United MileagePlus is the best airline rewards program, according to WalletHub’s latest Frequent Flyer Report. And it doesn’t matter whether you travel a lot, a little or somewhere in between because MileagePlus is the top choice across the board. This is largely due to the fact that MileagePlus miles don’t expire because of account inactivity, in addition to the program’s tens of transfer partners and its lack of blackout dates for flights booked with miles.
It’s also important to remember that credit cards are a whole different ballgame. An airline can have a great loyalty program but a crummy credit card. So, when you’re considering airline rewards credit cards, make sure to keep the following key characteristics in mind. Doing so will help guide you to the most rewarding miles program possible.
How to Pick the Best Airline Rewards Program:
Airline Affiliation: Some airline cards offer generic miles that can be redeemed for flights on any airline. Others are tied to particular airlines and provide miles usable only for flights with affiliated carriers. The former are good for both the infrequent traveler and those who travel a lot, but on different airlines. The latter are only good for brand-loyal frequent flyers.
Initial Rewards Bonus: The initial bonus that you can earn during the first few months of card use is an extremely important consideration. The reason for that is bonus miles on certain cards may even exceed the number of miles attainable from a full year of card use.
Earning Rate: You need to figure out how quickly you’ll be accruing miles, as this dictates how lucrative each card you consider will be. Just be aware of cards that require you to sign up on a quarterly basis in order to be eligible for the highest rewards earning rates.
Earning Tiers: Some airline miles credit cards give you a certain number of miles per $1 spent until you reach a designated spending threshold, at which time the rewards earning rate changes. Depending on your spending habits, this can significantly affect a card’s appeal.
Expiration: If your airline miles will expire at some point, you clearly need to know about it. When present, expiration is typically linked to either account inactivity or the amount of time elapsed since miles were earned.
Redemption Policy: Find out how many miles you need to redeem for a flight and how much that flight would cost if purchased normally. This will tell you how much the miles are worth. You should also scan the rewards program’s terms to see if there’s any mention of blackout dates or a minimum number of miles required for redemption.
Status Miles: The rate at which status miles are doled out is a key factor for frequent flyers who are thinking of committing to a particular airline.
The best rewards programs are Delta SkyMiles for free flights, Wyndham Rewards for free hotel nights, Capital One Rewards for credit cards with a lot of cash back or miles, and apps like Swagbucks and Shopkick for online shopping rewards and discounts. There are roughly 4 billion U.S. consumers enrolled in customer rewards programs. But you can’t just join them all. It would be too difficult to manage.… read full answer
The best approach is to find a select number of standout options that suit your spending habits, shopping preferences, travel plans, etc. Fortunately, WalletHub has done a lot of research to help identify the top options in the most popular categories.
For example, WalletHub’s latest Frequent Flyer Program Report concluded that Delta SkyMiles is the best airline rewards program because of notable features like 5 SkyMiles per $1 spent on Delta flights, flexible redemption options and miles that never expire. It’s also free to join, as is the case with all major frequent flyer programs. The main downside is that the value of SkyMiles changes frequently.
Similarly, Wyndham Rewards is the best hotel rewards program because it enables members to quickly earn free nights at more than 9,000 properties in over 80 countries. After joining for free, members earn either 10 points per $1 spent directly on room costs or 1,000 points per hotel stay, whichever is higher. In addition, points redeemed for hotel stays cover taxes and fees. The main downside of Wyndham Rewards is that points expire four years after they post to your account.
There are lots of different types of rewards programs, though. You can check out some of the best, most popular options listed by category below. All of these rewards programs are free to join.
We clearly have a long list of free rewards programs available to us these days. But it’s important to remember that not all rewards programs are equal. In some cases, you’ll earn points with every dollar spent and redeem those points for future purchases. Other businesses may offer free or discounted items when you make purchases either in-store or from their website. Be aware also that not all rewards programs are free. A handful of rewards programs such as Amazon Prime change with a membership fee.
You should always read the fine print before you sign up for any rewards program. Familiarize yourself with earning rates, redemption rates and costs, if any, to make sure the program you’re signing up for is worth it. You don’t want to find a surprise membership fee or other hidden charges among your bills.
Yes, airline miles are worth it. Whether you earn airline miles through an airline’s frequent flyer program or from a credit card with miles, you’re earning something of value in return for money you would be spending anyway. The miles you earn can then be redeemed for free flights and flight upgrades, saving you money on future purchases.… read full answer
Reasons Why Airline Miles Are Worth It
Airline mile are worth an average of 1 cent per mile. The value varies based on the airline or credit card rewards program as well as how the miles are redeemed.
Frequent flyer programs affiliated with major airlines are free to join. Once you sign up, you just have to enter your membership number each time you book a flight to get your miles.
Airline credit cards and general travel rewards credit cards help you earn miles much faster. You can earn miles on tons of different purchases, and many cards also have signup bonuses.
You can redeem miles for free flights and flight upgrades. That’s true whether you’re earning miles from a frequent flyer program or a rewards credit card. Credit card miles can also be redeemed for other travel-related purchases, like hotel stays and car rentals, in most cases.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of an Airline Miles Credit Card
The best airline and travel credit cards often have annual fees, so you’ll have to weigh the value of the miles you’d earn against the cost of the card to determine if the airline miles are worth it. You can also choose a credit card with a $0 annual fee, but you may not earn as many miles.
If you’re usually loyal to one airline, it makes sense to get a credit card for that specific airline. However, if you instead bounce around and book flights on whichever airline has the best and cheapest route, you should get a general travel rewards credit card that’s not affiliated with just one airline.
The best travel rewards programs are the United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer programs as well as the Wyndham and Marriott hotel loyalty programs. If you don’t want to commit to a single travel provider, the best general travel rewards program is Capital One Venture Rewards.
United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles are the best travel rewards programs for frequent flyers because they offer a variety of perks ranging from free checked bags to airport lounge access. The exact benefits each program gives depends on the level of membership. Generally, though, all members will receive free checked bags and priority boarding on their respective airline’s flights. Higher-level members will also receive access to United and Delta lounges. The programs are free to join and the more you spend, the higher your level of membership. Plus, members can earn free flights faster by applying for a … read full answerUnited credit card or a Delta credit card. Some very rewarding offers are available.
Wyndham Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are the best travel rewards programs for frequent hotel guests because their members earn the most rewards value per dollar spent and have lots of properties to choose from. For example, Marriott Bonvoy now includes all Ritz-Carlton and SPG properties as well. If you decide to join either of these free loyalty programs, you might also want to consider applying for the Wyndham Credit Card, the Wyndham Credit Card with No Annual Fee or one of the Marriott credit cards. They all require at least good credit for approval.
In other words, there are plenty of different travel rewards programs to fit whichever method of travel you use most often.
Best Travel Rewards Programs:
United MileagePlus – Best Frequent Flyer Program
Wyndham Rewards – Best Hotel Loyalty Program
Capital One Venture Rewards – Best General Travel Rewards Program
Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Best Everyday Travel Rewards Program
Delta SkyMiles – Honorable Mention
Marriott Bonvoy – Honorable Mention
With the best frequent flyer programs, the stress of flying is lessened thanks to priority boarding, lounge access and free flights. With hotel rewards programs, you can easily earn free nights just for staying at your favorite hotels and resorts.
Travel isn’t always limited to just flights and hotel nights, though. Credit cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card can also help you save on other everyday purchases. And if you travel a lot but not always with the same company or using the same mode of transportation, a credit card with general-purpose travel rewards is a good choice.
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