It is easy to see bigger numbers and think they mean better value. If someone offers me a 24-ounce beer or a 16-ounce for the same price, I’ll likely take the 24 ounces. Naturally, I’m getting more for the same price! It is easy to think the same thing about points, but not all points are equal.
Want a list of Point Values? Jump to Point Values by Category.
In Rewards Cards 101 we outlined what points are better than others, but how do you effectively compare offers? It can be easy if the offer is 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards versus 50,000 Ultimate Rewards. But what about 150,000 Hilton Honors points versus 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards?
This is a very tricky situation. Are Chase Ultimate Rewards really twice as valuable than Hilton Honors?
Let’s take a look at how you can decide what the best offer is, so you can see that not all points are equal. We are going to use this example of Hilton Honors vs Chase Ultimate Rewards throughout this post, but you should apply this same analysis yourself before rushing to get a card.
Are There Limits On Getting The Bonus?
The first question you should ask yourself is if the bank issuing the card places limitations on getting the bonus. Chase has the 5/24 rule which will limit your ability to get certain cards.
In our example above, by getting the 150,000 Hilton Honors points, we may use a valuable 5/24 slot. This means we may not be able to get the 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards from the Chase Ink Preferred in the future.
The opposite, however, is not true. If you get the Chase Ink Preferred bonus, you will still be eligible to get the Hilton Honors bonus.
So what would you rather have? 150,000 Hilton Honors points and nothing else, or 150,000 Hilton Honors points AND 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards?
This is a classic example of opportunity cost – by getting the Hilton bonus you lose the opportunity to get the Chase bonus. However, if you get the Chase bonus, you do NOT lose the ability to get the Hilton bonus.
Determine What Your Points Are Worth By Seeing What You Can Get With Them
One of the easiest ways to see which points are more valuable is to compare what you can get with them. We try to help out with examples, such as how to use Citi ThankYou Points. We can’t cover every example, and it will also depend on what your intended use is. Some points may be more valuable for free travel to Hawaii than others, and that can impact the value you’re getting.
Let’s continue looking at our example of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards which you can earn from the Chase Ink Preferred and 150,000 Hilton Honors points which was recently available through a promotional offer.
I like using points for luxury vacations, so I’m going to look at some high-end hotel properties to compare the value. Be aware, if you don’t find yourself using points for luxury travel, then look at what suits you. Looking at high-end properties you’re never going to stay at won’t really compare the value that YOU will get out of the points. After all, the purpose is to see what value you will get personally.
Let’s compare two wonderful properties that can be booked with points and miles in the Maldives. The Conrad Maldives, a Hilton property, compared to the Park Hyatt Maldives. This example will demonstrate why not all points are equal in value.
I’m choosing Hyatt because you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt, Hyatt’s award program.
For comparison, it is important to set a baseline. Let’s look at the cash prices of each property first. We will look on the same date so that prices are a direct comparison.
If you’re wanting to stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives on April 1st of next year, the room will cost you $850 per night.
The Conrad Maldives will cost a bit more, at $1,000 per night.
Although the cash price is similar, the points price is vastly different. You can book the Park Hyatt Maldives for only 25,000 points per night. The Conrad Maldives will cost 95,000 points per night.
You can now compare the value in two ways. First, you can determine the cents per point you’re getting. Just simply take the cash price, multiply it by 100, and divide by the number of points you’re using. In this example, you’re getting 3.4 cents per point for each Ultimate Reward point you’re redeeming at the Park Hyatt Maldives. For Hilton, you’re getting 1.1 cents per point. This directly shows you that not all points are equal. You’re getting more than three times the value from each Chase Ultimate Reward for a luxury vacation.
This is a great way to directly compare the value of your points, but there’s a better way in this scenario. Both hotels are highly luxurious options, and any traveler would be happy at either regardless of the value you’re getting from your points. But want to see the real reason not all points are equal?
With your 150,000 Hilton Honors points you would only be able to stay one night at the Conrad Maldives. If you instead open a Chase Ink Preferred, your 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards would get you 3 nights at the Park Hyatt. When you look at it this way, you really can see that not all points are equal.
Keep in mind, you should do this evaluation for the location you’re considering using your points. Just like not all points are equal, not all locations are either. There are certain locations where 150,000 Hilton Honors points will be more valuable than 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards. It is merely a case-by-case evaluation.
Do You Have A Plan For The Bonus You’re Getting?
Beyond the opportunity cost for earning the bonus, or the value of the points you’re getting, one of the biggest considerations is if you have a plan for the bonus points you’re getting.
If you are just planning to hoard your points and miles, you should stop right there. You should not be getting points just for the sake of getting points. They can easily be devalued or even expire if you don’t use them in time.
In our ongoing example, you may be tempted to get the 80,000 Ultimate Rewards because it is a good amount. However, if you don’t have a plan you could see a loss in value. Chase could lower the transfer partner amounts, or lower the redemption value in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Simply put, not all points are equal and no points are worth hoarding. You can always get a bonus when you have a plan to use them, so don’t rush into it.
Point Values by Category*
*Values based on calculations from Frequent Miler’s article here (permission given by Frequent Miler)
|Program||Value||Best Way to Redeem|
|Amex Membership Rewards||1.55||Travel Portal and Transfer Partners|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||1.5||Travel Portal and Transfer Partners|
|Citi ThankYou Points||1.45||Travel Portal and Transfer Partners|
|Capital One Venture Miles||1.05||Points Eraser and Transfer Partners|
|Marriott Bonvoy Points||0.8||Hotel bookings or Transfer Partners|
Most airline miles are around the same value. So choosing airline credit cards comes down to preference, travel goals, sign-up bonuses, and extra benefits like free bags. There are also some intangibles such as Southwest's flexible cancellation and change policy (no fees and miles are re-deposited quickly).
|Airline Program||Redemption Value (Cents per point)|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1.3|
|British Airways Avios||1.09|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Mies||1.09|
|Frontier Bonus Miles||0.95|
|Miles & More (Lufthansa)||1.3|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1.3|
The main takeaway is that Hilton often has higher welcome bonuses for their credit cards compared to Hyatt or Marriott, but Hilton Honors points are far less valuable than other programs.
|Hotel Program||Redemption Value (Cents per point)|
|Best Western Rewards||0.58|
|World of Hyatt||1.5|
|IHG Rewards Club||0.57|
Have a question about the value of points? Feel free to send an email or ask in the comments. I’ll be happy to help you discover which cards are right for you and your travel plans. Of course, all of this is taken into consideration when you use the Card Genie tool. Want to be sure you’re getting the best value points for you? Be sure your Travel Freely profile is up to date and check out the card genie tool to see what card is right for you.