Racking up credit card points can be fun and exciting, but that doesn't mean you can always use your points the way you want. In some cases, your credit card points might sit idle when you don't have time to travel or don't have time to use them. When that happens, "gifting" those points to family and friends can become a real possibility instead.
While giving away your points is possible with some programs, it is nearly impossible with others. Certain programs have specific rules that govern who you can share points with to begin with, while others are fairly lenient and don't seem to care at all. Then again, with some loyalty programs, there are work-arounds that let you gift your points to nearly anyone – but only if you play by the rules.
This post aims to explore which loyalty programs allow you to "gift" your points to anyone, and which stand in the way of your generosity. Keep reading to learn more.
Which Programs Let You Gift Points?
Most loyalty programs let you share points among family members or partners in your household, but some make it easier than others. The Citi ThankYou® Rewards program, for example, lets you transfer points to anyone with their own account, and for free. The huge caveat here is that transferred points are only "active" for 90 days. So if the recipient of your "gift" doesn't use their points, they will expire and disappear altogether.
Chase Ultimate Rewards, on the other hand, let's you share points with a spouse or domestic partner. Better yet, points don't expire ever – even after you transfer. Starwood Preferred Guest takes a different approach, allowing transfers to anyone who has shared the same address as you for at least 30 days.
In the meantime, American Express Membership Rewards will let you transfer points to a spouse, domestic partner, or authorized cardholder, freeing up more opportunities to "share."
Some airline loyalty programs also let you pool your airline miles into a household account. British Airways and JetBlue are good examples of airlines that have taken this approach, which has added more flexibility to their programs over time.
Other programs have their own rules, and it would be impossible to cover them all. Just remember, it's crucial for you to understand the ins and outs of your particular rewards program before you get any bright ideas on sharing points. Sometimes it's possible, but other times, it's more trouble than it's worth.
Workarounds that Let You Share Your Points with Others
If the driver behind your generosity is booking free travel for others, you might not need to transfer your points at all. By and large, most loyalty programs let you book travel for other people using your points and miles. When that's the case, you'll input their information for the flights or travel plans you book instead of inserting your own.
If you're booking travel using flexible rewards like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou® Rewards, there are no rules to follow. Simply book the travel you want for others and put their names down for the reservation. It's as simple as that.
With airline miles earned through airline credit cards, it is also fairly simply to book flights for others. After you find the flights you want, you will simply add your friend or family's names to the reservation instead of your own. By and large, this is how the vast majority of travel rewards programs work.
There are some exceptions to this, of course. With certain hotel rewards programs like IHG Rewards, for example, you're required to reserve a room with your own name on the hotel reservation no matter what. To skirt around this, you'll add the person you are booking for as an additional guest on your reservation. Your secondary guest – the person you are booking for – will just so happen to be the guest that actually checks in.
If you want to "gift" your points in the form of cash back or gift cards, there are no rules to stand in your way. Simply redeem your points for cash, gift cards, or merchandise as you normally would, then gift those benefits to anyone of your choosing.
If you're on a tight budget and don't have a lot of discretionary income, credit card rewards can make it easier to be generous with the people you love. Just remember to understand your loyalty program's rules before you "gift" your points or make a travel booking for someone else. It might not be against policy, but the fine print can cost you dearly.
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