If you’re on the road a lot for work travel, then taking advantage of frequent flyer rewards programs is a must. You can earn points for personal travel, hotel rooms, car rentals, and a lot of other things. Enrolling is easy but reading the fine print is important – while a lot of points might scream “impressive” at first, it might prove to be difficult to actually use the points when you want.
According to recent research, Americans are, for lack of a better phrase, “point hoarders”, who rack up points but then rarely follow through on using them. A lot of this possible reluctance is that the programs are still very specific about how and when you can take that dream vacation (mid-week flight options only, for example). In addition, airlines often mis-communicate or do not communicate the programs well, which can result in confusion and frustration across the board.
Research conducted in 2018 by J.D. Power and Associates shows that the most popular frequent flyer rewards programs are those where the points are easy to use. Here’s a list of the best frequent flyer rewards programs that are recommended, according to J.D. Power and Associates (via CNBC):
- JetBlue Airways TrueBlue
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- United Airlines MileagePlus
Utilizing frequent flyer rewards programs is getting much easier. You can earn points not only from travel but also from an associated credit card that is linked to your program account. You can rack up points just from regular shopping, eating out, and getting gas. Generally, the points do not expire, but, they must be used within a certain time frame to keep your account active. Other benefits to being a reward member include preferred boarding, potential upgrades, and more. There’s really no reason NOT to be a member of a rewards program – if you’re traveling for work (or pleasure), it just makes sense. Just be sure to do the research and use your miles to get out and explore the world.