United Airlines’ Mileage Plus program scored top marks on WalletHub in categories such as easy advance booking of award travel and less mandatory layovers.
Air traffic is expected to boom this year as Americans tired of being locked in Covid Lockdown finally want to take a long delayed vacation.
But for many, money is tight and the cheap airfares we saw last year could soon go away as demand increases.
Redeeming unused frequent flyer miles and loyalty points for travel could help some potential vacationers cut costs. In fact, the average airline rewards program that you can join for free offers members 11% off air travel, according to the personal finance site WalletHub found.
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“The best way to save on airfare is to join your favorite airlines’ frequent flyer programs for free and then create a flight comparison shop well in advance of your trip,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in a statement.
The website recently rated the best U.S. frequent flyer programs for everything from great overall performance to best value for money.
“The hierarchy of the best frequent flyer programs has changed a bit since the coronavirus pandemic began, so travelers shouldn’t assume they can just pick up where they left off,” Gonzalez said.
Best frequent flyer programs for 2021
- United Airlines – MileagePlus
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- Delta Air Lines – SkyMiles
- American Airlines – AAdvantage
- Hawaiian Airlines – HawaiianMiles
WalletHub’s ranking for the best frequent flyer program of 2021 is United Airlines’s Mileage Plus program, where Delta Air Lines’s SkyMiles were ranked number 1 after five years. The programs were rated in around 25 categories, ranging from the number of national and international programs, travel destinations and partner airlines, booking fees, membership benefits and the ease of achieving elite status.
United Mileage Plus scored top marks in categories such as value for flyers with an average annual travel budget to make it easier to pre-book award travel and reduce the number of stops. United’s program was followed by Alaska Airlines, Delta, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaiian’s HawaiianMiles program is now # 1 in terms of reward value, offering benefits of $ 24.19 for every $ 100. The Frontier Miles from the low-cost airline Frontier Airlines rank second at $ 20.99 per $ 100.
WalletHub also found that the five of the top ten US airlines are offering more program rewards this year than they did in 2020, “sweetening” the average by 30% for flyers. “Big airlines are also offering more rewards to lure people back into their planes,” said Gonzalez.
WalletHub has developed an online frequent flyer mileage calculator to provide users with the best program match based on annual spend.