Whether traveling for business or pleasure, finding an airline rewards program to suit your travel routine might not be the easiest choice, but selecting the right one could allow you to reap big benefits.
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FOX Business breaks down the top nine airline rewards programs for everyday travelers, as evaluated by U.S. News & World Report in their annual ranking.
1. Alaska Airlines
Alaska’s program, called Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, allows members to earn and redeem miles with not only Alaska Airlines, but Virgin America and 18 partner airlines too. Customers can earn miles through partnerships with retailers, hotels and rental car companies as well. However, accounts and miles can expire if left unused for more than two years.
2. Delta Air Lines
The Delta SkyMiles program allows frequent flyers to earn miles based on the cost of their Delta, Delta Connection or Delta Shuttle flight. Miles can also be earned by flying aboard a KLM, Air France or Virgin Atlantic flight, as all airlines are partners with Delta.
The Atlanta-based air carrier’s program include the ability to earn miles on hotel and Airbnb stays, the number of airlines the miles can be earned and used with and the fact that they don’t expire. One downside, however, is that it will take a member many flights and a large amount of money to reach elite status.
The New York-based airline’s rewards program allows its members to earn points for each dollar spent on flights and JetBlue Vacations packages. Additionally, points can be earned by flying aboard seven partner airlines, as well as car rentals, purchases with retail partners such as Amazon and hotel stays. For social media-savvy flyers, the low-cost carrier’s program allows members to receive rewards by staying in-the-know online.
4. Southwest Airlines
Customers who join the Southwest Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program can earn points for every dollar spent on the budget carrier’s flights, as well as with car rental, hotel and retail partners. Miles flown on the Dallas, Texas-based airline that serves just over 100 destinations in the U.S. and nine additional countries can be used for any seat that’s available on any flight and there aren’t any blackout dates. But, the number of points needed to earn that free flight “varies widely.”
5. United Airlines
Since United and its partner airlines fly to more than 1,100 destinations across the globe, the Chicago-based airline’s program—United MileagePlus—best suits travelers departing from major U.S. cities and those looking to travel to Europe, Latin America and Asia. Flyers using the program are able to use rewards for flights, hotels and train fares, though the miles expire after 18 months of inactivity.
6. American Airlines
The American Airlines AAdvantage program enables members to earn miles on every American, American Eagle and even codeshare flights operated by other airlines. Award miles can also be amassed for flights on all AAdvantage-affiliated oneworld carriers, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas. Despite the large array of partner companies miles can be earned with, they are now awarded by the number of dollars spent instead of how many miles are flown.
7. Hawaiian Airlines
Benefits for flyers that join the HawaiianMiles program include the ability to earn miles by booking flights, hotels and by shopping at the airline’s partner vendors. While miles can be earned retroactively and can be redeemed for car rentals and hotel bookings, the basic membership isn’t all that advantageous.
8. Frontier Airlines
The Denver-based low-cost carrier’s frequent flyer program—Frontier EarlyReturns—provides members with the ability to use earned miles, which are awarded based on the distance (mileage) flown between airport-to-airport, for free flights, hotel stays, car rentals and even magazine subscriptions. Though the air carrier doesn’t feature as many flights as other major U.S. airlines, it does fly to smaller airports and its elite membership tier provides customers with a wider selection of rewards. Miles expire in six months, if the account goes unused.
9. Spirit Airlines
Another budget airline to make the list, Spirit’s FREE SPIRIT program allows its members to earn miles for cruise vacations, dining, car rentals and more. Additionally, miles can still be earned up to 30 days after flying aboard the Florida-based carrier; however, they will expire after three months of account inactivity.
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