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Best Airline Rewards Programs

Best Airline Rewards Programs

Best Airline Rewards Programs

You don't have to be a points and miles expert to find a frequent flyer program that suits your travel habits. When choosing a program, you'll want to consider a few key criteria, such as flight options, network coverage and how easy it is to earn a free flight. To help everyday travelers weigh their options, U.S. News evaluated nine leading airline rewards programs using a methodology that takes into account each program's earning and redemption values, benefits, network coverage and award flight availability, among other features. Our approach places emphasis on the ease of earning miles and redeeming free flights for basic members. Browse our 2018-19 Best Airline Rewards Programs ranking and detailed program profiles to find the best program for you.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Reward Program Gold Badge
#1 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan caters to flyers who frequent various destinations in Alaska, West Coast cities (like Seattle and Portland, Oregon), major transportation hubs (like Atlanta and New York City), as well as destinations in Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. By joining the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you can start earning miles on every Alaska Airlines flight you take and eligible flights on Alaska Airlines' 17 partner airlines, including American Airlines, Emirates and British Airways. You can also earn miles by making everyday purchases with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card or by staying with seven participating hotel partners, including Best Western, InterContinental and Marriott. The miles you earn can be used toward free flights on Alaska Airlines and other participating carriers, partner hotel stays, magazine subscriptions or donations to charity.
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4.54/5 Overall Score
500 - 1,000 No. of Daily Flights

Delta SkyMiles

Reward Program Gold Badge
#2 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The Delta SkyMiles program is convenient for frequent flyers based in United States cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle, and for passengers who often travel to and from New York City. Delta Air Lines operates more than 15,000 flights each day to 1,000-plus destinations across more than 50 countries. By becoming a SkyMiles member, you'll earn miles based on the amount you pay for your flight with Delta, Delta Connection or Delta Shuttle; you can also earn miles for flying with any of Delta's multiple partner airlines, including KLM, Air France and Virgin Atlantic, among others. Those miles can be redeemed for free air travel on any participating airline or cashed in for cabin upgrades, unique experiences (such as concert tickets) or items for sale at the SkyMiles Marketplace. When you fly with Delta, you will also earn Medallion Qualification Miles, Medallion Qualification Segments and Medallion Qualification Dollars, which will help you gain access to a variety of perks through the Delta SkyMiles Medallion elite membership program. You can also earn miles on everyday purchases if you've signed up for a Delta SkyMiles credit card by American Express.
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4.11/5 Overall Score
More than 2,000 No. of Daily Flights

JetBlue TrueBlue

Reward Program Gold Badge
#3 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The JetBlue TrueBlue program best serves travelers based in East Coast cities (like Boston, New York City and Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida) who primarily fly domestically and to the Caribbean. Members earn points for every dollar spent on JetBlue flights and JetBlue Vacations packages. You can also earn points on flights booked with seven partner airlines, as well as on hotel stays, car rentals and purchases with retail partners like Amazon and through the ShopTrue retail portal. Earn even more points by staying connected on social media and by making purchases with one of the JetBlue credit cards from MasterCard. You can use those points to cover the cost of future air travel on JetBlue or Hawaiian Airlines, as well as the cost of JetBlue Vacations packages.
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4.06/5 Overall Score
500 - 1,000 No. of Daily Flights

American Airlines AAdvantage

#4 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The American Airlines AAdvantage program benefits travelers based in cities throughout the United States, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Dallas, who fly to destinations around the world. As an AAdvantage member, you'll earn miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) for every American Airlines, American Eagle and codeshare flight operated by other airlines. You'll also earn award miles and EQDs for flights on Alaska Airlines and affiliated partner carriers through American Airlines' extensive oneworld frequent flyer network, which includes Qantas Airways, British Airways and Qatar Airways. Additionally, members will accrue Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) to apply toward achieving elite status. What's more, you can collect miles for everyday purchases if you use any of the Citi / AAdvantage credit cards or AAdvantage Aviator MasterCards. And thanks to American Airlines' relationship with numerous car rental companies, hotel brands and cruise lines, you can also earn AAdvantage miles on a variety of travel expenses.
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4.05/5 Overall Score
More than 2,000 No. of Daily Flights

Southwest Rapid Rewards

#5 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is most beneficial for budget-minded travelers based in the United States who frequently fly to major cities around the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. Southwest offers more than 4,000 flights a day to 100 destinations. By becoming a Southwest Rapid Rewards member, you'll earn points for every dollar spent on Southwest flights and with the airline's hotel, car rental and retail partners. If you have one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards from Chase Visa, you can earn additional points on Southwest Airlines and partner purchases and by making everyday purchases. You can use your Rapid Rewards points to pay for merchandise, gift cards and the cost of air travel on any Southwest flight. If you are a Southwest credit card holder, you can also use points to cover the cost of international partner flights, hotel stays, cruises, car rentals and experiences like wine tastings and spa packages.
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4.04/5 Overall Score
More than 2,000 No. of Daily Flights

United MileagePlus

#6 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The United MileagePlus program is best for travelers based in major American cities and those who travel to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Latin America and Asia. When you become a MileagePlus member, you can earn and use miles on United and its 35-plus airline partners like Singapore Airlines, ANA and Copa Airlines, many of which are part of the Star Alliance network. As a MileagePlus member, you'll accrue Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs), Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) and Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) each time you fly. Earn enough PQDs and PQMs or PQSs and you'll reach Premier status – MileagePlus membership levels for which you'll receive extra benefits. Additionally, you can earn miles on qualifying cruise vacations, car rentals and train fares, as well as on shopping, dining and other services. You can also earn miles for gas purchases at participating BP locations in the U.S. And since United partners with major hotel brands, including Marriott, Hyatt and IHG, you can earn rewards when you stay at properties worldwide. You may also redeem miles for flights, hotel stays, cruises, magazine subscriptions, destination experiences (think: sporting events and theater performances) and more.  Choose to use one of four United MileagePlus credit cards from Chase Visa and you'll earn miles on flights and everyday purchases.
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3.92/5 Overall Score
More than 2,000 No. of Daily Flights

FRONTIER Miles

#7 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The FRONTIER Miles program caters to travelers based in Denver and the Midwest who frequently fly within the United States. Frontier Airlines services major domestic airports – like those in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago – as well as smaller destinations like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fargo, North Dakota; and Bozeman, Montana. Frontier also offers flights to various destinations throughout Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The FRONTIER Miles program awards miles based on the airport-to-airport air mileage distance flown. Miles earned can be used for free flights, car rentals and magazine subscriptions. FRONTIER Miles members can also earn miles when staying at certain hotels, purchasing services through partner merchants and charging everyday expenses to the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard credit card by Barclays.
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3.43/5 Overall Score
Fewer than 500 No. of Daily Flights

HawaiianMiles

#8 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
The HawaiianMiles rewards program is ideal for those traveling from the United States, Asia and the South Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian Airlines serves more than 25 domestic and international destinations and provides nonstop daily service to Hawaii from multiple U.S. cities. The HawaiianMiles program offers a variety of ways to earn miles, from booking flights and hotels to shopping at Hawaiian Airlines partner vendors. Earn more miles on everyday purchases by signing up and using the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. You can redeem your miles for future hotel stays, car rentals and flights on Hawaiian Airlines and its airline partners, which include JetBlue and Korean Air.
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3.33/5 Overall Score
Fewer than 500 No. of Daily Flights

Free Spirit

#9 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
Spirit Airlines' Free Spirit frequent flyer program caters to people who travel domestically all over the United States, including cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Free Spirit is also advantageous for travelers who visit Latin American and Caribbean destinations like Aruba, Jamaica, Lima, Peru, and Costa Rica. As a Free Spirit member, you'll earn miles every time you fly with Spirit Airlines. You can also collect miles for everyday purchases if you hold a Spirit Airlines World Mastercard. Plus, Spirit Airlines has partnerships with select restaurants, Choice Hotels, car rental agencies and more, which allow you to earn miles for dining, hotel stays, cruise vacations and car rentals.
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1.20/5 Overall Score
Fewer than 500 No. of Daily Flights

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