Fair Trading Prices

“Fair trading prices” are the prices by which it is relatively easy or common to acquire points and miles.  More specifically, Fair Trading Prices are estimates of the amount of cash given up by using a points earning credit card rather than a no-fee 2% cash back card.  For more about this, please see: Fair trading prices for points and miles.  Still confused?  Please see Fair trading prices explained.

How much are points worth?

If you want to know how much value you can get from your points, Fair Trading Prices are not the answer.  Instead, please see Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).

What are elite qualifying miles worth?

Shown below are fair trading prices for redeemable points and miles.  Fair trading prices for Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) are determined differently.  Currently, the fair trading price for airline EQMs = 3 cents per EQM.

FTP Tables Revision History

  • 5/20/2017: Added Sapphire Reserve and Altitude Reserve.  The former leads to very different values for Ultimate Rewards points and its transfer partners.  Also fixed errors in FTPs for Amtrak and British Airways.
  • 3/22/2016: Added price to top up Aeroplan miles
  • 10/12/2015: Several changes…
    1) SPG: Since the SPG card annual fee increased to $95, SPG cost per point increases from 2.16 to 2.26 (the annual fee is included in the calculation as of 3/19/2015).  This caused many FTP values to change upward including SPG transfer partners and hotels (since SPG is used as an index for hotel values along with Hilton)
    2) Added Amtrak
    3) Added several airline programs (LAN, Southwest, etc.)
  • 9/3/2015: Updated Ultimate Rewards FTP and associated FTPs (United) based on latest calculations from the credit card analysis spreadsheet.  Lowered FTP from 1.32 to 1.22.
  • 3/20/2015: Updated Delta FTP. Added cost to transfer Membership Rewards to Delta
  • 3/19/2015: Recalculated everything. Now include credit card annual fee and new category bonuses for some cards.  Added Choice Hotels.
  • 3/9/2014: Updated Ultimate Rewards value. Added Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, Citi ThankYou, US Bank FlexPerks
  • 4/24/2012: Recalculated hotel values and split from main table

Flexible Use Points

Bank Points Cost to Buy Direct
(cents per point)
Fair Trading Price
(cents per point)
Credit Card*
Amex Membership Rewards (MR)  2.5 1.00  EveryDay Preferred
Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) N/A 1.14 Freedom + Sapphire Reserve
Citi ThankYou Rewards (TYP) N/A 1.25 ThankYou Premier
Diner’s Club (DC) N/A 1.58 Diner’s Club Elite
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) 3.5 2.26 Amex Starwood
US Bank Altitude Reserve (AR) N/A 1.18 Altitude Reserve
US Bank FlexPerks (FP) N/A 1.32 FlexPerks Amex

* Fair Trading Prices are calculated by assuming that an “average” person puts all spend on this card instead of a no-fee 2% cash back card.  Category bonuses make the Fair Trading Price less than 2 cents each.  In most cases, I assume just one credit card is used for all spend.  The one example is with Ultimate Rewards where I allow two cards for the calculations.  Calculations and assumptions can be found in this Google Docs spreadsheet.

Airline Miles

Airline Miles Cost to Buy Direct (cents per point) Fair Trading Price (cents per point) Transfer From:
Air Canada Aeroplan 3.0 CAD 1.00 MR
Alaska 2.75 1.81* SPG
American 2.95 1.81* SPG
British Airways 2.3 1.14 UR
Delta 3.5 1.06 MR
JetBlue ? 1.31 MR
Korean ? 1.14 UR
LAN ? 1.21* SPG
Lufthansa Miles & More 3.2 1.81* SPG
Southwest ? 1.14 UR
United 3.76 1.14 UR
Virgin Atlantic ? 1.00 MR

* Assumes transfers from SPG are executed 20,000 points at a time in order to get 5,000 point transfer bonus.

Amtrak

Amtrak Guest Rewards Cost to Buy Direct (cents per point) Fair Trading Price (cents per point) Transfer From:
Amtrak 3.77 2.26 SPG

 

Hotel Values

Prices are cents per point Points earned per $ for stays SPG Index Hilton Index Fair Trade Price (Average SPG & Hilton Index) Buy Direct
SPG 2 2.26 N/A 2.26 3.5
Hilton 15 N/A 0.45 0.45 1
Best Western 10 0.45 0.67 0.56 1
Choice 10 0.45 0.67 0.56 1.1
Club Carlson 20 0.23 0.34 0.28 0.7
Hyatt 5 0.9 1.34 1.12 2.4
IHG 10 0.45 0.67 0.56 1.15
Marriott 10 0.45 0.67 0.56 1.25
Wyndham 10 0.45 0.67 0.56 N/A

SPG and Hilton values are computed from credit card earnings with the same methodology as bank and airline miles above.  The rest of the hotel values are computed relative to SPG and Hilton.  For example, if a hotel offers 5 times as many points for a stay as with SPG, then the fair trade price for that hotel using the SPG index is the SPG fair trading price divided by 5.  For each hotel chain, two Fair Trading prices are calculated: the SPG Index and the Hilton Index.  The chain’s Fair Trade Price, then, is the average of the two.  For more details about this approach, please see this post.

Notes

  • The “Buy Direct” column is the advertised price to buy points or miles directly from each specific program. The price does not include any specials that may be running.
  • The “Credit Card” column lists the best price you could get by trading points from one of the three listed flexible points programs. In each case I tried to find the transfer option that led to the lowest cost.
  • For details on how this table was first compiled, please see: Fair trading prices for points and miles
  • Tricks, hacks, and promotions that allow points to be purchased less expensively are not included in the estimates above.  If interested, please read “When should a hack determine the fair trading price of points and miles?
  • Fair Trading Prices will be updated regularly.  Please check back often.

Publishers

You may re-publish the above table under the condition that credit is given to Frequent Miler along with the web address for this blog (https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com).  Please also include a link back to this page so that readers can always see the latest updates.

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