A question that often comes up when discussing different travel hacking rewards programs is the value of each point. There are very big variations between these valuations.
It’s important to know what a point is worth, to decide which program is the best for you, but also to decide when it’s worth paying using points and when it’s better to pay in cash.
What do we mean? Well, say a night at a Marriott in Phoenix is worth $120 a night. But it would “cost” 20,000 Marriott Points to get it free with points. Knowing that a Marriott point is worth 0.9 cents, you know it doesn’t make sense to pay in points because you’d be spending $180 worth of points instead of just paying $120 in cash.
If you use 20,000 Marriott Points for a hotel stay that is retailing fro $300, you are paying $180 worth of points in exchange for a $300 stay. That is good value. So it’s better to keep your points for redemptions where you will get a better return for those hard-earned points.
That’s the art of travel hacking. Maximizing the value of each point, not just accumulating and burning them with a bad redemption and getting a poor return. The more you optimize your points, the more free travel you get.
In short, as mentioned in our previous travel hacking articles, so far we have been very focused on publishing articles on the earning side of points (and miles, we’ll use those terms interchangeably), now we have a lot of new articles coming up to help you use and optimize them.
We will give you many more tips on how to turn your points and miles into travel very soon.
Until we delve deeper into the details of each rewards program, here is an estimate (in cents per point) of the valuation of the main rewards programs available to Canadians, according to our criteria. We aim to give a lot more information about each program, but in the meantime, it gives you a good idea of what each point is worth. We also included a table with programs that are also accessible indirectly via point transfers, these are the values established by ThePointsGuy, the number one travel hacking reference in the United States.
As with our ranking of the best credit cards, we will update this table regularly, here is the June 2018 edition.
Obviously, these valuations are very subjective. They all depend on your use and what your goals are. For example if you use 15,000 Aeroplan Miles to fly from Toronto to Montreal, you’ll often get a horrible return, less than a cent (don’t do that unless you really don’t have a choice). If you use them wisely, you might get more than 2 cents per point.
Airline and hotel programs are much more complex than bank rewards, it is not a fixed value. In exchange for the higher value, these are often much less flexible than bank rewards programs, so it’s important to know how to use them wisely.
That’s why we’ll detail each program in future articles, but these are our baseline Flytrippers valuations. Keep in mind that our goal by launching our travel hacking section, is to use travel hacking to travel more often not to travel luxuriously, which means our valuations are in line with that philosophy.
So here are the Flytrippers points valuations:
And here are the values that ThePointsGuy has established for major rewards programs outside of Canada, as a reference:
This is only a reference, but it gives you at least a general idea. As you can see, the different kinds of points are not all created equally. Also note that the flexible programs you get with the financial institutions usually give you a bit less value per point in general, in exchange for more flexibility redemption-wise. Any questions? Ask them in the comments below.
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