What Are Credit Card Points? What Are They Worth?

What Are Credit Card Points? What Are They Worth?

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Credit card points are the rewards users earn with certain credit cards. Although they're often referred to simply as "points," there are multiple types of card "currencies"—so a card may offer points, miles or simply cash back. And one point or mile from one card isn't necessarily worth the same as one point or mile from another card. This means comparing credit cards and their rewards isn't so easy. In this guide, we go over how to arrive at the value of credit card points and how that can be used to calculate something called a "rewards rate."

What Are Credit Card Points Worth?

The value of a credit card point depends on how it is spent. For example, using credit card points to book travel may provide greater value than exchanging those points for cash back. On average, cardholders can expect to receive about 1 cent per point, although this can vary from card to card. Cardholders should know how much their points are worth and choose rewards programs accordingly. For example, some cards may provide the best deals for cash back, while others may excel at travel rewards.

To calculate the value of a single point, divide the dollar value of a reward by the points needed to unlock it. For example, if it takes 80,000 points to pay for a $800 airline ticket, the value of those points is 1 cent each ($800 / 80,000). When you're not a cardholder, finding exact redemption details can be difficult. One option is to call the card issuer and ask for a few examples of how you'd be able to redeem points. The information can also sometimes be found on the issuer's website.

Points Earned

Redemption Method
Redemption Total Value
Point Value
10,000Cash Back$1001 cent
10,000Travel$2002 cents
10,000Gift Card$1001 cent

Note: Sometimes the value of points at one issuer depends on what credit card you get. That is because some banks, like Citibank and Chase, provide different redemption options for different credit cards—even though all of their cards fall under the same rewards program.

Credit Card Rewards Point Comparison and Ranking by Issuer

We analyzed the value of credit card points across the major U.S. credit card issuers. Generally, cards offered by JPMorgan Chase came out on top. The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth up to 1.5 cents each with certain cards in the program. Note that Chase, American Express and Citibank allow certain cardholders to transfer their points to participating airline or hotel loyalty partners. Calculating the value of these redemptions is a bit more complicated, so we left it out of our analysis. If you're interested in a specific program and its redemption values, including airfare and hotel point transfers, we recommend checking out our full guides to the programs.

Credit Card Points

Estimated Value Per Point
Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1–1.5 cents for travel redemptions
  • 1 cent for cash back
American Express Membership Rewards
  • 1 cent to book flights
  • 0.75 cent to book hotels
  • 0.05 cent for cash-back statement credit
Citibank ThankYou
  • 1 cent for travel redemptions
  • 0.8 cent for Amazon.com purchases
  • 0.6 cent for cash-back statement credit
US Bank FlexPerks
  • 1.5 cents for travel redemptions
Capital One Miles
  • 1 cent for travel redemptions
  • 0.5 cent for cash back

What is a Credit Card Rewards Rate?

A credit card rewards rate is a metric used to determine how rewarding a credit card is on certain purchases. It is most often expressed as a percentage return on every dollar spent. For example, if a credit card has a flat 2% rewards rate, that means cardholders get a 2% return on every purchase they charge to that card. The rewards rate is equal to the rewards point value times the point-earning rate. Example: Say a credit card earns 2 points per dollar spent. If each of those points is worth 1 cent, the rewards rate is said to be 2 x $0.01 = 2%. If you want to calculate the overall rewards rate based on how much you spent, divide the value of the points you earned by the amount of money you spent to get them.

Amount Spent

Points Earned
Points Value
Rewards Rate

A net rewards rate is a slightly more complicated metric that also factors a card's annual fee into the result. Though it is more difficult to calculate, the net rewards rate is the most accurate representation of the value a credit card holds for those who continually use it. To calculate it, the cardholder should subtract the annual fee from the value of points earned in a single year. That figure should then be divided by the total amount of money spent on the card to earn said points. See our example below.

Amount Spent

Points Earned
Points Value
Annual Fee
Net Rewards Rate

A rewards rate is useful because it helps consumers compare a points-based rewards credit card to other cards, including cash-back cards. It effectively reduces rewards to a common denominator, which allows for quicker comparison. For example, it may be difficult to know whether a card that awards 3 points per dollar spent is better or worse than a card that awards 2% cash back. However, if we know the first card has a 2.5% rewards rate, then we can confidently say it is better than a 2% cash back card—assuming all other things are equal.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).