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This Frequent Flyer Tool Finds the Best Reward Program for You Based on How Much You Travel

News Airports + Flying
by Olivia Harden Apr 4, 2022

If you’re a frequent flyer, one of the easiest tricks to get the most out of your trips in the sky is to pick one or two airlines to fly with and stick with it. Now, as flight prices get ready to shoot up in the coming month, it’s more important than ever to enroll in a frequent flyer program that’s right for you. The question is, which program to choose? The personal finance company WalletHub released its report on the best frequent flyer program of 2022 along with a tool to help you decide which meets your needs best.

The frequent flyer calculator ranks programs based on how much bang for your buck you’ll get based on what your budget is for travel. The most highly recommended programs by WalletHub’s measure are Alaska Airlines and United MileagePlus. However, the overall extent of these great benefits is determined by how many points you can rack up per year.

Finding an excellent frequent flyer program means more than just free miles. The best programs offer other benefits like free checked bags, access to lounges, priority boarding, complimentary upgrades, higher priority on overbooked flights, and expedited baggage services. This year, Alaska Airlines beat out the United Airlines program as the best mileage program, with rewards worth 2.4 times more than if flyers had purchased the the same thing at full price.

The best frequent flyer programs of 2022

  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: best overall and rewards value
  2. United Airlines MileagePlus: best airline coverage and partner coverage
  3. Delta Air Lines SkyMiles: best redemption policies
  4. Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: most additional features with the best rewards value
  5. American Airlines AAdvantage: best airline coverage

WalletHub assigned points to programs in different categories: airline coverage, partner coverage, rewards value, earning policies, redemption policies, and other features. Airline coverage was worth 10 points for the number of US destinations and five points for the number of international destinations. Partner coverage was worth 10 points with categories for partner airline earning and redemption and the US and international destinations on partner airlines.

WalletHub found the value of the rewards by considering the different amounts someone might spend on travel per year and how that translates to miles earned redemption value and the value per $100 spent. To find a score for earning policies, WalletHub considered whether there were earning limits, whether you could still earn points by booking through third-party websites, and whether you could retroactively reclaim points. And finally, the other category included if and how fast miles expired, the ease of achieving elite status, transferring between accounts, and the overall valuable membership perks.

The truth is, you’ll also want to consider which airlines you actually like, so you’ll be encouraged to stay loyal. But if you can’t give up shopping around for the lowest prices, take on investing in a good travel credit card instead.

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