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Positive Changes To 2013 Reward Programs

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credit-card-offers-rewards-500-bonusEvery year, reward programs change to some extent. While a majority of these changes are negative, there are always some bright spots. Here are a few:

American merging with US Airways

American has one of the oldest, and best frequent flier programs. Travelers enjoy some of the greatest award availability at low mileage levels, and American’s award search engine is top notch. In contrast, US Airways has one of the worst programs with terrible award availability and a web site that seems stuck in the 1990s.

When the two carriers merge, it is expected that American will retain its web site and membership in the OneWorld Alliance. Since the mileage from both programs will be combined, and few people will miss US Airways, and this is a positive development.

Delta and Starwood partnering

Earlier this year, Delta and Starwood introduced their crossover rewards program. SPG Gold and Platinum members earn bonus Starpoints when they purchase Delta flights, and other benefits. SPG Platinum members get priority check in, boarding, and bag fee waivers for Delta and other SkyTeam flights. When staying at Starwood hotels, Delta Medallion members receive SkyMiles as well as elite check-in line access, free in-room high-speed internet access, late check-out.

Increased benefits is a positive thing, and this may be the first of a new wave of partnerships between different types of travel providers.

Chase Ultimate Rewards ads Virgin Atlantic as a transfer partner

Chase has been growing its list of Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, and with the recent addition of Virgin Atlantic airlines, the list now includes 9 airline and hotel programs plus Amtrak Guest Rewards. And considering that each Virgin Atlantic Mile can be converted to two Hilton HHonors points, Virgin Atlantic is essentially an additional hotel partner.

Southwest makes Airtran flights bookable with points

Southwest has been working on its merger with Airtran for a number of years. And while there haven’t been any major screw ups, it has been progressing very slowly. So patient Rapid Rewards members were pleased when Southwest made all domestic Airtran flights available to their Rapid Rewards program earlier this year. Travelers who use the Southwest web site to book Airtran flights still receive free checked bags and no change fees, and those with the companion pass can utilize that benefit as well. Hopefully, Airtran’s international flights will be offered soon, but we will have to continue to be patient.

It is rare that airlines and hotels make substantial improvements to their programs, but it does happen. By learning about these changes, travelers and credit card users can make the best decisions when it comes time to earn and redeem their valuable points and miles.

You can learn more about these offers and apply online below.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Citi or any of the other companies whose products are featured in this content.

About the author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a freelance journalist specializing in personal finance and travel and is recognized as an expert in credit cards. He is a regular contributor to many of the top personal finance sites such as Wise Bread and Money Talks News. His work has been frequently carried on mainstream news outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo, Finance, and Business insider.

Jason lives in Denver Colorado with his wife and two daughters.

– has written 350 posts.

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