2018’s Best Frequent Flyer Programs

Airline loyalty is hard to come by. Most travelers are willing to jump to another jet for the slightest of discounts. Yet roughly 7% of flights are paid for with points or miles, according to PWC. So there’s obviously value in committing to a carrier. You just have to find the right one.

To help you earn more free flights and other assorted perks, WalletHub compared the 10 largest domestic airlines’ loyalty rewards programs across 23 key metrics, ranging from the value of a rewards point or mile to blackout-date policies.

Here are the best frequent flyer programs:

Frequent Flyer Program Overall WalletHub Score
Delta SkyMiles 64.14
Mileage Plan 50.87
HawaiianMiles 49.38

Main Findings

Delta SkyMiles is the best frequent flyer program for the third straight year, earning an average WalletHub score of 64.14% in the three usage scenarios.

Hawaiian Airlines offers the most rewards value ($19.95 per $100 spent), with Alaska Airlines coming in a close second ($19.87 per $100 spent).

Four of the 10 largest airlines offered more rewards in 2018 than in 2017, sweetening the pot by an average of 20%.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways are the only two major airlines whose miles do not expire because of inactivity.

Airline miles cost an average of 62% more than they’re worth when purchased rather than earned.

This comparison was based on three hypothetical annual airline budgets: Light ($453), Average ($4,088) and Frequent ($7,722). But you can customize the results to match your own airline budget using a tool. Read the full airline study on WalletHub.

Who benefits more from airline rewards programs: consumers or the airlines themselves? Leave your comments below…

~ By Alina Comoreanu, Senior Researcher. This article was reprinted with permission from WalletHub

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