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TPG Twitter follower Ben will be going on a trip with his sister and is going to pay for her airfare. He tweeted me the following question:
“Hey @thepointsguy any advice on how I can earn miles from buying my sister a ticket on a Delta flight? I’m taking a sibling trip with her to Chicago.”
Looking at the fundamentals of frequent flyer points, even if you buy a ticket for someone else, the person who takes the flight will earn the miles. The beauty of that is when you travel for business you get to keep all of your frequent flyer miles and bank them into your personal account (for the most part). So unfortunately for Ben, even if he buys a flight for his sister, he can’t earn miles by attaching his frequent flyer number to reservation because the airline will match the name on the account to the name on the ticket.
However, there are a lot of different ways to bank miles through credit card purchases. If you buy the tickets using your Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express, Delta Platinum SkyMiles Amex or Delta Reserve card, you will earn 2 miles per dollar, but the better option is to book using an American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, which earns 3 points per dollar on all airfare purchases. Even better, you can book those same tickets through American Express Travel and get 4 points per dollar. Prices on American Express Travel are usually only a little bit higher, but worth the extra 1 point per dollar in most cases.
Another option is to purchase the tickets using a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all travel. If you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards earning portal and click through to Travelocity you’ll earn an extra 2 points per dollar, earning a total of 4 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar along with the 7% annual dividend at the end of the year. Taking this route you’re looking at 4.28 Ultimate Rewards points for ever dollar spent on your sister’s ticket to Chicago.
Once you click through the Ultimate Rewards portal or American Express Travel site, it doesn’t matter who you’re buying a ticket for. If you ever purchase airfare for a large group make sure to use these portals and put the charge on a point-earning credit card.
Some of the other best credit cards to purchase airfare with because they give airline category spending bonuses include:
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature: 3 miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets and vacation packages
Barclaycard Arrival: 2 miles per dollar on all purchases
Barclaycard Arrival No Fee: 2 miles per dollar spent on travel
British Airways Visa Signature Card: 2.5 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases
Capital One Venture Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on all purchases
Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage Visa Signature Card: 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage World MasterCard: 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Bank of American Hawaiian Airlines Visa Signature: 2 HawaiianMiles per dollar spent on tickets purchased directly from Hawaiian Airlines and on in-flight purchases, as does the Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines Visa Signature.
JetBlue Amex: 2 extra points per dollar on JetBlue purchases
Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World Mastercard: Earns 2 miles per $1 spent on Miles & More purchases.
United MileagePlus Explorer Card: 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United
United MilagePlus Club Card: 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases
US Airways Premier World MasterCard: 2 miles per dollar when you make US Airways purchases
Virgin America Visa Signature: 3 Elevate points per $1 spent on Virgin America purchases (in addition to the usual 5 points per $1).
Some hotel cards also offer category spending bonuses on airfare including the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa Signature , which earns 2 points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline as does the Marriott Rewards Premier card. The Hyatt Card earns 2 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline.
Frequent Flyer Business Programs
You should also sign up for SkyBonus, which is Delta’s business program. SkyBonus gives small to mid-sized companies a way to earn points towards business travel rewards. Some other airlines have these kind of business frequent flyer programs as well where you technically should have a big time business to join, but I know many people have been able to sign up with their small consultancies or sole proprietorships so it cant hurt to try!
Businesses can earn up to 30 SkyBonus points per dollar on purchased business class fares or 6 points on all other fares, but only 10 SkyBonus points per dollar on business fares or 3 points on other fares to/from Delta hubs ATL, CVG, DTW, MEM, MSP and SLC – on not only Delta flights but also Air France, KLM and Alitalia. You can then redeem earned points on things as small as 10 drinks coupons (10,000 points), a Delta SkyClub one-visit pass (30,000 points) or a free coach roundtrip in the US (85,000).
British Airways: With On Business companies that join earn triple points for the first six flight sectors (individual flights) employees take on qualifying flights during the first 12 months of membership.
United Airlines: With PerksPlus last-minute or premium fares in F, J, Y classes earn 6 points per dollar for flights to/from non-hubs and 3 points for flights from hubs. Business class fares in A, C, B, M, E, U, H classes earn 4 point per dollar for flights to/from non-hubs and 2 points for flights from hubs. Discount fares in D, Z, P, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G classes earn 2 points per dollar from non-hubs and 1 point per dollar from hubs.
Depending on which route you take you should be able to bank a couple extra points on your sister’s tickets. Safe travels and kudos for being a nice brother and taking your sister away!