The Best Travel Rewards Programs

“U.S. News and World Report” just released its seventh annual ranking of hotel and airline loyalty programs.

The Best Travel Rewards Programs

The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel is part of the top-ranked Marriott Bonvoy program.

Courtesy of Marriott

The key to maximizing the benefits of hotel and airline loyalty programs is to be, well, extremely loyal (shocking, we know). So, which ones are worth committing to? Perhaps this new list will help you decide.

U.S. News & World Report this week released its rankings of the top hotel rewards and airline frequent flier programs in the United States, taking into account factors like the best member perks and how easy it is to earn and redeem points-based flights and nights.

It’s of little surprise, given its size and scope, that Marriott’s massive Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program claimed the top spot for best hotel rewards program. Marriott Bonvoy officially launched in February, combining Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards into one, and we recently broke down everything you need to know to fully take advantage of this hotel loyalty behemoth. According to U.S. News, the program was given top honors due to its very large network of hotels (more than 6,900 properties in 130 countries and territories), ample member benefits, and the high value and usability of Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points.

Wyndham Rewards ranked second on the list due to the fact that members can qualify for a free night more quickly and easily than with most other hotel loyalty schemes. And World of Hyatt ranked third because it has lower points redemption requirements than most other programs and offers plenty of ways to earn points.

On the air carrier front, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan claimed its place as the best airline rewards program for the fifth year in a row. It features ample options for purchasing reward flights, and Alaska has a large network of flight routes to choose from. Alaska’s mileage-based earning structure also lets members earn miles more easily and redeem flights faster than its competitors.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was followed by Delta SkyMiles, which was touted for its ample member benefits and its large network of flights.

As for how airline frequent flier programs stack up internationally, AFAR recently reported on a global ranking of carriers’ rewards programs.

Below are U.S. News & World Report’s complete travel rewards program rankings.

Best Hotel Rewards Programs

  1. Marriott Bonvoy
  2. Wyndham Rewards
  3. World of Hyatt
  4. Choice Privileges
  5. Best Western Rewards
  6. IHG Rewards Club
  7. Radisson Rewards
  9. Sonesta Travel Pass
  10. Hilton Honors
  11. Stash Hotel Rewards
  12. Leaders Club
  13. Omni Select Guest
  14. Le Club AccorHotels
  15. I Prefer Hotel Rewards

Best Airline Rewards Programs

  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  2. Delta SkyMiles
  3. JetBlue TrueBlue
  4. United MileagePlus
  5. American Airlines AAdvantage
  6. Southwest Rapid Rewards
  7. FRONTIER Miles
  8. HawaiianMiles
  9. Free Spirit

Still not sure which rewards program is for you? Read up on AFAR’s guide to navigating rewards, including the best hacks for making your frequent flier miles go further and the best airline credit cards.

>> Next: Maximize Points With These Newly Combined Air-Hotel Loyalty Programs

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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