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2015-16 Best Airline Rewards Programs

U.S. News evaluated 10 of the most prominent airline rewards programs and identified the best.

U.S. News & World Report

2015-16 Best Airline Rewards Programs

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U.S. News announces Best Airline Rewards Programs

No loyalty program is ideal for everyone, but choosing one that best matches your lifestyle can help you maximize your chances of earning and redeeming meaningful rewards. To help you weigh your options, U.S. News evaluated 10 leading frequent flier programs using an unbiased methodology that takes into account each program's earning and redemption values, benefits, network coverage and award flight availability, among other data points. Here's the ranking, starting at No. 10 and working up.

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs
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10. FREE SPIRIT

Overall Score: 1.16

Pro: Mileage credit can be earned up to 30 days after flying with Spirit
Con: Miles expire after three months of account inactivity

See why FREE SPIRIT ranks No. 10

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs
Next:

U.S. News announces Best Airline Rewards Programs

No loyalty program is ideal for everyone, but choosing one that best matches your lifestyle can help you maximize your chances of earning and redeeming meaningful rewards. To help you weigh your options, U.S. News evaluated 10 leading frequent flier programs using an unbiased methodology that takes into account each program's earning and redemption values, benefits, network coverage and award flight availability, among other data points. Here's the ranking, starting at No. 10 and working up.

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

10. FREE SPIRIT

Overall Score: 1.16

Pro: Mileage credit can be earned up to 30 days after flying with Spirit
Con: Miles expire after three months of account inactivity

See why FREE SPIRIT ranks No. 10

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

9. Delta SkyMiles

Overall Score: 3.11

Pro: Miles do not expire
Con: Delta no longer has rewards charts, making it difficult to determine the number of points needed to cover a flight

See why Delta SkyMiles ranks No. 9

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

8. United MileagePlus

Overall Score: 3.45

Pro: United and its partners fly to more than 1,100 destinations worldwide
Con: Miles expire after 18 months of account inactivity

See why United MileagePlus ranks No. 8

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

7. Frontier EarlyReturns

Overall Score: 3.55

Pro: Airline flies to wider selection of smaller airports
Con: Frontier has fewer daily flights than major carriers

See why Frontier EarlyReturns ranks No. 7

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

6. Virgin America Elevate

Overall Score: 3.61

Pro: Points can be earned on hotel stays, car rentals, cruises and retail purchases
Con: There are a limited number of seats available for rewards travel on partner airlines

See why Virgin America Elevate ranks No. 6

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

5. HawaiianMiles

Overall Score: 3.88

Pro: Numerous award flight fare classes to choose from
Con: Elite status cannot be earned by booking flights with partner airlines

See why HawaiianMiles ranks No. 5

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

4. JetBlue TrueBlue

Overall Score: 3.95

Pro: Points can be earned on multiple airlines
Con: Program only offers one elite membership tier

See why JetBlue TrueBlue ranks No. 4

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

3. Southwest Rapid Rewards

Overall Score: 3.99

Pro: Rapid Rewards Points can be earned on flights and hotel stays
Con: Southwest’s only flights outside the U.S. are to Mexico and the Caribbean

See why Southwest Rapid Rewards ranks No. 3

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

2. American Airlines AAdvantage

Overall Score: 4.04

Pro: Can earn miles with more than 1,000 partner companies
Con: Mileage credit for American and AAdvantage-affiliated partners will be forfeited if your account is inactive for 18 months

See why American Airlines AAdvantage ranks No. 2

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs

1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Overall Score: 4.39

Pro: Can earn and redeem miles with Alaska Airlines or 15 partner airlines
Con: Blackout dates apply on reward travel

See why Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan ranks No. 1

See the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs
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