The loyalty programs of the six biggest U.S.-based carriers have received major overhauls in recent years, with some of them adding spending minimums for achieving elite status, reducing the amount of miles earned per flight, and even limiting the rules for redeeming them for free travel.
Because of those overhauls, many travelers might find it worthwhile to consider the mileage programs of international carriers.
Here’s how you can earn miles, attain elite status, and book award flights on more than a dozen domestic and foreign frequent-flier programs—each of which has at least one major U.S. partner. They are listed in alphabetical order, with the U.S.-based frequent flier programs first, followed by those of the foreign carriers.
*NOTE: All award flights are subject to availability and, for most carriers, are priced by regional zones. Award prices can vary (and are sometimes cheaper) if you fly on a partner airline, which may require telephone booking. Also check the special offers on airline websites for award-redemption discounts.