Return on Expense (ROE)

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I hadn’t  heard of Return on Expense either. So I am taking credit for coining the phrase.  If you know otherwise, please let me know!

How do we best determine the value of our rewards?  Sometimes it is easy, a card offers a straight 2% cash back.  Your return on any expense made with that card is… you guessed it 2%.

Now when your card earns points (like my two “go tos” the Delta Reserve and Hilton Aspire) it’s not so straight forward.  So how do you determine the value? It’s a two step process.

First take the points per dollar that you earn with your card (PPD).  My Delta Reserve makes 1 PPD, unless it’s a dollar spent with Delta which earns 2 PPD. The majority of my spend is not with Delta, so I will be using 1 PPD.

Next, figure out your value per point (VPP).  You can use a source like The Points Guy, which values it at 1.2 cents. According to my point spend for the year, I am earning 2 cents per point.

Lastly, multiple your PPD by your VPP to determine your ROE.

1 PPD x .02 VPP = 2% ROE

So my Delta Reserve is earning 2% on the average.

If we take a look at the Hilton Aspire card.

47.9 PPD for my hotel stays x .006 VPP = 28.7% ROE

(These numbers are based on my 2019 experience)

If I plug in the default earning for non-Hilton purchases, we get:

7 PPD x .006 VPP = 4.2% which is over twice the return of my Delta Reserve card.

So why is the Hilton my secondary if I can get a higher Return on Expense than with my Delta Reserve?  It all goes back to how I want to be rewarded.  The Delta Reserve helps get me Platinum when I wouldn’t earn it otherwise.

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