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sep 07 2011

Which travel rewards program has the most valuable points?

(Courtesy dni/myBudgetTravel)

A new study does the math on the value of points for major travel loyalty programs. Long story short: You'll be especially happy if you've been amassing points with Starwood or Southwest.

NextAdvisor, a site that specializes in analyzing and comparing consumer products, recently took a close look at the value of travel reward points. To figure out a monetary value for points, NextAdvisor rounded up what travelers would have to pay out of pocket for various hotel stays and flights, and then compared to those prices to the number of points required for redemption to grant the traveler those same hotel stays or flights free of charge.

Not all travel companies are represented (InterContinental Priority Club anybody?). But based on the eight brands in the mix -- American, Continental, Delta, Hilton, Marriott, Southwest, Starwood, United -- the awards for most valuable points go to Starwood Preferred Guest (for hotel points) and Southwest Rapid Rewards (for airline points).

Accoring to NextAdvisor's math, when points are redeemed for hotel stays, each Starwood loyalty point is worth $0.021 (a little more than two pennies), which soundly beats Hilton (value of $0.005 per point) and Marriott ($0.008). In terms of flights, Southwest's points are most valuable ($0.017 per point), with United coming in second ($0.011).

What's the point about all of these point values? The takeaway is that some points are much more valuable, and therefore much more worthy of piling up, than others.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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