August 01, 2018

U.S. News & World Report Reveals 2018-19 Best Travel Rewards Programs

Marriott Rewards is the Best Hotel Rewards Program; Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan continues reign as No. 1 in Best Airline Rewards Programs
U.S. News & World Report today announced the 2018-19 Best Travel Rewards Programs. The annual rankings identify 25 hotel and airline loyalty programs with the most rewarding perks for everyday travelers. For the second consecutive year, Marriott Rewards ranks No. 1 in Best Hotel Rewards Programs. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan holds on to the top spot in Best Airline Rewards Programs for the fourth year in a row.

Marriott Rewards has regularly performed well in the rankings due to its large network of hotels in popular vacation destinations, high award availability and ample benefits given to members, but the program's merger with Starwood Preferred Guest and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards helped it maintain its No. 1 spot. The new combined program features five elite tiers, up from three previously, with lower qualification requirements, as well as member access to a variety of properties and room types when redeeming points for free nights. Wyndham Rewards, No. 2, continues to earn high marks for its ease of earning and redeeming a free night, its large network of hotels and its benefits given to elite members. World of Hyatt claimed the No. 3 spot thanks in part to its low points redemption requirements and its variety of ways to earn points.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan remains the No. 1 Best Airline Rewards Program because of its mileage-based earning structure, its large network of flight routes to popular destinations and its options for cashing in accrued miles for free flights. Elite members also have access to a variety of benefits, including free checked bags, priority boarding and complimentary cabin upgrades. Delta SkyMiles' ample member benefits, large network of flight destinations and high volume of daily domestic flights helped it retain its No. 2 rank this year.

"The seemingly endless options for travel rewards can make choosing a program daunting," said Christine Smith, travel editor at U.S. News. "The top ranked rewards programs offer all travelers the perks they care the most about, including those that give the most bang for their buck. Whether it's a free night, flight or specific amenities, travelers can narrow down their options to find the programs that are exactly the right fit for them."

U.S. News ranks the Best Travel Rewards Programs in two categories: hotel loyalty programs and airline frequent flyer programs. The methodologies take into account membership benefits - such as free amenities, program-affiliated credit cards and redeemable experiences - network coverage and a strong emphasis on the ease of earning and redeeming free flights or nights. Additionally, U.S. News factors in property diversity for the Best Hotel Rewards Programs and Airline Quality Rating scores for the Best Airline Rewards Programs.

2018-19 U.S. News Best Travel Rewards Programs

Hotel Rewards Programs Airline Rewards Programs
1. Marriott Rewards 1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
2. Wyndham Rewards 2. Delta SkyMiles
3. World of Hyatt 3. JetBlue TrueBlue
4. Choice Privileges 4. American Airlines AAdvantage
5. Best Western Rewards 5. Southwest Rapid Rewards
6. IHG Rewards Club 6. United MileagePlus
7. Radisson Rewards 7. FRONTIER Miles
8. La Quinta Returns 8. HawaiianMiles
9. INVITED 9. Free Spirit
10. Leaders Club  
11. Hilton Honors  
12. Sonesta Travel Pass  
13. Stash Hotel Rewards  
14. Omni Select Guest  
15. Le Club AccorHotels  
16. I Prefer Hotel Rewards  

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