WASHINGTON, D.C. - To help travelers make the most of airline and hotel rewards, U.S. News & World Report released the 2014-15 Best Travel Rewards Programs. This year's rankings feature information on 27 airline and hotel programs. New this year, JetBlue's TrueBlue frequent flier plan is the No. 1 Best Airline Rewards Program. Marriott Rewards once again topped the Best Hotel Rewards category.
"Our goal is to take the guesswork out of choosing a travel rewards program," said Miriam Weiner, lead travel editor at U.S. News. "The programs that rank at the top of our lists make it easy to earn free flights or hotel stays while offering benefits that travelers value, such as complimentary upgrades and free checked bags."
The JetBlue TrueBlue program moved ahead of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program this year in part because JetBlue performs high in airline quality - a new addition to the methodology based on an annual Airline Quality Rating report that measures on-time arrivals, lost or mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boarding and consumer complaints. For the Best Airline Rewards Programs, U.S. News also evaluated flight volume, geographic coverage, free flight options, ease of earning a free round-trip flight and additional benefits the program offers. To be ranked by U.S. News, a program had to be tied to a U.S.-based airline.
While airline quality rating made JetBlue’s TrueBlue No.1, ease of earning free flights helped Southwest's Rapid Rewards keep a high position on the ranking at No. 2. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan broke into the Top 3 for the first time.
2014-15 Top 3 Best Airline Rewards Programs
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
In this year’s Best Hotel Rewards rankings, Marriott Rewards stands out for offering a wide range of lodging types, locations and price ranges, as well as relatively easy ways to earn free hotel nights and other benefits. InterContinental Hotels Group’s IHG Rewards Club made No. 2 on the list, in part thanks to its wide geographic coverage, which makes it easy for members to take advantage of the program both in the United States and abroad. Best Western Rewards made another strong showing this year at No. 3.
2014-15 Top 3 Best Hotel Rewards Programs
- Marriott Rewards
- IHG Rewards Club
- Best Western Rewards