airline loyalty programs

The Best Airline Loyalty Programs: A Guide

If you’re not taking advantage of airline loyalty programs, you could be missing out on rewards like free flights, seat upgrades, and discounted lodging. Use this guide to learn more!

Utilizing airline loyalty programs can save members hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in travel alone.

These programs are easy to find, use, and take advantage of. The nice thing is that you’re already traveling, so you only benefit by signing up for one. If you’re someone who travels frequently for work or pleasure, you’re crazy if you don’t utilize frequent flyer miles.

That being said, there are a lot of options out there. We’ve made the process a little easier for you and compiled a guide of the best airline loyalty programs.

A Guide to the Best Airline Loyalty Programs

We’ll cover some of your best credit card options for loyalty rewards, as well as some of the rewards that come from specific airlines.

Credit Card Options

These are the credit card options that are going to give you the greatest possible reward for your travels.

1. The Capital One Venture Rewards Card

If you’re planning on making a significant purchase within a few months of registering for a card, this is going to be a great option for you. Once you spend 3,000 dollars within the first three months of opening the account, you get a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles.

This evens out to around 500 dollars of free travel money. Depending on where you’re going, that could possibly cover the entire cost of a flight. Either way, you swing it, it’s 500 dollars.

You earn double miles every day that you use the card, with every purchase. That means constant rewards. Additionally, you earn ten times the miles on many hotels that you would visit while traveling. That’s probably why CNBC ranked it the ‘Best Travel Card.’

2. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

This card as a similar one-time offer to the previous card, except it requires that you spend 4,000 dollars in the first three months. This reward, however, is 50,000 bonus points, which actually average out to more money than Capital One’s deal.

The deal actually comes out to around 625 dollars of travel. A close competitor of the Capital One cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was named Best Travel Credit Card by Money Magazine. You receive double points when you dine, and you get a point per dollar that you spend on all other purchases.

3. Discover it

This card is exceptional for travelers, containing a few unique benefits that we haven’t seen yet on this list. The first, and possibly most exciting, is that Discover will match your mile for the first year of ownership. That means you get double all of the miles that you accumulate within the first year of having the card.

These extra points come at the end of the first year, so you don’t get them as you earn. That is, however, a nice way to save up for a trip or free travel after the new year. Additionally, you receive one and a half times miles for every dollar you spend, without having to sign into an annual fee.

You have access to points with any airline that you fly with and any hotel that you stay in.

4. Alaska Airlines Reward Program

We’re going to move on to our airline reward programs, which are a little different from credit card programs but hold similar rewards. Alaska Airlines is thought to have the best program on the market.

Their program allows you to access points using their airline as well as 17 other affiliated airlines. You get points toward miles through using a number of stores, hotels, and car rental programs. Additionally, you have the option of redeeming points that were used on canceled flights or missed appointments.

5. Delta SkyMiles

If you’re someone who frequently moves around the United States, this program may be the best fit for you. Having Delta SkyMiles may be worth it for the sole fact that the company offers over 15,000 flights per day, taking you to over 50 countries.

Points are accumulated based on how much money you pay for the flights you take, and those points can be earned even when you use partner airlines. Another thing to keep in mind is that the points you earn can be used for things other than flights.

Cabin upgrades are one option, but you may want to take your points out of the airline and use them toward concert tickets and other unique experiences. On top of this, you can get a Delta SkyMiles credit card and use it to earn points.

6. American Airlines AAdvantage

This is another program that benefits those of you who are located within the United States. Of course, you have the option of traveling outside of the United States, but American Airlines is largely rooted in intra-American travelers.

A lot of the same perks listed above apply to American Airlines, but there are a few unique qualities of this package. The first is that the amount of partner organization that AA has is a little more extensive than the previous options. You have the option to earn miles with over one thousand other companies.

These miles can be used for a number of things. Namely, traveling, staying in hotels and motels, renting cars, other vacation extras, and purchasing gift cards for some of their affiliate stores. One thing that is unique about this program is that it is based on money spent.

A lot of airline rewards programs operate based on the number of miles that person flies, making it easier for some people to get miles than others. This plan will work in your favor if you tend to fly during common vacation times, or otherwise spend money on flights that could be found cheaper during other times of the year.

In any case, one of these programs is sure to benefit you in your travel-based lifestyle.

Need More Travel Help?

Traveling can get costly. There’s no doubt about that. Sometimes you need a one-stop-shop for all traveling tips and tricks, airline loyalty programs, and more.

We’ve compiled a wealth of travel knowledge just for you. If you’re interested in learning more about how to travel smart, we’ve got everything you need.