If you haven’t joined a travel rewards program, 2023 is your year to start. Put your dollars spent booking hotels and flights to work and earn points towards perks, discounts, and elite status. 

NerdWallet recently spent months collecting data and analyzing rewards programs to determine the airline and hotel loyalty programs you should join in 2023. 

Each hotel brand and airline was ranked on a five-point scale across categories like elite status benefits, fees, pet policies, rewards value, and more. NerdWallet used a weighted average of each rating to determine an overall winner in each category. 

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How programs were picked and evaluated

Airlines had to be U.S.-based and “have a publicly available rewards search calendar with availability from 15 days to eight months from the time of search,” according to NerdWallet. 

The nine airline programs that fit the requirements were Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United.

Hotel brands had to have properties in most U.S. states and offer a loyalty program with a rewards search calendar available to the public. It was also required for hotel rewards programs to have availability from 15 days to eight months at the time of search. 

Seven hotel brands fit the requirements, which were Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Radisson, and Wyndham. 

Best airline rewards programs

Alaska Airlines took the top spot for the third year in a row. The West Coast airline is the most customer-friendly, with high ratings in the value of earned reward miles, pet policies, and elite status.

  1. Alaska Airlines – 4.6 out of 5 
  2. American Airlines – 3.8 out of 5
  3. Hawaiian Airlines – 3.8 out of 5
  4. Southwest Airlines – 3.4 out of 5
  5. Delta Air Lines – 3.2 out of 5
  6. JetBlue Airways – 2.7 out of 5
  7. Frontier Airlines – 2.6 out of 5
  8. United Airlines – 2.6 out of 5
  9. Spirit Airlines – 1.4 out of 5

American Airlines ranked high for its basic economy offerings, while Hawaiian Airlines ranked for its low add-on fees and Pualani elite status. 

Frontier and Spirit ranked low due to having no-frills to accompany their low airfare offerings. 

Best hotel rewards programs

Radisson Rewards Americans won for the first time this year, with high scores in most of the categories. The hotel brand was the only program that scored above average in every category. 

  1. Radisson Rewards Americas – 4.6 out of 5
  2. World of Hyatt – 3.4 out of 5
  3. IHG Rewards – 3.0 out of 5
  4. Wyndham Rewards – 2.8 out of 5
  5. Hilton Rewards – 2.7 out of 5
  6. Best Western Rewards – 2.6 out of 5
  7. Marriott Bonvoy – 2.6 out of 5

Hyatt also ranked high but received fewer points than Radisson because of its high resort fees. Pet policies and poor rewards offerings resulted in Hilton’s low score. Although Marriott Bonvoy has one of the most well-known programs, it ranked low across all categories. 

Related: Skip The Line! Alaska Airlines Becomes The First U.S. Airline To Launch Electronic Bag Tags