These Are the Best Travel Rewards Programs of 2022

The annual US News ranking has been released, with insight on which could be the best for you.

Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

In 2022, it is hard to justify spending money unless you know you're earning points, cash back, or being rewarded in some other way. If the price of everything is inflated, it adds an extra urgency to get more bang for your buck. Fortunately, we live in a time where rewards programs are available for just about everything from tacos to travel. And to make sure you are getting the best, US News & World Report has released its annual ranking of the best hotel and airline reward programs in the world.

US News' methodology is pretty holistic in its approach. "The US News & World Report travel rankings are based on an analysis of expert and user opinions," the website states. "We believe this unbiased approach makes our rankings more useful than simply providing our editors' personal opinions."

That being said, the rankings you'll see below aren't necessarily going to match your own needs. The best airline rewards program for you might be number six or seven, depending on your needs and preferences.

The top five hotel rewards programs are:
1. World of Hyatt
2. Wyndham Rewards
3. Marriott Bonvoy
4. Choice Privileges
5. IHG One Rewards

The complete list of the 15 top hotel rewards programs can be read here with details on what each program offers and who it might best benefit from each. The highest ranked rewards program, World of Hyatt, received a 4.75 out of 5. One of its top pros is that you can earn a free night in standard rooms starting at 3,500 points per night. Not so great is that these points can expire.

The top five airline rewards programs are:
1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
2. Delta SkyMiles
3. United MileagePlus
4. HawaiianMiles
5. Southwest Rapid Rewards

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan came in at the top spot, earning a 3.65 out of 5. The pros of the program are that participants can earn and redeem miles with Alaska Airlines and 23 partner airlines, as well as earn miles through numerous retail, rental car and hotel partnerships. The plan also offers flexible redemption options for flights. The top con is that blackout dates apply on reward travel. The complete list of the top nine rewards programs can be found here, each with a comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons of each program. You can also check out WalletHub's ranking of frequent flier programs, and see how the rankings compare.

If you've been thinking about maximizing your travel spending, it's definitely worth checking out the above rewards programs. Depending on how often and why you travel, you can benefit from perks like free flights and hotel rooms just by making your usual trips. After all, who doesn't love getting rewarded?

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.