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A lot of my content is geared towards the 5 major US airline frequent flyer programs (American, Continental, Delta, United, US Airways). Collectively, they have millions of members and constitute a majority of domestic flights.
However, many frequent flyers have been switching to low cost carriers (like Southwest and AirTran) and boutique carriers (like Virgin America and JetBlue). Note: I refuse to call JetBlue and Virgin America low cost carriers, because their fares are routinely more expensive than legacy airlines and they generally provide better service (like a boutique hotel).
Understanding their frequent flyer programs become challenging, because they all have different currencies, whether its miles, points, or credits earned for each flight. In general, they are not distance based like the legacy carriers, but more flight and revenue based.
This week, I will highlight two different programs each day and add them to my scorecard section of my site (which will be rich with content by the end of the month), which will continually be updated as airlines enhance/devalue their programs. At the end of the week, I’ll rank them based on 1) flexibility 2) ability to earn/redeem 3) Value of awards
Monday– Southwest Rapid Rewards, Sun Country UFly Rewards
Tuesday– JetBlue TrueBlue, Spirit FreeSpirit
Wednesday– Virgin America Elevate, Midwest Miles
Thursday– AirTran A+ Rewards, Frontier EarlyReturns
Friday– WestJet Dollars, Porter VIPorter for all of my Canadian points junkies 😉
I understand this list does not cover every non-legacy airline, so if you’d like me to cover another program, feel free to comment below.
I look forward to showing love to some of the red-headed step children of frequent flyer programs!
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards