Traveling might not be cheap, but you don't have to pay full price every time you take a vacation. Finding the best frequent traveler program can save you money on your next flight, hotel stay, car rental or cruise, especially if you're willing to use just one hotel or airline for most of your travel. Here are the 20 best hotel and airline loyalty programs you can use to collect free flights and save on your next hotel stay.
Choice Privileges is the Choice Hotels loyalty program that allows you to access lower, members-only prices. You can also redeem your points for free stays at over 6,300 Choice Hotels around the world, or for digital gift cards, cruises and magazine subscriptions. The more you stay, the higher your level, which gets you additional rewards points each trip, the ability to book rewards hotel reservations further in advance, and even room upgrades.
On any stay that includes a weekday night — Sunday through Thursday — Choice Privileges members get to choose between extra points, airline miles, gas discounts, and Uber, Amazon and coffee discounts. With Choice Privileges, your points never expire if you engage in at least one qualifying activity, such as earning or redeeming points, every 18 months.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Feel the "LUV" when you sign up for Southwest Rapid Rewards for free. Earn points on most trips you take, or by participating in partner offers or using the Southwest Airlines credit card. As you earn more points or take enough flights, you can qualify for A-List and A-List Preferred status that allow you priority boarding, extra points on each trip, and free in-flight WiFi. You can redeem your points for cheap flight tickets on Southwest — with no blackout dates — and over 50 global carriers, or on cruises, hotel deals, car rentals and gift cards. Your points never expire if you have a flight or partner earning activity every 24 months.
Fairmont President’s Club
The Fairmont President's Club is the free rewards program for Fairmont Hotels, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts and Raffles Hotels & Resorts. All members receive free internet during their stay, a free shoeshine, health club access, and discounts at Willow Stream, the hotel's spa, plus exclusive savings on getaways. As you move up in level, you'll receive complimentary upgrades, dining and spa gift certificates, free nights each stay, and early check-in and late check-out. You also earn airline miles and certificates you can use for Passion Packages.
AAdvantage is American Airline's free loyalty program for its frequent flyers. You can earn miles by flying with American Airlines, and also through purchases you make through partner offers. The most loyal members can advance to higher tiers of rewards that include flight upgrades, mileage bonuses, complimentary preferred seats, and free checked bags. You can redeem your miles for airline tickets, upgrades, hotels and car rentals. You must have a miles-earning or miles-redeeming activity every 18 months to keep your account active, and if you do, your miles never expire.
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ING Rewards Club
The ING Rewards Club rewards members for staying at ING properties, including Holiday Inn hotels, Crowne Plaza and Candlewood Suites. Enrollment is free, and members receive free internet during every stay plus the guaranteed lowest rate. You can use your points for free nights, car rentals, air travel and gift cards. Members whose points fall short of their reward choice can buy a few extra points and receive the reward. You can also earn extra points using the ING Rewards Club Mastercard. It carries a $49 annual fee after the first year, but you get a free night each year.
SkyMiles Loyalty Program
Delta flyers would do well to sign up for the free SkyMiles loyalty program, which has no blackout dates and no expiration dates for miles. You can increase your point-earning opportunities with the Blue Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card, which offers double points on Delta purchases and restaurants, one mile on everything else, and no annual fee. The Gold, Platinum, and Reserve Delta cards charge an annual fee but offer benefits such as free checked bags, priority boarding, access to Delta Sky Club, and bonus miles. As you move up the medallion levels to the Sky Club membership, you qualify for first class upgrades, waived bag fees, and priority security line access.
The Wyndham Rewards program allows you to earn points for staying in Wyndham hotels around the world, including Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Ramada and Super 8, and for taking advantage of partner offers to earn bonus points. You can redeem your points for free or discounted nights as well as gift cards and merchandise.
Wyndham Rewards is free to join, and the more you stay, the higher the level you can unlock. Gold members get late checkout, Platinum members can check in early and get a 3,000-point bonus per year, and Diamond members get a 6,000-point bonus per year, rental car and suite upgrades, and a welcome amenity.
MileagePlus rewards frequent United Airlines flyers. There's no cost to join, and you can earn even more points by using the MileagePlus GO prepaid card, which has an annual fee of $85. MileagePlus has four additional levels of Premier status that unlock more benefits, including ticket upgrades, priority check-in, access to sold-out flights, discounted United Club membership rates, and priority award waitlisting. You can use your points for cheap tickets on United or any other airline in the Star Alliance, or spend the points on hotel, car and cruise awards.
La Quinta Rewards
Frequent La Quinta hotel customers can sign up for the free La Quinta Rewards program to reap the benefits of their loyalty. All members receive express check-in, late check-out when available, mobile checkout, and a members-only 800 number. As you move up by staying frequently, you earn more rewards and get free room upgrade certificates plus guaranteed availability with 48-hour notice for last minute hotel deals. Alternatively, you can redeem your La Quinta rewards points for air or train travel, entertainment experiences, and gift cards.
Miles and More
Miles and More is Lufthansa's frequent flyer program. Miles expire after 36 months unless you qualify for a higher tier of benefits, in which case the miles never expire. You qualify for extra perks, such as faster mileage accumulation, vouchers to fly in a higher class, booking guarantees, lounge access, and free baggage, as you reach higher tiers. As a member of the Star Alliance, you can use your miles for flights on 28 airline partners, including United Airlines. You can also redeem points for hotels, rental cars and cruises with Lufthansa's partners, or get gift cards or donate to charity.
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Hilton Honors enables you to earn rewards for staying at Hilton hotels around the world. Joining is free, and just being a member gets you discounted stays, digital check-in, internet access at a range of properties, and late checkout. Frequenting Hilton hotels lets you move up in membership levels to Silver, Gold, and eventually Diamond, where you might qualify for room upgrades, bonus points and continental breakfast at certain resorts. You can redeem your points for free stays, personalized experiences, and shopping and dining experiences.
Sign up for Free Spirit for — you guessed it — free. Spirit Airlines is known as one of the airlines with the cheapest flights. In addition to racking up miles, you'll be the first to hear about hot fares and members-only deals. You can redeem your miles for cheap airline tickets with as few as 5,000 miles when you use your Spirit World Mastercard. You can also redeem your miles for magazines or playing online games through Spirit's partners.
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt is Hyatt Corporation's loyalty program that covers a range of hotels, dining and spas owned by the company, and rewards you with 5 points for every dollar spent. Members can use their points to for free nights, with no blackout dates, at Hyatt properties, or redeem the points for airline miles and car rentals. There's no cost to join, and the more you stay, the higher your membership status. Qualifying for higher levels gets you premium internet, late checkout, suite upgrades and free parking.
Alaska Air's loyalty program is called Mileage Plan and is free to join. You earn points when you fly with Alaska Air or its partners, or you engage in qualifying activities with non-airline partners. You can use your points for flights on Alaska Air, or even book international flights on any of its partners to over 900 destinations around the world. Plus, if you qualify for one of the higher tiers of rewards — MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75k — you can receive first-class upgrades, upgrades for companions, complimentary beverages, and free in-flight entertainment. Your account will be deactivated if you go more than 24 months without earning or spending miles. But you can reactivate your account and restore your miles within a year for a $75 fee.
Marriott rewards loyal members for staying in Marriott-owned hotels, booking events at Marriott properties, and taking advantage of offers through rewards partners. Marriott properties include the Ritz Carlton, Courtyard, Westin and Sheraton. The program is free to join, and you can sign up online. You have a choice between earning points and earning frequent flyer miles for the airline of your choice. Points can be redeemed for booking hotels or applied to frequent flyer miles, travel packages and gift cards. All members get free internet at participating hotels and can earn free stays with no blackout dates.
The sooner you sign up and start saving, the sooner you can start racking up points to move up loyalty levels. You can move up levels for staying at least 10 nights per year, or gain Lifetime Elite status. To reach the top level, Lifetime Platinum Elite, you need 750 nights and 2 million points, but that earns you 50 percent bonus points on your stays and 48-hour guaranteed room availability.
EarlyReturns is the free frequent flyer program for Frontier Airlines. Aside from being rewarded for flying with Frontier, you can earn extra miles through Frontier's partners or by using one of the Frontier Mastercards. If you take more than 25 one-way trips, you qualify for Elite Status with EarlyReturns, which qualifies you for Zone 1 boarding, a free carry-on, stretch seating, and certain fee waivers. For a $69 annual fee, you get double miles on Frontier Airlines purchases, no expiration for your miles if you make one purchase every six months, and a $100 voucher when you spend $2,500 on the card during the year. You can book cheap airline tickets with as few as 10,000 miles.
Club Carlson is the free rewards program for staying at Carlson hotels, including Radisson, Park Inn, Park Plaza, and Country Inn and Suites. Club Carlson members save up to 10 percent over non-member rates with exclusive member pricing, and you receive discounts on food and beverages at Carlson hotels. As you move up in loyalty member levels, you earn points faster and receive complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out, and eventually, a free continental breakfast. You can use your points for free nights, TSA PreCheck, access to airport lounges, and gift cards.
Air France rewards its loyal customers through Flying Blue, its free frequent flyer program. Flying Blue offers different levels of membership, depending on how often you fly: Ivory, Silver, Gold and Platinum. As you move up the levels by taking more Air France flights, you receive larger discounts on flights, advance seat selection and lounge access. You can spend your Flying Blue miles on flight offers and flight options such as extra baggage and legroom, lounge access and preferred seating, or use the miles for cheap hotels and rental cars, and even charitable donations.
Best Western Rewards
Signing up for the Best Western Rewards program lets you earn points toward free night stays at Best Western hotels, airline miles, gift cards and charitable donations. Signing up is free, and your Best Western Rewards points never expire and have no blackout dates. Staying at Best Western locations frequently ups your membership level, which lets you earn points faster and receive free room upgrades and additional gifts when you stay. Plus, if you're an elite member of another hotel rewards program, Best Western Rewards will match your status.
JetBlue gives back to loyal customers with TrueBlue, its free loyalty program. TrueBlue members have no blackout dates for JetBlue flights, their points don't expire, and they can earn and share points with family pooling. Members can also rack up extra points with the JetBlue Mastercard, so you earn triple points on JetBlue purchases and double points on restaurants and grocery stores, all with no annual fee. In addition to using your points for cheap flights, you can redeem them for JetBlue vacation packages and Hawaiian Airlines flights, or for bidding on items at the JetBlue auction site.