U.S. News Announces the 2023–2024 Best Travel Rewards Programs U.S. News Announces the 2023–2024 Best Travel Rewards Programs

U.S. News Announces the 2023–2024 Best Travel Rewards Programs

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U.S. News & World Report announced the winners of the  2023-2024 Best Travel Rewards Programs. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was the top airline program this year, while Wyndham Rewards was crowned the best hotel travel reward program.

But do you agree with their rankings? Let's look at the winners.

Airline Travel Program Winner: Alaska Mileage Plan

U.S. News evaluated and ranked 10 airline travel rewards programs in the U.S. Alaska Mileage Plan ranked first, followed by Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus hot on its heels. The full rankings are as follows:

  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  2. Delta SkyMiles
  3. United MileagePlus
  4. American Airlines AAdvantage
  5. JetBlue TrueBlue
  6. Southwest Rapid Rewards
  7. Free Spirit
  8. HawaiianMiles
  9. FRONTIER Miles
  10. Allegiant Air Allways Rewards

How the airline programs were ranked

Whenever rankings like this are made, transparency of methodology is critical to the credibility of the ranking. As such, U.S. News has published its methods to evaluate and rank the programs. The airline programs were evaluated as follows:

  • The ease of earning a free round-trip flight received a 47% weighting of the airline's overall score. The calculation took into consideration routes to/from/within the U.S. and took account of three types of route distances: short domestic (400–500 miles), medium domestic (2,200–2,600 miles), and long (4,800–5,200 miles).
  • Additional benefits received (25% of score). Programs were scored 1 to 5 depending on the range and availability of benefits like free checked bags, point expiration policies, affiliated credit cards to maximize earnings, and more.
  • Network coverage (10%). Airlines were scored from 1 to 5 depending on the extent of their coverage to major regions and the passenger weighted average within those regions.
  • The number of daily flights (10%). The airlines were scored from 1 to 5 depending on the number of daily domestic flights they operated. Airlines operating over 2,000 daily flights received a score of 5, while those operating 1 to 499 flights received a score of 1.
  • Airline quality rating (8%). Airlines were awarded a score of 1 to 5 depending on how they fared on the Airline Quality Rating report published by Dean Headley of Wichita State University and Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
  • Award flight availability (0%). This wasn't weighted, due to insufficient data caused by the ongoing and latent effects of the pandemic on the aviation sector.

Hotel Travel Reward Program Winner: Wyndham Rewards

15 hotel travel reward programs were evaluated and ranked by U.S. News. Wyndham Rewards came out on top, followed by Choice Privileges and Marriott Bonvoy. The complete ranking list of hotel programs is as follows:

  1. Wyndham Rewards
  2. Choice Privileges
  3. Marriott Bonvoy
  4. World of Hyatt
  5. IHG One Rewards
  6. Sonesta Travel Pass
  7. Radisson Rewards Americas
  8. Best Western Rewards
  10. Leaders Club
  11. I Prefer Hotel Rewards
  12. Hilton Honors
  13. Omni Select Guest
  14. ALL — Accor Live Limitless
  15. Stash Hotel Rewards

How the hotel programs were ranked

U.S. News ranked the hotel programs according to the following criteria:

  • How easy it is to earn a free night received a 45% weighting. Programs were scored from 1 to 5 depending on how easy it was to earn a free night at 20 destinations selected in geographic coverage scoring criteria.
  • Additional benefits (25% weight). Programs were scored from 1 to 5 depending on the benefits offered, including points expiration, more ways to use and earn points, room upgrades, late checkout, complimentary breakfasts, and more. Programs received higher scores for having more co-branded credit cards and options to use points on things other than hotel stays.
  • Geographic coverage (15%). Programs were scored from 1 to 5 based on the number of locations with availability within 15 miles of 20 major leisure and business destinations in the U.S. and overseas.
  • The number of hotels in a network (10%). Programs with over 4,000 properties received a score of 5, while those under 100 earned a score of 1.
  • Property diversity (5%). Programs were scored from 1 to 5 depending on the diversity of the types of properties in the program. This included location (beach vs. city vs. mountain) and price ranges. Programs could earn up to 8 diversity points, and those scoring the maximum amount were awarded a score of 5.

Our Take

It is no surprise that U.S. News chose Alaska as the top airline program. Alaska has been our favorite at AwardWallet for some time, and our fondness grew after Alaska joined Oneworld in March 2021. However, Mileage Plan has made several negative changes and devaluations recently; it will be interesting to see how the program fares in next year's rankings.

As for Wyndham Rewards, it is an excellent program and one of our favorites for flexibility and ease of using points. However, competition between the top hotel programs is fierce.

Do you agree with the U.S News rankings? Let us know what your favorite programs are in the comments below.

5 / 5 - (10 votes)
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  • The hotel rankings are laughable to anyone that actually travels a lot for business. I don’t even feel like illuminiating all the flaws that would arrive at that ranking list.

  • I don’t understand how alaska earns the top spot based on ease of earning points you either have the alaska card or you actually fly the airline there is no transferable miles. I even question how Hawaiian is ahead of swa airlines it’s the same scenario as alaska. And both the alaska and Hawaiian cards offer bonus only for flying unlike the swa card where I’ve racked up tons of points from the quarterly bonus categories for non flying expenditures

  • Tesla Cowboy says:

    I agree Alaska Airlines is really great. I travel several times a month and am on their highest tier. I get treated better at Alaska Airlines than anywhere else. Glad Delta was hot on their heels though. FAIR Competition makes all airlines better! (generally speaking). Let’s get congress to pass a Passenger Bill of Rights…I’m looking for this – If you purchase a ticket, then the airline is responsible to get you to your destination as reasonably as possible without further out of pocket costs (hotel stays, route changes, etc).