Airline winners in the 2020 TPG Awards Readers’ Choice categories
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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.
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.
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:
- 5x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2020 on up to $2,000 spent per month.
- 2x points on all other Southwest purchases and with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
- 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.
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.
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