The airline and hotel reward programs we like are relatively uncomplicated, offer straightforward rules and redemption schedules and are useful even for travelers who aren’t grinding out tens of thousands of miles every year. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program lets you redeem miles on any flight the airline flies, and it ties the points needed directly to the fare. If you’re a frequent flier who takes more than 100 one-way flights per year (or racks up points on a Southwest-affiliated credit card) you also qualify for the awesome Companion Pass, which lets you bring somebody along for free on any flight when you travel the next calendar year. Marriott’s program got a big boost when it finally merged the programs of all its properties. Now, you can earn and use points at almost 7,000 hotels worldwide, from the luxe Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis to business travel staples Marriott or Sheraton to the need-something-clean-by-the-airport Courtyard or Four Points. You can start redeeming points for discounted and free rooms after spending as little as $350 at one of the conglomerate’s 29 chains. Hilton Honors offers attractive points bonuses for continued service and a number of properties on every level of budget. Delta’s customer service and frequency of travel (more than 15,000 flights each day to 1,000-plus destinations to more than 50 countries) make it a favorite, and United earns points for its credit-card redemption program and coverage area.
Hotel: Hilton Honors
Airline: Delta SkyMiles
Hotel: Marriott Bonvoy
Airline: Southwest Rapid Rewards
Airline: United MileagePlus