Choosing the best airline rewards program could mean the difference between a vacation to some far-off exotic destination or a milquetoast neighboring city instead. If you can’t decide, there’s nothing stopping you from latching on to all airlines and joining their loyalty programs. But for efficiency’s sake, it’s best to develop a solid frequent-flyer strategy and stick to it.
For instance, certain airline rewards programs are tailored to specific travel habits. If you’re a sucker for hotels, you probably want to go for a rewards program that counts global hotel companies as partners. You also need to take into account how meaningful rewards are earned so you can pick a program that’s customized to your particular lifestyle. If that sounds like a lot to consider, well, it is. Thankfully we’ve compiled a list of the best airline rewards programs right now.
According to research by Switchfly (a startup that provides technology to airline rewards programs and credit card companies), Southwest has the strongest airline rewards program. Users can "earn points based on the price of a ticket, rather than the distance traveled, and they can later choose to cash in either points or miles," Zoe Henry of Inc.com writes.
If flying makes you nervous, this is the airline rewards program for you. Nothing calms the nerves before a long transatlantic flight like a couple stiff drinks, and for just 600 to 800 miles, Delta members can imbibe at airport bars free of charge.
Always one of the most popular airline rewards programs among customers, the JetBlue rewards program is beloved for perks like priority boarding, expedited security, and, of course, the always important free checked bags.
Since it gives points based on the number of miles flown instead of the number of dollars spent, this regional airline often tops lists of the best airline rewards programs. So if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, this is the airline rewards program for you.
What is your favorite airline to fly? Get ready for your next vacation with our favorite travel accessories.