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One of the best things about becoming a savvy traveller utilising miles and points to upgrade your travel is being able to share the benefits with loved ones. You might be planning a luxury honeymoon or anniversary redemption, or taking a family member on their first premium flight.

While you are certainly allowed to use your points and miles for people other than yourself, there are very specific rules each programme imposes about how you can do this.

The reason programmes set these rules is because they do not want members selling the points and miles. This is expressly forbidden in the terms and conditions of almost all loyalty programmes.

Qatar Airways QSuites are designed for a group of four. Image by Qatar Airways

But assuming you are wanting to use your points for redemptions, rather than selling them to strangers, you certainly can use them to redeem for friends or family. There are no rules against using them for your own personal travel. But just how wide is the definition of ‘friends and family’? Each loyalty programme will have a different interpretation, but in general, you should be fine with the following:

  • Anyone with the same surname as you, such as a married spouse, parents, children or cousins
  • Anyone residing at the same address as you, such as a domestic partner or flatmate
  • Anyone who appears to have an obvious connection with you as a close friend, such as someone who lives in the same post or zip code as you

You should generally be OK provided the redemption is a gift and no payment was exchanged for it.

Loyalty programmes may investigate any redemptions that seem suspicious — large programmes have sophisticated fraud departments. A Peter Smith living in Brighton, redeeming for a Baozhai Huang with a residential address in Fuzhou, China, might raise suspicions, as there may be no clear link.

In extreme cases where the programme believes you have redeemed your miles for a complete stranger, it may assume you have received payment for this, which is against the terms and conditions of the programme. The programme may freeze your account and the miles left in it while they investigate. They may even ask for evidence like a statutory declaration or birth or marriage certificate that the redemption is for a friend or family member and no payment was involved.

If you are unable or unwilling to provide documentation that would satisfy the loyalty programme, it may close your account permanently and cancel any redemptions they believe were done for a stranger for cash.

family taking selfie on airplane
(Photo by Hispanolistic / Getty Images)

But these are extreme circumstances. If you have booked cash tickets for these people before, the programme may not care if you then book redemptions. Similarly if you are booking redemptions where you both travel together, the programme is unlikely to think your travelling companion is suspicious.

If you are concerned about if there is a sufficient link between yourself and the person for which you plan to redeem miles, you may wish to contact the loyalty programme in advance of making the booking. Ensuring the programme is comfortable with what you are using your miles for, there may not be any chance of account freezing or cancelling of any redemptions.

Featured image by Summer Hall / The Points Guy

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