A standard cash-back credit card will return 1% of the volume spent on the account. If 100 points on this card = $1, then 1 point = 1 cent.

How much is a mile worth in the United MileagePlus program? I recently redeemed 30,000 miles for a one-way nonstop flight from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Aéroport Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG). This flight has a market value of $600, so the effective value I extracted was 2 cents per mile. The current sign-up offer for the MileagePlus Explorer Card by Chase nets 55,000 miles, which would be worth $1100 at a 2.0 cents/mile valuation.

The flight I reserved above was an Economy flight. Where one draws outsized gains is by redeeming for business or first-class seats. This nonstop United Airlines (UA) flight #915 operates on a Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

There are more than 200 Economy, exactly 26 BusinessFirst, and only 6 Global First seats on this flight. The cheapest round-trip BusinessFirst ticket retails for $2685, but it can be redeemed for 115,000 miles, implying a value of 2.3 cents/mile. The cheapest round-trip Global First seat goes for an eye-watering $6565 or 160,000 miles, yielding a value of 4.1 cents per mile.

 

Redemption Effective Value
Cash 1 cent/point
Economy 1-2 cents/mile
Business class 2-3 cents/mile
First class 4+ cents/mile