Wyndham Hotels and Alaska Airlines beat out numerous competitors to clinch the respective titles of the best rewards programs for hotels and airlines, U.S. News & World Report said Tuesday.
Wyndham Rewards moved up a spot from the prior year, getting ranked No. 1 on U.S. News’ 2023-2024 Best Travel Rewards Programs report for hotels, according to the outlet. It last received the overall highest spot for hotel loyalty programs in 2021.
Its rise to first-place on the latest iteration of the annual list partly stemmed from how quickly Wyndham Rewards members can typically generate enough points for a free night by staying at a participating hotel, U.S. News said in a press release. It also pointed to its thousands of properties.
When putting together its ranking of 15 total hotel loyalty programs, U.S. News takes factors like how easy it is for members to earn a free night, other forms of benefits, how geographically widespread the program is and property variety into account. They must also be prerequisite-free for newly-joining members.
The second-place spot went to Choice Privileges, the rewards program run by Choice Hotels, according to U.S. News. Behind it was Marriott Bonvoy in third; then came World of Hyatt, which previously held the top title for 2022-2023.
IHG One Rewards from the InterContinental Hotels Group won fifth place on the hotel rewards program ranking from U.S. News.
On the airline rewards program front, the outlet reported the reign of Alaska Airlines continued another year, adding to the eight that came before back-to-back. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan "consistently outperforms" on high earning power and benefits afforded to members with elite status, according to U.S. News.
U.S. News said the airlines holding the No. 2 and No. 3 spots – Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – saw their rankings also stay flat year-over-year.
Other airlines appearing in the top five for having the best rewards programs were American Airlines and JetBlue, the outlet reported. The American Airlines AAdvantage and JetBlue TrueBlue programs both saw their position on the ranking upped by two from the 2022-2023 list.
Hawaiian Airlines’ HawaiianMiles and Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards fell out of the top five, with the former dropping to eight and the latter coming in at six, according to U.S. News.
Creating U.S. News’ 10-airline list of the best loyalty programs involved looking at multiple factors, such as the ease of earning free round-trip flights and the various ways members can bring in and deploy points they earn, the outlet said.
"Ultimately, everyday travelers are looking to effortlessly earn points and use them for free flights or hotel stays," U.S. News senior travel editor Elizabeth Von Tersch said in the release. "The programs that make this easy come out on top in our rankings."