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So, 2017 marks the first year in which I have voted in the Freddie Awards. I’ve gotten plenty of email from various loyalty programs, all of which I’ve promptly deleted. I should have voted long before now, and am now bummed I haven’t in previous years, considering how easy it is.

What are my 2017 picks? I have a couple favorite programs, but I tried to be as honest about my picks as I could. Most of my picks are based on my own experiences, but others are secondhand from things I’ve read and heard in the frequent flyer world.

Airline picks

  • Southwest for Program of the Year – I have flown mostly United and Alaska lately, but I still find myself thinking of Southwest as the best airline overall.
  • United, Southwest, and Avianca for Best Redemption Ability. Avianca only made it since I know the programs can allow for some killer redemptions. I have yet to make one with my new stash of LifeMiles.
  • Not even sure who I picked for customer service besides Southwest. All my other CS run-ins have been because of an airline (usually United) botching my travel plans. As in, “you’ve canceled my flight again?!?…”
  • I know I tossed Alaska into the Best Elite Program, based on things I’ve read and heard. Since I’ve never been an elite flyer, this one really isn’t my call.

Picking 2nd and 3rd places for some of these was hard for me. I don’t have a ton of experience with all the airlines, and I only collect miles in about 6 of the frequent flyer programs. I mainly just picked Southwest across the board, except for elite program.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would have happily “anti-picked” American for having the worst redemption ability of U.S. airlines by far.

Hotel picks

  • IHG for Best Hotel Promotion – the Intercontinental Hotels Group may be lacking when it comes to elite program benefits, but the last few Accelerate promotions have been gold for me. I raked in roughly 150,000 points in 2016 with very few paid stays. My runner-ups were Starwood and Hyatt.
  • Hyatt and Starwood for Best Redemption Ability, mainly cause their points are worth so much more than other chains.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest for Program of the Year and Best Elite Program – Maybe this one is just because of the merger. SPG has long been my favorite hotel program, and I will be sorry to see it go once it is completely merged with Marriott. I’d love to see Starwood take an award before the curtain closes.
  • Starwood for Best Customer Service as well. Their phone agents have always been top notch.

Hotels were a bit more cut and dry. I avoided Hyatt for Best Elite Program since I believe they have taken a step backward with the new World of Hyatt rollout. Starwood is obviously my favorite program across the board.

Credit card pick

  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express – Hands down my favorite. Not even a close 2nd on this one, although I did pick the IHG MasterCard and Chase Sapphire Preferred as my 2nd and 3rd.

I know I am going to be sorry to see the SPG Amex go. I know it has to eventually. The best thing American Express could do would be to grandfather the card in as a different Marriott product that continued to provide cardholders with significantly more value than the Chase Marriott card. But that is probably a pipe dream…

What programs did you pick for the 2017 Freddie Awards?

Featured image courtesy of Pam Flanders under CC 3.0 license

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