Rewards program comparison

While we strive to provide a wide range of offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service. Frequent flyer programs have gained popularity since they were introduced three decades ago, with savvy travel hackers figuring out how to leverage them for heavily discounted and upgraded travel.

All it takes is a quick sign-up process, a bit of research into the different ways to earn miles and remembering to credit your flights to your account. While frequent flyer programs are free to join — and you can certainly sign up for all of them — you should focus on one primary program to earn status with.

But with so many options, how do you choose? Frequent flyer programs are airline loyalty programs that offer rewards to encourage customer loyalty. Rewards are issued in the form of miles or points , and you can also earn elite status to qualify for upgrades and other perks.

Until recently, members were limited to earning miles based on fare class and distance flown. However, in recent years, airlines have moved toward a revenue-based system, where the number of miles you earn depends largely on the cost of airfare, and achieving elite status comes with spending requirements.

The good news is that despite the difficulty of earning miles and status through flights, most airlines have partnerships that make it easy to earn miles and, in some cases, elite status through other means.

Co-branded credit cards , dining rewards programs and shopping portals all offer viable and lucrative ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying.

The best frequent flyer program depends on your hub city, travel habits and goals. If your goals involve using miles to travel abroad, the allure of Southwest Rapid Rewards might be lost on you.

All that aside, some frequent flyer programs are more rewarding than others. They make earning miles and elite status easy while offering reasonable redemption rates. You can travel on domestic partner airlines and credit your flight to the foreign rewards program for better value. As part of the Oneworld Alliance, Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the best frequent flyer programs for domestic travelers.

The program has reasonable elite status requirements and is one of the few airlines still publishing an award chart. This makes it easy for members to figure out how many miles they need for a flight. One of the best ways to redeem Alaska miles is for long-haul business class flights with partner airlines.

Examples include 50, miles one-way for a business class seat to Asia on Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific. Even so the rates are reasonable compared to other loyalty programs. Flying from the West Coast to Japan, for example, will still cost just 50, miles each way in business class. For starters, the program still publishes an award chart, with several off-peak and sweet spots redemptions on the table.

American Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance, meaning you can use AAdvantage miles on partner carriers like Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Finnair, to name a few. Even luxury travel is reasonably priced, with the famous Qatar Airways Qsuites pricing out at 70, miles each way to the Middle East.

American Airlines is also one of the only frequent flyer programs that counts nearly all rewards earned toward elite status. This includes purchases made through credit card spending , shopping portals and dining rewards. In other words, with AAdvantage, you could earn top-tier elite status without ever stepping on a plane.

ANA is part of the Star Alliance, which has the most comprehensive routing network of all the alliances. That means you can travel virtually anywhere with your ANA miles.

Plus, ANA requires fewer miles for long-haul awards to popular destinations. Notably, you need just 88, miles for a round-trip business class award to Europe. Compare that to United MileagePlus , which often charges 62, miles or more each way for the same award.

If Japan is on your travel bucket list, your ANA miles will get you there during the low season for just 40, miles round-trip in economy and 75, miles in business class. Again, this is about half of what some other Star Alliance members require for the same award.

ANA Mileage Club is a transfer partner of the Amex Membership Rewards program. That means you can convert points earned from The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card into some incredible award redemptions.

Importantly, Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, so rewards can go quite far with partner airlines. For example, you can fly to Hawaii on United Airlines, another Star Alliance member, for just 15, miles round-trip in economy class.

It takes just 25, miles to earn Classic Plus status, equivalent to Star Alliance Silver. Best of all, Turkish often runs status match promotions, so elite members from other programs can leverage existing status for a leg up.

The program partners with five transferable rewards programs:. For example, economy-class tickets to Europe start at just 20, miles each way.

Business-class flights to North Africa are also a bargain at just 55, miles each way. Most programs charge at least 70, miles for the same award, making this a terrific use of miles.

If you prefer to travel stateside, flights to Hawaii typically cost just 17, miles each way in economy class. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is great for domestic travelers who want a straightforward loyalty program that offers practical rewards. Members earn points based on the fare type and cost.

In addition to making their way toward higher status, members can qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass after earning , points.

Points earned from Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses also qualify toward the Companion Pass. Further, Southwest famously offers two free checked bags per passenger, making this a preferred airline for value travelers who want a no-frills travel experience with practical perks and easy redemptions.

Choosing the best frequent flyer program comes down to which airline services your area as well as your travel and status goals. You should also take into account how easy it is to earn miles.

If you live in an Alaska Airlines or American Airlines hub city, then either of those frequent flyer programs will be a great fit for you. If you fly United frequently and want to redeem miles for international business class, then you may want to consider crediting your flights to All Nippon Airways ANA.

Best Western finds itself in last place, which makes sense as it's a budget-conscious hotel brand. The mega programs of Marriott, IHG and Hilton are muddling in the lower half. Since many frequent travelers chose between these large programs, seeing them score so poorly is interesting.

Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines left that still rewards miles based on distance flown versus amount spent, making it one of the reasons it is the best airline rewards program of World of Hyatt has been at the top for several years now, unsurprisingly, because of the high cent-per-point value and elite benefits.

Read our editorial guidelines for additional information. For an airline to be eligible, it had to be based in the U.

and have a publicly available rewards search calendar with availability from 15 days to eight months from the time of search. Nine airlines fit these criteria: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.

No other U. We looked at the rewards rate and elite rewards rate. We rated each of these factors separately, then determined an overall rating based on the weighting described below. How we rated and weighted each factor:. Rewards rate To determine the rewards rate, we multiplied the value of each mile by the earnings rate, then multiplied by Elite rewards rate We determined a the value and b the cost of earning elite status with each program, and determined an overall value by dividing a by b.

For each factor, we subtracted the lowest value from the highest value to determine the range. We assigned each airline program an appropriate star rating based on where its value fell in the range.

We independently spot-checked data collected to ensure accuracy. To be eligible, a hotel brand had to have properties in the majority of states in the U.

and offer a loyalty program with a publicly available rewards search calendar. Rewards booking availability from 15 days to eight months from the time of search was also required. Seven hotel brands met these requirements: Best Western, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Wyndham.

We compared the rewards rate and the value of the elite status program. To determine the rewards rate, we multiplied the value of each point by the earnings rate, then multiplied by Elite status value rate For each factor, we subtracted the lowest value among all programs from the highest value among all programs to determine the range.

We assigned each hotel program an appropriate star rating based on where its value fell in the range. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of , including those best for:.

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express. Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Best Airline and Hotel Rewards Programs of Follow the writers. Table of Contents How we picked the best travel rewards programs Best airline rewards program Best hotel rewards program The bottom line Methodology.

MORE LIKE THIS Travel Travel Rewards Credit Cards Airline Credit Cards. How we picked the best travel rewards programs. Airline rewards. Hotel rewards.

What are the best hotel rewards programs in the world? · Marriott Bonvoy · Hilton Honors · World of Hyatt · Wyndham Rewards · IHG One Rewards · ALL — Cashback, Rebates, Airline Miles/Points Reward, Hotel Points Reward, Credit Card Points Reward Comparison for Online Shopping Best Hotel Rewards Programs ; #1. Wyndham Rewards ; #2. Choice Privileges ; #3. Marriott Bonvoy ; #4. World of Hyatt ; #5. IHG One Rewards

Rewards program comparison - Finding the best hotel rewards program for you can be a daunting task. From point-earning promotions to elite status upgrades and thousands What are the best hotel rewards programs in the world? · Marriott Bonvoy · Hilton Honors · World of Hyatt · Wyndham Rewards · IHG One Rewards · ALL — Cashback, Rebates, Airline Miles/Points Reward, Hotel Points Reward, Credit Card Points Reward Comparison for Online Shopping Best Hotel Rewards Programs ; #1. Wyndham Rewards ; #2. Choice Privileges ; #3. Marriott Bonvoy ; #4. World of Hyatt ; #5. IHG One Rewards

Since the savings from the lower interest rates will far exceed the value of any cash back, points, or miles, it is best to ignore rewards altogether. Also, people who are struggling with credit card debt should not be motivated to spend more in order to earn rewards.

The ideal user of a travel rewards credit card is someone who pays their balance in full every month and likes to travel. Of course, those who do travel frequently for work or leisure can benefit greatly and rapidly earn rewards to see repeated, frequent travel benefits.

Once you determine that you can save money by using reward cards, your goal will be to maximize the value received for each dollar spent.

This calculation is easy for simple cash back credit cards that return a fixed percentage per dollar spent, but becomes more complex when calculating the cash back value of a card that offers different rates of return for spending at various categories of merchants.

There are even cards that offer cash back bonuses for purchase in spending categories that rotate every few months, such as the Chase Freedom Flex Card.

It can be nearly impossible to calculate your total cash back from a card like this, since you never know which categories will receive the most favorable rates at any given time. Most cards, such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom Flex Card put limits on the amount of spending that is eligible for the bonus rates of cash back.

Customers may opt to carry multiple cards so they can use the one with the highest current rate of return at any particular merchant. This strategy works well until the cardholder becomes overwhelmed by the complexity of carrying many different cards for different uses.

Therefore, I recommend that most people limit their holdings to the three or four cards that return the highest cash back for the type of purchases they make.

Lastly, even the seeming simplicity of receiving cash can result in having to choose between various means of receiving the bonuses earned. For instance, some cards offer a statement credit each month, while others mail the cardholder a gift card.

Perhaps the most inconvenient way to receive cash back is the the method used by the Costco True Earnings Card: Customers must wait until February of each year to receive a voucher redeemable at a Costco branch for cash or merchandise. The most difficult rewards to calculate can be the ones that offer points or miles in a loyalty program.

Some credit cards offer points or miles in a program run by the bank, such as the miles earned by users of the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. With this card, two miles are earned per dollar spent, and these miles can be redeemed for one cent each as a statement credit against any travel expense.

A more popular alternative are co-branded credit cards that offer points and miles with an affiliate, such as an airline or a hotel chain. Determining the value of these miles can be very tricky, as their utility will vary based on the quality of the program and how you use them.

On the other hand, if they are able to use , miles for a business class ticket to Europe, their award will probably be worth several thousand dollars. In this scenario, the cardholder has realized four to eight cents in value for each dollar charged to his or her reward card.

Although some would rather have the cash, others realize that the business class flight to Europe is worth far more. The highest value rewards tend to be found when cardholders redeem their miles and points for international airline travel in business or first class. Even though these seats cost several times the price of economy class, the awards require a relatively small number of additional points or miles.

stays and bonus points. Related: I transferred Amex points to Hilton to book 1 of the best hotels in the world.

The World of Hyatt program is the favorite hotel loyalty program of most TPG staff. More than 1, hotels participate in the World of Hyatt loyalty program in over 70 countries.

Hyatt hotels are generally found exclusively in popular destinations and cities. If you're looking for a stay in rural areas, Hyatt points likely will not serve you. Hyatt's award rates are relatively cheap compared to other hotels like Marriott and Hilton.

For example, an upscale Hyatt hotel may cost 40, points, while a luxury Hilton hotel may cost , points. Perhaps most importantly, Hyatt still publishes award charts , making planning for your trip easy. It's true that Hyatt points aren't quite as easy to accrue as Hilton points Hyatt only offers two cobranded credit cards.

However, Hyatt is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer Bilt Rewards points to Hyatt, which can be a great option for those who earn points on rent.

Hyatt Globalist elite status has been proven repeatedly by TPG staff and readers to be the most valuable hotel elite status. With free breakfast, waived resort fees and parking fees on award nights, consistent suite upgrades and more, it's just about as VIP as you can get in the hospitality world.

Hyatt offers a personal credit card and a business credit card, which are both great ways to earn points. Bilt Rewards from the Bilt Mastercard® see rates and fees transfer to World of Hyatt at a rate.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt at a ratio from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card , the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth?

For stays in small-town America, there's no better hotel points currency than Wyndham Rewards. Wyndham has the most properties of any hotel chain on this list, with over 9, worldwide.

While Wyndham offers some upscale properties, most are budget hotels. Wyndham's economical brands — such as Super 8, Days Inn and Microtel — are ubiquitous in areas where you won't find a Hyatt or Marriott. If your travel goals revolve around visiting towns with populations under 10,, this is a great program to focus on.

Wyndham also offers three cobranded credit cards , all issued by Barclays, to help you earn free nights in the Wyndham Rewards program quickly. The cards offer between 7, and 15, points for every card anniversary.

Additionally, you can transfer Capital One miles and Citi ThankYou Rewards points to Wyndham Rewards at a ratio. You can even use your points to book free nights at Vacasa properties , which charge 15, points per bedroom.

If you look hard enough, you can find absolute steals. Related: 17 ways to earn Wyndham Rewards points for your next redemption. The IHG One Rewards program recently received a refresh, making it compete more with the most popular hotel programs.

Due to dynamic pricing, IHG hotels are often a poor value for the points. However, they're easy to use, and IHG hotels are in almost as many locations as Hilton properties.

You can also frequently purchase IHG One Rewards points at a steep discount. IHG offers three cobranded credit cards , all of which automatically offer the ability to receive the fourth consecutive award night for free.

That's unique among loyalty programs and a better value than Marriott and Hilton's fifth-night-free policy. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Bilt Rewards points to IHG One Rewards at a ratio.

Additionally, you can use IHG points to book some Six Senses resorts. These are extremely sought-after properties and a great win for IHG points collectors. The program revamped its elite status tiers last year, too, meaning top-tier Diamond Elite members now get additional perks like free breakfast and a dedicated support line.

Elite members can also earn Milestone Rewards by staying a certain number of nights in a calendar year. Some options include an annual lounge membership , bonus points and confirmed suite upgrades. Related: How to maximize redemptions with the IHG One Rewards program. Points in the ALL — Accor Live Limitless program are some of the most valuable and straightforward rewards.

You can redeem them in increments of 2, to receive 40 euros or an equivalent amount in dollars off your hotel bill. Yes, Accor is a transfer partner of both Capital One and Citi. Giant Eagle. Pick 'n Save. Key Food. Harris Teeter. Sam's Club. Sally Beauty. Ulta Beauty. CVS Pharmacy.

Rite Aid. Ace Hardware. The Home Depot. Better World Books. Best Buy. Google Play. Pet Supplies Plus. Crumbl Cookies. Caribou Coffee. Dutch Bros. Peet's Coffee. Tim Hortons.

Panera Bread. Biggby Coffee. Krispy Kreme. Buffalo Wild Wings. Texas Roadhouse. Red Robin. Moe's Southwest Grill. TGI Fridays. Jimmy John's. Hungry Howie's. Firehouse Subs. Domino's Pizza. Papa John's.

Pizza Hut. Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Taco Bell. Jersey Mike's Subs. Dairy Queen. Burger King. Cold Stone Creamery. Bass Pro Shops. DICK'S Sporting Goods. The North Face. Alaska Airlines.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car. National Car Rental. Budget Rent a Car. United Dairy Farmers.

When choosing Rewards program comparison provider, inquire about their data backup processes. But Rewards program comparison Rwwards United credit Loan forgiveness eligibility, you might be proogram to get these blackout dates waived. By signing up, you will receive newsletters and promotional content and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. Pilot flying J. That's 6. Enrollment required for select benefits. These are the best apps for tracking your credit card, airline and hotel rewards


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