Loyalty Brands That Allow Free Transfers
Many hotel loyalty programs allow you to sharing points with someone else for free. More often, the benefits is limited to your spouse or partner that lives with you, but occasionally it applies more broadly. It’s very important to know which programs these are and maximize this opportunity when planning your adventures.
In an imaginary world where we all have 6 and 7 figure miles and points balances in each program this doesn’t matter at all. However, in the real world, many family members have a few miles and points spread throughout a variety of programs. It can really help when programs allow you to pool points with a spouse in order to hit a redemption threshold or keep them consolidated in one place.
Here is a real world example. Say that you and your spouse/partner who resides in the same household both jump in on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express temporarily increased offer to 30,000 SPG points. Once you hit the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in three months you will each have about 35,000 SPG points. That is an amazing number of points, but if you wanted to redeem for something like “Nights and Flights” that requires 60K or 70K points you would be out of luck without doing a fair amount of additional earning. However, since SPG will allow you to transfer points to another household member, you can combine your points and get something like 50,000 airline miles and 5 nights at a Category 4 hotel from your 70,000 combined points. I think that is pretty awesome deal!
Starwood Preferred Guest:
Generally, Starpoints may transfer if both SPG Members are active, consent to the transfer, and share the same residential mailing address that is not a P.O. Box, APO or SPO address for a minimum of 30 days prior to requesting the transfer. SPG Members may be required to provide proof of residency prior to Starwood transferring the Starpoints between the two accounts. Elite membership status and the related benefits will not transfer to the recipient of the Starpoints. You can request the transfer online. If you happen to be a Starwood Vacation Owner then you can transfer points to whomever you want whether they live with you or not.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR STARWOOD POINTS TO TRANSFER?
Great question. Here is a great article from the Frugal Travel Guy who did an nice experiment and shared his results. Check it out! Super helpful!
Historically you could transfer Club Carlson points for free to anyone you wanted simply by calling 1-888-288-8889 and selecting option 4 to speak to a customer service agent. The process was super easy and instant. However, their website now says that elite members may transfer Points from their account to another Program member account upon request. All other members (non-Elite) may transfer Points to another Program member residing in the same household provided that both individuals have been a Program member for at least one year and the addresses for either account involved in the transfer have not been up updated within thirty (30) days prior to the transfer request. All members can request a transfer by contacting Member Services.
Of course, it is easy enough to get elite status with the Club Carlson Visa and even without elite status you can still transfer to other household members, provided both have been a member for at least a year. I tried to call in and see what I would be told if I asked about transferring points to a friend, but their offices were closed due to a staff meeting, so I’d love to hear recent experiences with this one.
Hyatt Gold Passport:
Hyatt allows you to combine points with any other member in order to redeem for an award. You must complete a form and mail, email, or fax it in (details at the link above), so the process is a little annoying, but I have done it before successfully. The form does not actually ask you what award you are redeeming the points for, but that is the intent of the transfer. You are allowed to do this once every 30 days.
Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards:
Marriott allows the transfer of points at the time of reward redemption only to a legal spouse or domestic partner. An Authorization to Transfer Points form must be completed and submitted to Rewards Program Guest Services in order to transfer the required number of Points. Forms are available by calling Rewards Program Guest Services at 1-801-468-4000 (Marriott Rewards Program) or 1-866-922-6882 (The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Program). A request for Reward Redemption from the transferee’s legal spouse or domestic partner must be submitted to Rewards Program Guest Services with the Authorization to Transfer Points form.
Best Western Rewards:
Best Western Rewards points can be transferred between accounts that share the same physical address. To arrange a point transfer, contact the Best Western Rewards® Customer Service team.
Credit Card Points:
Chase Ultimate Rewards:
Transfers may only be used to combine rewards belonging to the same individual or business in the Program; or for the purpose of enabling spouses or domestic partners to combine rewards earned in their respective names. In other words, you can transfer points between your Ultimate Rewards accounts (like from Chase Freedom Visa to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card so you can transfer to airline and hotel partners, and you can also transfer between accounts of spouses or domestic partners. Just as a warning, Chase has cracked down on those transferring out to non-spouse and domestic partner airline and hotel accounts in the past year or so, so I would stick to the rules.
You can do this online from your Ultimate Rewards account by selecting “earn faster” and then “combine points”.
American Express Membership Rewards:
While you can’t transfer Membership Reward points to another person, you can transfer to another person’s hotel or airline account. This isn’t exactly the same thing, but historically Amex has been more lenient with transfers to other’s hotel and airline accounts than Chase.
US Bank FlexPerks:
FlexPerks points can be transferred online to virtually anyone with a FlexPerks account. Transfer to a family member, friend, or to another FlexPerks account you own from a US bank account.
Citi ThankYou Points:
Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to any other Citi ThankYou member, but transferred points will expire 90 days from the date of transfer. So do not transfer points unless you are really about to redeem them. You also cannot return transferred points or transfer them on to another person.
Most airlines do not allow for transfer of miles between accounts without fees that are almost as high as buying the miles outright. The main exceptions come into play with airlines who have household accounts, as well as a few non-US programs that are a tad more generous in the point transfer department.
With a British Airways Household Account, pool your Avios with other Executive Club Members as long as you live at the same address. It includes children with up to 7 members living at the same address. Any member over 18 can spend Avios, and all can earn. You can’t redeem for someone outside the household account though.
The recipient of the miles must have an active Hawaiian Airlines Visa Credit Card (primary cardholder only). Both donor and recipient accounts must have valid email addresses listed.
Qantas allows family transfers to one eligible family member, once every 12 months. You can transfer a minimum of 5,000 to maximum of 100,000 points. The points can be transferred to an eligible family member online.
Japan Airlines has a Family Club, but seems to be intended only for Japanese families living abroad. This feature might just work for non-Japanese families that do not live in Japan.
Pool all Etihad Guest Miles earned by anyone in your family into a single account with the Family Membership benefit.
Families of up to six people (two 18+ and up to four additional under 18) living in the same household can pool both points and status credits into one account. In addition, Virgin Australia also transfers your Velocity Points from your membership account to an eligible family member’s account for up to four times per year. Get to “pause” your status for six months if you’re expecting, which is pretty awesome!
Qatar offers a Family Program allowing Burgundy, Silver and Gold members to add their spouse and children older than two years to their Privilege Club membership. They can earn miles based on the status level of the account holder.
Asiana offers Family Mileage Plan to link family accounts and pool miles to redeem for awards.
Programs that charge a fee to transfer points isn’t quite a family-friendly stance and were purposely left out in the list. Also, there are many programs that doesn’t quite allow transfer of points and still allow booking an award for someone else. If you’re trying to pool enough points together and redeem, then these programs do not assist in such aspects.