Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue August 16 2016

What Are the Best Travel Rewards Programs of 2016?

Features & Advice | Patrick Clarke | August 16, 2016

What Are the Best Travel Rewards Programs of 2016?

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

Wyndham Rewards and Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan are in a class all their own when it comes to the top travel rewards programs of 2016-17, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The digital news and information company revealed its 2016-17 Best Travel Rewards Programs on Tuesday, ranking more than two dozen popular hotel and airline loyalty programs.

The rankings take into account membership perks and network coverage as well as the ease of earning and redeeming free flights or nights. Property diversity is also considered for hotel loyalty programs, while airline quality ratings are taken into account when ranking the best airline rewards programs.

While Wyndham Rewards tops the list of hotel loyalty programs for the first time in 2016, Mileage Plan remains in the top spot among airline rewards programs.

The former was propelled to the top by the recent introduction of new membership tiers and the roll out of new member benefits, including early check-in, late checkout, free amenities and suite upgrades. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members can choose from close to 8,000 different hotels when redeeming their points.

READ MORE: Which Hotel Loyalty Programs Earn the Highest Satisfaction for 2016?

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan was once again lifted by its policy of rewarding points according to the number of miles flown instead of dollars spent. What's more, the carrier boasts an extensive partner network, meaning members have more choice when cashing in on their rewards.

Trailing Wyndham Rewards are Choice Privileges and Marriott Rewards, which tied for second. Best Western Rewards and La Quinta Returns round out the top five for 2016-17.

JetBlue's TrueBlue finished behind Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan, followed by Southwest Rapid Rewards, Delta SkyMiles and Virgin America Elevate.

According to U.S. News travel editor Erin Shields, the aforementioned programs "make it easier for travelers to understand and select the right program for them."

"The top ranked programs offer travelers perks they care about, such as room upgrades, free checked bags and easy ways to accumulate miles and points," Shields said in a statement.


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