Now that Quarter 4 of 2021 has arrived, it’s once again time to revisit our Points Valuations, which we update on a quarterly basis.
Over the last three months, we’ve seen a few big movements across loyalty programs that have bumped our valuations higher across the board – or in some cases, removed the need for any kind of valuation at all!
Before we delve into the valuations, I should remind you that the focus of these valuations lies in the target redemption value of each points currency, rather than the acquisition cost that you might incur (which can vary significantly depending on how you prefer to earn points).
Alaska Mileage Plan: Qatar Airways Comes Online
Alaska Airlines joined Oneworld on March 31, 2021, promising to roll out award redemptions on Oneworld partner airlines over the course of the upcoming year.
The first of those new redemption possibilities was introduced this past quarter, with Qatar Airways flights becoming bookable using Alaska miles at a base rate of 85,000 Alaska miles for Qsuites to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.
Even though 85,000 Alaska miles for Qsuites may not be as attractive of a price point as 70,000 Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines First Class, it’s still a worthy new possibility for aspirational travel using your Alaska miles.
With this in mind, we’re increasing our valuation of Alaska miles this quarter to 2.3 cents/point (CAD).
Note, however, that the Mileage Plan program has continued to hold off on announcing major changes to their existing redemption rates. We’ve been assured of at least 90 days’ notice if any changes to existing charts are announced.
We’ll keep an eye out for what the new Mileage Plan award charts look like by the time we revisit our valuations in Quarter 1 of 2022, bearing in mind that any changes to the existing award charts – and therefore our valuation – are more likely to be negative than positive.
- Previous valuation: 2.2 cents/point (CAD)
- Updated valuation: 2.3 cents/point (CAD) ▲
Amex MR Select Points: Goodbye!
With major changes to the Amex Membership Rewards ecosystem taking place in August 2021, we no longer need to maintain a separate valuation for Membership Rewards (Select) points.
Previously, the MR Select cards earned on the Cobalt Card, Business Edge Card, and Green Card (formerly known as the Choice Card) were not transferrable to airline partners, only hotel partners. This greatly limited the potential redemption value of these points.
As of August 2021, however, the points earned on these cards can now be transferred to airline partners, making them equivalent to regular MR points for most intents and purposes.
(The only exception is the fact that these points are still known as “MR Select points” on the back-end and are not combinable with MR points earned from other cards, but that has no impact on the redemption value.)
With this development, it makes sense to merge our two valuations into one.
- Previous valuation: 1.5 cents/point (CAD)
- Updated valuation: Merged into Amex MR points at 2.2 cents/point (CAD)
Chase Ultimate Rewards: New Aeroplan 1:1 Transfer Ratio
As part of Aeroplan and Chase’s new US partnership, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are now transferrable to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, in advance of a full co-branded credit card launching later this quarter.
From a Canadian perspective, being able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Aeroplan might not be the most exciting news, because we’ve already got plenty of ways to rack up Chase points here in Canada.
Nevertheless, transferring points to Aeroplan will certainly be a very attractive usage of Ultimate Rewards points for our US-based readers, as well as any Canadians who are more interested in consolidating balances in a small number of programs rather than spreading themselves too thin.
Given that we currently value Aeroplan at 2.1 cents/point (CAD), Chase Ultimate Rewards points should be at least as valuable given the 1:1 transfer ratio. Therefore, we’ll bump up our valuation to 1.7 cents/point (USD) / 2.1 cents/point (CAD) in light of this development.
- Previous valuation: 1.6 cents/point (USD) / 2 cents/point (CAD)
- Updated valuation: 1.7 cents/point (USD) / 2.1 cents/point (CAD) ▲
New Valuation: Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Air France/KLM Flying Blue was introduced as a new transfer partner from Amex Membership Rewards this quarter.
Given that the program’s unique sweet spots may now play an important role for some Canadian travellers, we wanted to begin valuing Flying Blue miles this quarter.
On one hand, Flying Blue offers useful redemption options in otherwise underserved or hard-to-book markets, such as Bora Bora, Mauritius, or New Caledonia. It also provides Canadians with another option for booking transatlantic flights, especially with a monthly rotating selection of Promo Rewards.
On the other hand, the carrier-imposed surcharges can get quite expensive when redeeming Flying Blue miles, while the dynamic pricing model doesn’t allow for stopovers or custom routings – all of which limits the overall upside of the program.
With that in mind, Flying Blue is likely to only take on a secondary role for Canadians who are seeking out a unique sweet spot or perhaps looking to try out a SkyTeam premium cabin for the first time.
- Starting valuation: 1.6 cents/point (CAD)
Points Valuations, Quarter 4 2021
Here’s a summary of our Points Valuations for Quarter 4 of 2021. You can refer to the Points Valuations page for a full list with additional notes.
2.1 cents/point (CAD)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
1.6 cents/mile (CAD)
11.5 cents/mile (CAD)
15 cents/mile (CAD)
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
2.3 cents/mile (CAD) ▲
American Airlines AAdvantage
1.4 cents/mile (USD)
American Express (Canada)
2.2 cents/point (CAD)
American Express (US)
1.8 cents/point (USD)
Best Western Rewards
0.7 cents/point (CAD)
0.67 cents/point (CAD)
British Airways Avios
1.7 cents/Avios (CAD)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
1.6 cents/mile (CAD)
Chase Ultimate Rewards
1.7 cents/point (USD) ▲
1.2 cents/point (CAD)
1.7 cents/point (USD)
1.2 cents/point (USD)
0.5 cents/point (USD)
0.7 cents/point (CAD)
0.4 cents/point (USD)
0.9 cents/point (CAD)
1.9 cents/point (CAD)
1 cent/point (CAD)
0.5 cents/point (CAD)
$1.02/WestJet Dollar (CAD)
World of Hyatt
1.5 cents/point (USD)
The past quarter has been marked by notable movements in the world of loyalty programs as global travel enters the recovery phase in earnest.
As we look ahead at 2022, I’m keeping an eye out for the following potential changes in our valuations depending on how things play out:
- Aeroplan may yet introduce new airline partners for redemptions; if these partners are exciting enough, a boost to its valuation may be on the table.
- Air Miles has announced major changes to Air Miles Flights in November 2021, which may affect our valuation of Dream Rewards depending on how the new redemption program works.
- Citi ThankYou points are temporarily convertible to American AAdvantage through November 2021; if this were to be made permanent, we may elect to bump up our valuation of Citi ThankYou points on account of the additional optionality.
- As discussed above, Alaska Mileage Plan is almost certain to introduce a new redemption chart(s) now that it has joined Oneworld, which will significantly inform the future valuation of Alaska miles.