WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2014 -- To help travelers make the most of airline and hotel rewards, U.S. News & World Report today released the 2014-15 Best Travel Rewards Programs. This year's rankings feature information on 27 airline and hotel programs. New this year, JetBlue's TrueBlue frequent flier plan is the No. 1 Best Airline Rewards Program. Marriott Rewards once again topped the Best Hotel Rewards category.

"Our goal is to take the guesswork out of choosing a travel rewards program," said Miriam Weiner, lead travel editor at U.S. News. "The programs that rank at the top of our lists make it easy to earn free flights or hotel stays while offering benefits that travelers value, such as complimentary upgrades and free checked bags."

The JetBlue TrueBlue program moved ahead of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program this year in part because JetBlue performs high in airline quality — a new addition to the methodology based on an annual Airline Quality Rating report that measures on-time arrivals, lost or mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boarding and consumer complaints. For the Best Airline Rewards Programs, U.S. News also evaluated flight volume, geographic coverage, free flight options, ease of earning a free round-trip flight and additional benefits the program offers. To be ranked by U.S. News, a program had to be tied to a U.S.-based airline.

While airline quality rating made JetBlue's TrueBlue No.1, ease of earning free flights helped Southwest's Rapid Rewards keep a high position on the ranking at No. 2. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan broke into the Top 3 for the first time.

2014-15 Top 3 Best Airline Rewards Programs

  1. JetBlue TrueBlue
  2. Southwest Rapid Rewards
  3. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

See full list: 2014-15 Best Airline Rewards Programs

The Best Hotel Rewards methodology is based on five key criteria: network size, property diversity, geographic coverage, additional benefits and ease of earning free nights. To be ranked, the program must have properties located in the United States and must allow members to earn rewards and privileges when they stay at an affiliated hotel.

In this year's Best Hotel Rewards rankings, Marriott Rewards stands out for offering a wide range of lodging types, locations and price ranges, as well as relatively easy ways to earn free hotel nights and other benefits. InterContinental Hotels Group's IHG Rewards Club made No. 2 on the list, in part thanks to its wide geographic coverage, which makes it easy for members to take advantage of the program both in the United States and abroad. Best Western Rewards made another strong showing this year at No. 3.

2014-15 Top 3 Best Hotel Rewards Programs

  1. Marriott Rewards
  2. IHG Rewards Club
  3. Best Western Rewards

See full list: 2014-15 Best Hotel Rewards Programs

For more information about Best Travel Rewards Programs please visit http://travel.usnews.com/Rankings/Travel-Rewards/, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is a multi-platform publisher of news and analysis, which includes the digital-only U.S. News Weekly magazine, www.usnews.com and www.rankingsandreviews.com. Focusing on Health, Personal Finance, Education, Travel, Cars and Public Service/Opinion, U.S. News has earned a reputation as the leading provider of service news and information that improves the quality of life of its readers. U.S. News & World Report's signature franchise includes its News You Can Use® brand of journalism and its annual "Best" series of consumer Web guides and publications that include rankings of colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, mutual funds, health plans and more.

Contact: Sophia Sherry

ssherry@usnews.com / 202-955-2031

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