Frequent Flyer Programs Can Save You Money. Here Are the Best and Worst

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A Delta Airlines jet on approach to Sky Harbor International Airport passes the nearly full moon at it rises in the distance Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Phoenix.
A Delta Airlines jet on approach to Sky Harbor International Airport passes the nearly full moon at it rises in the distance Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel


While many Penny Hoarders find great deals on flights by shopping around for the best price, sometimes loyalty to one airline can pay off — thanks to the benefits of airline rewards programs.

But which airline’s program offers you the most bang for your buck?

Last week, WalletHub released the results of its 2018 study on airline rewards.

It compared the rewards programs of the 10 largest domestic airlines and looked at 23 key metrics, including value earned, miles expiration and membership perks, to score the best frequent flyer programs.

Recognizing not all members of frequent flyer programs are, well, frequent flyers, WalletHub separately scored which programs are best for light travelers, or those who only spend an average of $453 a year on airline expenses.

WalletHub found Delta SkyMiles to be the best rewards program for light flyers (and for average and frequent flyers, as well).

Delta’s program allows members to rack up miles that never expire, plus members can earn miles from partners, including hotels, rental-car companies and even other airlines.

Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program was ranked second for light travelers, and Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan came in at third place.

WalletHub ranked Spirit Airlines’ Free Spirit program as a the worst for light travelers. Frontier Airlines’ Early Returns and Sun Country Airlines’ Ufly Rewards rounded out the bottom three.

To find out more about WalletHub’s frequent flyer program analysis, see its 2018 airline rewards study.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She often flies on Spirit Airlines and is a member of its $9 Fare Club. She’s a satisfied Spirit customer, despite the airline’s poor reviews.

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