Can I transfer my points and miles to someone else?
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Loyalty points are like a form of currency — they can be earned and then redeemed for goods of value. You may have a big balance of points in your own account, or you and a friend or family member may both have been building a balance with a specific use in mind.
Separately, you might not have enough points for the redemption planned, so can you transfer your points to and from each other’s accounts? Let’s have a look at examples for some major loyalty programmes.
First, some clarifications:
- You can use points in your own account to redeem for family and friends to travel. For example, you could use your own points to book a flight for your parents to attend your wedding abroad. You don’t need to move points around to do this.
- All loyalty programmes specifically prohibit the ‘blackmarket’ sale of loyalty points, so you can’t sell your points to a stranger in exchange for either transferring them your points or booking a flight for them. Most loyalty programmes have sophisticated monitoring and auditing software as well as analysts looking for fraudulent behaviour, and you run the real risk of having your account shutdown and all points forfeited if you are selling your points to strangers.
British Airways Executive Club
You cannot strictly transfer Avios from one account to another, though you can pool your Avios into a Household Account so you can use Avios from more than one account for a redemption. This is particularly handy if you have earned a valuable British Airways 2-4-1 Companion Voucher and wish to use it to book for two people but don’t have enough Avios in your own account for the redemption. The Avios will be deducted from the Household Account in the ratios of your relevant balances. For example, if one person in the Household Account has 50,000 Avios and the other person has 25,000 Avios and you wish to make a redemption costing 60,000 Avios, then 40,000 Avios would be deducted from the first account, with 20,000 deducted from the other.
While by definition you may think you could only use your Household Account for people who live with you at your address, British Airways now offers a Family and Friends list to accompany a Household Account. This means you can redeem for Avios reward tickets for up to five additional persons added to your list who don’t live within your household.
As you cannot simply transfer your Avios from one account to another, combining into a Household Account may be the best compromise.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Similarly, over at Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club, you cannot simply transfer your points from one person’s Flying Club account to another. Fortunately, Flying Club members with Gold elite status can create a Household Account and link a maximum of nine Flying Club memberships with the same household address as the Gold member.
All miles earned by Household account members will automatically transfer to the Gold member’s account after each mileage transaction is complete, but each member will earn their own Tier Points towards earning elite status.
American Express Membership Rewards
You cannot transfer U.K.-issued Membership Rewards points to anyone else’s Membership Rewards account.
American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines
Major U.S. airline loyalty programmes like American Airlines AAdvantage, United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles will allow you to gift points to someone else for a fee. In other words, you can buy new miles for cash and then choose to deposit them in a friend or family member’s account, rather than your own. These programmes also allow you to share your miles with someone else (i.e. transfer them from one account to another) for a substantial fee (often more than the miles are really worth), though they may offer bonus miles from time to time for doing this, which can increase the value proposition slightly.
Fortunately, it’s a different story for the Hilton Honors programme. You can transfer your Hilton points to another Hilton Honors member (family or not) at no cost as follows:
- Points must be transferred in increments of 1,000 points and up to 500,000 points;
- Each Hilton Honors member is limited to sending no more than 500,000 points and receiving 2,000,000 points via transfers per calendar year; and
- Each Hilton Honors member is limited to making six transfers to other member accounts per calendar year.
Hilton also offers a family pooling option to combine points into the one pooled account.
Marriott Bonvoy is the world’s largest hotel loyalty programme. The programme allows you to transfer your Bonvoy points to another person even if they are not related to you or share the same address. Both accounts must have been open for 30 days if they have had some qualifying activity (like a hotel stay credited), or has been open 90 days without any qualifying activity.
The main restriction is that each Bonvoy member can only transfer up to a total of 100,000 points per calendar year and only receive up to a maximum of 500,000 points per calendar year.
Whether you can transfer your points and miles between accounts depends largely on the programme.. If you want to transfer points, you’ll want to pay extra close attention to the wording of the programme’s terms and conditions to ensure you’re not violating any rules. At the end of the day, being able to combine points or miles could help set you up for your next award redemption.
Featured photo courtesy of Air France.
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