Even in a down economy there's plenty of spending to be done. But it's just about finding a good deal anymore. It's about finding a good deal and then getting something back in return. That's where reward cards come in, but with so many to choose from how do you know what's best?
A good friend of mine recently had a big life change that has her flying coast-to-coast. She asked my opinions of reward cards, and I went on a research hunt to find the best for her needs. And that's just it - her needs. Every reward card is different and what might work well for some travelers won't generate any type of rewards for others. So how do you decide?
At the Freddie Awards last month, nods were given to a airline and hotel companies for their reward efforts from frequent traveler. The Freddie Awards, also known as the Oscars of the travel industry, allow frequent travelers to vote on the best rewards and loyalty programs. Among the best this year: American Airlines AAdvantage, Marriott Rewards and Delta Skymiles.
According to a review in Fodors, American Airlines AAdvantage swept the awards for frequent flier programs, winning "Program of the Year," as well as Best Elite Program, Best Customer Service in the Americas, and Best Miles Redemption. American Airlines is said to have the most award seat availability on domestic flights and some of the most generous international award redemptions. American is also known among elite-level fliers as the best airline for seat upgrades in general.
Air Canada Aeroplan, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan were runners-up for frequent flier program honors, proving they kept their own loyal customers happy last year.
As for hotel loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards was voted best hotel program of the year, winning awards for Best Elite Program and Best Customer Service in the Americas. Choice, Starwood, Wyndham, Hyatt, and Hilton also got top marks for their American-based loyalty programs, and Choice, Starwood, and Wyndham scored well on customer service in the Americas.
If you're looking for credit cards that offer travel rewards, the Freddie members voted Delta SkyMiles American Express card the best loyalty card. Members gave the card top honors thanks to its award miles redemptions, free checked bags and companions tickets, and entry to Delta’s airport lounge, the Sky Club, if you register for the Delta Reserve card from American Express.
For all the winners, check out the Fodors article on travel loyalty programs.
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