We’re usually not loyal to any airline. Our flight plans usually consist of what gets us there at the right time, what’s cheapest and who hasn’t beaten up a customer recently (in no particular order).
But loyalty programs have their perks — a loss of airline choice in return for free flights using accrued miles and points seems like a good deal in theory, even if the airlines keep changing the rules and loyalty programs continually become less generous.
So you need to choose your loyalty wisely. According to WalletHub, that means flying Delta.
The personal finance site ranked the 10 largest domestic airlines’ loyalty rewards program by using 23 different metrics (from number of daily flights to value of a rewards point) and across three different consumer budgets.
Delta was by far the best choice, with their SkyMiles program a winner for the fourth year in a row. United, JetBlue, Southwest and Hawaiian followed. Delta did well across all budgets, and (along with JetBlue) have miles that do not expire because of inactivity.
Some other findings:
- Hawaiian Airlines offers the most rewards value at $21.29 per $100 spent
- Just three of the 10 airlines are offering more rewards this year than in 2018
- But good news: eight of the 10 airlines do not have blackout dates for travel
And one reminder, no matter which airline to which you swear allegiance: Airline miles cost 61% more than they’re worth if purchased rather than earned.
If you want to test your loyalty (program), WalletHub also offers a custom Frequent Flyer Miles Calculator.