points into your loyalty account.

    Example 3

    You have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which transfer to Hyatt. You are looking at staying at a Hawaii Hyatt resort that costs $600 per night in the Chase portal or 25,000 World of Hyatt points booked directly through Hyatt.

    The redemption value of transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt and booking directly would be 2.4 cents per point. This compares to a much lower redemption value of 1.25 cents per point through the Chase travel portal.

    Booking MethodCost ($)Cost (Points)Redemption Value (cents)
    Chase Travel Portal$60048,0001.25
    World of Hyatt Website$60025,0002.4
    Table 5

    Have you had any really great redemptions? We love to hear other people’s success stories, so share about it in the comments below!

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