Flyertalk has just released their 2014 awards for best travel reward programs. I agree with the winners and I am trying to focus the majority of my mileage accrual within these reward programs. To read more about the winners, read the CNN article and learn why these programs are consumer favorites.

FlyerTalk's Award for best travel reward programs

FlyerTalk’s Award for best travel reward programs

Best overall rewards programs:

American Airlines AAdvantage won for top airline affinity program in the Americas, with United Airlines coming in second place. Starwood’s Preferred Guest program edged out Hilton HHonors in the hotel category. And Hertz Gold Plus Rewards took the rental car honors.

American Airlines and United Airlines both have great reward seat availability compared to the other major airlines. The Starwood Preferred Guest program includes over 1,160 properties and has some of the best redemption value for hotels in the industry. Other programs have devalued to the point where you’re spending 60,000-80,000 points per night, while SPG has high-end hotels going for 10,000-16,000 points per night. Plus, when you book 4 consecutive nights, you’ll get the 5th night free. Also, enjoy flexible booking options like cash + points or “nights and flights.” Not to mention SPG allows you to transfer points to dozens of airlines with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. I try to accumulate as many points as I can on SPG, American, and United – using my Chase cards and racking up UR points to have the flexibility to transfer my points to United Airlines, British Airways, or Hyatt hotels.

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SPG Redemption Chart

“In the airline awards category, British Airways Executive Club members love their Avios upgrades. British Airways uses distance-based award charts, which allows travelers to trade in fewer miles (short-haul flights).”

British Airways is by far the best rewards program for redeeming points on short-haul flights. Read my post on booking British Airways award tickets to familiarize yourself with this great way to save points.

American Airlines also won in the category of best travel reward program benefit. “FlyerTalk’s American Airlines AAdvantage members love their Executive Platinum member upgrades. Members get eight free one-way upgrades systemwide upon qualification or re-qualification of elite status.”

I would recommend focusing your mileage accrual in airlines and reward programs that offer flexibility and the best value for your points. American Airlines, United Airlines, British Airways, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Hyatt Hotels are at the top of my list in these categories and seem to be at the top of the list of Flyertalk members’ categories as well. To start earning AA points fast, check out the 100,000 Citi Executive Platinum AAdvantage card offer that will be going away quite soon. For United Airlines, the Chase United MileagePlus card will give you a 30,000 point sign up bonus that you may be able to get matched to 50,000 + 5,000 additional user if you send a private message on Chase. Other great options to accumulate United and British Airways points are through the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink cards. To read about these cards and to apply, read my post on the 10 best credit cards for beginners and apply today!