My Votes For The Best In Travel: Last Day To Cast Your Ballot!

a screenshot of a hotel

Each year for over 30 years the Freddie Awards has celebrated the best brands in travel loyalty.  Dubbed the “People’s Choice” of the travel world, millions of travelers pick the winners instead of a panel of “experts”.  I’ve been one of the organizers of the Freddie Awards for over a decade now and my ballot has just as much weight as yours.

If you haven’t voted yet, today (March 31st) is the last day to do so.  Here’s the link to vote.

My Freddie Awards Ballot

a screenshot of a hotel

Program of the Year: Air Canada’s Aeroplan program still strikes me as the most innovative program out there.  The changes they continue to roll out make me want to engage with the program. American Airlines’ new Loyalty Points approach gamifies earning points and keeps me interested.  Southwest Airlines, despite their issues this past winter, continue to deliver phenomenal value to their members.

On the hotel side, Hyatt is the clear winner.  They continue to deliver more value than any other program out there.  Hilton has moved the second place on my list.  Marriott, Wyndham and Accor are all in my top 3 overall.  Since I didn’t redeem at Wyndham or Accor last year, I gave Marriott a small nudge.  That being said, my Marriott stays were mostly unremarkable.  So, that’s probably a flaw in my ballot.

Best Promotion: Promotions in general have gotten weaker over the years.  Southwest took my top spot with a shortcut to their popular companion pass.  World of Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promotion was the best of a lackluster bunch.

Best Redemption Ability: Aeroplan seemed to have the best ability to redeem awards at a reasonable rate last year.  Southwest makes every seat available, which isn’t necessarily a deal.  But, a number of sales last year placed them clearly ahead of United, where saver inventory is becoming something of a legend.

Hyatt continues to lead the way in terms of award rooms available on points.  Wyndham Rewards continues to have better availability at reasonable award prices as compared to Hilton or Marriott.

Best Customer Service: I find most of the programs to be fairly similar in front-line customer service.  I’d give Aeroplan, Southwest and Delta a small nod over their competitors. Meanwhile, Hyatt has excellent customer service.  Wyndham and Hilton are further behind but better than the rest.

Best Loyalty Credit Card: Transferable currency is the way to go right now, and Bilt Rewards is leading the way.  Their new Lyft partnership is already paying healthy dividends for me.  And, if you’re reading this you still have about 24 hours to take advantage of the best Hyatt status challenge offer I can recall.  Chase Ultimate Rewards is my second-favorite currency right now.  While I do earn American Express Membership Rewards points and find them useful, I actually didn’t redeem any in 2022.  That put Aeroplan in my third spot on the ballot.

Best Elite Program: This was an easy category for me to pick.  Aeroplan is ahead of the rest, with American a solid second with their Executive Platinum benefits.  If I was able to redeem my PlusPoints on my own flights, I might consider moving United up a spot or two on the ballot.

Hyatt is head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to their elite recognition.  Properties are consistently excellent at delivering guaranteed benefits.  Virtually every time I check-in I’m asked if I need my 4pm late check-out.  And, their concierge service is much better than the competition.  I almost could have left the other two spots blank, as I don’t get a ton of value out of the elite program at Hilton or Marriott.  Hilton is marginally better, mostly because they don’t promise things they can’t deliver on (cough, Suite Night awards, cough).

The Final Two Pennies

I don’t think a lot changed over the past year in North America as it relates to loyalty.  For the most part, the leaders were the leaders.  Brands like Marriott and United slid back a bit in my overall rankings in 2022 but not in a meaningful way.  Recognition hasn’t improved for any of the loyalty brands that were lacking in it previously.  And, 2022 was not a year of vast improvement in award availability.  American Airlines’ Loyalty Points roll-out continues to be the biggest thing on the radar and has brought them back into the picture in terms of a program I’m more excited to engage with.

Did you enjoy this post?  Please share it! There’s plenty of ways to do that below.

You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

And, I hope you’ll check out my podcast, Miles To Go.  We cover the latest travel news, tips and tricks every week so you can save money while you travel better.  From Disney to Dubai, San Francisco to Sydney, American Airlines to WestJet, we’ve got you covered!

One Comment

  1. OMAAT wrote about the method used to determine the rankings and I found it fascinating. Apparently if someone doesn’t vote for a certain program because they’ve gotten Bonvoyed a number of times, then that actually helps Marriott. Let’s say that out of 100 people, only 3 vote for Bonvoy and they vote for it as the best, while no one votes them for second or third place. That means that 100% of voters who voted for Marriott voted them as the best which will hand them first place. I’ve been increasingly disillusioned with the awards since obviously bad programs like Bonvoy keep winning. Now this at least makes some sense and I know to rank crappy programs in third place. While this is counterintuitive it does make sense on a certain level.

Leave a Reply