You need to find a way to compare apples to apples… to discover which Loyalty Programs offer what… and how they’d hold up in the exact situation you are in / would use them for.
Suggest you GOOGLE for info… – compare airline loyalty programs – and you’ll find some great info (here in Canada we have a company that publishes this type of info annually). Alternatively you could also check out some of the On-Line Travel Websites Forums… they may have some good info, and first hand accounts by a variety of users.
As a Canadian, the best program here by far is Air Miles / Reward Miles (the blue card) which is an independent program that can be or not be tied to a credit card (Mastercard or Amex)… so that Points are earned on ALL Purchases. Points can rack up really quickly (especially for someone like yourself who puts all their spending on a credit card and pays it off every month)… and then gets BONUS points on top of that for being loyal to a long list of companies / service providers
With Air Miles… 1 Point = 1 Air Mile = 1 Actual Mile of Air Travel. Although there are discounts for their Gold Members vs a Regular Member (Membership Levels are determined how much you use the program).
So for example, in our case, Mr TTR and I earn the MINIMUM equivalent to two return airfares for FREE (well except for the Fees & Taxes) on any airline we choose to Florida (1700 Miles x 2 = 3400 Pts / Air Miles) at least twice a year (so annually about 7,000 pts / Air Miles)
But the best part is the points can be traded in on anything not just airfare (and not restricted to any one airline)… so also, Cruises, Resorts, Hotels, Train & Bus Travel, Car Rentals and an endless supply of Gift Certificates at major retailers, or online purchases / gifts
Sadly as a non-Canadian you can’t get one of these great cards. Sorry.
When in the USA, we belong to all the major hotel chain Loyalty Programs. And enjoy lots of FREEBIES from them as well… be it a FREE Stay, or just the perks of membership (Upgrades, and extras).
Can’t honestly fathom anyone who travels and doesn’t belong to a Loyalty Program (forget the fact that you may never earn a FREE stay… paying for a Standard Room and ending up in a Deluxe or Suite, is soooo worth the 5 Minutes it takes to fill out an on-line application)
Hope this info is helpful,