Take Flight: The Top Airline Miles Programs For International Travel

Travel1 year ago
Delta Airplane taking off

More and more savvy travelers are realizing that frequent flyer and airline rewards programs aren't solely for jet setters and business travelers. Instead, they can be a quick and straightforward way to save money and earn perks on all kinds of travel.

However, in your research, you'll quickly find that no two frequent flyer programs are alike, and how you earn points and redeem miles will vary according to airline.

To help you to save some time and effort, we have pulled together a list of the best ways to earn and redeem points with airlines in 2023. From top tier benefits to the most valuable points, we'll tell you everything you need to know before you sign up for a free rewards program this year.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Experienced Users

Intro offer

50,000 Miles

Annual Fee


Recommended Credit


50,000 Miles

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How to Choose the Best Frequent Flyers Program for Your Travel

The best frequent flyers programs for you will depend upon your spending habits, location, and how and where you normally book your flights and hotels.

Whereas the Air France Kim Flying Blue may be an excellent choice for someone who regularly flies internationally, a Delta SkyMiles membership may be more suitable for someone who usually travels within the United States.

How easy it is to earn points and where you can redeem them will be key factors for you to consider while looking at the best airline rewards programs we have detailed below.


Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

If you frequently fly along the West Coast, to and from destinations such as New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland - then this renowned program is one to consider.

With 25 different partner airlines, (including American Airlines and British Airways) there is plenty of opportunity to earn and spend your points as you travel for business or pleasure. The scheme also includes six different hotel partners where you can spend and earn points, including Best Western and Marriott.

You can also earn more points towards your flights through regular purchases with retailers, charitable donations, and subscriptions to magazines.


Turkish Airlines Frequent Flyer Program

The Miles & Smiles rewards program from Turkish Airlines is part of the Star Alliance and will give you plenty of opportunities to earn and redeem miles if you frequently travel internationally.

Turkish Airlines are one of the largest airlines in the world and there is a thankfully simple and streamlined way for you to build up your points and status with the carrier, booking flight direct or with partners such as Lufthansa or Air Canada.


Hawaiian Airlines Frequent Flyer Program

If you often travel to the South Pacific or Asia, then signing up for the Hawaiian Airlines rewards scheme is an excellent choice. You can also rack up points when booking domestic flights to plenty of US destinations as well.

The airline also has a partnership with JetBlue, so you can earn more points while traveling with this low-cost carrier as well.

And points can be redeemed against a broad range of different partners, meaning you aren't only limited to saving up for free flights. You can also use points to make retail and grocery purchases! Higher-status members will also benefit from airport lounge access, expedited screening, and free checked bags.


British Airways Executive Club

With the Executive Club, you will be able to earn Avios points which can be just as beneficial to US flyers, as those based in the USA. BA flights travel to over 80 countries and more than 200 destinations.

British Airways is also a member of the OneWorld alliance, which also include American Airlines, Qantas, and Alaskan Airlines.

You can build up points by booking with BA, or their partners as well as using the British Airways shopping portal when making purchases online with retailers such as Apple, car rentals providers, or Home Depot.


Delta SkyMiles Membership

Frequent flyers within the United States or those who travel internationally from New York will be able to earn 5 miles for every dollar they spend on Delta flights.

And traveling with one of the carrier's 20+ airlines will also help you earn more points with flights on Air France and Virgin Atlantic amongst others. However, you won't be able to earn points on basic economy seats.

Cardholders of the Dela SkyMiles American Express card will also be able to earn miles on their everyday purchases.


SouthWest Airlines Frequent Flyers

If you regularly book domestic US flights, then signing up for SouthWest Airline's Rapid Rewards Program may be a clever idea. The airline also travels to destinations in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, so if these are often vacation destinations for you, this could be another way to earn points.

You can sign up for a free membership and your points will never expire due to inactivity, meaning that it is one of the easiest and low-pressure memberships to maintain.

This revenue based rewards scheme will also enable you to earn points when paying your utility bills, or even through sharing your opinion in online surveys!


American Airlines AAdvantage Program

The AAdvantage program is another desirable choice for US travelers who travel both domestically and internationally. You will earn points when you book flights with Aa flights, JetBlue bookings, OneWorld alliance partners, and Codeshare airlines.

The points you earn can be used against purchases for flights, rental cars, hotel stays, and airport lounge access. But they will become void after two hours of inactivity.

There are four levels to work your way up to, each with associated perks and benefits. And you can earn extra points for all dollars spent using an associated Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard.


United Mileage Plus

United Airlines rewards program is an additional good option for those who travel both domestically and internationally. With over 2,000 flights around the world each day and 40+ partner airlines, there are plenty of chances to both earn and redeem rewards based on distance flown or flights booked.

You will also be able to earn and spend points while staying at hotels, dining out, shopping, and booking cruises. You can also earn extra points with your everyday spending by using an associated MileagePlus Visa card such as the United Explorer Card from Chase.


Southwest flight flying through the air