We’re now in Quarter 4 of 2023, and it’s once again time to revisit our Points Valuations, which we update on a quarterly basis.
Air France KLM Flying Blue has been rolling out First Class partner redemptions on the platform, starting with China Eastern Airlines and Garuda Indonesia. This is an unusual move for a SkyTeam loyalty program, as historically, partner awards haven’t been accessible through other programs.
Ever since BMO acquired Air Miles earlier this year, the bank has been promising to make changes to the program. Since then, we’ve seen some positive developments for members, which could be a sign of better days to come for Air Miles.
On October 1, 2023, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles implemented a new award chart. Despite the loyalty program trying to spin it otherwise, it resulted in a devaluation, since most awards cost more now than they used to.
RBC’s ongoing acquisition of HSBC Bank Canada recently became closer to being finalized, and one of the developments was HSBC closing off applications for new credit cards. This move hasn’t affected existing cardholders; however, the future of HSBC Rewards remains in flux.
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).
Air Canada Aeroplan
For the last little while, there have been some ongoing issues with Aeroplan partner award availability.
Officially, there haven’t been any changes to the program, both in terms of which partner airlines are available, and the cost of redemptions with partner airlines.
However, some partner airlines are simply not available through the program, even if they are through other Star Alliance airline loyalty programs.
We know that Aeroplan and other Star Alliance airlines are working on resolving the many issues that affect partner award availability, but there’s no timeline as to when a solution will be in place.
While no material changes to the program have taken place, the ongoing issues continue to have an impact on the user experience.
We’re keeping our valuation of Aeroplan points steady for the time being; however, the issues are certainly worth mentioning and keeping track of as we move to the end of the year.
- Continued valuation: 2.1 cents/point (CAD) / 1.6 cents/point (USD)
Air France KLM Flying Blue
Air France KLM Flying Blue has seen a flurry of changes to the program in recent months, including adding free stopovers of up to a year as a feature, and ongoing deals through the monthly Promo Rewards (including premium economy and business class to Canada and the United States).
Most recently, the program has started making First Class awards with partner airlines available for booking with miles. Initially, China Eastern Airlines First Class was added, and then Garuda Indonesia First Class, albeit at a high price.
Furthermore, Air France KLM has expanded their partnership with Etihad Airways, and there are plans to increase options for earning and redeeming in the future. Recall that Etihad Airways also happens to offer First Class cabins, and it would be outstanding to see flights in Etihad Airways First Class become available through Flying Blue in the future.
At a time when loyalty programs are stripping value out of programs, Air France KLM Flying Blue continues to add more options and value to its members. Plus, it’s worth noting that there aren’t many better ways to fly to Europe in economy than through Flying Blue.
Given that the program is only becoming better, we’re bumping up our valuation of Flying Blue this time around.
- Previous valuation: 1.7 cents/point (CAD) / 1.3 cents/point (USD)
- Updated valuation: 1.9 cents/point (CAD) / 1.4 cents/point (USD) ▲
In March, BMO announced its intention to purchase Air Miles, as its previous owner was headed for bankruptcy. This move preserved the balances of Air Miles collectors, and saved the program from the brink of extinction.
BMO then completed its acquisition of Air Miles in early June, at a cost of $160 million (USD).
Following the acquisition, BMO announced plans to improve the program, including taking some of the following actions:
- Launching an improved travel booking platform with better offers
- Making more ways for collectors to earn Air Miles
- Providing new opportunities to earn and redeem Air Miles with Canadian brands
- Leveraging technology to make a better overall customer experience
Recently, we’ve seen positive improvements to the Air Miles program, and it’s worth giving credit where it’s due.
In the near future, members will be able to convert Air Miles between Dream Miles and Cash Miles, and next year, it’s expected that the two “flavours” of Air Miles will be merged back into a single currency.
While we’re keeping our valuation of Air Miles steady this time around, we’re also paying more attention to the program, as it works to win back trust and loyalty from Canadian collectors.
- Continued valuation: 10.5 cents/mile (CAD)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
In Summer 2023, Cathay Pacific announced that its award chart would be getting a refresh as of October 1, 2023.
When the changes were announced, Cathay Pacific attempted to spin them as positive; however, awards mostly became more expensive across the board, which is clearly negative.
On the other hand, award availability prior to the devaluation was abysmal, but that has since improved. We now have access to more Cathay Pacific award seats, but they also now cost around 30% more than they used to.
Program devaluations are never positive for members, and since redemptions with Asia Miles are now more expensive than they used to be, we’re lowering our valuation this time around.
- Previous valuation: 1.7 cents/mile (CAD) / 1.3 cents/mile (USD)
- Updated valuation: 1.6 cents/mile (CAD) / 1.2 cents/mile (USD) ▼
In late 2022, RBC announced its intention to acquire HSBC Bank Canada. Since then, the acquisition has been going through regulatory hurdles, and now appears to be entering its final phase.
This month, HSBC quietly closed off applications for new credit cards. This doesn’t affect existing cardholders, who can still earn and redeem HSBC Rewards points as they always have; however, if you don’t yet have an HSBC credit card, you won’t be able to get one issued in Canada.
If you’ve amassed a nice balance of HSBC Rewards points, you may want to start considering if you’d like to redeem them in their current form.
Keep in mind that HSBC Rewards may be used to offset travel expenses at a rate of 0.5 cents per point (CAD), and they may also be transferred to British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
As the acquisition proceeds, we’ll likely hear more about what’ll happen to existing cardholders, as well as what’s in store for the future of HSBC Rewards points. For now, it’s business as usual.
Since there haven’t been any material changes to HSBC Rewards, we’ll keep our valuation the same this time around.
- Continued valuation: 0.8 cents per point (CAD)
Points Valuations, Quarter 4 2023
Here’s a summary of our Points Valuations for Quarter 4 of 2023. You can refer to the Points Valuations page for a full list with additional notes.
Air France KLM
1.9 cents/mile ▲
1.4 cents/mile ▲
American Express (Canada)
American Express (US)
Best Western Rewards
British Airways Avios
Capital One Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
1.6 cents/mile ▼
1.2 cents/mile ▼
Chase Ultimate Rewards
National Bank À la carte Rewards
Qatar Airways Avios
World of Hyatt
The third quarter of 2023 saw plenty of developments in the loyalty landscape, and it was a bit of a mixed bag this time around.
Aeroplan has some ongoing concerns around partner award availability, which continues to impact the user experience. There haven’t been any concrete changes to the program, and we’re hopeful that partner award availability will improve soon.
Air France KLM Flying Blue has been rolling out First Class partner redemptions on the platform, and hopefully this is a trend that continues.
BMO has implemented some positive changes to Air Miles, which is a step in the right direction to win back confidence and trust.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles has implemented a devaluation, and while there’s now greater award availability, redemptions cost more than they used to.
It appears that we’re one step closer to RBC acquiring HSBC Bank Canada, as HSBC recently closed off applications for new credit cards. There aren’t any official changes to HSBC Rewards, but it’s worth considering how you might make use of your points if changes are announced.
Remember, treat these numbers as merely a suggestion for reasonable target redemption values when deciding whether to redeem points or pay cash for your next trip.
Ultimately, the value derived from every redemption will be subjective to the individual traveller, and our valuations are designed to illustrate an average benchmark across the community to help inform your decision as you consider your next points redemption.