Share Airline Miles Without Paying Fees (May 2017)

Can I share and transfer miles to others?

Usually it is possible to transfer airline miles to another person, but it is going to cost you.  For example, American Airlines charges $12.50 per 1,000 miles shared, plus a 15$ processing fee per transaction.

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Sharing 5,000 miles will cost $77.50, even if it is your spouse or family member.  Not good.  Paying fees like that kind of defeats the purpose of this whole thing!

 

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Pool your miles for free, then share a coconut drink on Ipanema Beach!

If you are transferring the miles into your airline account from one of the transferable loyalty programs, you may be able to indirectly share miles.  I will give a few scenarios:

Transfer SPG starpoints to your spouse or significant other with no fee

  • You can “pool” your SPG points with another member of your household as long as you both have lived at the same address for at least 30 days.  This can be requested online, but note that it could take up to 5 days for the points to post.

Example

  • Jack and Jill and need 50,000 miles for 2 award tickets on American Airlines.
  • Either they need 25,000 miles in each of their American Airlines accounts to book these tickets, or one of them needs 50,000 miles in an account.  (Once the miles are in your airline account, in most cases you can book tickets for other people)
  • Jill already has 20,000 miles in her American Airlines account from the Citi AAdvantage credit card sign-up bonus, shopping portals, flying, etc.  Jack has an American Airlines account but does not have any miles in it.
  • Jill has 0 starpoints in her SPG account but Jack has 25,000 because he got the Amex SPG credit card and earned the sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements
They have 2 options:
  1. Jack cannot transfer 25,000 starpoints to Jill’s American Airlines account, but he can transfer them to his American Airlines account.  This would give him 30,000 American Airlines miles because remember there is a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 starpoints transferred to airlines.
    • He now has 30,000 American Airlines miles and Jill has 20,000 American Airlines miles.
    • Jack could share 5,000 miles with Jill, and that would give each of them 25,000 miles.  Then they can each book their own ticket.
    • As stated at the beginning of this post, American Airlines charges for this.  It would cost $77.50 to share 5,000 miles.
  2. Since they share an address, Jack can transfer 25,000 starpoints to Jill’s SPG account at no charge.  Jill could then transfer the 25,000 SPG points to her American Airlines account.  This gives her 30,000 American Airlines miles after the 5,000 mile bonus.
    • She now has 50,000 miles
    • They now have 0 starpoints, but Jill has 50,000 American Airlines miles.  They can book both tickets from Jill’s American Airlines account.

In addition to getting both tickets without having to pay the extra $77.50, it is nice to have both tickets on the same reservation for a few different reasons.  For example, since Jill has the Citi AAdvantage credit card, they will both get free checked bags.  One of the Citi AAdvantage credit card benefits is free checked bags.  Depending on which version of the card you have, this benefit extends to 4-8 people on your reservation.  If they were to book separate, Jack would not get a free checked bag since he does not have his own Citi AAdvantage card.

Of course you can also pool your SPG points and then use the points to book hotel rooms

Conclusion

Pooling your SPG starpoints together before transferring them to air miles saves money and possibly points!

Sharing Ultimate Rewards with others:

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Get to Belize faster by adding your significant other as an authorized user!

  • If booking plane tickets or hotels with points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, the name on the airline or hotel loyalty account must match the primary Sapphire cardholder or an authorized user
  • This means that you cannot transfer Ultimate Rewards to your spouse’s airline or hotel account unless he or she is an authorized user on your Sapphire card.
  • If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and your spouse or significant other has no plans to get their own, you might as well make him or her an authorized user.  First of all, it’s free.  Second, you get 5,000 points for adding an authorized user.  Your spouse can still apply for his or her own Sapphire card and get the sign-up bonus even if they are already an authorized user.  With that said, I need to point out that Chase has gotten pretty strict with how many cards one can apply for over a 2 year period.  You can read more about the 5/24 policy by clicking here. but the unspoken rule seems to be that you need to have opened less than 5 cards in a 24 month period (they count at all credit cards opened, not just Chase cards) to get approved for a Chase card.  Be aware that even being an authorized user is counted as having a card opened.  If your spouse or significant other already has their own Ultimate Rewards earning card (or if you think they may get one in the near future), there is no reason to add them as an authorized user because you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points back and forth with one member of your household.

Example

  • Jack and Jill need 30,000 points for southwest tickets.
  • Jack has 10,000 points in his Rapid Rewards account from flying.  He does not have a Chase Sapphire card but Jill does and Jack is an authorized user.
  • Jill has a Southwest Rapid Rewards account with 0 points, but she just earned the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonus on her Chase Sapphire card.
  • To get the 30,000 Southwest points needed, they can:
    1. Transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards to Jill’s Southwest account. Or
    2. Remember Jack already has 10,000 points.  To get to 30,000, they could transfer 20,000 Ultimate Rewards to Jack’s Southwest account since he is an authorized user
  • Neither of these options cost any extra money, but why transfer 30,000 points when you only need 20,000?
  • There is a 3rd option that I’m going to mention but please do not do this! Jack could transfer his 10,000 Rapid Rewards points to Jill’s Rapid Rewards account. They would then only need to transfer 20,000 Ultimate Rewards to Jill’s Southwest account instead of 30,000.
  • The problem is that transferring one’s airline miles to another is going to cost money.  Southwest charges 10$ per 1,000 points, so in this case it would be 100$.  You save 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points, but you pay 100$.

Another option is to actually combine Ultimate Rewards before transferring to a program.  If two members of a household each have their own Ultimate Rewards earning card, Chase also allows you to combine your Ultimate Rewards.  You can only add one person to combine your points with and it must be a member of your household.

Conclusion

In general, spouses and significant others should make each other authorized users.  This saves lots of money and points.  If both members of a household have their own Ultimate Rewards earning cards, Chase also allows you to combine your Ultimate Rewards.

Sharing American Express Membership Rewards with Others:

American Express Membership Rewards basically has the same policy as Ultimate Rewards.  The name on the loyalty account to which the points are being transferred must match the name of the primary cardholder or an authorized user.

As stated in the Chase Ultimate Rewards example, it is usually good practice to add your spouse or significant other as an authorized user if it is free.  An exception to this may be if you have a credit card account that costs to add an authorized user.  For example, it costs $175 for the first 3 authorized users for the Amex Platinum card, and then $175 per authorized user for the fourth or more.  Although there are some benefits that come with this fee, it may not be worth it.  I will save the discussion about high annual fee cards and their benefits for another post.  There are some American Express Membership Rewards-earning cards that are free to add authorized users.

As always, contact me with questions! Happy Friday!

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If only our twins still shared toys…

 

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