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Valuing my points – what I REALLY got over my last year of redemptions

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.

Avios

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.

Calculator 2

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!

Tesco Clubcard

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.

Conclusion

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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Scottydogg says:

    £96 wow , that must have been a bitter pill to swallow . I’m working todays my free IHG night with the IHG rewards card , was thinking of using it at an intercontinental to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ , but after reading this I know to avoid the breakfast hall and go find a greasy spoon ! :-)

    • i have an upcoming stay booked on points at an IC, emailed the hotel to see what breakfast would cost and, yup, quoted 24 dollars per person. I mentioned that had i booked a cash rate i could get 2 breakfast for 18 dollars (!), response was a polite take it or leave it. Another reason i don’t rate IHG (I am Spire Ambassador), and would much rather use Hilton (Diamond) for free breakfasts and lounge access. The Marriot status match from SPG means free lounge access (with breakfast), and i have already cancelled one IC stay in favour of a Marriott.

  2. What happened to factoring in the cash back and points that you could have earned but have lost out on by redeeming?

    For example, if you had a paid for a round trip CW ticket to US West Coast, as a Gold, you would earn about 40 to 50,000 Avios with the current triple up promotion. A significant saving!

  3. OT :

    There are currently eurostar offer to 39 GBP same day return till end of year to Paris , Brussels and Lille , with good availability as far as I can see
    have booked 2 day trips already
    http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/campaign/cug?offer=CRM-Oct&utm_source=

  4. AviosNewbie says:

    Rob, just very curious how you managed to accumulate 10m Avios! when did you start this and with the current state of reward programs, do you think it is at all possible for anybody now to accumulate this stash? especially someone who doesn’t regularly fly F/J on business?

    • My advice would be to earn and burn (to avoid any future devaluations). If you follow the advice on here it’s relatively easy to accumulate a few hundred thousand avios from credit card spend alone (add in the Tesco offers etc) and combined with a 241 voucher or two you could be travelling around the world a few times a year.

    • Good starting point would be to become a partner in a major City firm and pay big tax bills :-)

      • I look at my payslip on a monthly basis and think what a wasted points earning opportunity PAYE is… :(

        • I have been a reader of this site for at least 3 years (since before 35000 AAdvantage offer I thoroughly remember) and also run LTD company but until now I avoided using CC to pay taxes. always using BACS to pay variou taxes, must have paid nearly 6 figure in all various taxes. Had I worked out (also did cancell MBNA DC card in 2012) this route and accepted use of CC to pay HMRC etc. I too would be Avios Millionaire.

          Well I am always wiser in hindsight!.

        • Lady London says:

          Ah! A kindred spirit! Me too.

  5. Lady London says:

    I’m between contracts at the moment so am highly cash sensitive. Last week I redeemed a night at an IHG hotel. Hotels are competitively priced in that location. Yet still I gave them 2x in points, of what the cash value would have been. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I know that to pay 2x the value in points is the behaviour of someone who has lots of points, and I don’t have lots of points in that particular program. But my view is that I had a hotel night fee and saved the cash which is most important to me right now.

    Additionally always remember that sooner or later every type of point will be devalued by the airline or hotel chain, etc.. So if you’ve got a reasonable use for them, and if it makes sense for you at the time, I’d advise to think about spending some rather than hoarding all.

    Good point from the poster above that with the continuing slide in the value of the Pound Sterling against the Euro and the US dollar, hotel points are worth more for stays in other countries as they save the increasing costs of spending in other countries for hotels. I predict this is going to get a lot worse in the next 2 years and we could see 80p or even 65p = 1 Euro before the Brexit terms are settled and the pound bounces back again. So a 2 year window when hotel points are worth more.

    Ditto for airline costs as the oil price, which is usually the biggest expense of airlines, goes up as oil is priced in dollars worldwide. So if the pound keeps going lower against the dollar, at some point the low fares we’ve had won’t be so low anymore.

    So the next 2 years will be bumpy in terms of currency, folks. Sorry for the bit OT but it may influence your points planning.

    • Agreed (although I think you might have you’re pence and Euros muddled).
      Presumably the worth of an avios point will also increase if the alternative was to pay for a flight and those become more expensive due to the underlying relationship with the price of oil.

      • Don’t BA and Virgin charge a “fuel supplement” on reward tickets? Surely if the price of oil goes up (at least, in terms of the £) then BA & VA will simply up these fees?

    • Good post Lady London. I think you have your pence and Euros just right. But who knows what’ll happen…

  6. Lady London – good point (hoho) on being between contracts and therefore more cash sensitive.

    Just shows that Avios/Miles and hotel schemes are just like currencies that can appreciate and depreciate. Glad I bought HH pts with 100% bonus before the vote for Brexit.

  7. Can someone please help me with paying taxes on cards ?

    I pay my own and all the employees tax and NI but where can I earn without costing too much ?

  8. I’d never dream of paying £3k each for UK direct business class flight to Maldives, but v happy to burn Avios & BAPP 241 to do so in Club World. 4.4p = worth it!

  9. Anyone want to swap some Club Carlson for Hyatt

  10. I’ve managed to book 10 days out of 14 using IHG points at Le Moana Bora Bora next Aug- This would be giving me a good return at today’s rate… its £532 per night… or 60,000 points giving me a value of 0.9p per IHG point… this is the most I’ve ever been able to achieve apart from pointsbreaks promos!

    • It looks great. What’s your plan to get there in style though?

      • Yes I was wondering the same, the other half is very keen to go to Bora Bora but it is a bit of a nightmare to get to. Easiest looks to be via LAX which is shorter than via Auckland.

      • I was actually thinking of LHR-LAX-HNL (BA) then from HNL to PPT (Hawaiian)

        Then there’s a weekly HNL – PPT flight on a Saturday but I’m a few thousand American Airline miles short to get a return redemption.

        BA will be a redemption of Avios and use by 2f1 voucher whereas the HNL-PPT leg maybe bookable as a redemption via AA (need to find another 75,000 miles)

  11. Thanks! this triggered me to go back through my redemption’s over the past few years to see what value i got for my points. Mostly validated what i thought but the most valuable part of the exercise was being able to definitively prove to my wife that it wasn’t worth spending avios on just any random redemption. e.g. we blow the whole 150k avios lot on one night in a middling hotel in NYC.
    Incidentally, the best redemption’s i got were with aeroplan where 20k points + £60 got me from NRT-BKK repeatedly – a £600 flight, so upwards of 2.5p per point.

  12. the real harry says:

    it’s all a bit random but plannable

    ie I am well-organised enough to buy tickets out to our holiday place @ T-355

    I know the school hols, I therefore know the dates

    tickets can be cheap, but they are also peak so can be expensive

    so I might use 7500 Avios + £17.50 to redeem a £90 flight or it might already be £150 @ T-355 (often is)

    but if I were less well-organised, say 3 months out, the tickets are already £300, lord a mercy!

    but luckily Avios flights are still available!

    so have I got better value with scenario A or B?

    utterly random :)

    well not really – but you get my drift – the £600 ski flights just made me think, hmm, my Xmas 2016 flights are now £1000 each…

  13. Just got myself OW MIA-CUN in J on AA for 15K and a few $ when they are pricing at $601. SPG has me in the RBC at the Westin Cancun for silly money as well.

  14. Good article. It’s nice to get an insight to how you’re utilising your avios points