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Transfering Miles Or Points Between Accounts

by Jason Steele

As you become a reward card aficionado, and begin to talk to others about it, you inevitably come up with situations where you would like to transfer points from one account to another.

While the possibilities for doing so are limited, they do exist. Here are a few of the ways:

American Express Membership Rewards

Amex Membership Rewards is a popular program, with points that can be redeemed for travel and other benefits among a variety of partners. Suppose you have a friend or family member that you would like to gift or donate points to. According to American Express’s website, this can only be done between cardholders on the same account. For example, if you and your spouse have two cards on the same account, you can redeem points for frequent flier miles in their accounts.

In theory, it is possible to add other people as cardholders to your account for the purpose of transferring miles, but I would strongly caution against doing so for anyone but an immediate family member. By adding a friend as a cardholder to your account, you are responsible for any charges made by that person, and your credit history is linked.

There is some indication that Amex’s rule about transferring awards is not enforced. Some people have reported being able redeem Membership Rewards points for miles in accounts of other people. It certainly couldn’t hurt to try, as the worst case scenario is that Amex merely declines the transfer.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood’s American Express card earns members currency in the hotel chain’s loyalty program, called StarPoints. It is possible to transfer StarPoints from one member to another, provided that they reside in the same household. You simply have to call up Starwood and ask. Their agents are actually very courteous and friendly, and the transaction is no big deal. Unfortunately, Starpoint redemptions can only be made to a frequent flier account that has the exact same name as the Starwood Preffered guest’s account, otherwise they will be declined.

Transferring Airline Miles

Almost no airline will let you transfer miles between accounts for free. The notable exception is Hawaiian Airlines. They have a program called ShareMiles that allows members to pool miles between accounts. The only catch is that the members will all need to hold a Hawaiian Airlines Visa card. That’s what I call island hospitality!

Most other airlines offer some kind of program to transfer miles between members, but it is usually a terrible deal. For example, Delta Airlines has a program called Transfer Miles. For a $30 processing fee, they will happily transfer miles from one account to another at one cent per mile, plus taxes. Therefore, transferring 25,000 miles from one account to another will cost you $280, plus taxes, an amount pretty much equal to the value of the miles themselves. The only way this might be a worthwhile deal is if you were to transfer a small number of miles from one account to another in order to “top off” an account to get an award. On occasion, Delta and other carriers have been known to sweeten these deals significantly by offering bonuses of %100 or more.

The Easy Way To Transfer Awards

Any award on any airline program can be redeemed for ticket in anyone’s name. It is surprising how many people do not realize this. I can redeem an gazillion miles for a ticket in anyone’s name, if I so choose. While it is technically against the airline’s rules, it is even perfectly legal to sell the award.

In this way, it is very easy to redeem awards for family or friends. I have been known to trade awards between family members if I have mileage in a program they can use and vice versa.

The Way To Transfer Miles Or Points Between Programs

InsideFlyer magazine has a tool on their website that helps you to find ways to transfer points between one program and another. Sometimes it is fairly straightforward, and sometimes it can be rather complicated. For example, you may have to transfer miles or points into a third or even fourth party loyalty program in order to get them to their ultimate destination.

Above all, it is important to remember that points and miles are not currency. There are occasions where they can be exchanged, but it is never something that you should count on. By knowing your options, you can get the most our of your credit card reward program.

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5 Responses to “Transfering Miles Or Points Between Accounts”

  1. Nari Says:

    I really like the design of your site. Very clean, easy to read and well structured. Hey I just wanted to add that if people have only small number of miles and want to stop thinking about them and convert them to something useful, they can get magazine or newspaper subscriptions (see link above under my name)

    Also another option, where miles can be converted (but at steep loss of value from the common 1 cent/mile base value) to amazon.com gift card balances. To convert to amazon.com money visit: http://ofallthingstrue.blogspot.com/2008/08/converting-airlines-miles-to-amazon.html to learn more about it.

    I have personally done those with my relatives miles, emailed the gift card to myself and added it to my amazon.com account. That is a big benefit when relatives just want to get rid of their miles and let you use them anyway!

  2. jay Says:

    I just am curious how you know it’s “perfectly legal” to sell awards.

    I would like to sell some miles but looking for documentation on the legality of it.

    Anyone know?

    Thanks so much.

    -Jay

  3. Steven Kale Says:

    How do I transfer miles from my United account to my wife’s United account ? What is the fee, if any?

  4. Hazel Ho Says:

    How do I transfer United Airline miles from my husband’s account to mine? I closed his account on 8/02/2012, received letter re: cancellation of fraud alert membership
    on 8/03/2012. I have tried to transfer miles “on line” and have been unable to do so.
    Phone info from United Airlines: Go to ualmiles.com. $15.00 for every l,000 miles transferred to another account. Still can’t get in “on line.” I keep getting tossed
    back and forth between Chase Card Services and United Air Lines…neither agency has
    helped my “transfer miles” (soon to be lost if not done soon).

  5. Marianne Larsen Says:

    I want to know if I can get a credit card that has air miles rewards and get airline tickets for my daughter with my rewards.

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