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Travel Loyalty Program Reviews

March 19, 2020
Airline Credit Cards, Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Looking for the best hotel and airline loyalty programs but don’t feel like spending hours researching and comparing them? We’ve done most of the hard work for you.

NerdWallet collected and compared thousands of data points from large airlines and hotel chains to determine the best travel rewards programs. We ranked each program on several key components, then combined these rankings into one score to determine the winners.

Looking for how much your points and miles from these programs are worth? Check out our separate valuations page.

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Airlines

Best frequent flyer program (overall)

Best frequent flyer program for families

Best frequent flyer program for business travelers

Why Alaska won: Earning valuable miles is at the heart of any good frequent flyer program, and Alaska’s program performed very well in this rating, which we call the effective rewards rate. In simple terms, this means it’s easy to earn lots of miles on Alaska Airlines, and these miles offer good redemption value. Alaska also rated well for its elite status program. Given that Alaska dominated in so many ratings, it didn’t matter how it was weighted for different categories like family or business travel — its lead was unshakable.

Hotels

Best hotel rewards program (overall)

WinnerMarriott Bonvoy
No. 2Hyatt
No. 3Wyndham
No. 4IHG
No. 5Radisson
No. 6Best Western
No. 7Hilton

Best hotel rewards program for families

WinnerMarriott Bonvoy
No. 2Hyatt
No. 3Wyndham
No. 4IHG
No. 5Radisson
No. 6Best Western
No. 7Hilton

Best hotel rewards program for business travelers

WinnerMarriott Bonvoy
No. 2Hyatt
No. 3Wyndham
No. 4IHG
No. 5Radisson
No. 6Best Western
No. 7Hilton

Why Marriott Bonvoy won: While other programs ranked low on one score (or several), Marriott Bonvoy was solid across the board. The program scored particularly well for its effective rewards rate, which is our estimation of both how easy to earn and how valuable their points are. A few other programs, notably Hyatt, came close to winning some categories from Marriott, but in the end Marriott’s size, elite status program and more valuable points carried the day.

Methodologies

Please see our methodologies on the below pages:

Best frequent flyer program (overall)

Best frequent flyer program for families

Best frequent flyer program for business travelers

Best hotel rewards program (overall)

Best hotel rewards program for families

Best hotel rewards program for business travelers

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