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The Best Frequent Flyer Programs to Strive For
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The Best Frequent Flyer Programs to Strive For

Emily Price, Gawker Media

Image credit: Pexels

I travel a ton for work, but more often than not I'm not the one booking my airline tickets. That's great, but what that means is that come the end of the year I'm almost always a few thousand miles away from status on almost every major airline. After it happening for the gagillionth time last year, I started to get very specific with the person booking my tickets, specifying airlines I would prefer to fly, and it's paid off. This year I've earned elite status on American Airlines, and in a few weeks, on Delta.

When you're a casual flyer, airline status isn't a huge deal. When you fly all the time, it can make a pretty big difference. Frequent flyers can get perks as small as free checked bags and as large as free upgrades to First Class. What perks you get are based in part on your level of status, and in part on what airline you have that status with.

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The Points Guy recently took a look at all the frequent flyer programs out there to determine which one was the best deal.

Overall, the company gave Alaska top honors for having the best elite program out there. Coming in second is United, followed by Delta, and then America, JetBlue, and Southwest.

Alaska won in large part due to how it calculates its elite status. Most airlines have adopted a method where you not only have to reach 25,000 miles to achieve their bottom tier, you also have to spend $3000. Alaska doesn't have a financial commitment, and it also offers better mile bonuses when you do get status.

Image: The Points Guy

While the money and miles combo should get you to status at roughly the same time, my American status, for instance, was held up for a month over $120. I was over the 25,0000 mile threshold months before I achieved the cash requirement. On Delta, I've long surpassed the money requirement, but am still 3,000 miles short.

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For low-tier fliers that fly 25,000 miles and spend $3k a pear, which happens to be me on multiple airlines, The Points Guy says that Alaska's MVP program is the best to strive for, followed by programs by American, Delta, and United, JetBlue, and Southwest don't offer status at this level.

The Points Guy has a tool on its site where you can input your personal travel habits to determine which frequent flyer program might be right for you. Once you figure out which one you want to go for, it definitely benefits you to book all your flights with that airline.

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The site notes that just because a program is right for you based on your miles and money, it might not be perfect due to your location. For instance, Alaska has the best frequent flyer program out there, but if the majority of your flights are to location where Alaska doesn't serve (which is a lot), then you'd be better-served picking someone like United or Delta.

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