Valuing miles and points is a thankless task. I wrote this long piece on valuing Avios points but all it does is show you how complex it can be. I also tend to throw out valuations of hotel points in articles – 0.4p-0.5p for IHG, 1.5p for Starwood, 0.5p for Marriott, 1p for Hyatt, 0.33p for Hilton, 0.5p for Club Carlson – without justification.
Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, we will be flying off to the Middle East – 4 Avios seats in Club World – on holiday. (Don’t worry, HFP will continue as usual!)
This seemed like a good enough reason to update you on the value I think I get. For the last three years or so I have been tracking most of my redemptions. I thought it would be interesting to share some of my findings.
I have spent 1.7m Avios points in 2016 although this includes some bookings for next year. The largest redemption was a 420,000 for our Middle East holiday at Easter. That comprised 4 x Club World down, 4 x First Class back and the use of one 2-4-1 voucher. That got me 0.8p per point BUT that is based on a VERY conservative valuation of £1,500 for Club World and £2,000 for First. In reality, I’m not sure I would have found flights that cheap over peak Easter dates.
The best deal was using 30,000 Avios to fly from Palma to Innsbruck on airberlin for four people. This was on a Saturday in August and cash tickets would have cost us £1,040 looking at my notes. We had to take this flight so it was a genuine saving.
The rest is a mix of good value short-haul flights, partly personal and partly for HFP, a Club World return to Calgary for my Mum to attend a family wedding, our Dubai flights for this week (4 tickets, all on 2-4-1’s) and 80,000 Avios for a one-way First Class BA flight from New York. Short-haul flights were valued at the lower of what I would have paid, the cash price on the day or the economy price plus assumed upgrade cost.
Based on my conservative valuations of flight values, I averaged 1.3p per point across the 1.7m Avios. This was boosted by flights I am taking tomorrow where using 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers allowed me to get 2p per point.
Starwood Preferred Guest
SPG is a tricky one. I redeemed 170,000 points this year and am about to drop another 30,000 on some Disney On Ice tickets!
I tend to quote 1.5p per point. My spreadsheet shows that I got 1.6p. However, because a lot of these were SPG Moments redemptions for O2 concerts tickets in the SPG Suite, it is difficult to put an exact value on that.
The best hotel redemption, by far, was a night at the Aloft in Liverpool. For a Saturday night, I used 3000 SPG points for a room selling at £169!
I have also been tracking my Tesco Clubcard redemptions. As I wrote three years ago, the bulk of my points now go to pay our quarterly Safestore storage bill! I can’t justify taking Avios when Safestore give me 300% of the face value!
Because 95% of my Tesco redemptions this year were for Safestore vouchers, I got almost exactly 3p per Clubcard point.
American Express Membership Rewards
I continue to get exceptional value for my American Express points but this is due to a quirk which few people can use. Redeeming at peak times for Jumeirah beach hotels in Dubai sees me getting around 3p per Membership Rewards points.
Jumeirah Sirius is no longer a UK American Express partner but it is a partner with the International $ Card. As I also have an International $ card, I can move my UK Amex points to the $ card Membership Rewards scheme, get a bonus based on the current exchange rate and redeem from there. I was lucky enough to move a lot of points to the $ card when the exchange rate was £1 = $1.60 compared to the current $1.30.
I also sent quite a few points to Emirates to redeem for Arsenal football tickets in the Emirates Superbox – it is debatable what value you put on that. I also got two Eurostar tickets in Standard Premier via transfers to Eurostar Frequent Traveller. The Eurostar tickets got me around 1p per Amex points based on the cash I saved, although as both trips were for HFP my actual saving is lower because a cash ticket would have been tax deductible.
Other hotel programmes
I didn’t keep the data for this – sorry.
I am still happy with my quoted range of 0.4p – 0.5p per IHG point valuation. What I realised after paying £96 for breakfast for a family of 4 at the InterContinental London O2 is that you should factor in the impact of that into your valuations. The breakfast ‘surcharge’ on a B&B cash rate was a lot lower than £96.
My only two Hilton redemptions this year were actually used by Anika on for business purposes – the Hampton at Gatwick and the Hilton at Helsinki Airport. In both cases I remember that my 0.3p valuation for pretty close to the mark.
The only Club Carlson redemption I did was a night in London at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for my brother and his family. I can’t remember the exact number but it was better than the 0.5p per point I usually quote for Carlson.
I did no Hyatt Gold Passport redemptions although I do have Park Hyatt Vienna booked for later in the year on ‘cash and points’. This was an excellent deal – saving over €300 for using just 12,500 Hyatt points – but I would never have paid over €400 for a single night at Park Hyatt Vienna in the first place.
I am not trying to ‘prove’ anything with this article, except perhaps to show that the valuations I quote are based on experience.
If you have fewer points that me then you should be able to beat my returns because you are in a position to hold out for the best deal – I tend to use points whenever I can, within reason, if it saves me using cash. Your value per Avios point will also be a lot higher than mine if you always redeem with a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher or only ever use points to upgrade.
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