CardHub, a website that helps consumers find the best credit cards, concluded from its latest research into the loyalty programs of the 10 largest U.S. carriers that JetBlue has the best program for frequent flyers, although Alaska offers the best redemption value for miles earned.
One of the most frequent questions we get at TravelSkills is, “What’s the best frequent flyer program?” Our answer is almost always the same, which is, “It depends. There’s not a perfect program out there, but there’s probably a perfect program for you.”
Rating mileage programs is especially tricky these days since some of the largest carriers have switched, or are in the process of switching, from mileage-based to spending-based systems, but CardHub said it took that into account in its methodology, along with lots of other factors (23 in all). And it separated the results into the best programs for frequent, average and light travelers.
In its overall results, CardHub said that JetBlue came out on top for frequent flyers, while Delta was the best program for average and light flyers. Looking only at the redemption value of miles, it rated Alaska number one for heavy travelers, Hawaiian for average travelers and Frontier for infrequent flyers.
The summary includes some interesting tidbits for passengers looking into program benefits and drawbacks — e.g., only Delta and JetBlue don’t let miles expire due to account inactivity; only United, Alaska and Frontier have blackout dates for mileage-purchased tickets; and all but Southwest impose a fat mileage redeposit fee for backing out of a booked award ticket.
You can see the report and its findings here. And the key charts are below…
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