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Airline winners in the 2020 TPG Awards Readers' Choice categories

Nov. 16, 2020
5 min read
A picture of the 2020 TPG Awards trophy
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As we announced this morning, today kicks off Airlines Week at the 2020 TPG Awards — and we have a ton of content and events across our site and other platforms ready to launch. To get things started, we're announcing the winners of our first two Readers' Choice honors. Tens of thousands of TPG readers weighed in this year, giving insight into which airline loyalty program and airline credit card were most popular.

Read on for who took home these awards this year.

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Best US Airline Loyalty Program

Over the first two years of the TPG Awards, the same carrier took home the award for Best U.S. Airline Loyalty Program.

Well, ladies and gentlemen ... we have a new victor in 2020.

Winner: Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest as an airline has a lot to like — from its fee-free changes and cancellations to the pair of free checked bags given to every passenger. However, its Rapid Rewards program is a fan favorite of many travelers, and there are some key features that likely pushed it to the top this year:

  • Companion Pass: The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most coveted (and lucrative) perks in the frequent flyer world, allowing holders to bring along a designated travel companion on all Southwest-operated flights by just paying the companion's taxes and fees. While the qualification requirements are steep, members can utilize the carrier's credit cards to reach them (more to come on that shortly).
  • No blackout dates: When you need to use your Rapid Rewards points, you can do it on any Southwest flight with availability. If there's a seat, it's available using points. While it is a revenue-based program, which removes the ability to get out-sized value from your award tickets, it's still a straight-forward redemption scheme that requires little advance knowledge to utilize.
  • Points never expire: Southwest removed point expiration in 2019, so you'll never have to worry about your Rapid Rewards points disappearing.

Southwest also made some adjustments to its elite status tiers in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic — including the option to convert existing travel funds to Rapid Rewards points. These likely helped propel the carrier to the top of the ballot, securing its first-ever TPG award.

READ MORE: Your complete guide to maximizing Southwest Rapid Rewards

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Best Airline Cobranded Credit Card

And the "luv" continued in the Best Airline Cobranded Credit Card category — as we once again saw a first-timer take the top spot.

Winner: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Southwest offers three personal credit cards through Chase, and its middle offering — the Southwest Premier Card — took home honors as the best airline credit card of 2020, according to TPG readers. While many of the carrier's loyal flyers likely get a ton of value from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, voters clearly preferred the lower out-of-pocket cost of the Premier card ($99 compared to $149 for the Priority).

And that's not to say the Premier card isn't worth it, as it still packs a punch in terms of benefits:

  • 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases, 2 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners, 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting (including rideshare), 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming, then 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary (worth $90 based on TPG's most recent valuations)
  • No foreign transaction fees

However, the most appealing aspect of this card (and really all Southwest cards) is the ability to earn the carrier's venerable Companion Pass. All points on Southwest cards — including welcome bonuses — count toward qualification, and if you time things carefully, you could enjoy a Companion Pass for nearly two years.

READ MORE: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card review

Bottom line

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Both of our airline awards for 2020 went to Southwest Airlines, as its Rapid Rewards program took home honors for Best U.S. Airline Loyalty Program, while the Southwest Premier card was voted as the Best Airline Cobranded Credit Card. While both are first-time award winners, they clearly deliver value to members, which took them to the top of the ballot.

We'll have additional Editors' Choice awards to hand out later this week — so stay tuned for additional announcements.

A big thank you to the tens of thousands of readers who voted this year, and we'll have the other Readers' Choice award winners to come in future weeks.


Voting for the 2020 TPG Awards Readers’ Choice categories ran from Oct. 1, 2020 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time through Oct. 30, 2020 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time. It was promoted on our site and across all of our social media channels. In addition, some individual brands promoted voting through their own channels — which included their social media accounts, display banners on their sites and direct email campaigns. The voting was conducted via SurveyMonkey, and it was set up where readers could only vote one time.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more