U.S. News & World Report announced on August 6, 2019, the “2019-20 Best Travel Rewards Programs.” The rankings are done annually to name the 24 best hotel and airline loyalty programs which have the most rewarding perks and free amenities for everyday loyal travelers.
A recent U.S. News Google Survey reported that 45% of 1,000 consumers said they would not pay an annual fee to open an airline credit card. However, they may consider airlines that offer co-branded no-fee credit cards that give bonus miles or points if the traveler spends a certain amount.
Following are the three best in each category:
HOTEL REWARDS PROGRAMS
1. Marriott Bonvoy, which was formerly Marriott Rewards, is #1 for the third consecutive year and received top marks for ample benefits, high award availability, its large network of hotels in vacation destinations, requiring relatively low points for redemption, and giving one night free for a reward stay of five nights or more.
Their new Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card has no annual fees. Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, three times the points for each $1 spent at more than 7,000 participating Marriott hotels, two times the points for each $1 spent on other travel purchases, and one time the points for every $1 spent on everyday purchases.
2. Wyndham Rewards is #2 and scored high due to members not needing to stay as many times as another program before qualifying for a free night.
With their Wyndham Rewards Visa Card with no annual fee, you can earn 15,000 points, which is enough for up to two free nights of one standard bedroom subject to availability at over 30,000 participating hotels, condos, and homes worldwide. At Caesars hotels, resort fees may apply and cannot be paid using points.
Earn three points for each $1 spent on purchases that are eligible at Wyndham hotels, timeshare properties, and Vacation Rental North America properties, two points for each $1 spent on eligible utility, gas, and grocery store purchases excluding Walmart and Target, and one point for every $1 spent on other purchases.
With their Wyndham Rewards Visa Card with an Annual Fee of $75, you can earn up to 30,000 bonus points, which is enough for four free nights. You earn 15,000 bonus points after the first purchase and an additional 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days. Earn five points on eligible purchases at participating Wyndham properties and two points or one point for the other eligible purchases mentioned above. Earn 6,000 bonus points after the account anniversary every year.
3. World of Hyatt is #3 mainly because it requires low points for various redemptions. Earn five Base Points for each eligible $1 spent on qualifying stays, spa experiences, dining, and more at Hyatt hotels and resorts, M life Rewards destinations, and SLH hotels. Earn 10 Base Points for each eligible $1 spent on qualifying FIND experiences, Exhale spa fitness classes and therapies, and Exhale On Demand subscriptions. Spend the points on free nights that start at just 5,000 points. airline miles, car rentals, and more. Earn more with additional Milestone Rewards. There are four levels of membership when you meet the qualifying criteria.
AIRLINE REWARDS PROGRAMS
U.S. News weighs earning a free flight as the most important factor. Approximately 32% of consumers redeemed free domestic flights within the last year using points or what accrued on their airline credit card.
1. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan continues to be #1 for its fifth consecutive year because of its large network of routes or those of their global airline partners to more than 900 destinations throughout the world and its high award choices including free flights. Earn one mile for each mile flown, even on the lowest fare, and also earn when dining, shopping, staying in a hotel, renting a car, and more. Elite status starts at 20,000 miles where you enjoy perks such as priority check-in and boarding, two free checked bags, and preferred seating.
2. Delta SkyMiles retained #2 for the third year in a row due to its high volume of daily flights. The loyalty program is divided into two categories. The general SkyMiles membership gives five miles for every $1 spent on a Delta, Delta Shuttle, or Delta Connection trip and also rewards by traveling on one of Delta’s partner airlines or with the purchase of services through the airline’s hotel, ground transportation, or cruise affiliates. The Medallion elite membership is split into Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond with additional benefits. The Delta 360 is by invitation only with added perks including such items as a bottle of premium Champagne or a Porsche tarmac transfer and other exclusive benefits.
3. On JetBlue TrueBlue’s rewards program, you earn two times their points, which is at least six points for each eligible $1, when you do your booking on jetblue.com. You can also select partner airlines and earn points with purchases at retail and credit card partners. The points do not expire and can be redeemed for any seat at any time and with no blackout dates. You can even share points with family and friends.
What travel reward programs are you favorite?