Have you ever wanted to transfer points or miles to another person? Maybe a family or friend needs a few extra miles to get an award ticket. Or perhaps you want to send points to a relative so they can buy a ticket to visit you. What are the restrictions on transferring points to other people, and how strictly are they enforced?
Let’s take a look at the rules for some of the biggest rewards programs and find out what options you have.
American Express Membership Rewards
A few years back, you could easily transfer points between Membership Rewards accounts, or to someone else’s frequent flyer account if the airline was a partner with Amex. There were technically some restrictions, but Amex didn’t really enforce them.
However, American Express cracked down on unauthorized transfers back in 2014, in part because people were buying and selling points. Now you can’t transfer between MR accounts at all, but you can transfer points to a frequent flyer account in your spouse’s name or that of an authorized user.
The good news is that it’s easy to add authorized users to most Membership Rewards cards. You can do it online or by calling the number on the back of your card. This is usually free, but some cards, such as the Platinum card, charge extra to add users. It’s best to read the fine print or call and ask. Obviously you only want to add people you trust to your credit card account.
Note that in order to transfer to your spouse, you have to have the same address registered with Amex.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase’s rules for transferring points differ from Amex. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to another UR account as long as the account holder is also a member of your household and shares the same address. But, if you want to transfer your points to someone else’s loyalty program account, like United MileagePlus, they have to also be an authorized user.
The rules are similar for Chase business cards, like Ink Plus. Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to other UR accounts if the account holder is a member of your household or a company employee. In order to transfer to another person’s frequent flyer account, though, they have to be an employee and an authorized card user. For some reason, household members are excluded.
These stricter rules were put in place late in 2015 when Chase reconfigured the Ultimate Rewards transfer webpage. Before the changes, it was easier to transfer points among UR members.
Like Amex, it’s easy to add an authorized user to your Chase account online or by phone. As an added incentive, the Sapphire and Freedom cards will give you 5,000 and 2,500 points, respectively, if you add a user within the first three months of having the card.
Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints can only be transferred to other SPG accounts, and you must have the same address. The shared address must be registered with both accounts for at least 30 days before the transfer can go through. You cannot transfer Starpoints to a frequent flyer account in another person’s name.
To transfer points, you can either fill out a form, accessible online through your account, or call SPG. Transfers typically take several days, so be sure to plan ahead.
If you’re planning a trip with another member of your household, you’ll probably want to combine your points and book your flights at the same time. That’s because Starwood gives you 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to a frequent flyer account.
Delta SkyMiles, American Airlines AAdvantage and United MileagePlus
Airlines work a little different. Delta, American and United allow you to transfer miles to other members of their respective frequent flyer programs. The catch, which is a big one, is that you’ll have to pay to do it.
Delta charges a cent per mile plus a $30 processing fee; American charges .0125 cents per mile; and United charges the most at .015 cents per miles plus a $20 fee. If, for example, you transfer 10,000 miles, it’ll cost you $130 with Delta, $125 with American and $170 with United. Transfers can take as long as a day, but are typically instantaneous.
A better option is to buy the award ticket for someone else (or vice versa). All three airlines allow you to do that. Just enter the intended passenger’s name when you purchase the ticket.
If you don’t have enough miles for the ticket, consider transferring some from a different rewards program, such as Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest.
A few airlines allow you to pool miles for free with family and/or friends. This can be a valuable perk. Unfortunately, Delta, American and United do not offer this.
Once you’ve tallied and transferred those miles, it’s time to load them in your RewardWallet at RewardExpert so we can show you how to maximize them. We’ll even show you how you can combine transferrable points and miles to get you on the plane quicker!