Road warriors know that the only way to travel is to make a commitment to one hotel and air reward program. The benefits—better rooms, bigger seats, faster check-in—are too important to ignore. But the best programs also offer something for the leisure traveler. We based our selections on the mix of benefits for frequent and occasional travelers, and on the convenience and accessibility of the hotel and airlines' footprint.
All hotel and airline reward programs offer staggered rewards for increasing levels of participation. Hilton's program gives you benefits from the moment you join (like free Internet access) and bumps you up to the next tier after just four stays. You can use the Hilton app to check in and pick your room online, and by the time you get to Silver, the fifth night of any stay you book is free. Because Hilton (and the related Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites and Conrad properties) are virtually everywhere, it's not a problem to find a room.
Delta's Skymiles reward program is the best in the skies because of its global network of partner airlines, like KLM, Air France and Virgin Atlantic—which makes it simple to go almost anywhere—and the utility of the website and app to book flights. Delta's program also lets you roll over the qualification miles you flew above your tier, meaning that if you flew 60,000 miles this year, the 10,000 miles you made beyond the 50,000-mile gold status get rolled over to the next year. That gives you a head start for even higher status and more seat upgrades.