Sorting airline rewards programs can be quite tricky, especially as both American and international carriers have a wide range of options. Whether you a frequent business traveler or someone saving up for that dream vacation, comparing frequent flyer programs should be on your priority list. Choosing the right airline with the best miles program is all about finding the correct details. In this quick guide, we have reviewed the best options for your help.
Get the answers
Between details of frequent flyer programs, there are just a few basic questions you need to ask –
How many miles/points are you getting for each US dollar spent on tickets?
This is probably the most basic question you need to answer. If you are getting more miles or points for each US dollar spent, you certainly have a better deal.
How are the miles worth?
It’s not enough to just collect thousands of miles. You should be able to reap the rewards, and a program that doesn’t complicate that aspect is your best bet. Look for an airline with best miles program that also lets you use those miles.
What are the airports you visit frequently? Does the selected airline serve those airports?
An airline that covers most of your frequently-visited destinations is always a better choice because you would be earning more for your tickets.
What’s next on your travel list?
Before you look for airline offers, consider your immediate and long-term plans. The airline should cover everything you have on your list.
Do you fly business class?
If you do, you need to find a carrier that has premium cabins and business-class options. Some carriers only have economy services.
Does the airline offer an elite status? If yes, what’s the minimum number of miles you need?
When you look for an airline with best miles program, you should check whether you can get to the elite club real soon, which will allow you to enjoy other advantages, including airport lounge visits.
What are the add-on perks?
Frequent flyer programs also have additional perks like seat upgrades, no-wait-in-line requirements, upgraded meals, and other elite benefits.
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Top Five Frequent Flyer Programs Reviewed
If you travel frequently to West Coast cities and cities like New York City, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan could be the choice for you. You can also earn miles through other hotel and rental partnerships, and the redemption options are pretty flexible, including hotel stays, flight bookings, and cabin upgrades.
On the flip side: The options for seating are limited on reward flights. Availability is also a concern. If you are inactive for two years, your account will be deactivated.
Travelers who frequently visit the Hawaiian Islands from Asia, the United States, and the South Pacific could benefit from The Hawaiian Miles rewards program. Hawaiian Airlines serves numerous domestic destinations in the US and has two partner airlines – JetBlue and Korean Air. There are numerous ways to earn miles, and the good news is your earned miles do not expire. There are more award flight fare classes to choose from.
On the flip side: The basic membership doesn’t offer as many benefits, and if you are booking flights with partner airlines, you cannot get the Elite status. The benefits of the Elite membership is only limited to flights operated by Hawaiian Airlines.
If you are based in cities like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, or Detroit, you may benefit from The Delta SkyMiles program. This is also an airline with the best miles program for those who frequently visit New York City. There are over 20 participating airlines; you can use your miles across the board. You can get to the Medallion status on award flights and earn miles through bookings with other partners, including Lyft and Airbnb.
On the flip side: There are limited seats available for award travel, and it takes a lot of flying to get to the Elite Status. Also, you don’t earn anything on your spending on economy fares.
Do you often travel to and from East Coast cities? We are talking of cities like New York City, Boston, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. Do your plans include destinations in Central and South America or the Caribbean? You may want to check the JetBlue TrueBlue program. This is an airline with the best miles program, mainly because it allows you to earn points through flights booked with partner airlines. The points are for you to keep (no expiry), and there are no blackout dates.
On the flip side: You will still have blackout dates with partner airlines. Compared to other carriers, the airline doesn’t cover as many destinations. There are concerns with the validity of elite memberships.
The American Airlines AAdvantage program is great for anyone who frequently travels throughout the United States and to international destinations. With a broad frequent flyer network, which includes partners like Qantas and British Airways, this program allows you to earn miles with over 1,000 partners. You can redeem your miles for hotel stays, travel packages, and car rentals, besides flights.
On the flip side: This is a revenue-based program, which means the amount spent is more important than the miles covered. You also don’t earn credit for award flights.
There’s no one airline with best miles program, and it all depends on how and where you travel. While you can expect to earn miles with most carriers, not all allow you to redeem your miles and points similarly. Do your homework, and if your itinerary allows, consider all your upcoming travel plans in advance. Make sure to save your miles efficiently to get more out of your earnings. Frequent flyer programs are great for every kind of traveler, even for those who don’t often travel out of the US. International travel can be more enticing as you cover more miles and earn more with each booked flight.