Which hotels, airlines have best travel rewards?

Which hotel and airline industries have the best travel rewards programs in the U.S.?

Each year U.S. News & World Report grades both, and here are their top choices for the 2021-22 travel year, why they picked them and how COVID-19 factored in.

Wyndham Rewards takes the No. 1 spot for ‘Best Hotel Rewards Program’ this year, after placing second for several past years.

Wyndham’s large network of hotels in popular vacation destinations factored in, and the company’s high-award availability. “Additionally, any member of the program can book a free night with as few as 7,500 points,” U.S. News stated in a news release Tuesday.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan maintained its No. 1 position on the “Best Airline Rewards Programs” for the seventh year in a row, U.S. News said. “Its numerous member benefits and its large network of flight routes to popular destinations” were a major reason. One of the benefits U.S. News cited was the airline’s ability for members to earn miles for free flights faster

In selecting this year’s highest-ranking hotel and airline travel rewards programs, U.S. News rewarded companies for the most rewarding perks for everyday travelers. Among the most important factors were which companies made it easier for members to earn and redeem points or miles and achieve or retain elite status; how easily customers received room and cabin upgrades, program-affiliated credit cards; and how companies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, U.S. News also considered each travel rewards program’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and factored in how flexible and accommodating each airline and hotel program was for members,” U.S. News stated.

Here’s a list of its top choices.

Hotel Rewards Programs
  1. Wyndham Rewards
  2. World of Hyatt
  3. Marriott Bonvoy
  4. Choice Privileges
  5. IHG Rewards
Airline Rewards Programs
  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  2. Delta SkyMiles
  3. American Airlines AAdvantage
  4. JetBlue TrueBlue
  5. Southwest Rapid Rewards

Wyndham was chosen among 15 loyalty programs with major hotel brands that have at least 50 properties, including 10 or more in the U.S.

“All programs that appear on our Best Hotel Rewards Programs list offer members the ability to earn rewards and privileges each time they stay at a participating property,” U.S. News said.

Alaska Airlines competed among nine programs. All of the airlines are based in the U.S. and have frequent flyer programs.

See the both lists on U.S. News and Reports website.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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