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News: U.S. News & World Report Names Best Travel Rewards Programs -

For the third year in a row, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan took the top spot in U.S. News & World Report's 2017-18 Best Travel Rewards Programs rankings, with Delta SkyMiles coming in second. When it comes to hotel rewards programs Marriott Rewards took top honors, while Wyndham Rewards came in second.

This report recognizes 26 hotel and airline loyalty programs, which offer travelers the most rewards. U.S. News & World Report views these rankings as a way to help travelers sort through all the different programs out there.

"Today's travelers have so many rewards programs to choose from, comparing and contrasting them based on your specific needs can be a challenge," said Christine Smith, associate travel editor at U.S. News.

"Our Best Travel Rewards Programs rankings emphasize the ease of earning points and miles, and redeeming them for free nights and flights, which everyday travelers identify as a top reason to join a loyalty program,” she said.

Why are they the best?

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was named Best Airline Rewards Program due to its mileage-based earning structure, letting members earn miles quicker and easier, when compared to other revenue-based earning programs, according to the report.

On the other hand, Delta SkyMiles came in second due to its lucrative redemption rates on award flights. The report also highlights the benefits they provide, such as being able to book hotel stays, cabin upgrades and experiences with miles, as well as get free flights.

Marriott Rewards snagged the Best Hotel Rewards Program, partially due to the number of choices members have when looking for hotels, as well as how easy the program makes it for travelers to earn points. They also offer travelers a wide range of extras, including free Wi-Fi, and the ability to book concerts and sporting events with points.

Wyndham Rewards came in second, getting kudos for how easy it is for travelers to earn a free night, along with giving members access to reduced rates for rooms. People can also earn points when using the hotel chain's two affiliated credit cards.

Rounding out the top five

Alaska and Delta took the top spots in the airline category, with JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus rounding out the top five in that order.

For hotels Choice Privileges took third place, World of Hyatt came in fourth, and Best Western Rewards was fifth.