Best U.S. frequent flyer programs

Alaska Airlines planes are parked at gates with Mount Rainier in the background at sunrise, on March 1, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
Alaska Airlines planes are parked at gates with Mount Rainier in the background at sunrise, on March 1, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. | Ted S. Warren

Frequent flyer programs are airline loyalty programs rewarding customers for traveling with them or their partners. While perks and fees vary by program, the process is generally uniform.

Joining a frequent flyer program could earn you frequent flyer miles or points, cabin upgrades, lounge access, complimentary checked bags and priority boarding, according to Chase Bank.

What are the best frequent flyer programs?

In looking at categories such as destination coverage, membership perks and miles given for light, average and frequent flyers, WalletHub ranked the best frequent flyer programs for 2024.

  1. Alaska Airlines, Mileage Plan: Best overall.

  2. United Airlines, MileagePlus: Best destination coverage and redemption policies.

  3. Delta Air Lines, SkyMiles: Ranked high across the board.

  4. Hawaiian Airlines, HawaiianMiles: Best membership status perks.

  5. American Airlines, AAdvantage: Best airline coverage.

Other WalletHub findings included:

  • Frontier Airlines provides the highest rewards value, amounting to $15.40 for every $100 spent, followed by Alaska Airlines with $11 per $100 spent.

  • Six major airlines, including Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, have miles that remain valid and do not expire due to inactivity.

  • Airlines that enable members of their reward programs to utilize miles through partner airlines include United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

Are frequent flyer programs worth it?

Per NerdWallet, a frequent flyer program is worth considering. Frequent flyer programs usually offer free sign-up and the potential to earn rewards or points for flight redemption.

Dedicating energy to the program — strategically accumulating points and favoring certain airlines — may prove worthwhile, especially if you frequently fly with specific carriers. For example, it might be worth it if one airline dominates your local airport and serves as your primary choice for travel, according to NerdWallet.

In comparison, USA Today shares that frequent flyer programs are not worth it if you’re a casual traveler. One could save more money by choosing the cheapest fare from a selection of all available flights and not just from specific airlines.

To choose if a program is right for you, take time to research your past flight history and different available programs.

What are the frequent flyer programs for each U.S. airline?

Find the frequent flyer programs and their top listed perks for each U.S. airline below:

  • Alaska Airlines, Mileage Plan: Free to join, earn miles with all Oneworld Alliance airlines and get seat upgrades.

  • Allegiant Air, Allways Rewards: Free to join, earn one point per $1 spent on Allegiant bookings, earn two points per $1 on Allegiant Travel Packages, 15% off Sunseeker resort stays and no blackout dates.

  • American Airlines, AAdvantage: Free to join, seat upgrades, mileage bonuses, one free checked bag, receive credit for cancellation and same-day standby.

  • Avelo Airlines: No frequent flyer or loyalty program.

  • Breeze Airways, BreezePoints Rewards Program: Free to join, one point per $1 spent on No Flex Fare purchase, two points per $1 spent on Nice Bundle purchases, five points per $1 spent on fares for Nicer and Nicest Bundles, seat upgrades, adding luggage and adding pets.

  • Delta Air Lines, SkyMiles: Free to join, miles do not expire, find select deals, earn three miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases using their credit or debit cards, earn miles on regular purchase and no cap on miles earned.

  • Eastern Airlines: No frequent flyer or loyalty program.

  • Frontier Airlines, Frontier Miles: Free to join, 10 miles for every $1 spent and redeem miles for luggage or in-flight perks.

  • Hawaiian Airlines, HawaiianMiles: Free to join, discounted baggage on flights, earn miles with purchases, miles don’t expire, no blackout dates and seat selection.

  • JetBlue Airways, TrueBlue: Free to join, earn points through purchases made with JetBlue, no minimum purchase price to receive points and no blackout dates.

  • Southwest Airlines, Rapid Rewards: Free to join, get six points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away flights, earn eight points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away Plus flights, earn 10 points per $1 spent on Anytime flights, earn 12 points per $1 spent on Business Select flights, unlimited reward seats and no blackout dates.

  • Spirit Airlines, Free Spirit: Free to join, points don’t expire if continuing to redeem or earn them and earn rewards based on dollars spent.

  • Sun Country Airlines, Sun Country Rewards: Free to join, receive two points for every $1 spent with Sun Country and earn one point for every $1 spent on bookings made through travel agencies.

  • United Airlines, MileagePlus: Free to join, miles don’t expire, earn miles through flights or other purchase through the MileagePlus app.