The Best Travel Rewards Programs Of 2022 Revealed
A recent analysis from NerdWallet reveals the top airline miles, hotel points, and credit card travel rewards programs for frequent travelers.
To uncover these results, NerdWallet performed a comprehensive analysis of 15 airlines, 7 hotel chains, and 9 credit cards to determine which ones offer the best redemption values.
So, what are the best travel rewards programs to join?
Joining these travel rewards programs will allow you to earn points and miles that can be redeemed for future travel.
Not only can you earn points and miles through travel-related activities such as flights and hotel stays, but many rewards programs also allow you to earn points and miles through purchases with their partners (for example, Delta Air Lines partners with Lyft and Instacart) and everyday spending on your credit card.
With travel rewards programs, it’s easy to earn enough points and miles to score free flights and cover your next hotel stay.
But not all loyalty programs are created equally. These are the travel rewards programs that offer the most bang for your buck:
Best Airline Miles Values
For American travelers, the following U.S. airlines offer the best redemption values for miles earned through their loyalty programs.
- Delta Air Lines SkyMiles: 1.5 cents per mile
- American Airlines AAdvantage: 1.5 cents per mile
- JetBlue TrueBlue: 1.5 cents per mile
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: 1.5 cents per mile
This means that if you have earned 100,000 airline miles, you would be able to redeem them for a flight worth approximately $1,500.
The U.S. airline miles with the worst valuation are:
- Frontier Miles: 0.9 cents per mile
- Spirit Airlines Free Spirit: 0.8 cents per mile
Comparatively, with 100,000 Spirit Airlines Free Spirit miles, you would only be able to use them for a flight worth approximately $800.
For Canadian travelers, frequent fliers will be pleased to know that Air Canada Aeroplan offers one of the best redemption rates of all, at 1.9 cents per mile.
Best Hotel Points Values
When it comes to hotel points, there’s one clear winner for loyalty programs, and that is World of Hyatt.
World of Hyatt members can use their points at a redemption rate of a whopping 2.8 cents per point.
This means that with 100,000 World of Hyatt points, you would be able to redeem them for a value of approximately $2,800. To put that in perspective, that would be a free 7-night vacation at a Hyatt resort that normally costs $400 per night.
The drawback of the World of Hyatt program is that there are fewer Hyatt hotel properties around the world compared to other hotel chains.
However, the redemption rate is 4x better than other popular hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy (offering only 0.7 cents per point) and Hilton Honors (offering just 0.6 cents per point.)
Best Credit Card Points Values
Credit card rewards programs work differently than airline miles and hotel points because the points you earn from your credit card can be redeemed in more flexible ways.
You can typically use credit card points to book travel directly through your credit card’s travel portal or transfer your points to airline and hotel partners.
According to NerdWallet’s analysis, these are the best credit cards for baseline points value and the value of the highest-value transfer partner for each program.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Reserve Card): 2.7 cents per point
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (Ink or Sapphire Preferred Card): 2.6 cents per point
- American Express Membership Rewards: 2 cents per point
- Capital One Miles: 1.7 cents per point
As you can see, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the clear winner here.
Many rewards credit cards also offer sign-up bonuses that allow you to earn up to 100,000 or more points just for spending a certain amount within your first three to six months of opening the credit card.